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Destiny Potato Interview

Destiny Potato Interview
May 31, 2014 (via Skype)



Destiny Potato. Let that name roll around in your brain for a while … DE-STI-NY PO-TA-TO. Aye, it’s a quirky name. But make no mistake: This Serbian alt-rock outfit is not a band thrown together for a lark. Fans of progressive music should already be well-acquainted with David Maxim Micić from his BILO albums and innovative guitar style. Destiny Potato’s debut album LUN recalls David’s progressive roots to some extent, but it also is accessible to casual listeners with catchy hooks and a satisfying range of styles. The original idea for the band was to have two female vocalists, but Destiny Potato ultimately went with a single siren, founding vocalist Aleksandra Djelmas. When you already have a singer who can growl, scream, hit the operatic notes, deliver a whisky-soaked purr, or sing in a rock/pop style, a second set of pipes would be rather superfluous; wouldn’t it?

Destiny Potato


Sonic Cathedral’s Robin Stryker rounded up with composer/multi-instrumentalist David Maxim Micić and vocalist Aleksandra “Alex” Djelmas for a heaping serving of hot Destiny Potato. Dive in for the backstory on LUN, an introduction to the duduk, on-stage disasters, and much more!

Sonic Cathedral:  Sonic Cathedral is very happy to welcome David and Alex from the Serbian band, Destiny Potato! Starting with a non-musical topic, we’ve been reading about the massive flooding in your home city of Belgrade. Are you guys and your families okay?

David:  Actually, we are. Some friends of ours and some of our family have been affected because the flood wasn’t just in Belgrade, but is in many cities in Serbia.

Alex:  And Bosnia.

David:  Yes, and Croatia. So, it was a really, really bad two weeks for this region.

Alex:  But we are not affected by it. We’re fine. We are in Belgrade (in the main city), and everything is fine.

David:  We have been trying to help by donating or just volunteering for the past couple of weeks for the people who were affected by it.

Sonic Cathedral:  On a happier note, congratulations on the release of LUN! What is the meaning of the title?

David:  Oh, it’s just like a short version of “Lunatic”, which is one of the songs on the album. I guess it’s just a short name and catchy name for people to remember. It was kind of a first choice for the album name, and we chose to keep it.

Sonic Cathedral:  Destiny Potato is a young band, and LUN is your debut album. So, would you give our readers an introduction to the wonders of the Potato world?

Alex:  There are a lot of wonders in our world! Me and David met in high school, and we were best friends since then. We started working on a few songs that turned out to be something more serious. What else? We like to hang out, have jam sessions, and make songs out of that.

David:  Somehow the band happened!

Alex:  There were a lot of members who were here, and then they left. A lot of things changed in … I don’t know … three years maybe. But basically, it’s that -- me and David having jam sessions.

David:  Even though we are pretty fresh on the scene, Aleksandra and I have been making music for about nine years now. Destiny Potato started working officially in 2011, when we were invited to play the Euroblast Festival. Then Century Media came along, and the rest is just history.


Destiny Potato 


Sonic Cathedral:  For many bands, the term “pop” is a sneering insult. Do you take any offense at reviewers characterizing LUN as having elements of pop?

Alex and David [in unison]:  Not at all!

David:  Actually, we are all fans of pop music to some degree -- some more, and some less. I mean, when talking about genres, I always like to say that music genres are just different colors of the musical spectrum. All I really want to hear in music is QUALITY. It doesn’t matter if it’s pop or rock or heavy metal, as long as there is some decent quality and a good message sent with it.

Alex:  We are not insulted by any chance of being called a pop band or pop/metal band.

Sonic Cathedral:  For me, progressive metal is a little inaccessible, so I hadn’t heard the term “djent” before checking out Destiny Potato. What is djent, and do you think that term applies to your music?

David:  Well, we never tried to declare our music as djent, in the first place. But since my solo records were kind of associated with the djent community, I guess people thought Destiny Potato could fit in there. Uhhhmmm, and speaking of djent, it has been around for years now. And for people who don’t know what djent is, it’s an onomatopoeia for the guitar sounds that are used quite frequently in this scene.

Sonic Cathedral:  Speaking of your solo project, it seems like one or more motifs from BILO 3.0 make an appearance on Destiny Potato’s album. Is it correct that a bit of “Everything’s Fine” (from BILO 3.0) shows up on “Love Song” (LUN)?

David:  Yes, in the bridge section of the song.

Sonic Cathedral:  Would you mind discussing the idea behind using motifs that carry over between albums?

David:  Motifs are just one of many tools that you can use when writing music. For people interested in what I’m working on, it’s something really fun to find the references in my records. All the BILO records … there are three releases so far … are all connected. Destiny Potato is pretty much connected to all of them with just the fact that I was working on it.

Alex:  And it’s obvious.

David:  Yeah, I think using that tool is just one of many. I kind of find it fun! It can turn out to be a really cool signature of some sort.

Alex:  A cool signature move. Woooo!

Sonic Cathedral:  What is the instrument that we hear at the beginning of “Love Song”?

David:  It is called a duduk; it’s an Armenian instrument. It sounds like a clarinet, but it’s more “crying” sounding. It is more sad.


Destiny Potato 


Sonic Cathedral:  I am curious about “Love Song”, because watching the lyric video, it seems to be the antithesis of a love song.

Alex:  “Love Song” in particular is about how you can love someone so much, and then hate them at the same time. I think there is that double-sense in almost every song. (It depends, of course, on the song.) But “Love Song” is about that thin line between love and hate. There are a lot of double meanings in some of our songs.

David:  Also, you can't have negative without positive. Without the absence of light you can't have dark. I think “Love Song” is partially about that because, without a little bit of hate, there is no love.

Sonic Cathedral:  David, you are singing vocals on one of the songs, “Machine”. How and why did you choose that particular song for your vocal debut with Destiny Potato?

David:  <laughs> Actually, I made that song one day, and I had this melody in my head. So, I just kind of recorded some pilot vocals for it to not forget it. I think I played it to our drummer Yeqy, so he listened to it, and he was like: “You should keep this.” I sent it to Aleksandra and the other guys in the band, and they told me the same thing. So we just decided to keep it that way. I don’t know what else to say about it. <laughs> It wasn’t meant to be that way, but it just turned out to be that way. And I think it came out kind of nice.

Sonic Cathedral:  It did! Well, I love hearing people’s origin stories. So would each of you give us some background on how you came to be a musician?

Alex:  Okay, I’ll go first, and I’ll be short. Our dads were connected -- they were drummers, and they were both drummers in the same famous Yugoslavian rock back, called YU Grupa. So yeah, my dad was a drummer, and my mom was a painter. So I was always kind of surrounded by art in all of its forms. I used to watch a lot of Disney movies, and they were all in English, so my mom made me learn English when I was really young. I liked the songs and the musicals they all have in Disney movies, so I just sang along with that. <laughs>

When my dad heard me singing, he thought I was talented, but he was like: “No, no. She shouldn’t be in music. She should probably do something like management or computers or something smarter.” But at the time when I was supposed to enroll in high school, sadly for him, he figured out that music was the only thing that I really loved, and that I don’t have a talent for math, chemistry, physics or anything of that kind. I’m just an artistic soul, and I should probably do music or painting and design and art (like my mom).

So I decided to go with music. That’s when I met David in high school, and I’ve been in music ever since. I play piano. I started to play piano when I was 15, and play guitar when I was 12. But I didn’t want to play guitar when I got the piano because I thought the piano is much more … I don’t know … elegant for me than the guitar. So I just left the guitar in the corner of my room, and started playing piano. And that’s my background.

Sonic Cathedral:  Alex, do you ever get a chance to use the visual arts side of your nature for creating the look of the band or the album cover?

David:  For BILO projects, my sister Simona is a really cool painter, although that isn’t her profession. (Her primary profession is a teacher in a school.) But she paints some really interesting pictures, and she kind of developed an interesting style over the years. She does it as a hobby, but she is deeply into it. I like to use her motifs for BILO covers. Since I started messing around with Photoshop, I like to use her paintings, and make some stuff up. For Destiny Potato, we actually haven’t gotten the time to think.

Alex:  To get a particular style.

David:  I think we are developing with time, and we will see what comes next.


Destiny Potato 


Sonic Cathedral:  David, I took a detour before giving you a chance to tell us about your musical journey.

David: Oh well, I’ve been into music since I knew that I existed, because my father was a drummer. We had drums in our home, and I started learning some first drum beats when I was three years young. <laughs> I don’t know, but he then decided not to let me become a drummer; he kinda wanted me to become a composer one day maybe. He actually wanted to give me the chance to become a composer one day by selling the drums, and he brought a piano into our house. I think that was a really smart decision he made! So, I’ve been into music since forever, and there wasn’t a particular moment when I DECIDED to become a musician. It was just a natural thing I did.

Sonic Cathedral:  You certainly did go for it with gusto, David. If memory serves, you studied composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. What were the best lessons you took away from that particular experience?

David:  Life lessons! <laughs> There were moments there where I had like $10 for a month to somehow survive, but I was lucky that I had friends in Boston already. So I was just staying at Harvard University, illegally for some time, which was kind of a secret, but it isn’t anymore. <laughs>

Sonic Cathedral:  Nope!

David:  It was a really tough period, but I tried to cope with the reality of the situation and with school and with everything. But since I didn’t have much money to continue with Berklee College of Music, I came back after one year of studying there. So, I decided to try and do something with my career over the internet, and it turned out pretty good I guess.

Sonic Cathedral:  What is one thing you loved about Boston, and one thing you hated about it?

David:  Actually, right now, I can’t think of anything that I hated about Boston. I loved the city. It looks pretty European to me, which is kind of close to me. The fact that it’s one of the biggest university cities in the world, is just wonderful. There are so many young people and talented people who are working hard, and that can really give you inspiration and push to work even harder. But things I hated? I don’t know, maybe the winter. There were a few weeks where we couldn’t go to our college because of a huge snow storm. I think the winters were pretty bad there.

Sonic Cathedral:  Winter and summer in Boston can both be pretty brutal. <laughs> Getting back to LUN, I have a strange love for the accordion part at the beginning of “Lunatic”. Was that recorded live? And why did you choose an accordion of all instruments?

David:  Actually, we didn’t have an artist who played accordion; I just played it on a keyboard. The accordion is kind of associated with Serbian folk music to some degree, and I always liked to use it in my compositions when I was younger. I think I’ll continue using it in the future ... using some exotic instruments that kind of give the different colors. So it was just a simple aesthetic choice. Nothing much more deep.


Destiny Potato 


Sonic Cathedral:  What is your favorite exotic instrument to use? <Alex and David snicker> Oh my god, guys. Keep it CLEAN.

Alex:  <still laughing> I like to play the mouth accordion.

David:  A harmonica.

Alex:  Yeah, I like to play the harmonica.

David:  For me, I actually fell in love with the duduk, the instrument that plays at the beginning of “Love Song”. I’m dying to get me one of those instruments and start learning that instrument, because it has just a really, really sad feel to it.

Alex:  The kalimba is nice.

David:  The kalimba is nice also.

Sonic Cathedral:  Alex, we’ve talked about David’s BILO project. Have you had other side-projects or bands?

Alex:  Yeah, there is Vectors, I sang on their record; I sang on Above the Earth; and I did a few collaborations on BILO of course. I have my solo project, but I’m just too lazy to do anything about it, really. It’s been in progress for the last four years, and it’s still in progress. <laughs> Yeah, maybe I’ll release it someday soon, or maybe not. I don’t know. But I am working on something other than Destiny Potato.

Sonic Cathedral:  You have a spectacular voice! Did you train formally, or are you mostly self-taught?

Alex:  I probably shouldn’t say this, but I’m gonna say it because I don’t care. It’s been a long time anyways. I went to jazz singing in high school, so basically I should tell you that I learned something there. But I didn’t. I hated jazz when I was 15 … imagine that! I couldn’t understand jazz, and they were kind of forcing us to sing and play jazz from the ‘40s and ‘50s, and I just really hated all that. I was always trying to get me some Stevie Wonder tunes, and the professors didn’t like that.

My biggest singing achievements were made after high school on my own, while I was practicing. I tried to get into Berklee College of Music as well. So while I was really, really trying to pass that audition, I was practicing like four hours a day, every day. There was a lot of crying and screaming and kicking the door and everything. But after that, when we started recording … I think it was the “Love Song” we started recording after my brutal training on my own and pushing my boundaries … they told me: “Hey, something is different with your voice. Did you practice? Did you do something different?” <laughs> So it just kept me more motivated to practice even more and to explore what I can do with my voice.

Basically, the short answer to your question is: Yeah, I learned everything today on my own, even the piano. I learned to play even the piano on my own. I learned EVERYTHING on my own. <laughs>


Destiny Potato 


Sonic Cathedral:  At what point did you start experimenting with a harder vocal style? It is you (and not David, as some people think) who does all the growling and screaming on LUN.

Alex:  Well, that’s a funny story. I had the tribute band in high school (a Guano Apes tribute), but I couldn’t sing like Sandra Nasić because I don’t have as rough a voice as her, so I couldn’t do that. So I thought maybe I could try to kind of scream it out. I tried, and everyone was like: “Whoa, how can you do that?!” And I was like: “It was good?” And they were like: “Yeah, hell it’s good!” It didn’t sound like shit back then, but it didn’t sound really good either. I always liked metal, and I always wanted to be like Corey Taylor (Slipknot) or maybe Jonathan Davis (Korn). I really, really like how they can be clean and angry and growl and everything at the same time, so they were always my idols. I always liked kind of that rough singing.

But I really, really, really tried that on our first demo version of “Lost Dream”; I tried to really be a satan or demonic or something. David said it sounded cool, so I just kind of perfected it. Then, when we recorded “Smile” [for BILO 3.0], I did something RIDICULOUS, and it turned out great. So I learned that I can do that as well. I mean, we’re still working on that technique, but I like it. I like singing metal as much as I like singing jazz and R&B. It’s weird, but I practice growling as well as I practice everything else. <laughs>

Sonic Cathedral:  Destiny Potato have already done a lyric video for “Love Song.” Is there a plan to release an official music video off LUN?

David and Alex [in unison]:  Yes!

Sonic Cathedral:  How about some hints?

Alex:  I dunno … MAYBE.

David:  Yeah, why not. I don’t know if we should say which song, but it’s definitely going to be one of the more pop-ish sounding songs. But definitely, we are planning on it. We are waiting for our drummer to come back from the Brazilian tour with his tribute band. Then, we are going to start working on an official video, which should be up by the end of the summer (I hope). I don’t know, but I think that official videos are a really, really good thing for any band. It promotes the music and the image of the band, which we still don’t have…

Alex:  … we didn’t really figure out exactly the image we want. This is going to be a good chance to find out what is our image and what do we want to say with our look.

Sonic Cathedral:  Does this mean that you have gotten a replacement for your bassist?

David:  Actually, not yet. We have been without a bassist for almost a year now, and we used backing tracks to have a bassist live. But we’ll definitely start looking for a bass player in the near future, as we’ll probably start looking for some shows.

Sonic Cathedral:  Speaking of shows, I enjoyed the clips from your appearance at the UK Tech-Metal Fest last year. What is coming down the pike for Destiny Potato, as far as live show dates?

David:  At the moment, we don’t have many shows schedule. We have the UK Tech-Fest again [in July], and we are looking for some UK shows at the moment around that date. We also have some local shows around Eastern Europe in September or October. (We are still discussing that.) There is another festival that we can’t reveal at the moment because they didn’t announce us yet. But we LOVE playing live, and we are working really hard on that part of being a band. We are just looking for some possible tours and shows at the moment, and we’ll see what happens with that. Hopefully, people will show interest and invite us somewhere soon.


Destiny Potato 


Sonic Cathedral:  What is your favorite part of playing live?

Alex:  I think the adrenaline -- the RUSH I get when I get on the stage, and the feeling I get when I see how our fans look at us. Actually, at the UK Tech-Fest last summer, I was really, really surprised and happy because, at some point, people knew the lyrics of two or three of our songs, even though we didn’t release anything. So that was really nice to see that we have really awesome fans. But I think the greatest part of being on the stage is that rush I get and that connection with my bandmates. Everything that happens on the stage is crazy. It’s insane because we always have some problems on stage, and that’s also something that (in some weird way) I like. Every time, something happens! Like last time, David broke his cable.

David:  TWO cables.

Alex:  Two cables … he broke a cable! I mean, is that even POSSIBLE? And at one point, we were doing “Take A Picture”, and we agreed that I could get the camera, and shove it in people’s faces, and scream and get the audience going. I turned and tried to get the camera, and David just looked at me like “nope, it’s not working.” I was like: “What, the camera’s not working?! Oh, noooooo. There goes my performance!”

David:  She was dreaming about that moment. <laughs>

Alex:  <laughs> I really was dreaming for like two days about that moment -- that particular moment -- and it didn’t happen. So, all of those things are really cute, and I like everything about being live with Destiny Potato because it’s really fun and exciting.

Sonic Cathedral:  As always, the last words are yours. Talking directly to readers who may be fans or may be learning about Destiny Potato for the first time, what would you like to tell them?

David:  Try to be happy, and try to make others feel happy. Try not to be sad, and don’t make others feel sad. <Alex laughs>

Sonic Cathedral:  Wise words. Thank you for chatting with Sonic Cathedral, Alex and David!

David:  Thanks for having us.

Alex:  Thank you.


Destiny Potato 


Many thanks to Jolie Swannack, Jelena Radosavljevic, and The Don Photography for the photographs!

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