Today in our Spotlight – Dusted. This east coast native is no stranger to the music industry originally being in the band Holy Fuck. With the release of the 3rd album happening, we talk about music and what has been going on during COVID. Check it out now.
You started Dusted back in 2012. Folks may also know you from your other project Holy Fuck, who have been around since 2004. With music clearly being your passion, what was it that got you into music in the first place?
I was always very mystified by music. My mom played great records in the house. And then, while in grade school, I got really into the early hip hop I heard on the radio while visiting my family in the States. Bringing that music back to Nova Scotia really jolted me into realizing how close-minded my friends were regarding anything different or new.
I learned pretty early that I didn’t need validation from my peers about what they thought about music, or really anything. By seventh grade I was playing guitar and writing songs. I had this goofy ideal of a musician being a lone figure standing on a mountain top somewhere alone and enlightened. It took a long time before I found others who really dug music like I did. Then it became less of a solitary pursuit and more of a fun, social thing.
Can you tell us a bit about your time in the band, and the realities that people do not see that goes on behind the scenes?
Ah, I guess Holy Fuck is more of a band than Dusted, so behind the scenes in that group it’s been, I don’t know, pretty much what you’d imagine. The biggest exception that people may not know about us is how hard it is to be together. We live in scattered places. And people probably don’t realize the great lengths we go to to be in the same room. We insist on being together to write our music.
These days ‘bands’ are often driven by one or two individuals, often on laptops, creating music, and then directing the parts to the other musicians. We prefer to just get together and all write. Dusted therefore has been a lot easier for me… easier to be alone and writing or putting together small bands to tour with. I miss having the one, reliable band of friends though. It can be stressful learning and relearning songs with a new group all the time. And there’s an immense responsibility on my shoulders to carry everything… that’s the trade off. I get to be creative in my own way but there’s no one else to share the burdens or successes with.
What made you decide to branch out and do Dusted on the side?
I’ve always written music on my guitar, at home or on tour. In fact that came first. However at the time I started Holy Fuck I was playing under my own name as opposed to Dusted. I changed the title to make it feel less pigeonholed as a singer/songwriter.
Your new single: ‘’Little More Time’’ comes out early April, what can fans expect from the track, and what are you hoping they take away listening to it?
Well, it’s not a huge departure from me, it’s actually an old song. So it lives in a similar realm as the songs on Total Dust. But I also want to cut through the sad or sombre vibe. It is a song about death. But I tried to deliver that sentiment very frankly and unadorned. Hopefully people will relate to its simplicity and allow themselves to be comforted, I guess. I feel comforted by simple, sad songs. I hope it feels natural and unpretentious.
Speaking of upcoming work your 3rd album comes out this year as well. Given that your last record was in 2018, what can we expect from it?
It kind of ties a bow around the two previous records, brings all three together nicely. It feels more like the first record… more minimal and lonely. But I had a lot of fun making it. I recorded all the vocals and guitar live so it wouldn’t have a ‘studio polished’ sound. I mean, one of the main things with studios is this pressure to click tempos to a grid. It’s the building block of almost every modern record. But I kept it free. Maybe like I’m playing in the room next to you.
How do you straddle the line between staying true to a sound that fans know and love, without stifling your creativity, while also reflecting the current media landscape?
I have to check back in with myself over the course of making a record. I react to things differently during the process. And I can be pretty scathing with my self-criticism. So ultimately I’m just trying to make records that I would like as a listener. I’ve definitely thrown out songs or whole recordings because I didn’t feel I was being true to myself. So in that way hopefully I keep those listeners, the ones who connect. Because they’ve stuck with me this far.
I was obsessed with the album “blackout summer” when it came out. It was very ethereal and made me feel like I was on a haunted beach. Weird comparison I know. What was it like writing and recording it?
Wow, that’s great. And now I wish I named this record Haunted Beach! Blackout Summer was a challenge for some reason. I recorded a whole record and then threw it out- so yes, as I was saying, I do do that. And the worst thing for me was that I lost a lot of time. But I felt I was led astray. Some of the songs had been played on stage for a while and they were feeling really good. But the studio brought out the worst in them.
So I canned it and moved on. In the end, the resulting album has a bit of a compilation feel to me, like some songs were recorded with my friend Loel on drums, some with Simone, some were recorded in Montreal, some in Rural New York. It took a long wide arc before it finally was a complete record. But now that some time has passed I’m able to really cherish it. I really love it and am glad I didn’t release it’s shittier earlier cousin.
On the track “All I Am”, your wife, Anna was featured as well. What was it like working with someone who knows you so well? Were there any clashes of opinion?
Ha, no, musically we fit very well. She’s such an amazing artist. I never have to give her any direction. And unlike a lot of other musicians I work with, I never suggest any parts to her. She writes very thoughtful and seemingly effortless guitar lines. I didn’t get to work with her on this record simply because we now have a two year old. And of course our kid was even younger when I started this record. So we just didn’t have the undivided time and energy to both be working on the album, or on anything. We had to sort of take turns doing our own things. But she was happy to give me the space I wanted to make this record. For future records I know we’ll do more. Already our time management is easier.
Having been in the scene now for so long, what are some of the biggest changes in the music landscape, given the rise of social media, streaming sites, etc? Do you think these tools are helping newer artists break through or is the oversaturation killing creativity?
Good question. There are things I’d never want to go back to. It took a lot of effort to be heard- I traveled to conferences and festivals and gave out press kits and all that crap. I hated it. But also I am more naturally drawn to people face to face and in person. I’m never going to be good at social media. I’m one of those people who can only get excited about contributing to something that I in turn would enjoy, you know, as a hypothetical third person. So I can’t get excited about podcasts or Instagram stories because I just don’t absorb that stuff in my own life.
I like listening to music and I like playing it. Aside from that I’d rather be hanging out with friends, drinking or hiking or having some laughs. So I haven’t really grown with the technological changes. But I’m still here, making an occasional dumb post. I think there’s a place for musicians like myself… we’re just never going to be as successful as a bunch of other dopes and that’s fine. I hope I can pay my mortgage and I hope I get to keep doing what I love.
You wrote a great advocacy piece on cannabis culture for Exclaim! a while back. Now with the legislation having time to settle, what are your thoughts now on the matter?
I’m so glad it’s legal. I just don’t think telling people what they can and can’t do has proven to be very effective. I guess that sounds ignorant. There are grey areas I know. I’m a ‘golden rule’ kind of person and if something isn’t causing any harm why stigmatize it? That said I don’t smoke pot very successfully… I do it occasionally to check in with myself, as I was saying earlier about the creative process. I find it helps me hear a song more clearly, the intention is exposed and that can be confronting. But for me it’s not a party. It gives me the creeps 75% of the time.
Obviously as a fan, getting to talk to you means the world, does it ever strike you strange how many people around the world not only know your music, but that you represent a part of their being?
Wow, well, thanks for saying so. I think it’s important to me that I represent myself honestly in my music. I was thinking about an old friend today, how he was suggesting that if no one ever truly knows us, even our friends, why do we care so much about what they think? He was suggesting people like myself stop overthinking and just make pop music, just aim for success.
But pretty quickly I understood that, while a lot of what he was saying was true, people don’t truly know us, my aim was all the more to be as honest as possible. It’s the best tool I may ever have to allow myself to be heard and possibly ‘known’… and if I do it well enough it might outlive me. I enjoy meeting people who know my music. It makes me feel like we have a true connection. Because I’m trying to be ‘true’.
How has living in Yarmouth, NS been during the pandemic?
Nice- actually I’m in Canning Nova Scotia- it’s a couple hours from Yarmouth. Yarmouth is where I grew up. This is what the fates handed us; we moved here just ahead of everything. And I was gearing up for a full year of touring. But being grounded here has allowed me to start a lot of new things. I’m grateful that my life gets to be dynamic, it evolves. I’m here living in a part of the world I barely even knew or visited.
It felt like a rash decision. But I’m cool with it. I’ve started some new bands. And I feel I’ve actually become part of the community. Which is weird to say, because we’re also shut down, awaiting the pandemic to lift. But it feels like I’ve planted a lot of seeds. There’s been a lot of good intentions from people around me. And I feel it’ll all be blooming when we can go back to our social selves. Of course I’ll also go on tour again and that’ll now be really shocking and difficult.
For long-time fans of Holy Fuck, how would you describe Dusted to explore this other part of your craft? What are you hoping that they take away from Dusted?
On one hand I realize Holy Fuck fans may not like Dusted. But then again I listen to all kinds of music- actually that hypothetical third person inside me would probably like both bands. I’m just so glad they are very different. I don’t feel one shines on the other. They both have their own place in the sun and shade. So I really don’t know what I’d say to Holy Fuck fans about Dusted. So far I don’t say anything.
After the hundreds of articles and interviews you have done. What is one thing you wish that people knew about you?
Hmmmm…I’ve already said it a bunch in this interview but I’d like to think that, in spite of being a clown on stage or a sometimes seemingly shrewd player, I’m more than anything else a very honest person. A lot of musicians benefit from putting on a character. I wish I did that right from the beginning but it’s too late now. So yeah, this is who I am.
Lastly as our favorite independent and smaller businesses have been hit hard this Covid season. What are some of your local favorite places to hype up and give a shout out to?
There’s a lot of potential out here in rural Nova Scotia. I learned that growing up here, putting on shows in my hometown. But out here people’s energy does sort of settle back to a simple quiet point of rest if they aren’t roused or stirred up again. So my shoutout is to my friends making music, and especially the ones putting on shows, building a scene. It doesn’t happen easily and it takes effort.
Spotlight – Dusted is a wrap. Big thanks to Brian for taking the time to chat with us
Check out the newest release Little More Time right now
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