Alt-pop duo DBMK is paving their own way in the music industry with their contagious positivity and innovative mindset. The two are entering a new era of their artistry, breaking boundaries and taking their creativity to a whole new level. “We restructured a lot of how we were doing everything. We obviously had a ton of time to sit and think about what exactly we were doing and what we were saying.”
Nashville based drummer Colton Ward and vocalist Kyle Knudsen have demonstrated a newfound maturity while coming out of the struggles dealt over the past year with the release of their single “Tough”. The song is a skillfully blended mix of alt-rock, indie-electronica, and mainstream pop, standing out from the crowd with its powerful sound.
The record has the ability to resonate with each and every listener, relating to the feelings we all face with being stuck in life. This song encapsulates the difficulty in finding the confidence to change your circumstances in the fast moving world that surrounds you. The single takes you on a journey of frustration, self reflection, and raw emotion with its anthemic lyrics. This is truly a song that allows you to headbang or scream your heart out, delivering something for everyone with its electrifying vocals and a striking guitar solo that works to highlight the undoubtable talent that exists within the group.
The duo has been immersed in the music scene for quite a long time, having produced a constant flow of content since their debut album release in 2014 titled Abyss. Their genre-defying creativity and motivated spirits have allowed them to build a large resume of accomplishments, racking up millions of streams and playing multiple US tours during their years in the spotlight.
Kyle and Colton have created a welcoming and judgement-free community with their music due to the positive energy that they naturally exude. Over the last few years, they have gathered a dedicated fanbase, given the name “Kult”, accurately describing their tight-nit dynamic. During their time as a band, the two have developed a large group of these dedicated supporters, having toured across the US and sold out numerous shows around the country and in their hometown.
If you were not a fan of DBMK previously, there is no better time to join the “Kult.” After a crazy year, Kyle and Colton feel refreshed and ready to enter a new stage of their careers. DBMK has a lot coming, and the duo tells us that fans should be ready for new music and shows that are “bigger and better than ever.”
We were able to sit down with DBMK and have a conversation about the release of their newest single “Tough,” their goals for the future, and some highlights in their career so far.
Scroll down to read the full interview and watch the "Tough" music video!
How has the release gone for you guys so far?
Kyle: “In a word, it's been great. We used to put a lot of expectations on ourselves for the things that would mean success for us, but after going through all that happened this past year, we've tried to take the pressure off of everything and let our whole brand and expression grieve. We are happy that music is out and grateful that people are showing up. The world domination plan is on track.”
Could you explain to me the concept behind this song from your perspective?
Colton: “‘Tough’ has been done for a really long time actually. It's about a year old now, so it's crazy to see it be out. We wrote the song on a day that we were both just feeling kind of beaten down by the world and our situation we were in at that time, trying to put a record out into a world that was not not in a great mindset to be receiving one. One day, we were writing and that was the topic that we couldn't stop talking about, and so we were just like ‘You know what, let's just write about that.’ We pretty much finished the demo of ‘Tough’ that day.”
How do you think you have grown or shifted as artists since your previous releases?
Kyle: “We restructured a lot of how we were doing everything. We obviously had a ton of time to sit and think about what exactly we were doing and what we were saying. We zoomed all the way out and restructured our creative process, brand, voice, and sort of everything, because everyone grew and changed in so many ways. This is a new era.”
Colton: “We had become a little discouraged with the record and not being able to put it out into a joyful world, so we hit a little bit of a creative drought. When we wrote ‘Tough’, we realized that things were okay and we could actually make songs. It was what we needed during a little bit of a dry spell.”
"We zoomed all the way out and restructured our creative process, brand, voice, and sort of everything, because everyone grew and changed in so many ways. This is a new era.”
Can you talk a little bit about the process of creating the music video for “Tough”:
Kyle: “That location was in East Nashville, right up the street from where we live, at this old city retention ditch right next to a free way. The original concept was that we were going to get a bunch of friends together to skate around and be extra bodies in the video. But because of some scheduling conflicts, a lot of people couldn't make it. I thought that nobody ever showed up there really, but it's actually this local, legendary skate spot, so all of a sudden, a crew of skaters showed up. They had the perfect look, so we asked them, ‘Hey, do you guys want to be in a music video really quick?’ And they were just like, ‘Hell yeah, let's do it.’ They were so down, and they were so energetic.”
Can you describe your typical process to writing and releasing a song?
Colton: “DBMK started out as a four piece a while ago, and another thing that changed in the COVID era is that we became a two piece. So obviously, the creative process has changed a bunch in the last year and a half.”
Kyle: “It's a lot of coming up with ideas independently and then bringing them to the table and seeing if they're resonating with both of us and the narrative that we are trying to tell. In the past, it's been a lot of making beats on a computer. But in our process of trying to focus our story and voice, we have found a lot more artistic fulfillment with starting at the piano or the guitar and songwriting without touching the computer until we have a song that works on its own. That was basically how ‘Tough’ was written too. Even though it was catalyzed by a beat, we stopped and wrote over a loop until we took it to the piano to finish it. That's what feels the best to us these days, because we are trying to write stuff that will cut through the noise, but also come from a place that's classic.”
"We are trying to write stuff that will cut through the noise, but also come from a place that's classic.”
How do you guys make an effort to connect with your dedicated fanbase, known as “The Kult”?
Colton: “During quarantine, somebody had sent us a message asking if we ever thought about creating a Discord server, but we had no idea how to set that kind of thing up, so over about a day or two, a couple of the “Kult” members created this expansive Discord. I pop in every once in a while to talk to them, and everybody is just having a grand old time.”
Kyle: “The biggest thing that we miss right now is seeing people face to face. Interfacing with people after shows at the merch table and everything like that was the main driving force for us, so we have been trying to make up for that in as many different ways as we can with the Discord, community texting, answering DMs, and having a dialogue on social channels.”
Colton: “They are spiriting for us, and the least that we can do is be there for them too. We want it to be a community, so it's very much a two way street. As much as they're taking care of us and making sure that we're getting heard and seen by the right people, we want to do the same for them because it means everything to us.”
Kyle: “It's not about us at the end of the day, it's really not even the shows, it's literally about giving those people a safe place to go and be that person that they want to be, because that is what DBMK is for us at the end of the day.”
What is one thing that you hope people would walk away with after listening to your music?
Kyle: “There really is hope, even though you may have to look harder for it sometimes. It's for all of us, and we want people to then pass that on to somebody else, and let them know that it's okay to be who they are. You get only one of these lives, right? So why not just be who you want to be?”
Are there any moments or interactions that you have experienced in your careers so far that have really stuck out in your memory?
Kyle: “All the art that people share with us on a regular basis is incredible. A lot of people show us what they've made in person, and they will hold on to it the entire show to show it to us. When people share art with us that is inspired by what we've done, or they say that we empowered them to make something, it's the most meaningful thing.”
What is the best piece of advice someone in the industry has ever given to you?
Kyle: “Don't worry so much about what everyone else is doing. That's a huge pitfall that we have gone through because so much of what we do is online, and it can be so bad for your mental health because you are constantly comparing yourself. Everyone has that issue, so in general, don't worry too much about what everyone else is thinking of you. Just keep doing it because someone out there isn't.”
Colton: “Keep your head down and do whatever you need to do to advance yourself. You're not going to meet one person that will grab your hand and bring you to the top. It's going to be the millions of decisions that you make on a daily basis that will bring you to where you want to be. It's not easy, but you just have to do it.”
"You're not going to meet one person that will grab your hand and bring you to the top. It's going to be the millions of decisions that you make on a daily basis that will bring you to where you want to be."
What kind of artists or genres have you grown up listening to that may have had an impact in the music that you create today?
Colton: “One thing that's really interesting about our upbringings is that our parents could not be further away from musicians. Both my parents work in finance and his mom is a real estate agent, so we both had to find that for ourselves.”
Kyle: “For me it was my grandparents showing me a lot of jazz and roots music early on. And I know Colton’s dad showed him a lot of rock music. But we really had to find the bug on our own. Now we listen to just about everything, but the band we bonded over the most was The 1975, and you can definitely hear that in our music. We're just as inspired by weird dreamy instrumental and ambient music too along with Soundcloud rap, or people like Marilyn Manson. But to be honest, the idea of genre is dead.”
Where do you hope to be in your careers in the next few years?
Kyle: “We see ourselves moving around a lot and playing bigger and better shows than ever before. We hope to move to New York soon, and we are just really going full tilt into this thing. My other skills include folding fitted sheets, so I don't really know what else we could be doing other than this. We are sitting on a lot of music right now, so people should expect that in the very near future. ‘Tough’ is the start of a new era, so there is a lot coming your way. We are doing all of the branding and directing ourselves, and it's going to be coming fast. There is going to be a lot of bright green in your life very soon.”
Colton: “We're gonna be playing some shows soon, and we are starting this thing called the One Night Only series where we're not really going on tour, but we're just taking our show to various cities across the country. We’re hoping to do shows that are kind of like pop up events, where it just feels like we’re throwing a party and having a good time.”
"We are sitting on a lot of music right now, so people should expect that in the very near future. ‘Tough’ is the start of a new era, so there is a lot coming your way."
Listen to DBMK's new single "Tough" and watch the music video by clicking on the links below!