After a few weeks away over Christmas it’d only be apt to begin 2017 with a bang. And that is duly delivered in the form of ‘online sensations’ Dorje.
We were first introduced to the Brighton-based rockers as being ‘the biggest band you won’t have heard of,’ and from that moment on we were desperate to hear more about them.
The quartet of Rob Chapman (lead vocals and guitar), Rabea Massaad (lead guitar and backing vocals), Dave Hollingworth (bass) and Ben Minal (drums) have built an impressive online following. Part of that success is down to lead singer and guitarist Rob Chapman, who himself is somewhat of a YouTube star with more than 500,000 subscribers.
We started off by asking the band about this following, and Chapman told us: “Most of our fans have discovered our music through social media and our journey so far hasn’t exactly been the normal way of going about things! We’ve been very lucky to build a large online following, but we are still making that transition into the mainstream.
“To begin with I would never refer to myself as an ‘internet sensation’… I’m just an artist who uses YouTube as a focal media outlet. I initially kicked off my YouTube channel because I was a guitar teacher looking for students – actually I started on MySpace and moved on to YouTube after a few viewers told me about this ‘new place called YouTube.’
“I loved making videos, it had the vibe of an underground radio no rules or restrictions kind of thing – I was bitten by the bug and just had fun with it. Over time the global YouTube audience that I am lucky enough to have gathered has turned into a local physical audience… it’s taken 10 years but it’s been 100% worth the graft.”
Ben, Rabea and Dave have been playing music together for over a decade, but Dorje was formed back in 2012 when the trio moved down from Yorkshire to Guildford to study music. Bea was working in a bar, Rob walked in, they got chatting and it turned out Rob found the band he was looking for. They pretty much wrote Aeromancy, the opening track from 2015 EP Catalyst, in their first jam session and the rest was history.
Ben told us: “We gelled straight away and started writing this weird blend of riff, groovy alternative rock that has become the sound of Dorje. Now we’re all based in Brighton and things are going from strength to strength.
Dorje’s music takes influence from a whole range of music, from Incubus, Pearl Jam and Tool all the way to the heavier sound of Sikth and Meshuggah. They describe their goal as being to create “songs that make people nod their heads and sing along and write memorable, big tunes” – and they’ve absolutely achieved it.
They released their second EP Centred and One back in October, and it’s a superb blend of melodic anthems, cool riffs and grooves with mindblowing instrumentals a la the likes of Alter Bridge, Audioslave and Soundgarden. Building on the success of Catalyst, which topped the iTunes rock charts, the follow-up offering is even more impressive, especially the superb To Survive with its huge rock solo and funky riffs. The EP closes out with the huge Flower of Life, which you can watch below.
Ben told us: “We want to write songs that make people feel something real, whether that is channeling a positive or negative emotion. We also want to inspire people to make music because if we can do it and harness the power of the Internet, so can anyone.
“We think what makes Dorje different is our blend of bluesy, heavy riffs with catchy vocal hooks, underpinned by an often aggressive and angular rhythmical foundation. We also don’t mind being our stupid selves on camera so that helps in making funny YouTube videos that show what’s going on behind the scenes!”
Dorje are currently on a break from touring to hibernate in their rehearsal room and write their next record. In their words: “We are a few tunes in and it’s sounding awesome!” so keep your ears peeled for something very special in the near future.