After moving to Australia, the frontman of Dommin kept on writing solo material but stopped playing live for a couple of years. However, the creative musician eventually got surrounded by other enthusiasts and put together a band, Kristofer Dommin and The Oztones. Soon, the group already performed in the venues of Brisbane. In addition, this year Kristofer has released three new songs in 2020. What was it like, playing live again? How come Kristofer gravitates towards rockabilly and “bluesy vibe” in solo work? And what’s his message to all of us in the times of coronavirus?
- Hi Kris! You’ve been living in Australia for a few years now, and your daily life probably looks very different from what it used to be in LA, with Dommin, right?
- Yes, it’s very different. When I moved to Australia, I didn’t just add a partner to my life, but a whole family. So that came with all sorts of new obligations, responsibilities and joys.
- You wrote on Facebook that until recently, you hadn’t played live in over 3 years. Was it hard not to be on stage for so long? What did you get yourself busy with?
- It’s interesting. Playing live was not my favorite part of the music process. It always came second to the writing and recording. However, I think I didn’t appreciate it as much because it was always an aspect of my life. It really felt like a hole was left in me when I stopped. So I started getting the itch to play out again. I put together a band in Australia to back up my solo effort. We go by the name Kristofer Dommin and The Oztones.
- What was it like to play live again after such a long while? What was your first show after the break?
- I felt pretty rusty. I didn’t have the confidence I previously had because not only was I playing with a whole new band, but I was also playing in a whole new place in front of people who had never heard of anything I was doing. So I felt very strange and self-conscious. We played at a local bar in the West End section of Brisbane.
“It really felt like a hole was left in me when I stopped. So I started getting the itch to play out again.“
- Now that you record songs as a solo artist, Kristofer Dommin, you gravitate towards blues and country. Your track ‘No Destination’ reminds me a lot of Johnny Cash and such. Is it the most natural sound for you when you write music or does it depend on your mood?
- Yeah, I really don’t know. I think I’m constantly on a journey of self-discovery. And whenever I think I’ve landed somewhere, I have a tendency to want to uproot it and do something different. I’m not sure what that is. I just know I’ve really come to value creative freedom. I think if you take a lot of Dommin songs and strip them back to their most basic form, with an acoustic guitar, they probably don’t sound very different than some of what I’m doing now. I like being able to clothe the song in whatever elements fits the mood the best. If that’s a bluesy stomp and clap or a church organ, choir and tubular bells, I just want it to get the emotion across in the best way.
- Your new song is titled ‘Ready, Set, Go’, and in the chorus you repeat: “Just tell me when you’re ready, set, go”. Is it about life’s potential in general or a specific aspiration you have?
- That’s actually quite an older song that I just re-released under the solo project. I originally released it as a Dommin song, but it just didn’t seem like it fit. I think I was confusing the Dommin fan base. So I basically use my solo project as a place to do almost everything else. Ready, Set, Go is about taking risks and going on adventures. It’s as much of an attitude about everyday life as it is about big life-changing decisions.
- ‘The One’, the song you released in February as a solo artist, could easily be a Dommin song. I believe it could even fit well into Dommin’s latest studio album, Beautiful Crutch. How about a rock version of it? 😊
- Yes, I suppose it could have been a Dommin song. But I have recently sort of made the decision to keep Dommin loud, heavy and dark. So if anything is too soft, I’ll probably put it in the solo pile. So far, I’ve taken Dommin songs and made softer versions. I’ve yet to take a softer release to make a heavy Dommin version of it, but I’m open to the idea.
“I like being able to clothe the song in whatever elements fits the mood the best. If that’s a bluesy stomp and clap or a church organ, choir and tubular bells, I just want it to get the emotion across in the best way.”
- Of all the new tracks you have released this year, which is your personal favorite? The one you’re really proud of?
- I believe I have released 3 songs this year, the first being Dreamkiller. I think that might be my favorite only because I’m pretty happy with the production of it. It sounds nice and thick.
- In September you did three sets with The Oztones in Brisbane. How was the experience?
- It’s a whole different experience going from playing shows with multiple bands and doing one set than doing these 3 hour shows as the house band for the night. You have to pace yourself much more. It’s more of a marathon compared to a sprint.
- You also included Dommin tunes into the set but in a more “stripped rockabilly/bluesy vibe”. Which of Dommin songs did the public love best? Would you like to record rockabilly versions of some Dommin tracks officially one day?
- I get a good response to Next Day Apologies and The Quiet Man. I’m actually in the middle of recording new versions of those songs now. I’ll be putting them out in the next couple of months.
- With the COVID-19 pandemic in the world and homestay regime for all, do you think it’s time for singers to come up with more life-affirming songs and lyrics than ever before?
- I think these times will undoubtedly inspire all sorts of new songs. I don’t think it needs to be a stated goal. It will happen because that’s what songwriters tend to do. It will be interesting to hear what comes out in the next year.
- On the one hand, many people have lost their jobs recently, businesses went bankrupt. On the other hand, musicians finally got what they had always lacked – time. Was this time fruitful for you? Did it give rise to any new ideas and projects?
- It didn’t change much for me. I have found that if I don’t occupy a certain amount of time with musical creativity, I get a bit depressed. So, I have learned to find ways to make time, whether it is just 15 minutes or an hour a day. I was able to use this time to record a new solo record with The Oztones and put together ideas for the next Dommin album.
- Do you keep in touch with the guys from Dommin these days?
- Yes. I keep in touch with Cameron the most because he works with me on most of my songs, Dommin or otherwise and sends me live drum tracks to work with. He is also responsible for running the Dommin merch store, so we’re in contact pretty regularly. The other two are deep into their businesses but we find time to catch up now and then.
“I have found that if I don’t occupy a certain amount of time with musical creativity, I get a bit depressed. So, I have learned to find ways to make time“
- What will be the first big thing you’ll do when life goes back to normal, borders get reopened, etc.?
- I am not sure. Australia is a bit more isolated than most places and the country domestically is opening back up pretty rapidly. I’m not sure when international flights will resume. I am looking forward to getting back on stage regularly and getting my live mojo back.
- Let’s finish on a positive, life-affirming note from Kristofer Dommin. What would you like to wish our readers in these hard times?
- I guess I would say, appreciate all of the people in your life. Appreciate doctors, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, farmers, truck drivers and workers at the grocery store. Appreciate your local restaurants and bars, hairdressers and other small business owners. Appreciate artists, musicians and go experience a live human connection. Take care of your parents and grandparents. Care for the elderly and the less fortunate. This situation has exposed our fragility so be a good human. We all need each other. Be someone that others can rely on to be a force for good in this world.