Up and coming alternative/dark pop artist Dolly Denko, AKA Doctrin, is living her dream of forming her own band and getting her name out there. The catch is that she is the only and sole musician behind the project. This filmmaker, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist has the guts and the talent to become a rising sensation in the scene. With the release of her new daring and sexy video "Give Me Love", I was able to have a chat with Dolly in regards to her history, influences, as well as her upcoming EP "THE DEEP" due out in January.
Give us a little introduction to yourself.
Give us a little introduction to yourself.
Dolly - "My name is Dolly. I am the lead everything in the band Doctrin. I say band because it's more of a band sound and has those elements that would make a band. It's just that I play everything whilst recording. It's alternative pop, dark pop, and rock elements are hiding in there as well. I primarily play guitar live. And I'm from Melbourne, Australia, but I'm currently in Los Angeles at the moment!"
I always like to get to know an artist and ask about their background and history. When did you actually start playing music? Was it as a child or was it when you grew up?
Dolly - "I started playing roughly when I was about eleven. I started to take myself seriously as a musician, or started saying to myself that I wanted to learn how to do these things better especially vocally so I started doing singing lessons. I naturally gravitated towards the guitar when I was about 12 or 13. I wasn't great at going to lessons and learning what they wanted me to learn. I always just wanted to learn covers. I spent a lot of time learning tabs of bands that I liked at the time. I learned how to play and sing at the same time which I think it obviously a good skill to have now considering what I do. That's where it all began, early teens, when I became self aware and really began to think about music."
I read in the press release that your music is akin to Shirley Manson. Would you say that Manson is an influence to you, or do you look up to other musicians?
Dolly - "Definitely. Shirley's a big one, and just Garbage in general. I don't know why it was separated to say Shirley rather than Garbage. Hole was a huge inspiration as well. Hole, Garbage, Deftones, oddly enough. That was my upbringing where I found the music myself. That's when I started to find music for me, not when my parents were like, "Oh, here's the record I grew up on," or something that was on the radio. These were things that weren't on the radio yet that were played on the alternative TV stations back home. That's when I started to find those kinds of bands that were very guitar driven and I think seeing women standing up there with guitars was what made me go, "Wow, I wanna do that, too." I loved that imagery and I loved that kind of empowerment and the feeling behind it. It's great when you get up, play well, and people respond to it. That's not to say I didn't have a phase of liking Hanson, as well. We were all kids in the nineties so that's what we grew up on."
When did you start Doctrin?
Dolly - "That was a couple of years ago after the band I was in broke up. We just stopped and I had idol hands. That was a band that I started, anyway. I just wanted to continue doing what the original goal was, and that was to set out and make music my career. It was actually a year ago when I named the band - or maybe just a little bit over a year ago - and said this is definitely what I'm doing now. There was a period of time for about nine months when I was like, "What am I going to do? Do I start another band? Do I look for people?" I decided that I was going to make it myself and track everything that way I get it going, make it the way I want it to sound, and find people later."
So, are you the sole musician in Doctrin? You don't have any help from anyone else?
Dolly - "That's it. Just me. I have a session drummer usually so when I go into the studio I have some programmed beats that come from demo sessions as well as pre-production sessions with the producer. This time I hired a session guy, but the other guy back at home would play live with me, as well. He was a bit of a pseudo band member, as well. It's a swinging door at the moment to whoever's available. I had one guy named Gordon from back home in Melbourne. I always get to a certain point while I'm doing my demos that I think having someone else listen to them will give me some ideas. He came in and came up with really great lead parts on "Give Me Love" which is in the chorus. I love it. I said, "You have to come in and play that on the track," so I had him come in and play that lead part. The producer does help out quite a bit. This time around he programmed a few different beats that he had in mind on top of the beats that were already there. We worked together to tighten and clean everything up. We made it ready to go in and record."
When was it that Doctrin put out their first song?
Dolly - "That was "Take Me" which I put out at the start of the year in May. That was the first release. I finished tracking "Give Me Love" and "Take Me" last October in Australia. Then I started planning to write and record more after that. But, I wanted to do these two tracks because they were things that I wrote after I left the band I was in. I thought it was not worth my time to hold onto anything. I thought I would go develop myself a little more, I wanted to start recording. I already knew how long it took to get the ball rolling so I put out "Take Me" at the start of the year and then "Give Me Love" as an example of what's come. That way people could listen to what I was working on. I'm wrapping up the record that'll be out in January. That's the real deal for me. This is more developed, more thought out for me. I've carved out a sound for myself, or at least think I've carved out a sound for myself. That's up to other people to decide whether I sound like someone else. For me, it feels pure and what I wanted to sound like, and what I've been looking for in my production. I'm thrilled about it and can't wait to put it out."
The music video for "Give Me Love" just released. Lyrically and thematically, what is the song about?
Dolly - "It's about a relationship that didn't work out fantastic. It's about people messing with you in that way where you have a relationship with feeling and emotions. It gets confusing and you're not sure. People's words are very different to their actions. You can get caught up, misdirected, and misguided in that way, too. That was a situation I was in that came out in the track. I didn't realize it until it was written. I never understood the lyrics until I found it all on my own. Everything was pertaining to finding myself with the music, and having the confidence and ability to know that I can do it on my own. I don't need a whole band. I can do this. Some of it is very literal where it is about people or a person, then some of it is about soul searching that came out of that. An empowerment came out. Ultimately, at the end, I said, "You're going to be fine on your own. Stop worrying about it. Stop forcing love out of people." That was the main thing. The situation I was in was that that person wasn't loving back so it was unrequited. It's not worth it. Some people will work or fight really hard to find love in whatever capacity whether it's a romantic relationship or friends or family. If it's not really there you shouldn't have to fall that hard. That's the main premise."
When you directed "Give Me Love" you had a very sexy image going on. You had BDSM and a sort of pin-up fashion going on. Why did you pick that vision for the music video?
Dolly - "Anyone that knows me well at least for the last ten years knows I've had the same hairstyle, and people have started to recognize me for having bangs which is pretty superficial. We used to go out to this club in Melbourne where we hung out and people would come up and touch my bangs. The bangs always had lots of hairspray and were shiny and people were really interested in that. The scene in Melbourne is kind of pin-up. Everyone's got a bit of a throwback thing happening. We're all from the hardcore scene. I'm always exposed to that pin-up scene, and I always wear a lot of black. I call it the Melbourne uniform. A lot of people call it that because that's what we're kind of drawn to. It's really a representation of who I am. I'm not playing a character there. That was real."
You have a very body positive image going on. A lot of people are taking body positive messages and saying that it's all driven by extreme feminists. Do you ever get any backlash for what you stand for?
Dolly - "Not yet, no. I haven't reached enough people to generate backlash. The only thing I've really gotten is support. My circle's pretty tight when it comes down to reaching out to me or speaking to me. I don't know what people are saying not to my face, so that's different. I haven't had any online interactions with anybody that have been negative or anything like that. If I do, I'll just face it when the time comes. But I'm not really concerned with that. As long as people are talking about it and the conversation is open then that's positive to come out of any situation even if it's in negative shade."
You've already kind of answered this, but I'm guessing that reception for "Give Me Love" and previous tracks has been well received by fans.
Dolly - "Absolutely. I haven't heard anything bad yet. I think a couple of family members were a little uncomfortable with the film clip. That's fine. If what you do makes no one uncomfortable than you're doing it wrong. Apart from that, everyone really likes it. I think the dark humor came across. I was a little worried that people would take it too seriously. It was a lot of fun and meant to be a very literal interpretation of the lyrics rather than the metaphor it stands for in real life."
In January, you have you debut EP "The Deep" coming out. What will be on that? I'm guessing that "Give Me Love" will be on it, but what else?
Dolly - "There's four other tracks, but I won't be revealing the tracklisting just yet because I'm still working the order. I also think we may have somebody debuting that at some point in the future. But, there are four other tracks and "Give Me Love", so we can definitely say that. Three of them are guitar driven but still have a lot of electronic elements going on. There's one track that has a lead guitar on it that I really liked. It's a little bit different and stands out on the record in the way that it has a different feel, a different vibe, but is still very Doctrin. You'll have to listen to it when it does get released."
Do you have any tours set up in support for "The Deep"? Or any gigs?
Dolly - "I'm heading back to Melbourne in February and I'll be playing a show there at Federation Square. It's a bit of a landmark in Melbourne. It's a really cool, outdoor public space. As for the US I'm working on a few dates at the moment but it's a little bit tricky with visas at the moment. I have to be well prepared and informed before I make any decisions about that."
I'd like to wish you good luck and hope that "The Deep" brings you new fans!
Dolly - "Thank you, Steven, I really appreciate that!"
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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