D//E Interviews: Rare DM

As Rare DM, Brooklyn-based singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Erin Hoagg, combines dark-grounded electronica with strong pop sensibilities, as well as a keen sense of aesthetics, fashion, and imagery. Since the particularly hopeful full length Vanta Black, released in 2019, the artist has produced a couple of striking singles, send nudes from 2020 and more recently Rolex, both showcasing a strong musical and visual direction, with a big future.

Rare DM discusses the project's creation, influences, present and future in an interview with D//E.

How did Rare DM start, and how has the project evolved since its creation?

Rare DM started as a small Soundcloud I used to call “Errmine” back when I was in high school when I first started playing around with Garage Band. I released one single called Driver’s Seat under that name, before realizing it just didn’t feel right any more. It was too soft and pretty, and as I got better at my craft, I became better at creating the darker synth music I had a proclivity towards, true to my percussive roots with lots of vibraphone sounds and drum synths. I have greatly expanded my hardware gear collection over the years and have found a home in my drum machines and synths. I’ve been Rare DM since I released Almost a Year in 2017, which has remained one of my favorite songs I’ve released thus far. I’ve really gained confidence in my song writing and performance over the years, and have enjoyed doing things with more intention, compared to Vanta Black which was a very raw and emotional album. Many of the songs on my debut were a stream of consciousness, with one take vocals, and the whole record has simpler production with the more limited set up I had at the time. With my single send nudes and then Rolex I was able to fully be myself and create a world I want to live in, thoughtful and detail oriented, very honest, but with more humor, but more ebm, and more dance. I intend to continue to grow with my music in this way.

The sound of Rare DM seems to be lifting from a lot of different aspects of underground music. How would you describe it yourself?

Rare DM is a hardware electronic project based in NYC”… That’s about what I usually say! But I’m gonna try and describe my influences and go from there…

Sonically, I am heavily influenced by post punk, dark wave, cold wave, techno, ebm, blog haus, and electroclash. Favorites that come to mind first - Schwefelgelb, DAF, Grauzone, Deux, OMD, Front 242, De Ambassade, Justice, The Knife, Miss Kittin & The Hacker. Lyrically, I feel like my original most-played albums have probably left a great influence on me; especially on the way I write lyrics and vocal melodies. Especially subconsciously, as I’m not trying to emulate them but because they are so deeply ingrained in my brain. I have listened to Interpol -Turn on the Bight Lights, The Strokes - Room on Fire / Is This It, Beach House - Devotion, and Ladytron - 604 more times then I can count. I love them all so much.

On the visual front you're obviously very imaginative. How do you approach the visual aspect of Rare DM, and what does the creative process for the videos include?

The artwork and visuals are definitely essential to Rare DM. I am really clear on my taste in mood, aesthetic, colors, and lighting for my project, and I am lucky to work with extremely talented people that understand and believe in me. When it comes to photos, I generally style myself (as I went to fashion design school and have an extensive vintage collection) though I love working with designers and stylists when I can. I love modeling and my best friend Lissyelle Laricchia and I have been shooting together for almost 10 years now. She does all of my album covers and most of my press images and we really know how to create magic. For videos, sometimes I have a music video in mind and a full vision for a song, like with send nudes which I came up with the idea, self styled and took all the go pro myself - and then my friend Jordan Fuller swooped in to take it to the next level with fancier footage and VFX. With videos like Rolex, I was approached with a full video concept by my incredibly talented friends Jake Moore and Lisa Saeboe. They co-directed that stellar video with me in mind, wanting to put me in that world they thought suited me and my song the best. I love being a part of the concept, but when you have people you can trust its so lovely to let someone take the reigns too.

You've come forth with a couple of very impressive singles since the release of your 2019 debut album, Vanta Black. Should we be expecting a new full length soon?

This is heavy on my mind! I have so much new music and I really want to release a full album that feels more relevant to my live set which is 90% unreleased material. I have been toying with that Album vs EP for some time, as I have 5 songs that really belong together and haven’t been released yet, and then other numerous other tracks I wanna put out, with such a variety of different moods and bpms. I have more then enough to have an EP and album out in succession.

What should we be expecting from your next releases in terms of style and sound? How different are they going to be compared to your previous works?

Some are still dreamy and sad, but more detail oriented and deliberate than Vanta Black. I am really really excited about are the higher bpm tracks that with my EBM sensibilities that showcase my hardware prowess. They are more techno driven tracks, much more appropriate for the venues and clubs I play. I have been exploring my sense of humor as a coping mechanism also, and really loving what I have been creating with it. Think electroclash influenced vocals sometimes.

You have also provided the score to the short film Night of the Tilberi. How different is it writing for someone else's vision instead of your own?

OMG was that fun. Lisa Saeboe who directed Tilberi is a dear friend, and it was such an amazing experience to be able to make music for a visual rather then the other way around, and I loved being experimental and dark in a new way. It’s completely the opposite of what I am used to and I loved the process.

Is film music something that interests you in general? Would you do it again?

I really want to do more scores, and definitely more music for Lisa’s cinematic visions. Hopefully NIGHT OF THE TILBERI will reach people who might want to work with me for their films as well. I would love scoring to become a consistent part of my life, and ideally a consistent source of income as well. It would be super fun to score something more techno forward. Tilberi that was very heavy on the drone synths because it needed to be dark and brooding, which was awesome but I want experience in more scores with arpeggiators because I love them so.

You certainly come across like a well rounded artist, still, are there any other art forms you'd like to pursue?

My parents are both fine artists, and I went to FIT for fashion design before I dropped out to pursue music. I miss making art, and I certainly have not done it enough in recent years. I want to design my costumes in the future, rather then just styling myself. I have a bunch of ideas for designs and I’d love to bring them to reality. I see visuals as being something that will grow with me and I’m looking forward to it. I also want to get back into dancing consistently and have that be a bigger part of my life and artistry. I adore partner dancing, especially Argentinian Tango, jitterbug, and blues. I want to incorporate dance into upcoming visuals and my live set even more. Ideally I do a full dance music video ASAP.

Which are some of the themes usually found in your music?

Heartbreak, the loneliness of the digital realm, dancefloors, dreams, navigating materialism and luxury, escapism. The battle between desiring sex / intimacy but wanting forever - not temporary love.

How would you describe Rare DM as a live act?

As a live act I am expressive, dance-y, a showman, eccentric, and over dressed. I think of my self as more of a pop star then a rock star if that makes sense. My live set is hardware based - I use my octotrack and machinedrum live. I recently upgraded my live rig with in ears and a wireless mic, so now I can be more mobile and untethered on stage.

What comes next for Rare DM?

More music, more shows, more videos! International touring. Hopefully appearing on late night TV shows and going to the Grammys. I want it all! Why not dream big.

On February 11th, 2022 Rare DM will perform live at Saint Vitus / Synthicide in New York / with Riki and SYZYGYX.

Rare DM photo by @lissyellelaricchia (lissyelle.com)
Rare DM anime by @adijuhasz Adi Juhasz

Rare DM Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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