WORDS: Alex Piercy
After an awesome gig I finally got to meet one of my personal YouTube heroes Rob Chapman and the insane talent that is DORJE. We went through the hiatus, the comeback and the lack of the infamous Miku pedal among lots of other news from the Brighton based 4 piece.
Hi guys it was awesome to see you perform again after such a long time in hiatus. Being a follower of the band since your joint headline tour with the DRILLS there’s certainly been a long silence in the DORJE camp, is there any particular reason we have had to wait this long for any news or material from the band?
Rabea: It has been a long time. We did the first EP pretty much straight away, then it was a case of me, Ben [Minal] and Dave [Hollingworth] finishing off our degrees, Rob [Chapman] went through his divorce causing him to shift his life down to Brighton. When we all finished our degrees we all moved to Brighton as well, this left us all having to find our feet as self-employed professionals in whatever that might have been music, youtube so it took that time to become stable.
I guess it must have been hard finding your identity outside of university whilst still finding time for the music as well?
Rabea: Yes, unfortunately DORJE did take a backseat. We needed to earn some money and the first thing that ended up happening was me Ben and Dave joining up with TOSELAND, we ended up recording the debut album with him.
It is unfortunate as you said, as listening back to Primordial Audio Chronicles prior to our interview I remembered how great every track was off that CD and how refreshing it was especially the textures provided by the Polyrhythms. What made you team up with TOSELAND as your first step after Primordial?
Rabea: Well that was our first thing to try and earn some money really, but it didn’t work out. We didn’t really get paid properly so we quit that. We did the album and a couple of tours then started DORJE back up but it took about two years from releasing the EP to get back into the flow of writing music, we ended up writing an albums worth of music, recording it and then getting that down.
As a songwriter myself I understand there’s a difference between writing and albums worth of material and deciding which tracks make the cut.
Rabea: Absolutely that’s what kind of…..
(Rob, Ben, Dave walk into the room)
Hi guys I’ll just fill you in, I’ve just been speaking to Rabea about the first EP and the hiatus before the most recent release Catalyst.
Dave: Yeah this has been the first time that any new music has been out since Primordial. We released White Dove as a free single a few weeks ago, and loads of people downloaded that. It was wicked but the EP’s that are on tour with us are the first round of copies, and it won’t actually be released officially until November 6th
Rob: I kind of see it as a renaissance too, this new EP documents us finding our sound, and as well as finding our sound it documents me learning how to sing (Laughs)
I never had too much of an issue with the vocals before, but I can certainly see the improvement from the previous E.P. YouTube channel, and the impressive pedal boards I noticed you assembling on stage I can tell you are big supporters of sound engineering, however what is your opinion on people relying too heavily on these tools that they neglect perfecting their playing style?
Rob: Well I think Rabea is a prime example of, or in my opinion of someone who uses effects as a tonal pallet and musically adding to what we do, though sadly some people rely on them to be the whole thing. Ironically I only use a tuner on this tour, that’s it, but there is definitely a fine line between having a big board of shit that you use musically and artistically, and using that board as a crutch and I’m certain we don’t use it as our crutch either.
Definitely, especially considering the channel you host it’s surprising to hear you only employing a tuner on this tour. Now that you’re back what is the main thing you want the fans to know, what are the next steps?
Rob: Now that we’re back (laughs) I like that, because I guess we are.
Dave: I think the main thing is the sound we have focused on.
Rob: The fact we have found what DORJE is.
Rabea: I guess it’s the excitement that, though we have these shows at the moment, as of November it will be released and everyone will be able to hear the EP and hopefully find it is a much more focused tight…
Dave: I guess I’d describe it as a much more centred sound,
Rabea: Yeah I think it was the case of dropping a few songs that didn’t feel right, reworking some that we had written a while ago and the recording process during the album. Well we went in to do an album and left with an E.P and I think doing that process, recording and re-arranging tunes totally pinpointed the sound of the band now, and it feels more refined
Rob: We have a lot more content to release as well. We find writing incredibly easy the process we needed to go through was the recording process to find our sound and to also learn how to really sing the way I wanted to sing as I think when you compare the original <strong>Areomancy</strong> to the one on catalyst, hopefully by the time you reach the end chorus you’ll think fucking hell, I get it.
I can definitely get that. I find it a big learning curve to listen to something you’ve recorded years back and compare it to something you’ve written recently to identify your developments. Even if there is slight differences you can notice your development professionally in your music. On your channel Rob there is a fan favourite for the infamous Miku Pedal video. Just out of curiosity have you ever considered including the Miku pedal in a DORJE track just for the challenge?
Rob: (Laughs) Hey I actually think we could, especially in some of the glitchy shit we do.
Rabea: I guess we could try and use it, but it would never be reminisant of the actual pedal itself, I think we would fight with it a lot.
Dave: Hey let’s, not write it out, we could write a tune called Miku.
Rob: (Laughs) Yeah…… but it’s basically shit. Really funny shit though.
Yeah I always found it reminded me of K.K Slider of animal crossing. With Rob having the luxury of creating your own guitars, and sampling them must’ve given you all must have a wealth of experience on a range of different guitars. All of us know the time old war, the BLUR vs OASIS, if you had to choose between the two are you a Gibson or a Fender Player?
Rabea: Fender definitely.
Rob: See if you gave me an option of two guitars, I’d pick the Gibson V over anything, but then I’ve spent all of my youth growing up on telecasters, so I’m going to have to say ambiguously Fibson.
Rabea: Fibson (laughs).I’d be a 50’s reissue strat, with fat 50’s pickups, grindy dirty bluesy tone.
See I think I’d be tempted by the 50’s strat as well. My final question is something that’s been ringing round my head and everyone I know who follow the band. Why DORJE, what is the origins of the band’s name?
Rob: See DORJE is actually a name, I’d show you a tattoo but after the gig I’m really sweaty and it won’t look very appealing, but a DORJE is a little ceremonial hammer that Buddhists use in a ritual where they ring a bell and they meditate to the sound of the bell, but the hammer is the shape of a lightning bolt captured and it is supposed to represent the eureka thought the, ah I get it! It’s really quite amazing and that lightbulb moment is captured and you can observe it and that’s what a DORJE is.
See now next time I get asked I have an awesome story to recall.
Rob: Well in Scotland we’re just DOOR-JAY
(Dave Ben Rabea laugh)
Rabea: And in America we’re simply Dorge
I didn’t realise you went over to America a lot.
Rabea: See we go about once a year, we did the chapman guitars bus tour last year.
Rob: And we’re doing another one in January, and we’re doing west coast this time as we did east coast last tour.
Rabea: It’s quite heart-warming I guess for use of a better word to see so many people supporting Chapman but also DORJE out there, especially since we haven’t even gigged out there yet. I think it would be nice if we got out there to play, as I feel we would have similar crowds to the ones we have over here in the UK and I guess that’s the power of youtube and social media.
Alex: Definitely, one of the main points I guess from Rob’s videos for Andertons on YouTube is the promotion you guys receive from it, especially as more and more pubs become restaurants and Live venues are over run by DJ’s and promoters, the small venues are dying out and it’s a new tool for exposure. In short it’s been a pleasure to talk to you guys but also see you own a small venue like this and keep the live scene going.
Rob: Thank you very much for being interested, and interviewing us and also thank you to anybody who listens to our music, enjoys it and represents us.