WRBB’s Dahlia Bailey and Natalie Scott caught up with Dragos and Emma from indie-dance band Men I Trust, before their performance at The Middle East to discuss songwriting, reality, Taco Bell’s best vegetarian options, and plans for the future.
Dahlia: You guys make it a point to show that you are DIY. How is being DIY important to you and your music?
Emma: It’s really important because it allows us to release things as soon as they are ready, so we don’t have to wait for a label, for a manager. Instead of waiting for like five people, we don’t have to answer to anybody… everything we release is really us. So he [Dragos] does the clip and I do the styling, and it’s always just the three of us so it’s more personal. We have a more complete feeling of artistic achievement.
Dahlia: Do you think that plays a big role in why you guys have decided to remain unsigned? And do you think you will continue to?
Emma: Yes, everyday we have confirmation that we don’t want to be signed because we aren’t a huge band and we’re still manageable. Until now, we just see the advantage of being independent. Like there is a downside, like he [Dragos] answers a bunch of emails and it’s a lot of work, but it’s totally worth it because you have control of everything.
Dragos: You have 100% ownership of the copyrights and publishing rights. We are friends with lots of labels and probably one day when it’s not manageable anymore we will probably consider working as a team. We aren’t like “f*ck labels!” we just feel as though we don’t need them right now. Maybe in one year.
Natalie: Would you say that you guys are dreamers, and do you think about music in that way? Is it your escape from reality?
Dragos: Lyrics-wise, we tend to be really grounded. Everything that’s mystical or creating a false mystery or romanticizes… we don’t like romanticism. We really like grounded things and I don’t agree with escaping reality. I think reality is nice.
Emma: We just try to make reality beautiful instead of avoiding it.
Dragos: Feeling apart of the greater things in the universe and taking pride in those.
Dahlia: Who did you guys listen to growing up, and do you think that inspired you in your music today?
Dragos: I listened to Bach; for maybe eight years I only liked that. Lately I’ve discovered more the impressionists and contemporary music in jazz, so it has some chords of that. I like disco and electronic music. I used to be an electronic guy. I had my solo projects and I really liked Italo-Disco, French-Touch, and disco. So those are the blends that really influenced me in music.
Emma: I had a really pop childhood. I was raised with Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion. We were three girls in my house and we were always dancing. And after, it was the nu metal-era ‘cause in 2000 I was 10, so I was listening to Limp Bizkit and Puddle of Mudd and all those things. And secretly listened to my mother’s CDs of Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan and vocalist-pop adult songs. So I guess I’m a weird mix of everything, but I’d say mainly pop.
Natalie: Can you talk a little bit about the writing process and how that works for you guys?
Dragos: I think it’s easier if someone starts something and then we all work together with it. Sometimes Emma will have a vocal hook or sometimes I’ll have an instrumental, sometimes Jessy has really good bass rhythms and drums, and we all add together. Usually it starts from someone’s ideas and we have lots of drafts and we select which ones excite us the most in that moment and we work on them together. We used to work at a distance with Jessy; we’d have Dropbox folders to work on and share stuff.
Dahlia: What’s next for Men I Trust?
Dragos: We’re touring a lot this year. In April, we are coming back in the US for a few days, in June we’re doing an extensive tour again, we’re touring with Belle + Sebastian. We are going to do the west coast for the first time – that’s very exciting because we love the west coast. We’re going to tour in May in Europe and then in September, October again in Europe and then in October to November in the US. So this year is going to be a tour year! And if everything goes well with songwriting, then we would like to release an album.
Natalie: Also, we read that you guys are all vegetarian?
Emma: Yeah! Actually, yeah.
Natalie: Do you guys have favorite fast food places you stop when you’re touring?
Emma: Definitely Taco Bell.
Dahlia: We were just talking about this! They’re good for vegetarian options.
Emma: It took us a couple of days to size all the options – like okay, what’s good? What’s not good? And once you hit the seven-layer burrito and you ask to add the potato in it… you’re totally stuffed. And now we have Chipotle as well.
Natalie: Awesome, thank you guys so much for talking with us today! We’ll be sticking around for the show tonight, we’re excited to see you guys play!
Emma: Thank you, hope you like it!