SETYØURSAILS – Overcoming Demons

Sunday, 14th April 2024

SETYØURSAILS left a major impression with their previous album, Nightfall. A personal album that was able to hit a variety of sonic tones and avoided any one genre in particular. With their new album, Bad Blood, (out April 12 on Napalm Records) they’ve managed to tap into even more variety while keeping the same intimate, personal approach that worked so well last time around. In short, it’s a modern metal album that many should be seeking out. We spoke with vocalist Jules Mitch to discuss the importance of the lyrics to her and the band, musical boundaries, emotions, and mental health in this equally personal interview.

Dead Rhetoric: “Best of Me” led the charge towards new material with SETYØURSAILS. How do you feel that you’ve expanded the boundaries of the band with Bad Blood?

Jules Mitch: That’s pretty much what we did. I feel like everytime that I sit down and write a new song, I never think about specific genres or directions I want to go to, I just start writing songs and whatever comes out, comes out. The thing with Bad Blood is that it has a very different message. It’s more like moving forward, standing up for yourself, being more self-confident, rather than being stuck with depression or the victim role. It’s a different stage, I’d say. I’m really happy with the outcome. I never know what the songs are going to be about until it’s completely done, but I’m really proud of the more positive message this time.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s the songwriting dynamic that allows you to have songs like “T.F.M.F.” and “Lately” without making it seem jarring between them?

Mitch: I just write about whatever comes through my mind and what I’m going through at the moment. I was going through a personal friendship break-up and there was a lot of shit talked through it. I needed to get these words out of my head to express what I was going through and to overcome it. At the same time, I’m still sick, I still have depression, and I still suffer from panic attacks and anxiety. That part of me isn’t gone, I’m still stuck with it. But I don’t give it as much space as I used to give it when I was writing Nightfall, for example.

I feel like it was important to stay authentic by saying that that you go through so many emotions throughout a day – it’s not always a constant mood. You aren’t like, I’m completely sad. Even with depression, there are moments when you are hyped and happy, then you go back home and it all collapses again. I just wrote about everything I was going through at the time. Even “Dangerous,” which is about my fiance, and about sex – something I never wrote about before. Different topics really – it’s not like Nightfall where everything was about depression and dark, and everything is fucked up. It’s like a diary, or taking the topics out of one.

Dead Rhetoric: Going along with that, you were mentioning how you are writing about experiences you have had in life, taking a song that is really personal to you every night, does it ever bother you? Or is it more cathartic?

Mitch: Something changes, yeah. I feel like I am not in too deep into it as I used to be. I feel like the more I talk about it, the more I shout the same vocals out again and again, it’s like therapy. At some point, you are walking off the stage thinking, ‘that didn’t really touch me the way it used to,’ and that’s pretty good. It makes me realize that I’ve overcome these demons, these thoughts.

Everyone has these moments during their daily life where you are mad at someone or yourself because you could have done something differently. Sometimes you think about the same thing for two days, or a week straight. In your head, you think you could have done something better or different. At some point, you wake up and say fuck it. This is what happens with the songs. I’m not really thinking about “Secrets” the way I used to when I was writing it. I talked about my relationship with my mother and I had a long conversation with her and it changed a lot of things. Going through the same emotion over and over again makes you look at things from a different point of view definitely.

Dead Rhetoric: After you wrote and performed “Secrets,” it led you to have a conversation with your mom?

Mitch: I wrote the song about that relationship and the addiction of my mother – she has been sober for a number of years now. But we never really spoke about that topic ever. But she listened to the song, she was crying about it, and because I wrote the song, we had the best conversation ever and we talked about everything. That made me experience the song differently. It makes me look at it from a different point of view, and it even helped us to come back together again. It has a different impact now singing it, or even just listening to it. It’s amazing what music can do.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that there are any musical boundaries that you don’t want to cross with your music?

Mitch: I would never write music that I don’t enjoy listening to. I don’t really care about genres, but I would not take riffs that I don’t like. It’s always going to be somehow the same, yet adding stuff to it. I have a huge rock and roll soul and it shows with the more songs that I write, the more that the rock direction shows up. Just coming up with some different synthesizers or something like that. It’d never be completely different, I don’t really care what people want to name it.

Dead Rhetoric: I know with Nightfall you were particularly pleased with the lyrics and they are really important to you. What stands out to you about the lyrics for Bad Blood?

Mitch: That’s really difficult – it’s so hard to pick something. There’s a song called “Halo,” and it turned out to be my favorite, because it’s such a revenge type of song, but it’s really cool in its writing. It’s my favorite breakdown, and I’m a huge fan of breakdowns. The entire message is so cool – ‘like whatever you do, I can see through your halo, people might believe you but I know what you did and you cannot hide. It’s going to haunt you because you know I know what you did.’ I just love that! It’s such a cool message.

I have always wanted to write in that style, and I like when it isn’t written directly like, “You’re a piece of shit, I hate you,” or something like that. It’s more sneaky about saying it. I love that message. It gives me so much strength for some reason. Like, I could say something but I’m not going to. It’s enough to know that you know that I know it. That message sticks with me. We even made merch out of it, because I love the message so much.

Dead Rhetoric: Talk about the impact of emotion on the songs – there’s a very visceral edge to SETYØURSAILS music.

Mitch: I have so much anger and I’m a very small person. I don’t know why but I’m very aggressive. I don’t know what it’s called…maybe an impulse/control disorder. But I’m freaked out pretty easily. I have some huge road rage problems. You give me a spark and I’m going to blow up. I’m really working on it very intensely with my therapist. I like freaking out – it gives me so much relief. I don’t do it in my daily life, I’m a social worker so I am not allowed to do it. I like putting all the anger into the music and actually shouting. It’s such a relief to do it. You leave rehearsal and it’s a whole body workout. It’s so cool to be able to write about these things, which are making you very aggressive.

Like I said, no one is sticking with one mood. You go through different moods, and I’m not always a tough person. In fact, I’m not that tough even though I’m shouting around. That’s only a small part of who I am. I’m also a very sensitive person and I like to dig in deep. I’m a huge fan of lyrics! I love reading lyrics from other artists, and I feel like writing lyrics is the best thing. It’s like therapy and being able to dive into your own mind, being able to bring it to paper and write it down. Sometimes it feels like someone else is writing the songs and I listen to it once it’s done and reading my own lyrics, I’m like, “did I write that? What the fuck? This is exactly what I wanted to say but I didn’t think about writing it that way.” It’s so cool to be able to express what you are going through with all different emotions, whether it’s anger or sadness or whatever. It’s a diary, it’s taking out of my life no matter what I’m going through.

Of course depression still is a big part of who I am. It’s not all I am. People may think depression is like laying down in bed all day, but I’m actually very funny. I like jumping around, I like to laugh, I like to make jokes. Then I go back home and it all falls apart and I’m like, “Ah I fucking hate this. I hate myself. I shouldn’t have said that.” Stuff like that. Being tough on the outside, which is authentic because it is who I am, but I’m also the exact opposite most of the time.

Dead Rhetoric: Is it important to you to put it out there about mental health in general?

Mitch: Yeah, I mean if artists didn’t do that – if we just kept it quiet and wrote about other things, the meaning of making music and writing it would be completely gone. For me personally, it would be useless. The music would be meaningless and soulless. I would say that 99% of musicians are completely broken, fucked up people suffering from all different kinds of shit. Art comes from somewhere. If you never experience something, you can’t write about it. You just write about the sun shining and everything being cool. Especially in this genre, there’s so much pain. I was consuming a lot of this type of music, and it’s why I started writing music myself. I got so much strength out of these songs. I realized that I was not alone.

There are so many people going through the same shit. It’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s important, especially for younger people to realize that it’s okay and that a lot of people suffer from it. I would say there are more sick people in the world than healthy people. So it’s super important. It’s the main reason why I am writing music. I write the lyrics and the instruments are transforming it into the emotion where I want it to go. The soul and the heart of the song are definitely the words.

Dead Rhetoric: Given your importance to the lyrics, who would you say are some of your biggest influences in terms of writing?

Mitch: First of all, I have to go with a very small band, but friends of mine called No Bragging Rights. I believe they are based in Los Angeles. The singer, Mike Perez, was on our “Shallow” cover. They wrote a song called “Cycles” and it’s about his grandfather being addicted to alcohol and his struggle with it. The main message is ‘this cycle must end with me’ because I can tell from my family that it’s a legacy. It’s in your genes. It’s something that goes through your family. Even I have a higher chance to become an alcoholic than other people. A lot of people in my family died from it, so the same thing with depression. It’s a different type of disease, but the same thing.

That song made me think, “holy shit! He had the nuts to talk about that!” He’s putting it out there for the world to hear, that’s fucking cool! I’ve listened to a ton of bands, but this one pops up in my mind. It was so cool, because it’s so specific. I remember just standing in front of the mirror at sixteen years old or something and just performing and posing – pretending to be on stage, and crying my eyes out. I was feeling it, and I did it like 30 times a day. It was a huge influence, to find the strength and confidence to write about those topics.

Dead Rhetoric: Could you talk about your hat – I feel like I see it on all the promo shots and videos for the band? Any significance to it?

Mitch: I get asked that a lot [laughs]. I have always worn hats, as long as I can remember. It was some kind of protection or shield, and it became my style. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t wearing hats. Different styles of course, but even right now I’m wearing a beanie. I’m never going out without something on my head. For some reason, I just started wearing that hat and it fits with my style and I liked it. I thought it looked so unique, and I figured since we were playing festivals – there’s always people who do not know who you are. Wearing the hat and walking around on a field, there were so many people that recognized me, because of the the hat. They were like, “You were on stage – that was fucking sick! What’s the name of your band again?” So I figured it was marketing!

People recognize me because of the hat, so it’s brilliant. I realized that and it became a trademark somehow. I don’t give a shit – I get a lot of comments on YouTube saying “I don’t like it but everything else is great” or “Fuck the hat” but I’m thinking about wearing two hats in the next video [laughs]! Maybe I’m going to wear four because I’ve been triggered. But I like it, it gives me style and completes my outfit, and there’s no Jules without a hat! It’s not always the same one – I have like 5 of them so it’s not always disgusting or stinky or something.

Dead Rhetoric: Could you also talk about the pink-theme for the “Best of Me” video? Was there any sort of intent to it, since it’s not something you regularly see in heavier music?

Mitch: The intention with “Best of Me” was to represent being a depressed person and not feeling comfortable with how the world appears sometimes. We thought of Instagram and all the fake shit there. Wouldn’t it be cool to represent this fake world by having a very bright and colorful and friendly environment and being the complete opposite as a person? The intention was to get pills, because these people want to put you through their therapy, to try to get you to become the same way as they are – to become happy and great like they are, and fuck it. That was our intention, so we stuck with the pink and turned it into black and white and pink.

Dead Rhetoric: Lastly, what are your plans for 2024?

Mitch: There’s another single coming out before the album drops. The album comes out April 12, and then we are starting our first co-headlining tour. It’s very exciting. Then we have tons of festivals, and some great news by the middle of summer. But there are tons of shows coming up. It’s going to be sick, and freaking exhausting, and there will be lots of things to do. I’ve been writing for the next record too. 2025 is also planned already too, which is sick. This is what we are working for and it’s finally paying off, which is great! There will be a lot of news coming out!


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