Bending Genres: An Interview With Damien Styles

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Damien Styles is an honest soul. He basks in his pain and seeks out the light of the day even when it gets dim at times. His self-awareness is pretty astounding for an artist his age and the music cannot be boxed into any concise realm. For All The Times I Fell On My Face takes us through the emotions, the passions, and the pain this young man has dealt with. He’s misunderstood and after our conversation, I still doubt I’ve even scratched the surface of his complexities. But that’s what makes it interesting, he’s fighting to be himself. Damien is here to build a community for those who don’t belong because he’s still dealing with similar demons and insecurities each day. An unscathed son with undeniable talent, learn a bit more about him below.

*This interview has been edited for grammar.

Damien: Hello

Brcik: What’s going on bro, how you doing?

Damien: What’s good bro, how you feeling?

Brick: Can’t complain man. Another day in paradise, you feel me? I’m Brick, Hef speaks the world of you. Hef is a great friend of mine so I’m glad that we could connect this and thank you for taking the time. We appreciate it.

Damien: Yeah most definitely bro, thank you.

Brick: Of course. So I’ll start things off. I’ve listened to the project over the weekend um a lot of elements just from like Hyperpop, Rap, Rock. And it’s kind of, it’s labeled as Rock. But where did those influences come from? Like what artists really spurred you to move in each one of the directions?

Damien: I mean, bro, I don’t even know that I would label my music as rock, we just kind of had to pick a category ‘cause my shit is pretty genre-less. But I don’t know dude the people that I’m inspired by like Kanye West or My Chemical Romance like all of the people that I’m like mainly inspired by just didn’t give a fuck about conventional roles and just made what they wanted to make and I felt like I listened to some many different types of music and I’m inspired by so much different music that if my music sounded like just one thing you could put in a box it wouldn’t be true to my personality, you know?

Brick: Right. Yeah yeah I feel you, I feel you. Outside of music, where do you draw inspiration from? Whether that’s just life, certain situations, emotions. Where does that all come from?

Damien: Yeah it’s literally just life, bro, I’ve just lived a lot of life. I’m inspired by everything good and bad, I find beauty in the darkness. I find beauty in the light. I just think all of our experiences are for a reason and mine specifically, like, if I go through some shit, I’m going to speak on it and make a song so that if someone else out there is going through the same shit, they feel less alone and instead of just stopping there I’m trying to get through that myself and then help them through it as well so yeah we can meet at a dark place but we’re not going to stay there, you feel me?

Brick: Yeah, fire. Hell yeah. So the 5th grade intro I look at it as a duality of the light and the dark, you can hear, that’s you mother, correct?

Damien: Yeah that’s my mom. That’s an actual recording of a speech she gave my 5th grade teachers.

Brick: That’s fucking crazy. That’s what makes art so beautiful and a pure moment like that. The light of her going to bat for you and really defending you versus the dark of, I guess you could say, the school district, what you were dealing with emotionally, what you were going through in life. It’s really that duality between that light and dark. Explain how you decided to put that on the project. Is that something that you kind of just stumbled upon or has that stood out since then?

Damien: No so what’s crazy is I had made the song called “Beyond Repair” because that’s actually something that my 5th-grade teacher told my mom. So my mom went to visit her for parent-teacher conferences or something, but the teacher thought that my mom was a social worker so my mom went in and was like “Hey I’m here for Damien” and the teacher was like “Oh he’s beyond repair, I’ve seen him so many times. The kid is going to end up dead or in Jail.”

Brick: Jeez

Damien: So I had told my team that story and they were like “Yo, you gotta make a song about that. You gotta make a song called “beyond repair.” And I’m like damn, yeah, that’s fire and then I made that song and I showed it to my mom and she was like “I wonder if I still have it in my email. I recorded a speech that I gave to them about that exact thing.” And then she found it in her email and pulled it up and played it for me and I started crying ‘cause there was things she said in that I didn’t even fucking remember. That was originally like a 13-minute speech and I fucking cut it down into like 2 minutes and I was just like “Yo, you gotta send me that. It has to be the intro to my project.”

Brick: Hell yeah. I mean that’s such a moving way to start things off and it really showcases how personal the next 10 tracks were going to be.

Damien: Yeah I really felt like that was the important thing that started them off where I started off, you know what I mean?

Brick: Hell yeah, no definitely. That shows the connection with your fans and I think your fan base is so tight-knit that these people really love you, man. That’s kind of what I see just like you have a lot of people who are really moved by your story and it helps them. How long did this project take for you to make? Was it something that was just kind of a work in progress for a while or did you go into the creative process with “Okay we’re going to cut this number of records and we’re going to go from there.”?

Damien: Yeah, no, me and my producer had met about a year ago and the first time we linked up we made “Mom I’m a Dead Man” second time we linked up we made “Paranoid Freak” and I just realized right then like I called my manager I was like “I found my producer, I don’t want to work with nobody else. This kid gets it.” I’ve worked with a lot of different producers and I bring them these ideas of “Let’s mesh this genre, let’s do this, let’s try this.” and they’re always like “I don’t know if that’s going to work.” but Gabriel, my producer, just always heard me out and took me seriously and was like “We’ll find a way to really make this work.” and we created what is now my sound. We were just making a fuck ton of tracks and then this year we moved out to LA and we live in the same house now and so we fucking started making more and more music and eventually I was like “Damn, I feel like we’re working on a project.” Then I kind of started putting these songs together in an order and it’s crazy because I didn’t know when I started this project, but I knew when I finished it because I felt like I didn’t have anything else to say. I felt like I finished my story like all of the things that drove me to get to where I’m at now, the pain from my teachers from my broken home, all these things like I’ve released them and I don’t fucking care anymore so what else am I going to talk about so I was like “I guess I’ll just put this out.” It was actually a beautiful thing because I feel like that was God emptying me of my own ego and my own personal things and being like “Now you can speak the things that I want you to speak. Now you can really step outside of yourself and help these kids in a much bigger way.”

Brick: Hell yeah. Have you had any contact with any of the old teachers or admins from your past? Have you ever talked to them or have they reached out?

Damien: So I haven’t talked to any of the teachers that I didn’t get along with, but my 4th grade teacher was super inspiring to me because I used to write a lot of short stories and stuff and she really really believed in me and encouraged my writing. She saw that I had a talent and we actually keep in contact now. I actually reached out to her and was like “Yo, you’re one of the only teachers that ever believed in me and encouraged me and didn’t just count me out.” and she told me that she always knew I was going to be famous and figured that it was going to be as an author but music works too.

Brick: Hey, either was you’re writing stories man so she was pretty close. What was the starting point for you musically like when did you decide this is something you’re really in love with and you wanted to keep pushing with?

Damien: Yeah, oh, that teacher’s name was Mrs. StClaire by the way, I’m just going to put that out there. Shoutout to her. Nah dude I’ve known this was something I wanted to do my whole life. My pops was a musician and I kind of just grew up in the studio and I just found a love for it because I could express things that I didn’t feel comfortable expressing to anyone else and just put it on paper. Also I could escape the world that I was in by creating new worlds sonically and I just completely fell in love with it. My parents tried putting me in different sports and I tried different activities but I didn’t want to do that, I would rather be in the studio.

Brick: Fire, hell yeah. How old are you?

Damien: I just turned 21.

Brick: Shit man well happy belated, but that’s wild too. I feel like your sound is very mature, but it also speaks to a lot of adolescent angst. What are your goals for music? Like if music is going to be a part of your life, you know, until the day you die, for sure, but what else do you want to do?

Damien: Yeah, I mean really everything that drives me is just helping kids that don’t have a voice and helping them get to the light and spreading the word of God and just helping people get out of their own dark funks and so like yeah, obviously music is a big thing I want to tour overseas, I want to go do everything, you know what I’m saying? I want to take it as far as I can. I would also like to be an author, I would also like to write books, I want to act and direct. Right now I edit and direct all of my music videos so I would be super cool to get involved and film work. I want to invest in real estate, like I’m just trying to level me and my family and my friend’s life up to the fullest extent possible because we come from nothing and I broke a lot of generational curses to get here and I want to set the future generations up to be fucking millionaires and be able to do whatever the fuck they want. There are no limits to this shit.

Brick: Gotcha, okay. What’s a day like for Damien Styles? Just an average day. If you could have the perfect day, what would it be?

Damien: A perfect day I feel like I’m waking up around 7. First thing I’m doing is stretching, meditating, reading my bible, obviously shower and stuff like that. I’ll probably get in the studio with Gabe and probably finish up a song we were already working on or start something new and try and get some creative juices flowing. I’d probably kick it with my girl for a while, maybe watch some movies or some shit. I’m in to movies, I really fuck with that shit. Then honestly probably finish the day with a show because there’s nothing better for me then fucking be on stage and connecting with my fans in such an intimate way, like, that’s my favorite fucking thing.

Brick: Hell yeah. Do you feel like that’s therapy for you?

Damien: Dude, yeah, it’s crazy ‘cause I have constant anxiety all the time, but when I’m on stage it’s completely gone. I even have this anxious tic where I click my jaw and when I’m on stage my anxiety is so gone and I don’t really do that at all, it’s crazy.

Brick: Wow, that’s actually fire. I feel like that’s just a true testament to how music is even for even you, you know what I mean?

Damien: 100%. I’m constantly thinking, there are always thoughts in my head, but when I’m on stage there’s no thinking it’s just all feeling.

Brick: You’re living in the moment. Do you feel like that is the strongest time where you’re really focusing on living in the moment as opposed to thinking about the worries of your future?

Damien: Yeah, totally. On stage and in the studio, but definitely more so on stage.

Brick: Gotcha. What are some things you love about life? Whether it is music, whether it’s your newfound life, whether it’s something you really loved a few years ago and now you appreciate them even more. What are some things that really stand out to you about life?

Damien: I love growing and evolving because it’s like in the moment you may think something is fucked up and you may not understand why it has to happen to you or to the people around you or why you’re in the circumstance or whatever, but eventually you look back and realize I had to go through that to learn this and I had to be put down to jump up. I don’t know, dude, my favorite thing about life is definitely growing and evolving and always getting better. There’s nothing that makes me more sad than seeing people run in circles and stay the same forever, like you have the opportunity with how many years your blessed with on this planet to just fucking grow and grow and grow.

Brick: Facts, that’s real shit. I think the wasted potential is such a disappointing thing to see, but it comes from self-love and self-belief that you’re going to figure it out. I think for a 21-year-old you’re pretty ahead of the curve with that aspect, bro. It seems like you kind of have this bird’s eye view for somebody your age, it’s not very common. What do you do to get away from the noise from the world? I know the stage and the studio, but are you into taking walks? Do you enjoy nature? Just any outside of music activities.

Damien: Yeah I really love nature, that’s something I should’ve mentioned in my perfect day. Just like going to the beach or taking a hike in the mountains. I lived in Tahoe for a while and I was living out of a truck and shit at literally the summit of a mountain. I would go rock climbing a lot, just like free climbing. I would find a spot on the mountain and find something that didn’t look too sketch, but was doable and would climb to the top so I could see the view. Or like cliff jumping, I fucking love cliff jumping or anything that gives me adrenaline and makes me feel like, well it’s kinda fucked up and a little toxic, but when I feel like I could die, I feel the most alive.

Brick: I don’t know that’s real shit, man. I feel like a lot of us try to avoid the monotony, the cycle of just the same old shit every single day and I try to avoid it too, it’s difficult. These paths that we take in life, you know, I’m 29 I’m a little bit more ahead on my personal path, but I wouldn’t have ever been able to tell you at age 21 where I am now at 29. It wouldn’t have been catchable fathomable for me, I was at a completely different space mentally, physically and I didn’t believe in myself the way I did and I think you having your anxiety is going to be there but I think you are able to move and control that and at your age that’s astounding, a lot of people don’t feel that way.

Damien: I appreciate it, bro. That’s definitely something that is a testament to why I am where I’m at is because my biggest quote that I’ll always say is “feel the fear and do it anyways” because I’m anxious before I get on stage, I’m anxious before I jump off the cliff, I’m fucking terrified every single time but I’m not going to let that fear hold me back.

Brick: Right, it’s just that “fuck it, let’s get it done and we’ll be okay.” Hell yeah. I think this is my last question. What would that message to your 5th-grade self be? If you could talk to that kid who was just kind of at that point right before your mom had that speech. What would you say to him knowing what you know now?

Damien: Man it’s kind of crazy ‘cause I feel like the advice that I would give him, like it already played out this way eventually, but I would probably say like, no actually fuck that. I was going to say that I would tell him to stay true to your vision and don’t let anybody change you because that’s what ended up happening, but if I could go back the one thing I would tell him is to not cling to people, cling to God. That’s one thing that I had really strayed away from and I was angry at God and I started saying I didn’t believe and all of these things which led me into drugs and into violence and into just a bunch of things that I would never involve myself around now. Even though it did add to my story and gave me a testament if those things would have been avoided maybe that’s what I’d tell.

Brick: I think that’s a great answer, man, I really do. Thank you for being honest, thank you for taking the time with us, we really appreciate it. Over at Chiefers we’re fans and Hef is my fucking brother so anything he is going to push and support, we’re going to do the same. Thank you for taking the time, bro, I hope you have a great holiday season. Is there anything you want to say to fans, doubters, supporters, anything you need to get off your chest? Whatever it may be this could be that opportunity to do so.

Damien: I want to say that if you ever felt counted out, looked down upon, spit on, and your life and your opinion didn’t matter, Drop Out Club is a place where we value individuality and you will never be shamed for being who you are and if you fuck with my music and need guiding words, you can always put it on and you will be accepted. If you ever felt like an outcast or a misfit, welcome to Drop Out Club.

Mark: Hell yeah. That was a fire way to end this shit out, bro. Thank you, man, I appreciate it.

 

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