Demi the Daredevil is a band that I’ve followed for quite some time and I’m excited that I finally get to be writing a feature for their newest EP, “My Purgatorium”. I originally came across this wonderfully whimsical and yet dark-sounding group made up some amazingly kind and driven guys while taking photos for my ex-boyfriend’s band and have been captivated by their sound ever since. I’m a big fan of pop that has a darker sound to it and Demi the Daredevil is the absolute blueprint for that. I was also fortunate enough to eventually have the chance to photograph them for this past year’s SXSW, and the way that this band brings a crowd into their show was truly amazing and captivating—even as someone working and not necessarily just there to enjoy the show. Demi does that again for the listener through the sounds and emotion in this EP.
Before I get into the music, I want to shout out Demi’s newest member and bass player, Jeremy Boyum. I’m exceedingly happy that such a great musician and human is part of such a wonderful and supportive band and that he has the opportunity to grow, tour, and climb as a musician again with Demi the Daredevil. Jeremy is such a selfless, kind, helpful, and loving person who deserves it all. Jeff, the frontman of Demi, and his lovely wife, Maddie, are also such caring and lovely people who I’ve gotten the pleasure to know better over this past year. I can truly say that their ability to make someone feel included and heard isn’t something I come across every day and my appreciation for them both in my life knows no bounds. This band is full of amazing people. Please go give them a follow.
Okay, on to the music.
Whatever you’ve been through or whatever you’re going through, you’ll find something in “My Purgatorium” to connect with. Aside from the extremely evocative lyrics, this EP has a lot of musically interesting aspects to it. Here are some things that especially hit me in both of those areas, and some things that I hope you’ll like too.The first thing that stuck with me was just the sheer number of little details within these tracks that make them special and interesting. Little whispers within “The Martyr’s Crown” fill the space in a way that makes the listener understand the amount of anxiety or inner turmoil that the “character” in the song is going through, therefore adding to the general feeling of needing to change for oneself or to look after oneself.
The opening lines really illustrated this for me – in a vision of angels appearing, “Be Not Afraid” style, scaring the “character” to throw away “The Martyr’s Crown”. Extremely powerful stuff for anyone who feels stuck in place or feel like they can’t get out of their rut. Even the beginning “Go” and “drop my head and move along” in “Withering Heights” add so much to the general feeling of the song and really bring in that darker aspect. I think Emily Brontë would be proud.
If you tend to gravitate towards artists like Twenty-One Pilots or even 2010-era Panic! At the Disco, you’ll love everything about “My Purgatorium”. Jeff’s ability to use different rhythms and spoken word, especially within “Withering Heights” and “Rain Dogs”, brings something special to the table for fans of any genre.
In this way Demi reminds me of these two artists, but also adds something totally new with pop-punk style vowels in some areas, hip-hop and R&B-like rhythms in others, and even using spoken word to slow it down a little for the listener and to get them to focus on what Demi is trying to communicate in certain parts of the song. Demi the Daredevil demonstrates so much mastery in using space and movement to keep the listener not only engaged, but fully pulled in to every second of each song. Everything in this EP, from the vocals, details, instrumentation, to lyrics feels intentional.
A song that I didn’t expect to hit me as hard as it did was “Make Monsters Make Saints”. Especially the line “Why would I mask it when even the mask gets judged”. That spoke to me in a way that a song hasn’t in a very long time. I think anyone with ADHD, autism, or anyone who feels like they have to put on a different face for the world would feel the same, as our normal isn’t often seen as societally acceptable, or at the very least makes us seen as “others” within society. It feels good to feel seen in a world that glorifies that face of perfection that we put out to the world and not always our true, authentic selves in fear of judgement or exclusion. When I asked Demi the Daredevil about some common themes within this EP, they replied: “questioning [the] concept of God, mental disability, and healing from trauma, bullying, [and] hell on earth”. These guys get it.
Artists like Demi are so needed in this society of esteemed perfection and measured success. They take the feelings of the everyday person and make them accessible to even the casual listener. They also note that their music focuses on “having to be your own hero, saving yourself, and trying to understand how the laws of life work.” Demi the Daredevil speaks to me as a neurodivergent person, but I have no doubt that their lyrics can and will reach anyone through classical influences, classic poppy sounds, and hauntingly beautiful and catchy instrumentation even past the powerful lyrics that make this EP so special to me.
Whatever your reason for connecting to this EP, I know that there is something here for everyone. Please do yourself a favor and check out “My Purgatorium”. You won’t find another release out there right now that feels so pointed for 2023 – an instant anthem for those of us trying to just understand ourselves and move along with the cards we’ve been dealt.