October 31, 2015
Van Damsel is a Kamloops-based alternative pop band formed in 2010. The group consists of Sebastien Ste Marie, Richard Bregoliss, Matthew Barron, and Matthew 'Renny' Rennehan.
Lead singer, Sebastien Ste Marie, talks to Geyser Music about their upcoming album, their experience so far in the Peak Performance Project, and hidden gems in Kamloops. Having just gotten into the top 3 for the final year of the Peak Performance Project (BC), Van Damsel will be one of the three final performances ever done for this competition series. The winners of the PPP receive $102,700 to fund their music careers. You can catch that show November 19th in Vancouver, BC at the Commodore Ballroom.
Sebastien's Current Playlist
Tame Impala - Eventually
Drake - Hotline Bling
The 1975 - Love Me
Justin Bieber - What Do You Mean?
Foals - Mountain at My Gates
Dr. Dre - Darkside/Gone (feat. King Mez, Marsha Ambrosius & Kendrick Lamar)
Everything Everything - To The Blade
Chairlift - Ch-Ching
G: How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard you?
SM: Imagine being at a jam session with Phoenix, Diplo, Two Door Cinema Club, Phil Collins, and Taylor Swift.
We consider ourselves to be an alternative pop or indie pop band. We take the raw, playful elements of the guitar-driven "indie" movement that peaked in the mid-2000s and combine them with synth pop elements from the 80s, EDM, and contemporary Top 40 pop.
G: How did the decision come about to not release your debut album?
SM: Well, we will be releasing our debut album next year. ;) It's finished and we are really excited about it! However, there were a number of songs from a previous project that weren't released because we felt they weren't representative of the direction we want to go with our art. We feel the songs on Van Damsel are truly representative of who were are at the moment and we are very pleased with how we were able to capture this moment in time.
G: How did Van Damsel differ from the first recordings?
SM: Van Damsel has a maturity and a grasp of songwriting and musicianship that was absent during our earlier recordings. Van Damsel is also a cohesive record with a focused message and sound that displays an eclecticism in the cohesion. We put a lot of time, energy, emotion, and frankly money into creating this record. We feel we have created something that we are truly proud of and that can stand next to our influences.
G: How has the reception been so far for Van Damsel?
SM: So far, we have only released "Best of Everything" from Van Damsel. We will be releasing more material from it soon, including a second single this year.
G: Best of Everything has gotten over 14K plays on SoundCloud, has this been the single that has brought the most attention to the band?
SM: Definitely! Beyond SoundCloud, it was a radio single and charted across Canada in the Top 30s for 2 straight months. It clearly elevated our profile, gave us some industry opportunities, and new fans. However, we aren't entirely satisfied with the song's success as we want the best of everything, of course!
G: How has your experience been in the Peak Performance Project so far? Can you elaborate on an important lesson about the music industry that you’ve learned?
SM: We are so fortunate to have been able to have been a part of this project, not once, but twice. We can't stress how amazing this project is for artist development. Ultimately, I think the most important lesson learned in the PEAK Performance Project is that the industry is made up of people and relationships amongst those people. So, to be successful, beyond having awesome songs, you have to interact, network, and collaborate within the industry (and be nice to everyone!). The music industry is ultimately just a network of friends. As our music careers progress, it’s really satisfying meeting and working with so many amazing, talented, genuinely friendly people.
G: What can we expect from Van Damsel over the next couple years?
SM: You can expect a full-length album, a number of single releases from the album, music videos and other content, a relentless touring schedule, and new material (because we are always creating). You can also likely expect experimental fashion choices and hairstyles---who knows what we will do next!?
G: Is there a hidden gem in Kamloops you like to visit/explore?
SM: I like going to this park off of 6th Ave that used to be a cemetery and is aptly called "Cemetery Park". It's lush, green, spacious, and directly overlooks the city--it's like you are hovering right over top of downtown Kamloops with the dry, brown, desert hills surrounding. The best part about this park is that it's never occupied. For some reason, no one seems to go to it. I like to hang out in it in the late evenings in summer while the sun sets.
G: Thank you so much for talking with us, and congrats on (post-interview) having made it into the Top 3 for PPP!