Interview: Dymbur [India] Fuse Folk Music and Metal to Battle Society’s Evils, Child Abuse, Rape Culture, Etc.

There’s been a few shocking stylistic shifts in the metal community: Opeth trading in their prog-death metal for 70’s rock, deathcore pioneers Bring Me the Horizon hittin’ the pop radio, and Deafheaven‘s blackgaze identity turning fully post-rock.

Now, Dymbur join that list as they ascend to folk metal, away from their progressive / djent roots. The act is based out of Shillong in Meghalaya, India and has not only evolved their sound, but also their message. Check out our interview with the group below as we discuss their transition, the Indian metal scene, and the serious issues of rape culture and child abuse in their country.

You recently released the single “Child Abuse,” which not only shows greater maturation in your folk / progcore fusion, but also a continuation of your effort towards making an impactful, lyrical message. Can you discuss what this song means to you personally?

With the decision to shift our genre to folk metal and with a new band line-up, Dymbur also wanted to strengthen this change by writing about issues that are the need of the hour, especially in our country, but have been ignored and brushed aside for far too long. We embarked on this journey by addressing the Rape Crisis in our country when we wrote the song “Rape Culture.” As we were doing our research on the subject of that single, it dawned on us that child abuse is another serious issue that immediately needed attention. Just to prove this point, one in four rape victims in India is a minor.

Every band member in Dymbur has his own attitude towards “Child Abuse” but for Andreas [War, guitarist], a father to a three year old son, this song holds a deeper connection.

The charity aspect behind this recent single reminds me also of fellow Indian metallers Bloodywood, who have used their singles to bring attention to certain issues and charities. Do you believe that musicians have a responsibility to bring awareness or change to society not only through their music but also through call-to-actions?

That’s correct, our “Child Abuse” single is also an attempt to raise funds for a non-profit organization called Spark Foundation, which is in dire need of financial assistance. We hope this song will help raise the much needed funds.

However when it comes to music and musicians, to each their own. We believe that as artists, we should have the freedom to express ourselves in whichever way we want, write songs on whatever theme we want. Dymbur started off as a progressive djent band and after almost a decade we have chosen to now use our music to address social issues.

On the topic of significant messages, you unveiled the “Rape Culture” single last year. Do you feel that there is any progress on this subject or the overall equality for women in India lately? What changes would you like being made in your country and society?

India has a population of about 1.39 billion. The “Rape Culture” music video has a little over 30k views, so no we are not there yet and we have a long way to go. This non-responsive attitude will not hold us back and you can be sure we will push ahead with our efforts.

When we wrote “Rape Culture,” we were not trying to point fingers at anyone. Our intention is to bring about a behavioral change and at best undo the desensitization on the subject matter. The Rape Crisis in India has become such that people have become immune to it. People’s hearts have turned to stone as our media exposes these atrocities on a daily basis. It seems like we take it with a cup of tea and move on with our lives. Dymbur wants to change that.

There are many issues happening all across the world currently, so I applaud Dymbur for addressing very important, yet loaded topics such as Rape Culture and Child Abuse. Are there other issues that have been on your mind lately and do you see them potentially being the subjects of future Dymbur material?

Yes, Dymbur will be releasing new material soon. We are not going to announce the issues that we are currently writing at the moment, but these songs too like the previous two, will carry their own messages.

Your debut record, The Legend of Thraat, was very djent-oriented musically, yet your recent singles have transitioned towards a more melodic, folk metal style. Can you explain the decision to make this stylistic shift?

For over a decade, Dymbur pursued the djent / progressive style of music, but when the pandemic hit and put our India tour on hold, Cornelius [Kharsyntiew, founder / guitarist] decided it was time for a change. We wanted to experiment with the traditional instruments of our country as we are a people rich in our culture and heritage. A change in the band lineup was the much needed spark needed to fuel this new passion to fuse our sounds with Western music. With the name ‘Dymbur,’ which is a word of Khasi (tribes belonging to the Northeast part of India) origin that translates into ‘Fig Tree,’ we have now understood that the band’s name along with our folk traditional instrumental music fused with metal has created a clear identity for our overall music and culture.

I understand that Dymbur shared the stage with Psycroptic and Veil of Maya in the past. Did you get to talk backstage with either bands by chance? Do you also have a favorite album from both aforementioned bands?

We were lucky enough to have shared the stage with these two international acts. And yeah, we did get to talk with the guys from Psycroptic, but the memorable moments we had was actually with Veil of Maya. Right after the show ended, the organizer hosted a small after-party for the bands and we spent about two hours talking, taking pictures, sharing our stories, and we even had dinner with the guys from Veil of Maya. It was an awesome experience since they have always been one of our favorite bands and we’re lucky enough to have supported them during their India Tour. The Common Man’s Collapse is our favorite Veil of Maya album.

I discovered the Indian metal scene approximately five years ago, around the time I featured Dymbur amongst other regional groups on Metal Injection. Over the years, the standout acts have included Aarlon, What Escapes Me, Bloodywood, If Hope Dies, Within Ceres, Sarfaad, Demigod, and of course, Demonic Resurrection. Are you familiar with these acts and do you have any notable stories about or encounters with them?

Yes, we remember the feature that you did on Metal Injection and we are very much familiar with these bands. We shared the stage with If Hope Dies a couple of times, around 2014 and 2015 at different Battle of the Bands contests held across India.

What other bands in India should everyone know about? 

The one metal band from India the world needs to know about is Scribe.

Music is a very difficult industry in the US. It is even more difficult to find success specifically as a metal musician. How would you describe the metal music scene and industry in India? Is it possible to financially survive as an artist or do you need to balance it with another job?

Yeah, you have already answered your question. We all have our day jobs. It is the only way we can sustain our metal music. Dymbur is lucky though as the founding member, Cornelius, is a full-time music teacher and has his own sound recording studio. The metal scene in India needs help and as far as an industry in the metal scene is concerned, it is yet to be established. The way the sport cricket dominates all other sports, Bollywood dominates all other music in India.

As a band in India, do you feel pressure to conform or appeal to a Western audience (US / EU) with English lyrics or certain music styles?

Yes we are Indian, but we hail from the North Eastern part of India from a little state called Meghalaya where the British missionaries had set up their schools and various institutions during the British rule. For most of us, English is our second language. We are more comfortable with English than Hindi, which is our national language.

Any future plans for Dymbur that you’d like to share (upcoming releases, tours, etc.)?

For now, all we can give out is that we do have a few more singles with videos lined up and that hopefully we get to hit stage by end of the year.

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