demi the Daredevil

Artist Spotlight: Demi the Daredevil

AMF is excited to introduce our October Artist of the Month, Demi the Daredevil. The energetic duo will be releasing a 7-track EP on October 18! Demi the Daredevil is led by frontman Jeff Azar with Tyler Gescheidle behind the drum-kit.  The band draws on the widest variety of influences, ranging from Emo Punk to Show Tunes, and their sound stands out with creepy theatrics, intricate arrangements, and deep lyrics.

Fans describe Demi the Daredevil as raw, relatable and inspiring. Jeff, who started as the band’s drummer, assumed the role of frontman after their founder and lead singer Jovan Ortiz passed away.  After a long, tumultuous journey of universities, mental hospitals, changing band members, and living in attics and teepees, Jeff realized that he could write the songs himself. He released his first solo EP “Secret Schizoid” in October 2016. This quickly garnered a dedicated fanbase around the world. 
 Since then, he has been releasing singles periodically, working with Kevin Butler (Blue October) and Sean O’Keefe (Fall Out Boy) to mix his songs.In June of 2019, Tyler Gescheidle (Tyler G Drumming) joined the band as a full time member bringing charisma, finesse, and a dynamic style both to the live performances and new records.

Get to know the band in our exclusive Artist of the Month interview.

How did you get involved with AMF and what does being named Artist of the Month mean to you?

A friend recommended that I go to the AMF panels about three years ago. The panels were a great place to hear industry vets give their takes on the industry. It was really valuable to me. I was able to meet Johnny Goudie and Einar for personal consultations and to get good personal feedback. At last I got Artist of the Month! I think having Storme Levi from Trickfinger records helped me get Artist of the Month, honestly. I think it helps having others in the industry vouche for you and not pure self-promotion.  I’ve seen my favorite local artists get Artist of the Month so I’m just honored to be included. It’s been a goal of mine for a while now. It does make me feel like a special bean. 

How long have you been living and working as a musician in Austin?

I’ve been living in Austin for about 10 years and went to UT. I have been a musician most of my life, but it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I really dedicated myself to building this band and fanbase who make the Demi the Daredevil what it is today.

Can you tell us the story of how Demi the Daredevil came to be? How did you meet Jovan, and why did you decide to continue the band after his passing?

I met Jovan, one of the founding members of Demi the Daredevil, through a mutual friend. I was in awe of how talented and cool he was when I first met him – he looked exactly like Tom Delonge (from Blink 182) and was way ahead of the musical curve at such a young age. When he passed away, I initially wanted to dissolve the band – and just give up music.  But I ended up falling into despair without that creative outlet. I didn’t realize how much I leaned on music ‘til I did without it. I decided to keep the same band name because I wanted to be able to give his family royalties from the first Demi album he wrote! 

How has becoming the frontman and bandleader helped you to grow as an artist?  

I’ve definitely become more confident in my songwriting ability. I used to think I needed to rely on others to write, so I was always at the whim of other band mates. Being a frontman was the start of me beginning to write the lyrics, and eventually melody and adding instruments. I also had to learn the business side of things to move the band forward. I’m still getting comfortable with lowering barriers between us and the audience at live shows, but it’s night and day compared to how self-conscious I used to be.

What is your songwriting process like? 

As far lyrics go, my motive has been the same for five years: to maintain my clarity. If there’s a concept or experience or feeling that I keep repeating, I want to describe it and be able to look at it and say, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I went through.” Nowadays I also do polls with the fans to better understand their biggest problems. As far as the music, I’ve learned that a good method is to start with beats that I record in my voice notes and put those to the best chord progressions. I’m convinced that the difference between an emotionless song and emotional song is having a bad progression versus a good one. Picasso said, “Mediocre artists borrow, great artists steal.” I think the issue is having good taste about what to take and recycle into something original. I’m not the best melody maker but do think I can land on some catchy melodies. My favorite thing about songwriting is the rhythmic interplay between all the instruments to make the groove. 

How has your music evolved since you first began writing and recording?

It went from emo punk, to more groove-based electronic music. The early Demi music was really fast and heavy like Green Day, My Chemical Romance, etc.  Now the Emo and Punk genres are much more like dance and even getting more hip hop. I suppose the songs started out similar to early Blink-182 and slowly grew to incorporate other styles, like 80’s pop and glam – sort of, Green Day meets Queen and Michael Jackson.

Your music videos are top-notch. Do you conceptualize and direct those, too?

Oh thank you! No, I’ve never directed any of those. I’ve only put out ideas that relate to the lyrical story and overall aesthetic, and then whoever is directing the project condenses everything and brings it to life. We’ve worked with a very talented director and cinematographer, Jackson Alexander, several times, but besides him every video has had a different director. After this last video though, I think I am going to try harder than ever to keep the concept really simple but powerful. It’s hard to make a DIY video work when there are so many grand ideas. I want to start focusing on one powerful symbol for each video.

Fill in the blanks: Demi the Daredevil makes ___________ (music) for ____________ (people).

Demi the Daredevil makes relatable bops for any listener who craves meaning and emotionally-raw subject matter. 

What is your favorite place to perform in Austin?

Stubbs (Indoors – because up until this point indoors is the only option!) 

What’s next for Demi the Daredevil? 

We have a new 7-track EP dropping on Friday, October 18th called “Magic + Accidents.” We worked really hard on this project and I think it’s they’re the most mature Demi songs yet.  The album was mixed by Sean O’Keefe, an incredible engineer who has worked with established many of my favorite artists growing up like Fall Out Boy, Motion City Soundtrack, and the Hush Sound.  There’s a new drummer Tyler G involved now. There was live bass on the songs. We are releasing it through our label, Trickfinger Records, and it has been great to work with that team. They really value innovation and encourage absolute creative freedom for their artists. I feel like this EP is the band’s best work to date, and I’m so excited for everyone to check it out. Stay tuned! 

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