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DOMADORA interview with Belwil Kiba and Gui Omm

Of all the recent stoner and doom metal bands that I’ve come across none of them have blindsided me so quickly with such sickeningly, deafening tones and face melting solos!  From the get-go Domadora’s debut album Tibetan Monk is killer but it really kicks into gear on the second track “Ziggy Jam” and it’s obvious what this band is about; heady, heavy, psych shredding over ridiculously monstrous riffage, backed by an utterly thunderous rhythm section of clockwork drums and slithering, smooth bass lines popping and exploding in fuzzy rampages.  You can tell when a band is playing off the cuff and you can tell when something’s been rehearsed, and Domadora appears to literally be the best of both worlds, spending just enough time to craft a perfect skeleton of a song and imbuing it with a perfect amount of raw, live energy to bring the lurching mud automation of the frameworks to life like a golem in the solitude and safety of the studio.  Domadora’s completely capable of dialing the speed back a bit without losing their biting edge as well demonstrated by songs like “Nairoya” and “Domadora Jam”, which both bleed a staggered metal meets jazz-fusion, but done right for once.  Simplistic lead line and stoned riffs build to frenzied crescendos, all locked into place by the airtight rhythm section helping to propel this ridiculously talented trio into the hazy, smoke filled atmosphere.  Starting off with two nice lengthy jams, Domadora also demonstrates another rare trait amongst improvisational psych bands, with tight well defined songs which include vocals that almost come out of nowhere, but quickly endear themselves to you on “Chased And Caught”; a pretty dead ahead stoner-psych anthem clocking-in at only four and a half minutes following two ten minute plus long songs.  “The Oldest Man on the Left” is perhaps my favorite track on the album showcasing how the band works best, building from a simple lead line growing and undulating like the tentacles of some monstrous beast reaching up out of the void to swallow your soul.  The bass will rattle your wall and the solos will tickle the inside of your chest if you listen to the song at the volume that it’s intended to be enjoyed at, and from this moment on the album is clearly moving to its close with “Domadora Jam” bringing the tempo down a little without losing any of the frenzied energy of the rest of the album and closing with the brief and simplistic “Wild Animal Skin”.   The vinyl version of Tibetan Monk is due any day now and I highly recommend you give the link below a listen because you are not going to want to miss out on one of my favorite albums of 2013, as it will likely be one of your favorites for 2014!  Thankfully I managed to get both founding members, Belwil and Gui, to talk all things Domadora with me in between increasingly frequent live performances and recording.  Kick back, load a bowl, click the link below and get ready for a trip…
Listen while you read:

What is DOMADORA’s lineup?  Have you always had this lineup or have there been any changes to the band?

Belwil:  The band’s only existed for two years.  Gui Omm is on bass, Karim Bouazza is on drums and I’m on guitar and vocals.  Gui and I are original members but Karim is our third drummer.  He’s played with Domadora for ten months now.               

Are any of you in any other bands at this point?  Have you released any music with anyone else?  If so can you tell us about that?

Gui:  Before Domadora, making music wasn’t much more than a hobby.  I played in a lot of bands with a variety of different styles over the years, but always just for fun.  To have music in my life.  I’ve discovered I don’t feel good if I don’t play music.  Now, with Domadora, I’m so in sync with the music, the values, the spirit of the whole adventure, I play in Domadora period; although I’m always up for a good jam sessions with friends, or soon to be friends.

Belwil:  Yeah I’ve played with some bands in the past and released a few different kinda things, but today Domadora’s my only real project. 

Where are you originally from?

Gui:  We’re from Paris and still live there.

Was your home very musical growing up?  What was your first real exposure to music?  Were either your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved/interested in music?

Gui:  My dad is a music lover.  Ever since I was a child he’s listened to, and I’ve always heard, a lot of music.

Belwil:  I didn’t really grow up in a family that listened to a lot of music.  I was eight when my cousin taught me a little riff on the guitar and my father listened to Hendrix’s first single “Hey Joe”.  After that I dreamed of having an electric guitar, but I had to wait until the age of seventeen for it. 

If you had to pick one moment of music that changed everything for you, a moment that opened your eyes to the possibilities of music and changed your perception of the world, what would it be?

Gui:  That would be in my early twenties, my encounter with techno music and substances that put you in a different reality.  I realized music could be more than a just a song that generates emotions.  Music is, and its first purpose like in the ancient and primitive times, was a way to put someone into a healing trance or into an altered state.

Belwil:  It was in my early twenties too, I walked with my backpack and a little folk guitar from the north to the south of America.  My first goal was to sleep on the crossroads where Robert Johnson met the devil on Route 61, you know the legend.  On the road, with my poor French English, I met a lot of brothers and sisters just because of my guitar and then later in the south, I became friends with Spanish people without speaking Spanish at all.  Just with music.  That’s when I understood music was a magic way to live your life.

Where’s DOMADORA currently located at these days?

Gui:  In Paris.

How would you describe the local music scene where you all are at?

Gui:  It’s Paris, and there’s a lot of bands and musicians of every kind in this region.  There’s a little stoner scene with good bands and a passionate audience.

Belwil:  The Paris music scene is limited because you’re not allowed to make a lot of noise here, you can’t play loud or heavy in most of the places so a lot of cool clubs have closed.   Now most of bands who get shows play snobbish jazz, acoustic and light blues or sleepy electro music.  There’s so many cool bands who never play.  It’s sad.

Do you think the local music scene has played a large role in the development of DOMADORA’s sound?  What about your history?  Do you think DOMADORA would be the same band without the local music scene there?

Gui:  The main thing about Domadora is freedom.  A free spirit.  So what we find in the local scene is love and support.

Are you very involved in the local scene there?   Do you book or attend a lot of shows?

Gui:  Yeah, we attend a lot of shows.

When and how did you all meet?

Belwil:  Gui and I were just jamming in a pub in Paris.  We became friends and Domadora was born.

How did DOMADORA become a band and when did that happen?

Belwil:  So Gui and I met in a pub in Paris.  We played together and realized that we both loved long improvised instrumental jams, just starting with a riff and never knowing where we’re going to arrive.  Gui knew a drummer Fred, we tried to playing in the studio and those first jams became our first real songs, so we decided to become a band.

What does the name DOMADORA mean?  What does that mean or refer to in the context of your band name?

Belwil:  We’re a jam band and we play with on instinct.  When we get in the studio we never know what we’re going to do.  There’s a riff, some improvisations and in a magical way, all this wild jamming becomes something real and concrete and at that point we feel like we’ve “tamed the riff”.  So we consider ourselves “wild jam tamers”.  The name “The Tamers” is like a lot of other band’s names though.  In French, tamer is “dompteur”, not an easy band name, but the Spanish translation is “DOMADORA”. 

While we are talking so much about your history can you share who some of your major musical influences are?  There appear to be some pretty obvious influences but the more you listen to the music the more you take away.  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than individually?

Gui:  Lately, I had to fill out a form about Domadora, and the influences section was like “Without [the name of a famous band or musician], there would have been no [The name of your band].”  So without Jimi Hendrix, there would have been no Domadora.

Belwil:  I don’t like giving names because I think there’s just too many different influences to list.  I think that each of us have listened to really different things and the influences on Domadora are more in a way to approach music more than in imitating or trying to sound like certain artists.  It’s more of a mentality, a common process of creation that we share.  But yes, its obvious Domadora’s influences are mostly from the 70’s; although not all of them.

I love almost everything about music.  What I don’t love is having to describe how a band sounds to people who’ve never heard them before.  I don’t subscribe to a lot of the simplistic labels that people assign to music so it’s kind of hard for me to describe stuff a lot of the time.  Rather than me wasting even more time how would you describe DOMADORA’s sound in your own words to our readers that haven’t heard you before?

Gui:  Ha-ha, I feel the same!  I never know what to say.

Belwil:  I would say that you have to feel it.  I mean maybe it’s not music or maybe it’s only music; it’s more like a trip between different feelings.  I think you have to close your eyes and mix all your sensations, your memories, your sadness, your punishments, your angers and your enjoyments with music and then you’re going to disconnect from reality.  You’re going to have a trip into your past, you’re going to meet lost people…

Can you talk a little bit about DOMADORA’s songwriting process with us?  Is there a lot of jamming and exchange of ideas while you all are practicing that you kind of distill into a song or is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished product to work out and compose with the rest of the band?

Belwil:  There are several ways we do it.  Sometimes I’ll come in with a guitar riff and play it for the other guys and then we’ll jam on it until it becomes a piece, like “The Oldest Man On The Left”.  Other times we just improvise in the studio and a new song is born.  And sometimes Giu proposes a bass riff.  Then there’s even times when I will come in with a new complete song, like “Chased And Caught”.

I’ve talked to a lot of instrumental psych bands at this point and I’m always sure to ask how much improvisation is in their music?  Does DOMADORA spend a lot of time writing songs and getting all the transitions and parts nailed down or is there a large element of improvisation to DOMADORA when you are playing music?

Belwil:  We never really play the same version of a song.  We set some transitions and between transitions, it’s improvisation, but nothing stays definitive, everything is moving and alive all the time. 

Do you all enjoy getting into the studio and recording?  I mean I think all musicians love the end result.  There’s not a whole lot in the world that beats holding an album in your hands knowing that you made it and it’s yours, no one can take that away from you.  Getting into the studio to actually record that music though, that can be a real feat on its own.  How is it in the studio for you all?

Belwil:  The studio is a safe place, and playing live is dangerous, but both are different and real pleasures. It’s a real pleasure to be in the studio because you can take time to compose and arrange your songs, but sometime we’re limited by money and we hope in the future to have more time in the studio to record all the music that’s in our heads. 

Does DOMADORA do a lot of preparatory work before you head into the studio to record to get arrangements and compositions sounding just the way that you want them?  Or is it more of an organic experience where things have room to vary, change and even evolve during the recording process?

Belwil:  We‘re a jam band, so before recording our tunes we’ve jammed them many times and the versions recorded in the studio are just snapshots, the songs might evolve over time.

You released your debut album Tibetan Monk in April of this year (2013).  Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of that album first album?  Was it a fun, pleasant experience for you all?  Who recorded that material and where was that?  When was it recorded and what kind of equipment was used?

Gui:  It was very fun because we were in a big auditorium.  So our big, heavy, fat sound could breathe in the enormous space, it was very exciting for us.

You put Tibetan Monk out?  Is the release limited at all or is it an open ended deal?  It’s available on CD right now are there any plans to press it to vinyl?

Gui:  We just signed with Bilocation Records to release a double 12” vinyl version of Tibetan Monk that will be out soon.

Does DOMADORA have any music that we haven’t talked about yet?

Gui:  Yes we do, you can go on our YouTube channel Domadora heavypsych to check out live videos of our Antwerpen (Belgium) or Rennes, France shows.  You’ll find a lot of other things as well and even surprises if you the take time for it.

With the release of the recent album are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon for DOMADORA at this point?

Gui:  We have enough material to do a second album, but we don’t have any time with the future shows ahead, and we have no money.  Maybe we need to find a producer.

Where’s the best place for our international and overseas readers to purchase your music?

Gui:  At the moment, you can only buy our CD from our Bandcamp page.

What about our poor U.S. readers?  With the recent international postage rate increases I always try my best to provide our readers who are separated by great distance from bands with as many possible options for purchasing the music as I can!

Gui:  We will keep you posted, our vinyl might be distributed by a US label.

And where’s the best place for our readers to keep up on the latest news from DOMADORA like upcoming shows and album releases at?

Gui:  I think it’s on our website and or on our Facebook page.

Does DOMADORA have any major goals that you’d like to accomplish in 2014?

Gui:  To keep on playing more and more music.

Belwil:  Many gigs and money to record a second album.

What do you have planned, if anything, for the rest of the year?  With the New Year rapidly approaching do you have anything planned as far as touring goes for 2014 yet?

Belwil:  We have a few shows planned over in France and we’re waiting for some others to be confirmed.

Do you all enjoy touring?  Do you spend a lot of time on the road?

Belwil:  Life on the road is amazing because you always discover new places and new people, but sometime it’s really exhausting, you know?

I heard about an upcoming show that you all are playing with Monkey3 who I interviewed a while back and seriously dig (Interview here), but you guys are going to be playing Earthless’ “Sonic Prayer”.  How did that idea come about?  Is the performance for any special reason or simply because, like me, you all just love Earthless?  I know more and more bands are playing one off shows with other bands.  Are you going to be performing Sonic Prayer alone or together on-stage with Monkey3?

Belwil:  Yes that show was in December.  We played the Sonic Prayer album live; “Lost In The Cold Sun” and “Flower Travellin Man”.  It was good and some people say Domadora is the French Earthless.  Why Earthless?  Because they’re our grand overseas cousins!  

Who are some of your personal favorites that you all have had a chance to share a bill with?

Gui:  I would say “Bill” Murray.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Belwil:  Edith Piaf and my father.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share with our readers here?

© Clélia Lejeune

Belwil:  Yes at the first Domadora concert in Paris, we had to close a theater festival and the organizers were afraid of us because they had heard our big sound during the soundcheck.  They even tried to cancel our show.  When we started playing, there weren’t many people in front of us, but I remember suddenly looking up and finding the room full of oddly dressed people disguised as horse people, elephants and humans with pig heads.  It was surreal with the ambience of the place, which was an old circus tent.  All of this mixed with our psychedelic sound, it had the feeling of a dream or nightmare.

© Clélia Lejeune

Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  With all of the possibilities available to artists these days I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the particular methods that they do.  What about when you are listening to and or purchasing music?  If you do have a preference can you explain a little bit about why?

Belwil:  We believe that good sound, authentic sound, alive sound, comes from analog methods first.  That's mechanics.  It’s palpable, you can touch it with your fingers you know?  Then when listening to music, vinyl is the best format, the warmest most authentic.  It cracks and is imperfect, it’s more like life really.  Nothing is worse than perfection!  I think…

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us about it?

Belwil:  I recovered all of my parents rhythm and blues vinyl from the 60’s 70’s as well as all the bands who played at Woodstock.  I love this time.

I am a second generation music collector and grew up around what I thought was a fairly massive music collection until the last few years when I have met some people with real collections ha-ha!  None the less there is something entrancing and magical about physical albums for me.  Having something to hold in your hands, artwork to look at, liner notes to read, it all serves for a brief and rare glimpse into the mind of the artists that made it and make for a more complete listening experience; at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physical releases?

Belwil:  Yes I completely agree!  I much prefer physical releases.  As I said earlier, it’s more authentic and alive.  You can touch it, it's hot.  Digital allows you to have a lot more, but it’s so impersonal.

As much as I love my music collection I couldn’t ever really take it with me on the go.  Digital music has taken care of that problem, and when teamed with the internet has exposed me to a whole world of music that I would have never otherwise heard of; amazing bands such as yourselves!  But with the good there’s always bad and digital music is rapidly changing the face of the music industry as we know it to say the least.  As a musician during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Belwil:  Yeah digital music allows you to access more material and thus discover more artists, so that's good.  But after that, you must go farther and find the true sound of these bands.  For that you need to acquire the vinyl and if it’s possible, see the band on stage.  So digital is a good thing to a certain extent if it helps you get in touch with the music, but you have to get more involved from there.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can and while the internet might be a wonderful tool for finding new stuff, nothing beats a good old recommendation for me!  Who should I be listening to from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of before?

Belwil:  I can advise you friends of: Bright Curse some Frenchies from London, Tommy Foster from Paris and The Black Matter from Paris.

What about nationally and internationally?

Belwil:  I personally see no border, I was born on Earth so the Earth belongs to me.  I’m at home everywhere.  I piss on administrative boundaries and the people who see a threat abroad.  Different cultures are consistently interesting and music is the international language I think.  Actually I know, because I've done that.  You can travel around the world and talk to anyone using music.

Thanks so much for taking the time to make it all the way through this, I know it wasn’t short but hopefully it was at least fun for you!  Is there anything that I missed, or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk about?

Belwil:  Thank you for doing this and thank you for being so curious, open and passionate because we understood from your questions that you’re a passionate person, so it was a big pleasure!

(2013/2014)  DOMADORA – Tibetan Monk – digital, CD, 2x12” – Self-Released/Bilocation/Kozmik Artifactz Records

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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