Deaf Mute Society (DMS) is a five-piece band consisting of John Keenan (vocals), Mikey Robertson (guitar), Euan Mushet (bass), Jen Bain (frets) and Callum Saint (drums) based in Edinburgh. In 2019 they released their debut EP “Impostor Syndrome” and since then they never stopped doing pop-rock with energy and grit! During the lockdown, they had a lot of free time available thanks to which they deepened the study of their music. So, DMS now present their new song titled “Games We Play“. The track is not just a love song because it emphasizes the importance of trust in a relationship and how many people take it for granted until it ends up being too late… I think that many of you will recognize and see each other in their words, meanwhile enjoy reading!
YMX: Hey DMS, thanks for talking to us. How have these gloomy times been treating you?
DMS: Hello! We’re just trying to make it out the other side like everyone else. We all have day jobs so haven’t been completely destroyed financially like so many other folks in the industry. Taking it day by day and trying to prepare the best we can for when things start opening up again. You hit the nail on the head with gloomy though. I think life without live music has really started to make folk that might have taken it for granted before realise how important it is.
YMX: How did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue? Are there any particular episodes that inspired you in doing so?
DMS: A friend of mine got a guitar for Christmas. It must have been back in 2001ish. Neither of us knew how to play a note but I remember jumping about pretending I was Matt Bellamy bursting those giant balloons that would appear on stage during “Bliss” and thinking how crazy it would be to do for real. After convincing my mum I was serious she got an old, beat-up classical guitar (which I still own) from my older cousin. He taught me the basic open chords then the internet took care of the rest. I think what really locked it in for me though was telling my guidance teacher at school that I wanted to go to college and do music as I had left it too late to take as a subject. He laughed and told me my only option was to go to Uni and get an English degree… Hard pass there mate!
YMX: Here’s a fun game: name 3 artists, or bands, that inspire you and influence your work, and explain why:
DMS: If by fun you mean “let’s start a war” haha. We’re one of those bands where each member comes from a completely different musical background which I think is what makes our sound so “us”. We always shrug when we get asked “who do you sound like?” as the whole “we’ve got our own sound” line has been done to death (even if it’s accurate here) We actually put a series of videos up early lockdown on FB where we each talked about an album that inspired us personally so might be worth checking out. I guess there are a few bands that we can (mostly) agree on: Pink Floyd is a fairly obvious influence but it’s almost on a subconscious level. We never sit down and go “let’s write something Floyd-y” it’s just a vibe man. I do love to play the odd “emotional rollercoaster” guitar solo where I can though. Most of us are big Vulfpeck nerds too which I think highlights that GROOVE IS KING! We’re not out here trying to set records for technical proficiency or anything. Just got to make tunes that folk can dance/sway/head-bob/toe-tap to. The Verve are another big one for John and me at least. I guess it ties in with the Floyd stuff. We’re suckers for huge spacey sounds. They can be groovyAF too… maybe we are more one-dimensional than I thought! In all seriousness though we could probably start a podcast talking about different albums each week and run for several decades… Will that ever become a thing? Maybe if YOU go and keep our stream numbers climbing. Thanks in advance <3
YMX: You recently released “Games We Play“. Can you tell us how that project came about?
DMS: Games We Play started life like most of our tracks. It was bashed out on someone’s couch sometime in the past with John and my acoustic. Brought it to rehearsal and got the rest of the guys to layer it up then became a mainstay in our live sets. It ended up making it into one of the studio sessions that managed to survive “the great cancellation” as the other new material we’d been working on wasn’t finished prior to all the practice spaces locking down. Really glad we brought it back as it turned out great and gave us the chance to add further bells and whistles to it.
YMX: How did the pandemic affect your personal music recording experience? Was it easy adjusting to working remotely?
DMS: The one good thing about the lockdown is that it’s forced us all to get better at what we do as well as learning new stuff. Mush and I have home recording setups but mine only really took shape later last year. Callum started a drum channel on youtube. “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations” as the old saying goes. We’ve put out some basic stuff between us but I don’t think any studio engineers have to worry about us putting them out of business yet! It’s been a welcome distraction from whatever social media is telling us to be faux-outraged by each week.
YMX: Professional livestreams seem to be really taking over these days. Is it something you would consider doing?
DMS: It’s something we’ve been discussing with other acts lately just in case the reopening sh*ts the bed again. I think with a professional setup and delivering a top quality performance it’s something the formerly gig-going public would support. We took part in a virtual festival last year where the stream kept going down due to the traffic though so it’s a whole new set of technical costs if you’re going to do it right. Maybe the middle ground is safest. Something like streaming a pre-recorded performance but doing it like a watch party so you still have that level of interaction with the fans? I dunno. It’s an experimental time.
YMX: Since pandemic began, online music promotion has become crucial for an artist’s growth. How important is that for you, and are there any strategies you are willing to share with our readers?
DMS: I would argue that online music promotion was crucial long before then. It’s just now literally the only thing most folk can do. Back in April/May last year you saw every artist under the sun doing acoustic covers and stuff. I think it oversaturated the market a tad tbh. Every platform you put yourself on always demands ever-higher levels of “engagement” but I’m not so sure. I think if you’ve got something to say then say it but no one gives a sh*t what you had for breakfast… unless you’re a K-Pop artist as those fans are terrifying. I’m at a point personally where I’m much more concerned about quality over quantity but then maybe that’s why we’re not a household name haha. None of us is getting any younger. In 20-30 years do you want your search terms to show a body of work you can be proud of or do you want it to be buried under a bunch of spicy memes and Buzzfeed quizzes that got more “engagement”? I nothing against memes btw
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?
DMS: The first time we all get back in a practice room together is going to be magical… we’ll also probably sound awful though. There was a mountain of half-written songs before all this so who knows how many ideas each of us are sitting on now. I imagine a future mostly spent arguing over setlists and which “classics” to keep in and what to swap out for brand new material. Then yeah it’s basically getting them all tracked (hopefully we can do that in the house with our combined studio knowledge) then take the best of the best to the proper studios and get it out there! Some of the reviewers that have been following us for a few years now have been consistently impressed at the variety of stuff we put out. I look forward to keeping them guessing. At the end of the day, if I can play a gig this year with actual people in the same room as us I’ll be ecstatic!