Interview With Divinex

What was the beginning point for your music career? How did it all start?

Part of the roots of Divinex were just friends in highschool that were really active in the school music program that got really interested in more alternative styles. We had a mixed bag of musicians that would play together in different combinations of the same people for bands with different music in mind. At one point some of us even had a band that just simply played whatever songs we liked. We would all pick a song and we all learned them, so sometimes we played really weird gigs where we would play We The Kings followed by Protest the hero, or Anberlin followed by Job for a Cowboy. It was wild, haha

But James, our original drummer Zach, and I (Jay) started taking more of an interest in writing original music in later highschool and when I went onto music school I got really into writing seriously and eventually wrote a set of tracks that would eventually become our first EP, Movement. When I was done writing and really wanted to start playing it live, I naturally turned back to the guys I already jammed with, so we got together again based around that music and Divinex was born.  I still take the lead in writing most of the material at this point, but I will say James is an avid writer as well, and he’s definitely added a lot and takes over leads in a few places. And on songs like “Reinventions”, we both play different parts of the main lead guitar riffs, and we have straight up guitar solo battles mid-song where we trade solos back and forth.

We initially clicked with a promoter for Water Street Music Hall and had lots of shows there and around that scene, and later started playing shows in other cities and we even won a battle of the bands sponsored by Sumerian Records and we got to open Summer Slaughter tour for one show. Oh the memories, haha

Were there any bumps on the road? What kind of challenges did you have to deal with?

Oh yeah. The biggest challenge  has always been promoting ourselves, and it still is frankly. Writing and playing music is one skill set and marketing your music and planning and executing on regular, numerous content for 5+ social media channels continually is another. We’ve definitely learned how to package ourselves up and sell ourselves a little better over time but these days there are a MILLION things you could be doing to promote yourself, and your work is never done. 

We also had to learn to adapt experimental songs into digestible tracks so you can better make video media for it, we had to learn how to sculpt guitar tone and refine our live sound, how to work with promoters and all of the other music vendors, how to plan road shows and small “tours”, and tons of other things.

Of course the fundamental principle of keeping 3+ people in alignment and synergy is certainly something that is easier and harder at times, and we’ve had to survive some member changes and setbacks too, but that’s life. 

What was the most fulfilling and satisfying moment so far?

A lot of times I think it’s a lot of little moments to be honest. Seeing new shirt or cd orders to ship or a nice comment on something that’s up on youtube or social media. Any reminder that something we made is a meaningful part of someone else’s life just feels amazing. It’s such a unique way of connecting with someone and it never gets old to see people appreciate something you’ve created.

The same goes for shows, when you have those nights where you really feel like you kicked ass and gave people truly valuable entertainment and left people with a way better experience than they expected. It always feels great to recount the unique experiences we’ve had as well, from opening for so many killer bands like Born of Osiris, Chon, Jason Richardson, Angel Vivaldi, Veil of Maya, Erra. One early show that will always stick out is Ragefest 2013. We played to such a huge crowd and decided to throw in a cover of Underoaths “In Regard to Myself” and it was just a magic moment. 

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

That’s always so hard to pin down with just words. It’s instrumental music that stays interesting and exciting without vocals by exploring complex rhythms, uncommon  time signatures, and unique melody and dynamics, but in a way that still feels catchy and memorable, and is always moving toward a satisfying climax in the song or album. It’s heavy and powerful but it’s more melodic and exciting than angry. 

What is your creative process like?

I (Jay) usually take the lead on writing the songs, and it usually starts with spending a lot of time with Guitar Pro. Not so much punching things in, but I use it as a great way to quickly record ideas and it’s easy to keep tweaking them and changing individual notes until the riff is perfect and developed nicely, and you can make those changes without having to record anything like you do when recording. 

Then when the song skeleton is done we usually start learning it and test driving it as an ensemble. Drum parts usually get adapted from what was written to feel comfortable and organic in the drum departments, and occasionally we change harmonies and song layouts depending on how things feel live. James and I also work together on lead parts sometimes where I’ll throw him a section to solo in or  write a lead guitar part for. Things definitely change a bit overtime, but the bones of the song mostly stay intact. 

Then of course there’s the studio recording phase where we see how everything sounds and add extra layers and sounds to make it feel full. It’s a different process really. When writing a song you’re focused on the instruments having adequate parts to play and making enough layers and elements to make the sequence of events in the song interesting, but in the studio you end up focusing on how to make those events fill the music space. Synths and sounds to fill in the gaps, heck, sometimes even additional guitar parts. There are definitely parts on our albums that have 5 separate guitar tracks.

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

Egos, haha. Nothing against people that are talented, know it, and advocate for themselves, but sometimes you have people that buy a guitar one month, play a show in their local dive bar the next month, and expect to be treated like celebrities immediately after. Or people that don’t stop talking about their band or raps in social groups and are always flexing. Like, take it down a notch, Jagger. You’re not famous yet, hahaha

If you were asked to give a piece of advice to upcoming bands, what would that be?

Stay constructively critical of yourselves. When you’re playing gigs, don’t just lose yourself in how fun it feels and rocking out. Really listen to what you’re playing and try your best to make it sound good. I mean playing live is super fun and we all get sucked into it from time to time, but don’t be one the guy jump-kicking for instagram while strumming the wrong chord entirely, or doing guitar tosses before you can play your solo without botching it, haha. Make sure you’re in tune, make sure you’re loud enough to be heard when you need to be, and not so loud you’re overtaking someone’s solo. Definitely move around, rock out, and have fun, but the longer you play, the more you realize how much nuance and refinement it takes to make a live show sound great, so the more you can think about that early, the better. 

What is new with the band at the moment? What are you currently working on and would like to share with the world?Dreamscapes 6-16!! We’re releasing an entire full-length we put a ton of work into, that was mixed and mastered by Steve Sopchak, the brains behind a lot of  Ice Nine Kills and Motionless In White’s recordings. Our music video for one of the tracks “Presque Vu” is already out and we’re so excited to have the full album be out in under a couple weeks! Please consider pre-saving and listening once it’s out!

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