Dust In Mind – the Interview with Jen
It’s a Friday afternoon and it’s a good day, the weather is fine, sunny, nearly spring. I’m going to cover the show of Dust In Mind in Mainz this evening, my first show for half a year now, thanks to Covid19 and what came with it. It’s a good way to forget about our world in crisis, especially the . Aaaaand I’m going to interview the singer of Dust In Mind, Jennifer “Jen” Gervais. We should meet before the show, but tour life happens and I have to wait. Then again after show we will have all the time. So I am fine to wait my time to meet the remarkable lady who changed her leather outfit for an orange overall. There is so much more to learn about Dust In Mind, but read yourselves:
String Wielders’ Mysteries Revealed
During the waiting time and preparation for their show, I notice some marks on the back of the necks of Damien’s and Jack’s guitars. Accidentally I got my chance to ask fthem or the secret of those green tapes. They explain: “Oh, that’s easy. On stage with all the fog and the changing lights it helps you to find the hand’s right position for the chords. They glow a bit and reflect so the tapes are easy to recognize.”
Damien plays a six string, Jack a seven string guitar, I’m curious why.
Jack explains: “Hey, I use seven strings because I prefer having a six strings guitars with an extra string for lower notes than tune down a six strings guitar… Not the same feeling under the fingers for me. That’s my personal taste!”
During the set-up of the bass Xavier experiences some trouble with it.
He pulls out a box and pulls out tools to check his axe. “This is my magic box. I have everything in it to solve most problems which come up on tour. For today it is quite okay and works again. Tomorrow I will go to the studio and fix it finally.”
Breaking the Ice
After the show the band spends some time at the merch stall, sign about everything. Jen takes me aside after a while. “Should we do the interview now? Let’s go backstage if it okay for you.”
I agree of course. We change the room and the building – damn now it is cold outside – sit down and Jen the first question comes from her because Jen offers me a beverage first of all. “Do you want something to drink, what can I offer you?”
An Idea for the Report
Since we moved the interview from pre-show to after show, I think I skip most of my questions because it is a completely different animal now and let’s just talk as friends.
“Yes, of course, that’s a good idea.”
So you’ve to Mainz the first time?
“Yes, first time.”
It is a nice historical town, a lot of Roman stuff, the venue is surrounded by museums.
“Yeah, we saw that. When we arrived in the city we didn’t expect it at all. We were really surprised; it is a beautiful city.”
I tell her the story about Napoleon I visiting the town in 1804.
“Of course, he was everywhere! It is a great story to start the concert report with.”
You produced a new album [CTRL] which you present on the tour, I was waiting to buy it at one of your shows.
“Oh, that’s very nice of you, thank you very much! “
It is also your first headliner show.
“Yeah exactly, of course we had some shows but not on a tour and for all tours before we have been a supporting band. Arch Enemy, Infected Rain, Jinjer, Soilwork.”
Who was the best main act you supported, you can be honest?
“Of course, there was the first one, Swedish band Pain in 2017. The shows with Arch Enemy were really crazy because it was packed every night, the crowd was crazy, it was in 2018. Also with Infected Rain was very interesting because the clubs were this size [about 100-250] and that’s where we really found our fan base. You know, our fan base started growing at that point.”
Yeah, that lovely to follow. It feels like always being near to the band. You are always around.
“ Yeah, absolutely an advantage of social media.”
They were sure, we would cancel
A lot of your shows have been cancelled…
“Yes, due to Covid, our tours with Evergrey, Crematory, everything was postponed and cancelled. A lot of gigs had been cancelled at this is what is really frustrating. This is why now we have the control about everything and we didn’t wanna postpone again. Because if you had scheduled it for example for November or October, you never know what could happen. First, the market would be totally crazy ‘cause all the bands would play at the same moment IF they play. But we never know, we can have another variant or other crazy things happening in the world right now. So we were just tired of re-scheduling and we were fighting to make it. Honestly on this tour, all the promoters, people who organize the shows, they all told us the same thing. They said, ‘we thought, you would cancel.’ They were sure, we would cancel. They were sure we would not be coming. They saw it coming that one week before we’d say ‘we will cancel’. We said ‘No, no way! We will be there. Even if there is just one person we will be there.”
So if a venue out of sudden offers you a possibility for a gig, would you extend the tour?
“Absolutely, we had a few shows cancelled in the middle of the tour and honestly we search even for those – you know – shitty bars, anything. Even small, five people, we really would play there, we applied to some more shows but it is complicated for a lot of bars and promotors. So in the end we don’t have any replacement. But we would do it definitely.”
So for the featured image of my report I will use the tour poster with all the cancelled shows so people can see that you struggle and fight hard for the tour. And maybe someone will offer you a possibility!
“Yeah, that’s a very good idea, so everybody can see it.”
Harder, not Smarter
It was hard enough anyway, you produced a new album and couldn’t tour it.
“Yeah, of course the album was supposed to be released the year before. We were hopeful that it would happen but we had to wait for it. It was quite frustrating but indeed it gave us more time to work on the album and produce music videos. That is something we did a lot. We focused on other things and although it was frustrating that we couldn’t tour we were still very, very busy. We worked very hard during these moments. It is not like ‘Okay, we cannot tour and we just relax. It was not like that at all. We took this moment as a chance to work even harder.”
Work smarter not harder…, stupid phrase because you have to work hard to work smart.
Jen laughs: “Yeah, true, people don’t realize that.”
I report about my general interest in France and its history so we raise next question.
French Metal seems not to have the same popularity as in Germany?
“Yeah, totally different. We are very grateful to live in Strasbourg near the German border. If we lived in the middle of France, we would be quite stuck. The mentality is totally different. There is not such a big metal scene. People are not so much into metal scene like the Germans so for us Germany is the best country for metal music.”
Oh, have you ever toured Finland or Sweden in this case?
“Yeah, of course, they are great.”
By the way, I think tomorrow at Strasbourg Eddie Sinner from Sweden will be there, he is such a good supporter of the band.
“Yes, I would say he is really devoted to the band. We didn’t expect that. He is really crazy about the band and the life of the band in general. Everything he does on social media and so on is great.”
Dust In Mind on the Tour d’Eiffel
A Glimpse On The French Metal Scene
Let’s come back to the French metal scene, do you have contacts to other bands as for example Gojira?
“Yeah, but don’t even have contact with them, they are a too big number now.”
In comparison, how big are they, how big are you?
Jen points out a very clear scale: “Like THAT, they are like they’re are on Mars.”
Then you should focus on Jupiter.
She laughs: “Haha, they are, when you compare a German band from our size, like Rammstein. Too big. There are some good bands in France of course. But it is really hard for French bands to export their music from outside of the country. There are bands like Dagoba, Mass Hysteria, Celeste.”
Celeste, I’ve once seen them at Summer Breeze, all black stage, lights on their heads.
“Yeah, they have strange concept, true.”
What I have noticed, Jinjer seem to have a favour for French support bands. You were at Speyer for one show and on every tour I saw, they had a French support band.
“Yeah true, and also they manager, Allen. We signed with him too. So Jinjer and we have the same manager now.”
So Lois is the tour manager and Allen is your real manager, why do you need a manager?
“Before, I did everything on my own, then I arrived at the point where I needed someone more experienced then me. First to have more credibility and then we are all big fans of Jinjer, how the band grew and everything. We are all big fighters and we just thought, we need someone who can help us and push us. All alone we could not do it. So we just asked him and he at least agreed.”
But you know, he already is a busy bee.
Jen smiles: “You know what, we pushed him since four years ‘I want you to be our manager, I want you, you to be our manager’ – ‘I am too busy, you know I’m too busy’ and at one point he agreed ‘okay let’s do it’!”
I think he is one of the persons who resists but really can’t say no. If you’re stubborn enough, he can’t say no.
“Yes, he is a crazy guy, always super busy. He also organizes the Euroblast [festival] in Cologne. But that’s what we wanted. That’s why we were so stubborn.”
The Hated Phrase
You surely did right. A different topic and I hate this phrase, “female fronted”. What do you think about this phrase? It doesn’t describe the style of the music and often just is disrespectful because it means a band with a good looking front woman and big tits for a lot of those men who use it.
I agree. And that’s what I found as well with our label using it. We told them to stop using “female fronted” stamp. It does not describe which kind of music you play, Symphonic, Death Core, Industrial, whatever. It is really disrespectful. We even work a lot for not being associated with it. For example, two or three years ago we were proposed to do a tour called “Female Fronted” or “Female Voices”, with the Butcher Babies and Cobra and the Lotus and we said no although we would have loved to play with these bands; we like them a lot! But we expected there will just be the focus that there are female singers. Once you are stuck in this box it is hard to get out. We want to be appreciated by our music instead. For example, on this [current] tour I really asked ‘Please don’t put only female fronted band in support of us. You know, there is more diversity and so on. The promotors came and said ‘but we have this female fronted…’, we said, ‘no we don’t want, that is exactly what we don’t want’. So yeah, we don’t like this phrase at all.
About leadership and rolemodels
A couple of days back, we celebrated the World Women Day. In the music biz, we are still far from equality, actually: the harder the music the fewer women we find. And then yet again male greed for power began a highly destructive war, threatens millions of lives. You are a role model for women, young women. What do you consider your strength in this position?
“Honestly, I think I don’t even realize that I’m in such a position.”
C’mon, you’re too shy.
“No, no, with Xavier, the bass player we often have the discussion that we say we have this imposter-syndrome, that we are not legitimate. But when I realize that I try to wake me up ‘Fuck you Jen, you fight so hard and you are here and you’re spreading your message. And there are people who are looking to you and listen to the lyrics and I inspire people’. Sometimes I still cannot believe it. So it is not something I use but maybe yes because when I’m on stage with what I’m saying, the energy, the emotion.
So of course I try to spread positive things and gather people. Actually it’s the definition of a leader, to gather people around to grow up together. Probably I do it but I am not aware of it.”
That’s a feature of a good leader.
We joke around a little bit about leaders and bosses.
Future plans for 2022
For 2022, what other plans do you have? If everything goes well with Covid 19, wars, have you planned play some festivals?
“Yeah, we do, but we don’t know yet, we push and knock and every door. There are some American bands which might not be able to come so there could be open slots. Our plan is just to tour as much as we can.”
So hopefully you will be recommended to those festivals.
“Yeah, that would be great.”
American bands are happy to tour the US anyway, it’s all open!
“Yeah, it is crazy. Everyone goes there to play now, Infected Rain, Jinjer were supposed to, etc., every band!”
I’m a huge fan of Cristina Scabbia
A pros pos bands, do you have a band, a role model why you started or wanted to become a singer in a metal band?
Because of Lacuna Coil. I’m a huge fan of Cristina Scabbia. She is lovely. I was just 15 years old and I saw a video of her and I fell in love with her. I decided I wanna be a singer in a metal band and I wanna do the same. She is not even aging. You know, for many years I was even scared to see them on stage. I was scared to be disappointed. Actually I met her not many times, maybe twice after a show. And at that moments I became this 15 years old girl again shyly asking ‘Can I take a picture with you?’. I really wanna keep this innocence because that’s how my passion for music started. For me it is important to keep it. You know it’s not like because you’re on stage, you can say ‘ok now I see the backside of the industry. I’m not impressed by my idols.’ That’s really a feeling, I keep this feeling of magic for me. I’m sure I will keep it. I’m someone very emotional so I am really glad that I still feel the same towards the bands that make me feel this passion for music.
Lacuna Coil is a very good example in this. Your sound and style compares with them easily. But then Damien’s vocals are less harsh.
Jen laughs: “Yeah, true, more clean vocals. Lacuna Coil is a band I really would love to tour with. We never did even a festival with them. It still is one of my dreams!”
There is a little noise, one of the crew members comes in and offers us some fresh fruits from the buffet.
They should really you and book you as a support band! Their last tour was with Eluveitie….
Jen falls in “And Infected Rain! Actually, the guy who just passed by is also the soundman of Infected Rain. We just met on tour and we said, we love the sound, we want this guy, too.”
We are talking a bit about one of two singers of Eluveitie, Fabienne Erni.
“We have been playing a show in Switzerland together with Ad Infinitum and Illumishade [her other band project]. It was such a nice show, both [bands] were really nice people. It felt so good after this time to have all these people together. Fabienne is so talented, wow! There are so many great artists inspiring each other.”
Open Your Mind
Did you realize, we have only talked about women.
Yeah? That’s true, now I realize that!
We laugh about that small fact.
We haven’t talk about your bandmates …
Yeah, but about our biggest influences, Lacuna Coil, Pain from Sweden. And there is a little bit of Korn also, but only in the groove, a little bit in the groove. It is a mix of a lot of different styles.
That’s good because it means you are open minded.
“Yes, but it is also difficult. You remember, we spoke about being in the box. Sometimes when you are too open minded, they are not sure if you should be booked in this kind of metal festivals or so. When you fit everywhere, sometimes you fit nowhere. But I believe, more and more people will see the name of the band and we gain credibility. People will believe in our project.”
I think it is important to have your own unique sound but are open minded towards other influences. Even if people listen to you for example on the radio, out of sudden they should realize ‘Oh, that’s Dust In Mind, I recognize the sound’.
Jen agrees: “Exactly. That’s it is exactly described to the point!”
The Home Gig
“Last” Question, normally bands often start or finish their tour in their home town, you put Strasbourg in the middle, why?
“Yes, true, but I have no idea why we did it. I think, the conditions were really complicated regarding the dates. So in the end it was in the middle of the tour and then after Strasbourg we have two days off. We also have the experience of It is just perfect. We have two days to sleep in our own beds. Compared with our first shows, we have a good rhythm now. And I am mostly glad it is not the last show of the tour because we might be tired, I don’t know. But the fact why it is in the middle…, I really don’t know.”
Will you do something special tomorrow because it is your home town?
“We will see what happens, but we are thinking about a big after show party, family will be there and so on, we will see.”
Ah, yeah, after show party and no interview but a big buffet, by the way, catering, so far where did you have the best catering so far?
“Actually here, here it is very good. We had fresh vegetables, enough beverages and a vegetarian curry which was delicious. I am a vegetarian and the food was lovely here.
Good to hear, sometimes it is only pizza from the freezer or worse. You’re driving home tonight?
“Yes, we’re driving home. First we planned to stay here over night but it is so close that we decided to drive home. A little bit more than 90 minutes to go so we can sleep at home, wash our clothes, have a shower, I see my cats, etc.”
Clothes and Rituals
Clothes, yeah, by the way, your orange overall, is it pilot-related or astronaut?
“Astronaut, you see the sign here?” Jen shows me a kind of Nasa label on the left sleeve. “There were more labels and sign but I removed them, they were a bit too much. This outfit also is part of being less “female fronted” in comparison to the years before, you remember, all the leather, lace, a bit too sexy, it is more serious now, more focused on the music only.”
That’s interesting and funny, I thought more of a pilot or parachutist. Seems we come to the end since my “last” question another ten minutes already passed by, do you a ritual which you repeat before each show?
“Yes of course. I mediate before the shows, close my eyes and… That was also the reason why we had to move the interview after the show and the meet and greet, I was still tired from yesterday, we played Hamburg and I didn’t sleep much so I fell asleep and then it was too late.”
Reasonable, it made for sense now anyway. We’re done I think, I don’t wanna steal more of your time, you want to refresh and need your sleep. Thank you for sharing the time. It was a pleasure and have a safe trip home.
“The pleasure is on my side too, thank you for the clever and unusual questions! I hope it recorded!”
The final final question
I’m leaving the backstage area saying my good byes to all the musicians and the crew who are packing this and that, chatting, have a beer or go outside and smoke. I run into some of the few remaining fans and time by time the musicians come out, too. We talk again about this and that, idols, guitars, tour adventures, etc. I take the chance and ask Xavier again and as the really last question of the night about his bass: You’re playing a 5 string. Does it have a special reason?
Xavier replies: “Sure, I never played any other basses, I feel more comfortable with it. It is just a good feeling in your hand – and you have the one higher string you can use.”
And then there was the story with the locked gate which you can read in the concert report. So back home, I sip another glass of Italian red toasting to Jen’s inspirational attitude. This smart and hard-working singer could do with a little more self-esteem. So good to see that finally bands focus on skill and passion instead of the the outdated ‘sex sells’ mentality.
Dust In Mind: https://www.dustinmind.com/
Please buy physical music or download it from the bands official sources and don’t stream it for free because it steals your artists’ income
All photos taken by Friend X aka Mr. Deep at the shows in Mainz/Germany March 18th, 2022 and Speyer 2020 and edited by Mummi-Katja