Upon arrival to Toronto we met with the dudes from Little Goat Media to perform a live version of Domino before our show at Lee’s Palace. Ch-ch-ch-ch-cheeeeck it out!Read more
About Van Damsel
It’s part of human nature – consistently striving to reach new plateaus and pinnacles in virtually any personal pursuit. And in addition to being a central lyrical theme in the debut LP from BC-based electro-pop outfit Van Damsel, it’s also critical to their creative union and, by extension, their eclectic sonic concoction.
While the quartet – comprised of bassist Matthew “Renny” Rennehan, drummer Matthew Barron, guitarist Rich Bregoliss, and singer Sebastien Ste Marie – has a pair of EPs to their name, including 2013’s acclaimed The Sunshine, Girl, their statementmaking, self-titled debut formally cements their signature sound. Throughout the 11 cuts on the collection, which officially drops on April 22, 2016, Van Damsel seamlessly weaves organic indie rock with glossy synth pop, blurring lines between styles and eras and bridging now with then, digital with analog, sparkle with substance.
“This LP represents our broader palette, incorporating more influences than we have in the past,” Barron says about the album, which finds everything from EDM to new wave to hip-hop being injected into Van Damsel’s already-infectious template of hooklaced and danceable indie rock.
It’s a sound that tastefully borrows from genre benders like Phoenix, LCD Soundsystem, and even contemporaries like The 1975, resulting in a fresh mix with massive mainstream appeal. From the undeniably dancy first single, “Best of Everything” and ‘80s-inspired groove-based bliss of “Sophia” to the swirling, ethereal charm of “Circular Symphony” and even the sexy sax lead on “People in the City,” the record is as diverse as it is decadent.
It’s really no wonder they boast such a broad sonic spectrum; after all, the guys (sans Ste Marie) first began playing together in a tech metal band, and their moniker comes from spastic mathcore outfit Dillinger Escape Plan’s song of the same name. In 2009, the four members formed the archetype of what would eventually become Van Damsel, embarking on an ongoing collective pursuit to reach their creative apex. What’s more, while three of the four have earned post-secondary degrees, right now, Van Damsel is their sole focus. “Basically,” Barron offers, “we’re saying ‘fuck it’ and going all-in, rather than pursuing the paths that have been neatly laid out for us.”
It’s all consistent with the idea of chasing greatness that Ste Marie so effortlessly relays in his lyrics. “Being human is never being satisfied,” the singer muses. “Whatever you’re trying to do, there’s always something to strive for and work towards.” Within that context, the band tackles issues ranging from their geographic underpinnings to organized religion, imbalances of power, and in the deeply personal “Domino,” even familial struggle. Always exploring the dichotomy of greatness and the unintended consequences that can sometimes carry, Ste Marie’s words are quite macrocosmic despite their ideal delivery from a sweaty dive bar stage.
Van Damsel has amassed a heap of accolades on the back of their powerful and propulsive live show, which they’ve taken across Canada twice and also played a big part in their $50,000 finish in the 2015 edition of BC’s prestigious PEAK Performance Project. They’ve earned slots supporting the likes of Tokyo Police Club, Mother Mother, and Yukon Blonde, and whether it’s a festival main stage or packed club, Van Damsel brings their unique energy and empowering message to the masses. “We want people to walk away from a show feeling inspired,” Barron adds – “inspired to do whatever it is they want to do, to pursue it with passion and persist through challenges.”
Fortunately, Van Damsel are good at taking their own advice. Their quest for greatness and perfection will always be ongoing, but their first LP marks an impressive peak on that journey and just as significantly is sure to inspire those amid their own individual pursuits.