I still can't believe that I got to do this interview. That's it. That's the entire intro. I'm retiring.
1. What have you been listening to lately?
Jessy: Mostly jazz. Some Bill Evans, Chet Baker and Ahmad Jamal.
2. Do y’all want to get some tacos next time y’all come to Texas? I’ll buy.
Emma: Texas & Tacos sounds like an amazing mix. Count us in!
3. How accurate is the film ‘Osmosis Jones’? I’m not that good at biology.
Emma: Never saw the movie, sorry!
4. Would you guys ever consider doing a cover of The Winner Takes It All by ABBA?
Dragos: We’re huge ABBA fans! We’re swamped with lots of ongoing work on new material though, and don’t see us having spare time to record covers. It would be fun though!
5. What are you most excited about right now?
Jessy: Just being home, having all the time we need to create new music is a lot of fun, although we miss touring and being with our fans a lot.
6. On a scale of 1-10 how much do you regret agreeing to do this interview?
Emma: no regrets!
7. Do you remember the first album you ever bought?
Jessy: Pump Up the Valuum by NOFX. I was 12 years old. I still love punk rock music a lot
8. What is the worst piece of advice that you can give my friend Erin?
Dragos: Sell everything and invest it all in a perpetual motion machine venture.
9. Do you guys want to add a keytar player to your band? (Me)
Dragos: LOL why not
10. Can one of you teach me how to play the keytar?
Dragos: I’d have to learn first. Attitude seems to be… key
To start things off, can you introduce yourselves and tell us your role in the band?
Dragos: Keyboards, Conference Speaker… motivator
Jessy: Guitar & Bass, CEO and even Vice-President
Emma: Vocals & Guitar, Guru & ROI Officer
We all write & compose together or separately, then complete each other’s songs.
Have you been involved in music since you were young?
Jessy: Yes. My mom bought me a Casio Keyboard when I was around 6 or 7 years old and I remember me playing with it a lot, especially on the drum pad. Around 9 or 10, I wanted to play drums but I could not because we use to live in a small apartment. My mom bought me a guitar instead and I never stopped playing since then.
What did you grow up listening to?
Emma: We had lots of great pop music playing in the house when I was a kid: Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Sade, Mariah Carey & Michael Jackson, to name a few!
It’s so amazing to me that you’ve managed to stay completely independent and organically amassed such a following without any push from a press company or a label. What do you think it is that drew people to your music?
Dragos: The music, I guess! We grew slowly (it took a couple of years for our music to reach an audience) & by word of mouth mostly.
I think it’s amazing that you do everything yourself. I think that’s a mindset that I’ve adopted for working on this site as well. You guys do everything from producing to even filming your own music videos. We’re those things that you were already good at, or skills that you picked up along the way?
Jessy: We surely picked up some skills along the way but those are things that we were already doing before we start with the band. I’d say the band motivated us to learn more and get better for sure.
What would you say is your favorite accomplishment as a band thus far?
Emma: We always dreamt of touring abroad. We’re truly grateful to have been able to travel in lots of places around the world. We still have a bunch of beautiful countries on our bucket list. Playing at Coachella was among our highlights for sure.
Has it been difficult for you to find creativity with everything that is going on in the world right now?
Dragos: even though we stopped touring, there’s always things to do (new music, work around the house, books to read…). I think we live in interesting times, lots of things that are going on right now inspire us. We make an effort to look at the bright side. Overall things are getting better worldwide, if we look at the scientific data (less working hours, less extreme poverty, more education, more access to resources [knowledge and computational power are huge], and, yes, less disease and untimely deaths). I try to stay mindful of the progress we made as a species (historic perspective helps!). It makes me feel more grateful and happier. Following scientific developments definitely helps with that endeavor too.
Something that really sticks out to me are your bass lines.Your songs have THE BEST bass lines. It’s not really a question, but I really wanted to let you know.
I read in a previous interview that what makes a song a MIT song is that it kind of goes through everyone and everyone in the band puts something into it. Was being able to collaborate like that something that came naturally, or is it something that you had to work on?
Emma: It came naturally, especially when we all work on a same song from different places. It quickly becomes personal to each of us (it doesn’t matter who starts the first draft), and the intimacy of being able to try things separately allows us to try “bad” ideas and fail more easily. For us, this work process it great for exploring ideas!
How do you know whether a song or album is ready to put out?
Dragos: it’s hard to know for sure. It’s like a rollercoaster ride: some days you think everything sucks, on other days, you’re euphoric. There’s always something that could be changed on a record. It’s a delicate balance between letting go & feeling that you did your best.
Do you know immediately when a song has something special?
Jessy: I’d say most of the time yes. We usually know from the first chords and melody if the song is good or not.
What happens to the songs that don't make the cut?
Emma: Sometimes, we joke about them (especially on tour) if they’re really bad. Sometimes, we re-visit them years later and they end up making their way to our hears.
Can you talk to us a bit about the cover art for your latest single “Lucky Sue”
Emma: Sure! Oda Iselin made it. She is a great artist from Oslo, Norway. We were following her & her work on Instagram. We really liked the illustration we ended up using for “Lucky Sue”, because it fitted well the spirit of the song (soft, yet gloomy). We also really liked that there were two different worlds separated by a window. It’s something that perhaps many felt lately.
What inspired the song?
Dragos: we started this song with the text first. We haven’t done that in a while (I think the last time was on Headroom, in 2015). We wrote a couple of texts like Lucky Sue, that aimed more at storytelling with images. It’s a much more subtle way of conveying meaning, rather than spitting out the ideas directly. The song talks about agency and how the silliest thing (like a toe) can have a significant & decisive impact in someone’s life. Usually, the challenge with that process (writing words before melodies) is to do something musical & pleasing with the written content. When you go with the melody first, the challenge is to preserve meaning when adapting the words to the song. We’re happy with how the song came at the end. We feel it flows super naturally.
You incorporate a lot of philosophical ideas into your lyrics, are those the typical conversations that you have when you’re not working on music and are just hanging out?
Dragos: Sure! We also talk about a very broad range of things. Really, almost any subject can be super thrilling.
You guys moved out of the city and out to the country not too long ago. What has that change been like?
Emma: It has been really nice and quiet, especially this year. With social distancing going on, we couldn’t take advantage of the city as much (public spaces and gatherings), so we felt really happy to have a quiet heaven with lots of outside space. Time flows slower, we take walks and feel less stressed, we’re able to see the stars and thus feel less confined.
Is living together difficult, or is it pretty relaxed?
Dragos: we’re not living together full time except on tour. We live in different places, in addition to the house where we jam etc. When we’re not together in the same space, we end up talking online all day, so I guess we miss each other quickly!
Do you feel like you push each other creatively?
Jessy: Of course! We always challenge each other, and I think it is very heathy for the band as it makes us renew ourselves consistently.
I read that you chose the name “Men I Trust” because you wanted to choose a name that was positive. What were some of the other band name ideas that you were thinking of choosing.
Emma: Jessy and Dragos (they started the project, before I joined the band) liked the word “Trust”, but I was already taken. After naming it to its current name “Men I Trust” in reference to mankind, the search was over. They also liked the world “Careful” and used it for another a hip-hop project.
You’ve also mentioned in previous interviews that you try to make music that is positive with both sound and lyrics. Why is positivity something that is important for you to share through your music?
Dragos: It’s true that we like smooth sounds! We also wrote darker stuff more recently too! I guess it has more to do with how it is written. You can see negative things in movies, but that doesn’t mean that the director is condoning those actions. I think that seeing negative examples can be as powerful & motivating as directly showing positive things, because they either showcase their consequences or at least make you think about how to live well. The point I’m making is that negativity (nihilism, indolence or cynicism) without purpose, can have a harmful impact, though I wouldn’t make a universal rule out of that thought. There are exceptions and one must be able to explore and appreciate the whole catalogue of human experiences & emotions even if it’s only for cathartic reasons.
It’s always nice when someone uses his time to project something beautiful onto the world, especially in these times, because we’re already saturated by content that looks at the world, ourselves and others, through the ugly lens.
What is the most important thing for you when it comes to creating a song?
Jessy: We always focus on creating songs that convey a sense of storytelling with strong melodies.
What does “success” look like to you as far as music goes?
Emma: Doing a bit better each day and being able to keep that going on the longer run. Peer recognition is always a nice touch too!
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t pursuing music?
Dragos: Either the lonely drunk at the local tavern or something in engineering. I know Emma likes cooking a lot and Jessy loves outdoor stuff.
Do you have any shows you’ve played that are the most memorable?
Jessy: I remember one particularly fun in Austin TX. The show was outside and it was super cold so we decided to drink some scotch and wear ski masks to get warm. The crowd was insane that night and got us really pumped for the show. It is also the night we wrote Norton Commander.
I know it seems like it may be some time before artists will be touring again. Do you miss touring, or are you enjoying time away from the road?
Emma: We miss touring a lot! We were kind of lucky though with the timing this year. We already wanted to take the winter-spring of 2020 off. We pretty much toured nonstop for three years before that and needed time to rest. The holidays ended up being longer than we thought!
Is there anything specific you guys like to check out in every city that you tour?
Emma: Jessy and I really like to try out the food! We’re fans of Asian cuisine. A good Ramen or Sichuanese meal is always great. Dragos likes to try the chewing tobacco and fish fillet sandwiches LOL.
How can fans or yours, or fans of any artist show support since touring isn’t a viable option right now?
Dragos: We’re pretty lucky on that front too! This year, we received lots of love and support with each release. It’s heartwarming to read the comments and see the engagement through our platforms. Thank you, you’re wonderful!
What can we expect to see/hear from Men I Trust in the near future?
Jessy: We are currently working on new songs and it should not be long before we release them.
To wrap things up, do you have any questions for me?
Why the name “born looser”? Don’t downplay yourself :P
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. I wish you the best.