For this blog post, I’m honored to interview Damian Malnar from the rock-pop band Lost Stars. They are three boys from Kansas based in Nashville: Damian Malnar (25, vocals/keys), Charley Holden (23, guitar), and Trey Warner (25, guitar). In 2016 they had their debut with the EP Dreaming in the Dark. Since then they have released several singles and supported indie bands like COIN, ARIZONA, and THE WLDLFE on tour. On July 5th their second EP called SIRENS + LIGHT was finally released. As soon as I started to listen to their music I fell in love with Damian’s vocals, their sound and with their story-telling lyrics. In this interview, I asked Damian interesting questions to get to know him and the band better. Also about the new EP and his personal life. Let’s start!
Dear Damian, let’s go back in time for the first couple of questions. What kind of music did you grow up with?
My childhood was filled with a mixed bag of musical influences – everything from rock to jazz to pop. My parents play a big role in that. I remember my mom playing Billy Joel, The Beach Boys, and the Eagles for my brother and me in the car. My dad used to play Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Tower of Power, and Chicago around the house after he came home from work. Whenever I’d help my dad work on the projects in the garage we’d listen to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, etc. My very first CD was The Backstreet Boys – Millennium. And when I first started writing songs in 7th grade, I listened to a lot of Linkin Park, The Fray, Sara Bareilles, Fall Out Boy, Rise Against… I was touched by a lot of different music growing up.
What’s the first album you ever bought and which artist was your first concert?
Interestingly enough, the first artist I ever saw live was Aaron Carter. And the first CDs I bought with my own money were Move Along by All American Rejects and Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park.
Which artists inspire you the most?
Right now, I’m pretty inspired by songwriters. There’s a huge list. But a handful that come to mind are Ali Tamposi, Ed Sheeran, Brian Lee, Ian Kirkpatrick, Ryan Tedder, J Cash, John Ryan, Julia Michaels, and Mozella.
How did you boys find each other and whose idea was it to form a band?
So all three of us grew up in Kansas, but we got together in Nashville. I went to high school with Charley back in Kansas City. We used to play in an alt-rock band together back then. Two years after I left for college, he ended up moving to Nashville as well. His very first roommate happened to be Trey. Eventually, the three of us started hanging out together, playing music with other people, and recording things for fun in our apartments. For the longest time, I thought I was going to be a drummer for a rock band or country artist. But people convinced me to start my own artist career. When I started playing out, I had Charley and Trey in my backing band. And after a few gigs, the two of them convinced me that we should form a band. Thus, Lost Stars was born!
Who is the most flirty from the trio and who is the most mischievous bandmate?
Charley is definitely the most extraverted and flirty guy in the band. He’s pretty damn charming and knows how to make people laugh. And Trey is definitely a witty trickster. He pulls a lot of pranks on me and messes with my head sometimes. He’s always shaking things up and keeping my life interesting haha!
Now let’s talk about the new EP SIRENS + LIGHT, I really enjoyed listening to the six tracks. What was the main difference in the studio while recording the second EP compared to the first one?
For this record, we wanted to make sure that we were writing the best songs we could and keep the focus on the song. I think it’s easy to overproduce music with crazy guitar parts, busy chord progressions, or dense synth elements. What’s most important to us is that the lyric and melody shine and that the song has a good groove. Another big difference in our process for this record was that we only gave ourselves a week to record and produce the entire record. No time for second-guessing and overthinking. We just trusted our guts.
The first single Once In A Lifetime is about finding the girl of your life, a girl to settle down with, right? But I want to know your most special once in a lifetime experience so far.
One of my biggest once in a lifetime moment was being invited to the Grammys back in 2013. It was incredibly inspiring, and I ended up sitting in a box next to Sia. Hopefully, I’ll be attending again someday.
I love the production and the melodies in Never Getting Over You, it’s probably my favorite track from the EP. What inspired you to write this song?
I was in the studio out in West Nashville writing music with Gavin Slate – a writer/producer friend of mine. I was playing chords on this vintage Roland keyboard and landed on a patch that drew a lot of emotion out of me. It took me right back to these feelings I had bottled up inside for a long time about some failed relationships. We took those chords and made a loop with some snaps and an 808 kick. I started humming over the track and out of nowhere I just sang the words “you’re never gonna know the truth… I’m never getting over you.” It just came out of me, and the rest of the lyrics poured out after that.
Your latest single Enough definitely counts to my favorites too. Even though it has sad emotional lyrics it’s still self-empowering and relatable for me. The lyrics also remember me of Sober by Demi Lovato, I’m a huge fan of her. However, I’d like to know what helps you whenever you feel depressed, in a dark place and not enough? Mental health has started to get more popular to be thematized in pop songs and I really support that. What’s your view on this topic?
I think that opening up about your issues with people you can trust is extremely important. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that the things that weigh you down should be private and that you shouldn’t burden anyone with your problems. But that becomes a slippery slope that can cause you to believe that you don’t matter and your life is unimportant or meaningless. Life can be a scary journey at times, but we can make it through the difficult times if we stick together and support each other. I challenge everyone to remind the people that you love that they are important!
Your new song Relentless is powerful and self-empowering. I think it could have been a track released by The Score. They motivate me with their sound and lyrics. What do you do to stay motivated?
As an indie artist, it’s pretty easy to get discouraged. There are many times that I’ve thought about quitting, and I’m sure there will be more of that to come. But, when I get a message from someone I’ve never met or meet someone new at a show, and they tell me how much my music means to them, that’s when I remember why I do this. It’s the support of fans, friends, and family that push me to never stop grinding. I devote hours and hours every day to keep building this project with Trey and Charley because of those people. I don’t want to let them down.
No Turning Back is probably one of your most sexual songs so far. It’s so hot and sensual. I had to add it to my Summer Playlist on Spotify called Summer 2019 Forever since it gives me great summer night vibes. I want to know if you feel comfortable to sing and write about sexuality.
Honestly, the first thing that you have to get over is knowing that your parents are going to hear your music. It kind of makes my stomach turn when I think about it. But I think that good music and great artistry encompass all facets of life. And your sexuality is a huge part of your reality. I can’t help it. I like girls…
I recently listened to an older release from you called Lost Boys and I loved everything about it. It’s storytelling, motivating and inspiring. Since you wrote the song, I’d like to ask you if you still feel lost.
I feel lost from time to time. I think it’s easy to feel lost in such an overwhelming world. So many expectations to make your life something great. But the key to getting over that is knowing that life is a journey. You’ll make mistakes along the way, but also have triumphs and memories to fondly look back on. I try to remember to live in the present and not worry about uncertainties that lie ahead.
What’s your favorite song to perform live to the fans, what makes it special?
I think Enough is my favorite song to perform live. And it’s because of the conversations we have with fans after the show. I think the song helps gives people hope and an outlet to speak about their fears and anxiety. I love spending time after the show hearing people’s stories. And I’m glad that the song starts a conversation on mental health, self-love, and being courageous enough to ask for help.
What’s your secret how do you keep up your high energy while performing live? What do you do before going on stage?
I can’t do a good job unless I stay healthy and take care of my voice. On show days, I try to eat lots of vegetables and protein, keep very hydrated with water and tea, and avoid dairy and alcohol. I want to be top-notch every time I take the stage. Eating right has a huge impact on making sure you have a lot of energy.
This or That:
Netflix or Spotify?
Netflix, I love binge-watching dramas, anime, documentaries, sitcoms…
Streaming or Buying?
I stream a lot, but I buy it when it really means something to me.
Nashville or Los Angeles?
Nashville. LA is fun, but it doesn’t feel like home the way Nash does.
Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram. I suck at both, but it’s the one I’m better at haha
Never watch anime again or never sing again?
Kill me lol
Thank you so much for answering my questions. I wish you the best for your music career as a band. And I can’t wait to hear more from you.
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