I am sure most of our readers don’t know a thing about you – could you please introduce yourself and tell a bit about your background?
Julien Damotte – My name is Julien Damotte and I’m a thirty-year old guitar player from France. I’ve been playing the guitar since the age of twelve and on “Trapped” I also sang, played the bass and programmed drums. I’ve played in many bands, mainly blues and rock cover band, and I’m now playing lead guitar in the Parisian progressive hardcore band named MADONAGUN.
What kind of hopes and expectations do you have for ‘Trapped’?
Julien Damotte – “Trapped” is like a child’s dream. From the very first day, I’ve always dreamt about releasing a personal album under my own name, with real songs, not a mere instrumental solo project. I really hope to share this dream with as many people as possible. It will be available on www.guitareuroshop.com on March 9th at first, and then…who knows? Maybe I will get to play it on stage with a real band.
If you had to choose one song you feel represents you right, which song would you choose and why? Personally I would pick “Ending Chapter” a song I feel captures the essence pretty well.
Julien Damotte – I think I would pick “Dying” since it’s the very first song I wrote, back in 2004 and it’s what started it all. It’s maybe the most personal and introspective material I wrote so far. But “Ending Chapter” would also be a good choice since it’s a more recent (then more mature) reflexion about my own existence and Life in general. It’s also the most diverse song in terms of styles and atmosphere, and in that sense, it reflects my musical world better. It’s very hard to make a choice actually!
The songs have been written over a long period and must have grown like little babies, but how does the final result compare to the idea you had going into the studio?
Julien Damotte – Indeed, I started writing “Trapped” in 2004, and although I’ve always had a global mental picture of how the whole album would eventually sound, I’ve apprehended each song differently. When I write a song, I really like to have it finished before I start thinking of another one. Therefore, the final result is often very close to the original demo. The only changes are to be found in the interpretation and of course in the quality of the final sound (thanks to Kevin Codfert for the mix!). The only song that has truly evolved and been re-written through time is “Ending Chapter”. Maybe because it’s the most diverse and complete song…
Why did you choose to call your album ‘Trapped’ as the title for the album?
Julien Damotte – From the very first song I wrote, I’ve always tried to stick to the idea that we are all trapped into our own existence, body and soul, from birth to death. Indeed, no matter what we do, we’ll always be stuck in the same mortal coil. The lyrics of “Ending Chapter” are the one that explain this concept the best: “Life is a book of which we know the end”.
Can you give us a brief introduction on the lyrical concept behind ‘Trapped’, which basically is asking you to give us an insight in YOU, right?
Julien Damotte – Every song attempts to depict a feeling, a state of mind. Everything is autobiographical. Then, it really gives details about my own existence and my own feelings. However, I didn’t want to give too many details either, so that everyone could find similarities with their own lives. “Trapped” is then both personal and universal. Everyone can give different meanings to the lyrics according to their own experiences. The main themes are of course Life and Death, but also violence or even Love. Every song was created when and only when I needed to express something. That’s maybe why it took me 5 years to wrap it up!
© Marina D.
Tell us a bit about the artwork…
Julien Damotte – I’ve given total freedom to my good friend Stan W.D. He’s one of the most talented artists I know and I knew he would create something that’d fit the concept perfectly. He actually made a very different first version back in 2006, before listening to the cd. When he finally got to listen to the songs, he then changed everything and gave birth to this wonderful artwork. I invite you to check out his personal page: http://stan-w-d.deviantart.com/. He has worked with bands like No Return, Awacks, Cloverseeds and Lokurah. You’ll be amazed by his work!
Mattias IA Eklundh is appearing as a special guest on the album, how did that co-operation come around?
Julien Damotte – I’ve known Mattias since 2001 and he’s become a really close friend. As a guitar player, I obviously respect his outstanding musicianship but he’s also a truly unique character, honest and kind to the bone. Everything he represents has inspired me so much that I couldn’t imagine doing “Trapped” without him. In September 2008, I sent them two solo spots and he chose “Ending Chapter”. So did Christophe Godin! So I had to make room for both of them (which actually meant deleting my own solo!). And he didn’t only “shred” thoughtlessly, he really wrote a genuine piece of music! This solo is maybe the best I’ve heard from him so far. But then again, maybe I’m a little biased…
What inspired you to pick up the guitar in the first place, and who has influenced your style over the years?
Julien Damotte – My father is really the one to blame for this! He decided to buy me an acoustic guitar back in 1991. It was both a surprise and a disappointment. I didn’t feel like learning how to play an instrument at that time! But when he showed me how to play some Beatles or Chuck Berry tunes, I finally started to love it! Then, each time I discovered a new guitar player, it made me want to me better. Chronologically speaking, I was inspired by Slash, Gary Moore, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert, Ritchie Kotzen, Vinnie Moore, Michael Lee Firkins… and of course later on by the ones I took lessons with: Mattias Eklundh, Bumblefoot, Christophe Godin and Stephan Forté (Adagio).
You are releasing this album on your own; why and do you see this as an advantage?
Julien Damotte – At first I really wanted to have a label. But unfortunately, I didn’t have good response from any of the ones I contacted. So I finally decided to release it on my own, which also means promoting it alone. It’s very hard and time-taking, but also really rewarding. As the old saying goes: “if you want something done it's always better to do it yourself!”.
Carpe Diem (Cease the day) – is that the rule by which you try to live your life?
Julien Damotte – Since the writing of “Trapped”, yes. Before that, I wasn’t able to enjoy Life as it is. All the tragic events I’ve experienced during the writing process helped me realize how valuable life is and since then, I’ve always tried hard to make the most of every situation. I think that’s how life should be apprehended.
What tasks lay immediately ahead of you – any plans taking the album our on the road, single shows or…?
Julien Damotte – At the moment, I’m really focussing on the release of “Trapped”. I really want to do everything as good as I can. At the same time, I’m also spending a lot of energy into writing new stuff both for Madonagun and my own projects. Then will come the time to play “Trapped” live. Above all, I’m trying not to do everything at the same time.
You are also the lead guitarist in Madonagun – can you give us a quick insight into that band?
Julien Damotte – Madonagun is a totally different experience, and that’s what I like about it! I joined this band in 2007 and we released our first E.P. “Resurrect on the Razor Edge” in January 2010. The only goal we have is to write music as we feel it. No other constraint. The result is a mix of Hardcore, old school Metal and Progressive elements. You can check us out on MySpace: www.myspace.com/madonagun. Our first E.P. is available on www.madonagun.bigcartel.com.
Thank you very much for answering my questions. Do you have any last rants for our readers?
Julien Damotte – Thank YOU for this interview! I really hope it will make the readers want to check out “Trapped”. See you on March 9th!
Interviewed by Kenn Jensen