YouTube Sensation & Colombian Depeche Mode Cover Band DMK Makes Music as a Family
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"Sometimes life gives you lemons and you make lemonade," said Dicken Schrader, lead singer of DMK, the Colombian Depeche Mode cover band.
The audiovisual artist from Bogotá, Colombia turned hardship into a positive family affair that would later gain the attention of Oprah Winfrey, Perez Hilton and CNN. He spoke to Latin Post at the Pachanga Latino Music Festival in Austin, Texas on May 10.
A longtime Depeche Mode fan since his youth, Schrader found some comfort and closure in the British electro-pop band's "Shake the Disease." So he decided to put his unique spin on the 1985 classic by incorporating instruments, recycled materials and toys, as well as his two adorable children, Milah, then 6, and Korben, then 3 (hence the name DMK for 'Dicken-Milah-Korben' or 'Depeche Mode Kids'). He released the song on YouTube and viewers loved it.
What started out to be a fun family project and a release for Schrader four years ago led to a whirlwind of attention, success and a huge fan following.
"The first video we made was kind of an act of psychomagic," he said. "We never expected that it would evolve beyond that. I made one video and I invited my kids to join me and sing a song with me. I am not a professional musician. I have never taken a music lesson in my life. Everything I know about music is just for the love of it; it's empirical."
"We loved that experience and then we made a second video and then a third one — and the third video just exploded," Schrader explained. "Everybody saw it. It was a surprise, we never expected this to happen, it wasn't like we planned it, like, 'Hey guys let's make a Depeche Mode cover band and be famous.' We never expected it. It was organic and natural."
In 2011, DMK released its third cover, "Everything Counts," which gained worldwide attention. The video was featured on Oprah Winfrey's and Perez Hilton's blogs, CNN, The Guardian, The Huffington Post U.S. and U.K., radio stations in Europe and ewscasts and media outlets all over the world. In a matter of weeks it easily amassed a million hits on YouTube.
In 2014, DMK is releasing its seventh Depeche Mode cover, "But Not Tonight," and is taking on more live performances, including their performace at Pachanga Fest.
"We loved the energy in Texas. We had a great time," Schrader said.
"I liked that everybody listened to me, and that everybody was listening to us, not talking — they were just looking happy," said 7-year-old Korben Schrader, who says his favorite Depeche Mode cover is "Strange Love."
"Since they were born, there was always music around in my home. And I have this keyboard and I started buying some toys for them. My mother bought some musical instruments and it just evolved from there," Dicken Schrader said. "We play Depeche Mode in my house. My kids learned the melodies and the lyrics and it just happened naturally. It has been a journey and every time they get more musical responsibilities, they have been fulfilling those responsibilities beautifully."
What is the secret behind DMK as a family band?
"It's patience and a lot of love and it's something that unites us as a family," Schrader added. "Sometimes adults think they have their music and kids have their music and they buy their kids Barney albums when there is a possible connection through music. If the older generation would teach the new one music that they like — that is something that we are exploring and that's why we love our live shows, because it's two generations enjoying the same music at the same time, at the same level."
Having access to YouTube has been eye-opening and refreshing for Schrader, who uses it "as a way to express yourself."
"When I was growing up in Colombia, we had like three television channels, that's all the communication that you had. There were some shows that I sent videos to that were played on the air, but that was a different era," Schrader explained.
"Right now, there is this medium that you can just do whatever you want and put it up there, and if people like it, they will watch it. There isn't somebody picking up what to put on TV. It's a free marketplace. All you got to do is have a new idea, a new concept."
Listen to DMK’s “Enjoy the Silence":