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Meeting with the electronic pop music duo Dampa on the occasion of the release of their new EP, Le Tunnel

At the end of a tunnel, there is light, always. And this light in this dark month of December could be embodied by Dampa, an electro duo comfortable in their skin, comfortable in their pop. Interview…

Angeline and Victor, even the first names agree perfectly, Angeline and Victor, therefore, form Dampa, an electro-pop duo born in La Rochelle, now based in Nantes. Good news for the local music scene, good news for our wandering ears!

All projects have a story, that of Dampa oscillates between shadow and light, light and dark, moments of grace, difficult moments, tunnels, with light at the end. His new EP indicates the direction, the release, and perhaps marks the beginning of something…

The Tunnel is the name of the EP, it is also the name of a clip or more exactly of an 11-minute short film, a road-trip with neat imagery, carried away by hypnotic music, enough to leave us permanently under the spell.

And make us want to meet Angeline and Victor. Appointment is given to them on the side of the brasserie La Cigale in Nantes, a small café and off we go for a long exchange during which we talk about shrimp markets in Thailand, Pokemon, yes yes, but also and above all of music…

Hello Angeline and Victor. Dampa, who is what?

Angeline. Dampa is Victor and I, Angeline, originally an electronic research duo, today an electronic pop music duo.

Viktor. A synth-pop duo…

Angeline. With Victor on the machines and me on the voice. Dampa, at the start, it was two years of confinement in the studio making sound for fun, without telling ourselves that we were going to do something concrete with it. We spent a lot of time looking for each other, looking for sounds that could define us. And with this EP, we have the impression of finally approaching our DNA.

Why Dampa? Where does this name come from ?

Angeline. It means refuge in Nepali. But there are several meanings.

Viktor. It’s a shrimp market in Thai.

Angeline. And that would mean turn off the sound in Swedish.

And wet in Tagalog, a Malayo-Polynesian language…

Angeline. Oh yes, I didn’t know, that’s not bad!

You grew up in La Rochelle. You land in Nantes. For what reasons ?

Viktor. Angeline spent some time in Nantes for studies and she created a professional network there. For my part, I was in Bordeaux. We decided to come back here for the network, for Nantes culture, for lots of things that we don’t have in La Rochelle.

In 2018, your first song thunder ball is chosen by Yves Saint Laurent to illustrate the advertisement for one of its perfumes. How to boost a career?

Viktor. Yes, especially for a first title, a great adventure that has allowed our project to interest the pros.

You have just released a second EP called The tunnel. What did you put there? Your childhood ? Your life ? Your loves? Melancholy?

Angeline. Melancholy? Yes a bit. The Tunnel was born from these eight months of constrained research. We started writing the EP in 2020. We found ourselves like everyone else in a tunnel. On arrival, the EP is much more personal, switching to French has allowed me to express myself much more directly. Even on the music side, we really tried to find our own sound. Above all, we didn’t want to borrow left and right, to lock ourselves into a category, a style, what we may have been able to do with certain sounds before, especially with rap. We really tried to do something personal. It’s true that melancholy is a big part of it because it’s part of me

I like to see this EP as an evolution, like a mutation, like the mutation of Pokemon a little

An album more electro-pop than electro-rap like the previous one. Electro through music, pop through singing… Why and how did this change happen?

Angeline. I like to see this EP as an evolution, like a mutation, like the mutation of the Pokemon a bit (laughs). Yes I know it’s not sexy but that’s the image I have of it, my 90’s generation side.

We never put any constraints on ourselves. There, we were sought a little deeper within ourselves. I’ve never written lyrics that were so cathartic. For his part, Victor has never composed with so few machines, to constrain himself and come face to face with himself. Instrumental level, we are more on an evolution than on a radical break.

Viktor. Yes, it’s a sort of assumed shift. We do not have the impression of having made an exit from the road in any case.

On vocals, the change is still quite radical…

Angeline. Yes, in terms of singing, of course.

Sounds like a new start for you? A new story?

Angeline. Yes, it’s the passage between pre-adolescence and adulthood, I see it like that. With the tire taken over by Yves Saint Laurent, there is something that happened very quickly, which put us in a certain frenzy. We had to quickly release an EP. In 2019, we did 50 dates that finally allowed us to find ourselves, to know what we wanted to do. That’s why I talk about maturity.

About the Tunnel, vWe are talking on your Facebook account about a first title in French born from a dark period. In reference to the Covid?

Viktor. At covid but not only. Lots of dark times in life actually.

Still on your Facebook account, you mention “a slightly crazy project”, too big for you but which was going to save your sanity. To this extend ?

Angeline. The Tunnel is now almost a slang word. For people who are 20 years old, a tunnel is someone who will talk to you for 30 minutes, a tunnel will be an addiction…

Viktor. Yes, something with no visible exit door.

Angeline. Before the covid, Victor and I were in a phase where we had blinders, we fell into certain vices, addictions, which locked us up. And writing about these issues for The Tunnel was life-saving, it allowed us to visualize them and get out of them a bit. And the filming of the clip pulled us out of this tunnel, it took us time, time that we didn’t spend in a certain darkness. And it finally saved us.

Viktor. Yes, it was lifesaving. It helped us to have a little light, not necessarily at the end, but on the sides, not to wait for the end, to escape a little before.

You mention La Ritournelle by Sébastien Tellier. A reference for you?

Angeline. Yes, Tellier is someone who inspired us. It is a musical monument in our life. I discovered this piece when I was 16/17 and, yes, it’s part of my daily life, my Proust madeleine.

Viktor. Completely, it rocked us.

IF I tell you Kid Francescoli or Das Kino…

Angeline. Kid Francescoli I see. Das kino is a duo from Nantes, isn’t it? Ok I take…

Viktor. I don’t know but I trust Angeline.

You’ve always had very elaborate clips, here it’s downright a film, a short film. Why ? How ?

Angeline. To Basically, we were just looking to clip a title, we finally set off on a collective adventure with two directors who are Kevin Charvot and Victor Drapeau. They embarked us on 6 months of writing, a week of shooting…

Viktor. It was built gradually, even at the level of the narration.

Angeline. With the directors, we confided in a bit like we might do during a psychotherapy session, we explained what we wanted to say in our titles. In four hours, we arrived at this story of the tunnel, this story of vice, a somewhat autobiographical story. They looked in our guts, in our experience to make this road movie which is at the same time very colorful, at the same time very concrete.

Viktor. We shot everything on 5 square kilometres, in the places of our childhood, the Ile de Ré, La Rochelle…

Angeline. When I write my texts, I immediately have the clip in mind. I have the impression that our vision of music is very audiovisual. Music, image, for us it’s a whole, and making this film was the logical continuation of the EP.

In the beginning, everything is always beautiful… That’s what you say at the start of the film. This is the case of your musical adventure. Everything is always beautiful?

Angeline. I would say that it was beautiful when we were awarded three times in a row in three months two years ago, with Le Printemps de Bourges, Le Prix Société Pernod Ricard France Live Music and Chorus. It was green lights for us. Now the engine is running…

Precisely, your next concerts, your projects?

Viktor. We have a few dates in discussion… a making-of of the short film in project and the new titles that we will unveil in early 2022.

Angeline. And if we come back to Nantes, it’s also because we opened a room with the film crew. We liked the collective experience so much that we created a place combining a sound studio and offices so that we could continue to work together. The goal is to surround yourself with creative people, to create a breeding ground and eventually to organize events there, with a digital art gallery in particular.

Viktor. That’s what we lacked in La Rochelle, it’s a great city but it was complicated to exchange with others on a creative level. Our whole team was in Nantes, so there was a logic to come to Nantes.

Thank you Angeline and Victor, thank you Dampa.

Interviewed November 30. More info about Dampa here

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