21 DISARMing Questions for Dom and Vanee of HALLOWS

Looming in the Darkwave, Post-Punk and Goth Electro realms, HALLOWS formed in 2018 in Minneapolis / St. Paul and since made their way to the west coast. Consisting of Dom R. (vocals, guitar, synth, drum programming) and Vanee D. (vocals, synth, bass), their music presents layers of yearning sounds that bleed into uplifting, sanguine beats. Their compositions offer intimate messages about modern-day malaise conveyed through an exposed, vulnerable lens.

We caught up with the duo to ask them about music, art, and life outside of HALLOWS.  This is what they shared with us.

DISARM: What are you listening to right now?

Dom: I have been hooked on Dancing Plague, Years of Denial, and revisiting Oathbreaker’s catalogue lately. I just saw Blu Anxxiety live yesterday so I suspect I will revisit them too soon.

Vanee: My current playlist is varied and somewhat disjointed. In the wave-nowave/post-punk realms, I am listening to tons of HIDE, Odonis Odonis, SRSQ, Buzz Kull, ACTORS, Drab Majesty, and BOAN. Then throw in a mix of frequent returns to older-ish music from Light Bearer, Mogwai & Have A Nice Life, True Widow & Low. It’s a trip.

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

D: At around 6 years old, Smash by The Offspring came out. I was really intrigued by the album art and convinced my parents to buy it for me on cassette. I would listen to it weekly while doing chores on my Walkman. The Offspring became my first “favorite” band.

V: That would be an erratic mixed tape (when it was totally a thing) where I would non-stop listen to tracks from No Doubt, The Cranberries, and Radiohead back in 1995/1996.

Vinyl or CD/Digital?

D: All three. I like vinyl because it is cool and want to support artists who take the financial hit to get their releases pressed. However, some records just sound better on CD and digital is probably the highest quality out there.

V: Anything to support music that artists put out there. I do have a soft spot for vinyl because they feel like a delicate ornament. 

What are your favourite bands?

D: That’s tough… I will say that Neurosis and AmenRa have been the two bands that have influenced me the most in the past decade. However, at the moment I will say that Ritual Howls and Kaelan Mikla are my two favs. They have definitely shaped the way HALLOWS sounds.

Editors: Kaelan Mikla!  Yes!

V: Yes, tough one indeed. I would say Have a Nice Life really speaks to me and inspires the melancholy that I bring in writing music for HALLOWS. Ritual Howls and Drab Majesty are solid acts to experience live and have constantly put out incredible work. Light Asylum is a force!

Editors:  Drab Majesty!  Yes!  🙂

Why do you live where you do?

V: After more than a decade of schooling in Minnesota, most of which was in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dom and I decided to choose a path where we could do what we really love doing (playing music/arts, going to shows, hanging with our animals, etc.) in tandem with pursuing a career. Seattle offered that and we are so stoked to be in this community. Shout out to our friends in Seattle and the Twin Cities.

What is your favourite journey?

D: Driving around the desert near Joshua Tree in California is probably some of my favorite travels ever. V and I have done this a few times and it is surreal to just drive around that area while blasting some good music.

V: D and I once walked around the streets of Paris with no aim for hours. We talked, stopped by cafes to have coffee/drinks, people watched, and basically just chilled. It was a low-key, serene, cloudy day – perfect for the soul.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

D: Lounging with our three pets, HALLOWS practice, hanging at the cafe on top of our practice space (Cafe Petti Rosso rules).

V: We basically have the same routine on Sundays: long morning talks with coffee, late breakfast, pets, practice/music, food, walks, and TV shows.

Photo by Daniel Kastner

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

D: Headphones and music.

V: Bandaids, lotion, headphones, and D. 

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

D: V and I are from a tropical island (Mauritius) and we miss warm sunny places. I would say anywhere with beaches, sun, and warmth.

V: Sun and water – I am in. And throw in some nice goth/dark-wave/post-punk shows happening in that locale, we are truly golden.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

D: Figure out where the locals hang and try to grasp the local culture.

V: If I am at an airport, I would stick around. I have this peculiar liking of hanging at airports, eating terrible airport food, having the not-so-tasty drinks, walking around, hauling luggage, watching people jet by – it’s calming and odd… don’t ask me more. If I am already in a city that I traveled to, probably a nap.   

What inspired you to take up music?

D: I started being obsessed with music at a very young age so playing music was a logical step. For HALLOWS, V had just picked up her instruments (she learned to sing, play bass, and synths over the course of a summer believe it or not) and I wanted to support her by jamming. We ended up liking what we were creating and we decided to start a band one night while having a drink in San Diego.

V: I’ve liked singing since childhood, I had a bad guitar when I was younger, and owned a bass when I was 18. However, I have always been anxious and under-confident, so I never really pursued any of these avenues seriously. I decided to start jamming on my keys and bass sometime in late 2018 and D would join in. We really liked where it was going, but had no intention of performing. Then one day (I did not remember it was in San Diego, but the timing is correct) we were like, let’s be a band.

What was your most memorable day job?

D: When I was doing my undergrad, I was somewhat of a glorified janitor for the university’s student union. It was not glamorous but I had fun doing it and met some good people. It also allowed me to branch out and do live sound for their music events at some point.

V: My past students may be unhappy I am not saying it is teaching, if they read this. But, I worked at a coffee shop in between my undergrad and graduate school. I had regulars that would come hang out and I got good at making delicious fancy coffee drinks. Made me somewhat of a coffee snob for a while there, although I drink black drip coffee almost always.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

D: Sleep more and drink more water.

V: Have boundaries.


What should everyone shut up about?

D: Everyone should just shut up about policing what is cool or not. Let people have things as long as they’re not hurting anyone else.

V: Many need to shut up about playing nice and hearing “others” (aka bigots) out. Bigoted thoughts, actions, and behaviors do hurt a large scale of people. Call people out, speak up, be difficult, radical, and resolute.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?

D: Steve von Till from Neurosis because he is a huge inspiration for me. I’d cook whatever he wants!

V: I would love to host Dolores O’Riordian (RIP) from The Cranberries. I would make country fried vegan seitan or even cook up some real steak in our sweet cast iron skillet, if Dolores would serenade me to “No need to Argue” after dinner.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

D: I don’t really have a favorite. I like anti-heroes better. They are more realistic.

V: Hannibal Lecter comes to mind. Although my most badass fictional hero would be Lee Geum-ja in Lady Vengeance by Chan Wook Park.

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

D: We attended Substance in LA last year (2019) and it was incredible. So many good performances and great artists. It was really inspiring to both of us and encouraged us to push HALLOWS as far as possible. Maybe one day we’ll play it…

V: Yes, Substance in LA was the recent memorable one. Just an incredible line up of the most talented artists in the genre – a real treat.

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

D: post-punk.com because they cover almost everything that I like.

V: Ditto about post-punk.com. I also binge read The New York Times and The Hard Times (hah!).

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

D: Almost everything by Neurosis. They are a huge influence in how I write music. It may not be very apparent in the HALLOWS material but they are key to my contributions to that project.

V: The movie Dogville. I reluctantly appreciate the rawness, injustice, and unfairness englobed in the movie, and cherish the minimalism and legitimized violence. It is a beautiful piece of art. In HALLOWS, I often write about the cruelties of humanity, deception, and vulnerabilities, which, in my perspective, are the essence of this movie.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

D: We want to have a successful release of “Subtle” then try to plan a mini-tour in the Fall (work in progress). We are also neck deep in writing our first full length record. The goal is to have it composed by the end of the Summer, then record it soon after.

V: We are working on a video for “The Call//Ravenous” featuring some of our talented friends as characters. We are stoked for our EP “Subtle” release on April 3rd, 2020. The title track is already available for streaming. We are working on some exciting new songs where we are getting out of our comfort zone and experimenting. It makes for a more challenging, but gratifying process.

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

D: I tent to not like rules very much so I am not sure which one I agree with. I think that meeting your heroes might be ok because people are complex beings. You should be ready to deal with disappointment though. Some of your heroes might be jerks but some might be kind. The one hero who is kind makes up for all the other jerks in my opinion. For example, I met Colin from AmenRa once and he was a very sweet person.

V: It has gone both ways in the past, so I would not hold myself back by decree. I usually go for meeting my heroes if the setting is right. Not making excuses, but it’s also key to empathize and understand that heroes (especially artists) are also often exhausted when touring and on the road. Though, heroes who turn out to be legit terrible humans, well, farewell. I cannot separate the art from the artist in those circumstances. Most have been absolute gems so far though.

Thanks Dom and Vanee!  Check out more from HALLOWS on their Bandcamp page HERE.

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