Welcome to the first edition of our new series, The Belmont Vision presents On Beat. Each week, we'll sit down with a different artist or band to hear all about their process and their signature sound.
Belmont Band Doom Mutual combines the musical aspirations of best friends Daphne Browdy and Davis Gestiehr, expanding Belmont’s eccentric rock community.
In person, the two senior songwriting majors present themselves as mild-mannered and soft-spoken college students with a hopeless addiction to dark humor and distortion.
Their writing fearlessly dives into the vulnerable trenches of their minds, pulling influences from 90s grunge and shoegaze bands such as Alice in Chains, Deftones and Smashing Pumpkins.
The duo melds the individuals’ creative styles to share introspective and socially conscious music.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What does the band name mean to you?
Davis: I made a playlist for Daphne called “Doom Mutual.” Daphne and I have always been extremely open about the things we’ve dealt with. And when it comes to mental health, we’ve kind of adopted the idea that life is life and we’re doing it… but it’s mutual.
Daphne: Yeah, it’s almost like a sense of belonging. Even though it’s a hardcore name, and we make somewhat hardcore music, it really is sort of like a collective suffering in a sense, which makes it easier to handle.
What is your favorite thing about collaborating with each other?
Daphne: Well, before collaborators, we are best friends, and we have a lot of trust in each other. I feel like on stage it’s so nice to just have that trust with another person doing what we love. And that totally plays back to the whole “doom mutual” concept in that we’re in it together, on-stage and off-stage.
Davis: Yeah, I think also, music is very vulnerable, and it can be very difficult to make with people. Having someone you can always call upon to create something with is a blessing... I know Daphne’s strengths and she knows my weaknesses and it just makes the song better.
How do you choose to compromise or pick one idea over the other?
Daphne: We almost always see eye to eye with our music vision. We have very different styles of our writing process, which really work together. I sort of do this thing where I improvise and detach from reality and go into my own little world. Sometimes I do that for up to 20 minutes and then Davis will sit there and pick out things he likes. And then we’ll go back and revisit it. Davis is a “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” kind of guy and I’m more like... what are the parts?
Davis: Daphne is the material and I’m the mold if that makes sense. A lot of the songs we write are not about my experiences, they’re about Daphne’s. She will present me with ideas, and we’ll sculpt them together. When I write, I really think about the song as a whole, which is strange because some people write section to section. But I don’t feel like we compromise. At the end of the day, when you’re writing with someone, it’s not about what’s better, it’s about what you create together and that’s the biggest thing for me. It doesn’t have to be the song that you would write alone because you’re not writing it alone.
How have you changed in the past year as a band or individually?
Daphne: Originally, Davis asked me if he wanted to start a folk duo. And so, when we wrote and recorded ‘You’re Not My Friend,’ we were like ‘alright, this is definitely not a folk song.’ So, we changed our entire genre. And we write so much that our music just lends itself to whatever genre when it’s being produced.
Davis: When ‘You’re Not My Friend’ came out, we didn’t have members. So, Daphne and I worked on the song. There was a big transition of getting members, playing with them and starting to play shows. We had released a song before we ever played as a band or ever played a show. So, I started out thinking this was going to be a studio project, and we were just going to write songs and release them. So, naturally, we’ve grown as people as well and in a sense, we are more experimental than we used to be because we’re more sure of our sound because we’ve developed it to a point.
What themes does Doom Mutual pursue?
Daphne: I struggle with OCD and so I tend to pull a lot of lyrics about what that’s like for me. And childhood trauma has been a big thing for both of us and how to process that as adults tends to come through in lyrics. One of our upcoming unreleased singles, called ‘Sunday Churches,’ I wrote so every verse is about a different issue that I am passionate about like the wage gap, the child welfare system the foster care system, economic disposition and addiction. So we get angry. And I think about those things, and I get angry that there isn’t more art that advocates for them.
Davis: I think we’re kind of combative in a sense. There have been plenty of times we’ve been writing songs and Daphne will be like ‘Why has nobody written a song about this specific topic’ that has some massive stigma around it or something like that. So, we just embrace the world. The world is our oyster and there are plenty of things we can write about.
Of all the arts to pursue these themes, why did you choose music?
Daphne: Music is obviously the thing that has reached us the most in terms of expression. I can speak for both of us when I say that music has saved our lives. I feel like we have this want, and honestly, responsibility, to give back that same gift to other people who might need our music. And I hope, one day, that our music will reach others in the same way that music of musicians like the Beatles and Elliott Smith have reached both of us. But we do pull a lot of inspiration from other art forms and a lot of movies and visual artists... we reference a lot of things from other mediums as well.
What do you hate about the industry... What do you love?
Daphne: Hate is a strong word, and I am going to deliberately use it. I hate binaries and boxes and formulaic ways of doing things. Going to school to study commercial songwriting has been an ironic thing for me because I don’t like the status quo and I don’t like fitting into a mold. And unfortunately, the things that tend to sell and make a lot of money are things that historically fit into a specific mold. I also really don’t like living in a time when musicians are forced to be content creators... I feel like now we split our time between writing songs and making funny captions for videos, which is not how I want to spend my time. It’s unfair for creatives to have that responsibility... I love the community of creatives. I think it’s really cool how people are so passionate about the same thing. And creating this buzz of energy of shared love for music is something I didn’t have in my hometown and didn’t even know existed, so I’m grateful for that.
This interview was conducted by Emma Halloran.
PHOTO: Daphne Browdy and Davis Gestiehr of Doom Mutual. Photo courtesy of Doom Mutual.