Dorja has been receiving critical acclaim online following the release of their debut single, “Fire,” last month.
The all female five-piece Dorja features members spanning both sides of the Atlantic. The British contingent features former Sex Pissed Dolls guitarists Rosie Botterill and Holly Henderson who joins Becky Baldwin of I-Destroy/Triaxis on bass. Los Angeles-based vocalist Aiym Almas and drummer Anna Mylee, who has been under the mentorship of Kenny Aronoff and Mark Schulman, round off the lineup.
Dorja recently undertook their first UK shows in support of “Fire,” (read our review) their debut single and they intend to follow up with an initial album in 2017.
National Rock Review recently caught up with Dorja during a break from rehearsals to talk about how the group got together, their debut single and the plans for the band over the coming months.
NRR: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review, we really appreciate it. Obviously, Dorja is fairly quite new, and I was just wondering how the project came to fruition and how did you all meet?
Anna: That’s a good question. I met every different member of the band in different situations. So I used to play with the two guitarists here with the band, The Sex Pissed Dolls; that’s how we know each other. Then Becky deputised the bass player for The Sex Pissed Dolls twice I think, so that’s how we met her. I met Aiym in LA when I was staying out there. So that’s how we all met.
Then for the project, we had a manager who allowed us to kind of do whatever we wanted and was just was there for the finance side of it. So that’s how we’ve been doing everything so far. We did all the music ourselves, we just recorded whatever we wanted to record and we organised it all ourselves, but he was just paying for it. Now he’s not working with us anymore, so we are in a position where we have to find someone else to do that.
NRR: Obviously, I know Holly and Rosie, you both recently left The Sex Pissed Dolls. Did you find that now was the right time to move on from that band?
Holly: Definitely, it’s been a year and a half and it’s been a good platform to come off of, trying to build a reputation as a professional musician, but it was time for us to do original stuff and be creative and whatever. Yeah, it wasn’t the right band for us to be in anymore.
NRR: Becky, I know you’ve got several other bands on the go like I-Destroy and Triaxis. You are one of the busiest bass players in Bristol. How are you finding trying to balance all of your different projects together at the same time? Is it really overwhelming?
Becky: It’s quite relentless, but you know it’s just a case of just trying to prioritise things and make sure that releases are happening at sensible times for all of the bands, you know just keeping on top of things. It can be quite difficult but you know it’s what I love doing, so I don’t mind dedicating all of my time to just working with bands. It’s a labour of love really.
NRR: You are all based all over the place, I know two of you are based in LA and the rest of you are in the UK. How are you trying to make this work logistically?
Holly: We will probably want everyone to be in the same place at some point.
Anna: We had plans before changing management, which we may have to change or postpone depending on who we find now. The initial goal was to all be based in L.A. but with the changes now I think we are mainly going to be in the UK for now. How we do it at the moment is that every time Aiym comes here we just make it really, really worth it.
It’s the second time we’ve rehearsed together and we already have six songs, so each rehearsal we just make it really, really worth it. Then we’ve planned some gigs at the same time, so we have to make sure the gigs are good and strategically interesting. So yeah at the moment that’s how we do it and each time we see each other we just make the best of it and make sure it’s worth the money and the time spent on flying and everything (laughing).
NRR: Anna I know you’ve been under the mentorship of Kenny Aronoff and Mark Schulman out in L.A. and I was just wondering what was that experience like?
Anna: It’s been the best experience I’ve had in my life I think. I just especially noticed how friendly and good these people are. They truly want you to get there and they really want to help you.
Kenny Aronoff you know I’ve seen him a few times, I’ve had a few lessons, we keep in touch but that’s it but Mark Schulman has been close to Dorja. He was there when we recorded “Fire” and he was the first one to give feedback and now that he can see that we have a few issues with our managers he’s still the one behind saying, well if I can help in any way just let me know. He’s just a truly good guy and he believes in Dorja which makes it even better.
NRR: You just recently released your first single “Fire” on the 30th June and I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the song and the inspiration behind it?
Holly: It’s about overcoming shit.
Rosie: Don’t bring me down.
Aiym: How we can do a lot by ourselves.
Holly: It’s the phoenix song.
Aiym: It’s very phoenix, power, rebirth whatever it could be. It’s just about staying strong and not letting anything bother you or put you out of your way.
Becky: I think we’ve all come to this band with that kind of story beforehand.
Holly: It’s a really relevant song.
Anna: So I think that’s what we were really writing about with that song.
NRR: Have you been pleased with the reception to the song so far?
Becky: It’s been fantastic, yeah lots of views on the YouTube and we launched the Facebook page it took us a week to get to a thousand likes, which is really good. I think it’s just the strength of all of the musicians individually and the excellence of the fans that have been so supportive of us.
Rosie: We’ve all come with like a little fan base already kind of.
Becky: That really helped.
Rosie: We haven’t had any bad feedback.
Anna: Yeah, we’ve only had positive feedback.
NRR: Initially you collaborated with writing sessions online I believe. So how did it feel when you finally got in the same room together to play in person in LA? What was that like?
Rosie: It was the first time we had met.
Becky: It was the first time we had all met Aiym.
Holly: It was so cool. Considering that online session are not easy, it’s not easy being creative in that way with so much distance and you can’t get across what you always want to get across sometimes. We met in person and we were just super productive.
Obviously, it said so much about the chemistry we have as a band. We get together and it’s all progress instantly. In two rehearsals we had six songs. Yesterday afternoon, we were just sitting on a bench outside and we just wrote another song, we were just like shit it’s another great song.
Anna: We all have the same taste, the same influences, we all like the same thing and we all have the same ideas.
Aiym: It never really feels like work, when we are working on a song.
Becky: When you get on so easily like you get on altogether so well, it’s amazing.
Holly: The cool thing about us writing songs, is that we seem to have our own sound developing already, we are not struggling with that kind of like, oh we need to make this more Dorja, what is Dorja? We got together and that’s when Dorja happened, that was the starting point.
Anna: We’ve actually had to change a few things that we wrote online because it didn’t sound quite Dorja. Ok, yeah it’s cool, but now that we are together, why don’t we change it a bit more.
NRR: Do you have any plans for any further releases after the single, are you going to release an EP or something like that? Have you got anything in the works?
Anna: We want to go straight to the album, we are not interested in doing an EP if we can avoid it because we will have the songs for like a twelve song album. We wanted to do it in October but obviously now that we’ve had a change in management it might be postponed. Hopefully, we can keep that deadline, so October/November kind of record at that time and release it in early 2017 that was the plan, we would like to keep it. We just don’t know where and how we will do it with the changes, but we will find a way, we always do.
NRR: You’ve also got your first live shows coming up. What can your fans expect from your live shows?
Holly: I think people will be surprised by the maturity of the songs. It’s very much Dorja, I don’t see us for what we are.
Anna: It won’t feel like a first show I think.
Holly: No, that’s what I mean like.
Becky: It will be a whole finished show, rather than just like a band playing in a pub (laughing).
Anna: They have to expect a lot of shouting.
Aiym: The set sounds great. I wasn’t singing in the rehearsal earlier and I was telling the girls how great like being actually an observer, not singing for a little bit. I was just watching you guys and I could tell all the songs were so good, the set seems very complete I think for the first tour so I think it’s going to be a great show for everyone.
NRR: Have you any plans to do a full UK tour or is that going to come later down the line?
Becky: Probably when the album is out when we will do a bigger UK tour, Europe and you know hopefully some dates in America as well. When we’ve got something to sell then it’s going to be easier to do the full tour.
Anna: This is a warm up, we’ve not played onstage together. So we wanted a few shows together before we organised something bigger.
NRR: I was just wondering where did the band name come from because it’s quite an interesting name?
Anna: We spent ages trying to decide on a name. We did over a month, saying oh that, oh that.
Becky: Then we had it and somebody else took it.
Anna: So it was tricky to find something that was not taken yet. So at some point, I just checked on Tibetan words and I saw Dorje with an E at the end, and there’s actually a band called that. Which means indestructible and I thought that’s a cool word, what about we make it female so with an A at the end Dorja, and that was not taken surprisingly enough (laughing). Yeah and after talking about it for a few days, I think we all liked it.
Rosie: And very specific, something that wasn’t cheesy, something that wasn’t dated and still had a feminine touch to it.
Holly: It’s cool, it resembles that kind of strength and something big.
Anna: It means indestructible.
Holly: Yeah, I was gonna say something that’s just unique and indestructible in itself and make it feminine.
Anna: And we wanted something very short.
Rosie: Five letters, five people (laughing). Yeah, people think it’s our initials like R for Rosie, A for Aiym. I don’t know who you guys are (laughing). We didn’t have enough vowels to actually make a word out of our names.
Becky: We looked at that.
Anna: We did, I did and nothing came out.
Rosie: The H ruined it. What H goes with B-A-A-R, BRAAH (laughing).
NRR: I saw on your press release about some of your different influences, but I was just wondering, in your own personal record collections, what’s the one album that you couldn’t live without?
Holly: “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull.
Rosie: Appetite for Destruction.
Anna: Oh mate, I was just gonna say it.
Rosie: Yeah, same one definitely.
Becky: Mine’s really bad. The soundtrack for the musical Hair. I just love it. I can’t not be happy when I listen to that (laughing).
Aiym: Mine would be a soundtrack too, Moulin Rouge because it has so many songs from artists that I like.
NRR: What are your plans for the rest of this year?
Anna: To sort out our problems like the financial problem that just occurred. So we are trying to find a solution to that. Once we know more about it then we can plan. The album I think stays the objective.
Holly: I was going to say we have six songs regardless of what happens, keep on writing, keep making music. We’ve got a really good spine for the album so far.
Aiym: And it’s really about the band, of course, the organisation, but keeping the band what it is right now …and constantly writing and staying creative together.
Anna: We will try to do as many things as we can once we have the opportunity to do so. So we hope that for 2017 we will have an album and a tour that’s the plan.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us we really appreciate it. Hopefully, we will get to see you out on the road sometime soon.
“Fire” is available for download on iTunes and Amazon, and streaming via Soundcloud
. We look forward to more of what is to come from this exciting new project.
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