Music Existence had the opportunity to interview Orlando, Florida’s friendly neighborhood rockstar, Dane White. Now, taking the time off the road as an opportunity to work on his solo project CyberScream and debut its first full length album. Dane is a passionate singer and multi-instrumentalist known for his exuberant live performances with industrial outfit, Combichrist. During this interview we discussed his creative process, influences, amongst other topics.
ME: Hey Dane how are you doing?
Dane White: Good, thanks! Good to hear from you.
ME: Same, same, it’s been a while.
DW: I know right? It’s been too long.
ME: Too long for sure, absolutely. I have about a dozen questions or so. Should be pretty quick and painless, I promise it won’t be anything too crazy.
DW: No worries! Sounds great.
ME: Excellent! Firstly, I want to congratulate you on the debut album. How did the inception of CyberScream come about?
DW: Thanks so much! It’s kind of been a thing in my head for a long time. I think around 2015-ish, this is back when I was in Arizona, where I come from as far as the local scene is concerned. I kind of had this idea of “what would a band that was made of lightning sound like?”. That was the original inception of it and it grew from there as I moved to Orlando. Started doing my own thing and entertainment out here growing as an artist and musician. It got to a point where I was writing songs and figuring myself out for that time. Now, is when it got to a point where I have a good collection of what I think encapsulates me as an artist. I think this is as good a time as any to do that as a band. Being Dane as an artist, not Dane White from Combichrist or whatever else. I’m really excited for people to hear it.
ME: That’s cool! How was the transition from the music scene in Arizona to Florida? I’ve been to Florida and it’s a funky town to say the least.
DW: (Laughs.) It definitely is in a way. You know what? I’ve always found the local scene to be non-existent no matter where you go. It was OK in Arizona. I was in a couple of decent bands that had their stint in the scene. I came out here and it wasn’t that much different, if not a little bit worse. You kind of have to break through that crust of the local scene to make an actual impact. But, there’s some cool bands that are making waves and it’s cool to see them do it and it’s inspiring to want to get to the same level they are at as far as what’s happening with the Orlando music scene. I feel that no matter where you go the local scene is kind of the same in every small town in America.
ME: Considering that live shows are currently on hiatus for the foreseeable future, do you find yourself possibly doing livestream performances for CyberScream?
DW: Not exactly, but I do have several ideas of how to approach this sort of artistic medium through an online way that is not live. Maybe some cool music videos and different types of media for people to see and experience, not having to be in a physical room with people. As much as I love that, the whole idea with CyberScream is about the live show. How insane and over the top and theatrical I want it to be, and it will be that way one day I think. But right now I want to take advantage of how people are on their phones all day looking at YouTube or Instagram, Facebook, whatever and find ways to capitalize on that aspect in the meantime while things are on hiatus for the live shows.
ME: I know I already have my favorites from the album. Do you have any songs in particular that you’re most excited for people to hear?
DW: For sure! I’m curious to know yours after I tell you mine. Shadow Side, I feel like that’s the one if I have to show anyone one song to say this is who I am, that’s what I’m going to show them. Beyond that I’m super excited for Hypersexual. I think that’s going to freak a lot of people out, I think that’s going to turn some heads. I’m not really ashamed to admit that I am a sexual person (laughs) and I’m excited for people to hear that, as scary as it is to show that side of yourself. Happiness Is A Distraction is a really important one for me as far as things I’ve dealt with mentally in the past five years or so. This is what this whole album is, the story of the last five years of me figuring myself out. Other than that I’m most excited for people to hear my cover of Livewire by Motley Crüe. I’m such a huge fan of that band and there were some twists and turns that weren’t in the original song that I’m excited for people to hear.
ME: For me, Black Ranger was my favorite from the whole album followed by Happiness Is A Distraction. How true do you find that sentiment to be true that happiness is distracting?
DW: You know it’s hard. I go back and forth quite a bit. I have my moments where life is a euphoriac and everything is wonderful and “how could I have ever been sad?”. Then I have moments where I’m like, “Jesus Christ, what am I gonna do with myself?” you know? I think we can all kind of relate to that.
DW: I don’t think everything is 100% true. I think there’s so many different sides to every person and everything in this world. I do think that for a lot of us, that sentiment is true. We’re distracting ourselves with work, productivity, friends, or relationships. Things that we enjoy so we can either avoid or deal with the things that we find scary or difficult to process. I think it takes a lot of courage to be able to tackle things head on. In a way it can relate with people, “Are you happy or are you distracted? And if you’re distracted, why? What are you running from? What are you hiding from?”. If anyone can take away a point from that, I hope they can figure that out about themselves.
ME: What was the source of inspiration for the song Opt Out?
DW: Opt Out came from a very, very heavy place. It was actually one of the first songs I wrote. I remember distinctly being in my bedroom in Arizona, and at this point I was in an insanely dark place. I had just quit my most prominent band, a thrash band called Warhead. Great dudes, we still hang out and talk, but it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t getting what I needed from that group. I was kind of lost and unsure of what I was going to do with my life thinking “I want to play music but don’t know what to do”. Everything seemed hopeless. I remember sitting in my bedroom, it was dusk outside, the sun was setting and I remember having this 6/4 time group in my head and kept thinking about it. The lyrics actually came after watching this The Walking Dead episode where the characters go to the CDC and the doctor said, “Well yes, all the other doctors opted-out.” That phrase kind of stuck out to me, “Ooo, that sounds really haunting and dark.” It kind of mapped how I already felt and it came from there. Those lyrics came from a real place and I’m glad I was able to escape it. I look back and I’m glad I’m not there anymore. The ending part of that song is quite important too: Your younger self would be so disappointed if they saw how low you are, that you’re about to end things for them and he or she has his whole life ahead of him. Don’t disappoint your younger self that wants to dream and do things and have a fulfilled life.
ME: That’s very powerful. It’s hard to be in those moments when you’re thinking, “Well what is the point?” To push through and take it day by day, or week by week and to be here in the present however long it takes to get out of that cloud is all very worth it. I’m glad you’re here!
DW: Thank you and likewise! You’re exactly right. Sometimes it’s one day or one minute at a time. It’s grueling but you have to keep pushing through it and trust that there’s something better on the other side of it.
ME: What was the creative process like for the album considering that you are a multi-instrumentalist?
DW: So basically I got into programming around the same time I quit my other bands. I was working around with synthesizers and learning how to produce, record, stuff like that. I had all this classical training through school and college. I used what I already knew from there and applied it to experimenting with computer stuff. I bought some really great programs that were able to help me make great guitar tones, heavy synthesizers that you could hear on the CyberScream album. It’s really me messing around with different samples and effects, putting this all together in a way that sounds cool and not overdone. I think it’s really easy to over do electronic music because you add as many layers as you want. There’s a happy medium you have to find.
ME: Do you find it difficult to finalize a song since you are the singer and the producer and play the instruments? How do you get to the point where, enough is enough?
DW: For sure! I find it comforting to hear from other artists that if they didn’t just wrap it up, they would never be done with the song. At a certain point you have to say, “You know what? Screw it. This is it.” People are either going to love it or hate it and this is as good as it’s possibly going to be. Only you will know when that is but you also have to push that button and say enough is enough. That’s what it really comes down to.
ME: I can only imagine considering how I have slight OCD, I’d be saying, “Nope, gotta go back.”
DW: Oh my God! Same, yeah. I went through this with a fine toothed comb dozens of times.
ME: How would you say your creative outlets have been affected by the pandemic and quarantine, not going on tour and all that?
DW: I think it’s a double sided coin in a way. On one hand, you know, I really get off on a live performance. I miss touring. I miss playing live. However, it presented a great opportunity for me to get into my creative space of my own and do some writing and really hone in on how I want my band to sound. That was one silver lining. I’m not sure if Covid hadn’t happened I would’ve had time to make a CyberScream album or done something different. I believe everything works out the way it’s supposed to for a reason. I think creatively it gave me no choice but to make something and to make it cool. People need time for that stuff.
ME: Who would you say are some of your creative influences?
DW: My biggest influences for sure and I’ve said this before, my go to guy is Corey Taylor. He could do no wrong in my book. Corey Taylor’s Slipknot was the first heavy band I had ever heard, they’re a massive influence. Definitely Rammstein with the industrial thing, Combichrist before I joined. I’m a 2000’s kid, I was born in the 90’s so all those like Breaking Benjamin, Linkin Park, a lot of those bands are what I grew up on and knew. So that combined with my love for the 80’s stuff and really beyond rock my taste is very eclectic. I can really dig anything, it’s across the board but I would say those are my biggest ones. You’re going to hear that in the album, Slipknot and Rammstein kind of vibe.
ME: What do you want for your listeners to take away when they listen to your album?
DW: I would hope that they discover something about themselves that they may not have already known. Whether it comes to a mental health kind of thing, a coping mechanism. A lot of these songs deal with coping in one way or another, so I hope that could be illuminating. In a more service level aspect, I hope they could say, “Wow, Dane can do more than play drums…he can sing, he can write. He can do more than what I’ve seen so far, I’m excited to see what comes next,” (laughs). That’s all I can hope for when people hear this.
ME: As we approach the finish line of this interview, would there be any collaborations with or future endeavors with your fellow bandmates from Combichrist?
DW: I don’t know actually, that’s interesting to think about. I always kind of wondered what would it be like if I had Andy (LaPlegua) do a club mix of one of my songs. Or really put that industrial/dance/electronic edge to a song because I feel I’m much more metal,it’s definitely not pure industrial. It would be cool to hear a sort of dance or club remix, that’d be cool but, other than that we all have our own things going on so we’re just going to have to wait and see.
ME: If you do get that remix send it over OK?
DW: For sure!
ME: Last question, do you have any shoutouts?
DW: Yeah! I definitely give a shoutout to my buddy Rhet Tanner who played additional guitars on the album for Happiness Is A Distraction and Black Ranger. He did some solos for me and that was a huge help so I’m very very thankful for him doing that. My producer, Adam Sliger, was a huge help in the studio. He really pushed me in a lot of ways. Things I thought sounded cool he would be like “No, no, no. We’re going to fix that,” (laughs), and would be absolutely right in some cases. He taught me a lot, just watching him. He also helped me expand as an artist and a singer. That was really cool to be a part of, so definitely a shoutout to both those guys.
To learn more about CyberScream make sure to clink on the links below: