Mark Daumail on Going from Instant Music Industry Fame to Deep Independence

Mark Daumail on Going from Instant Music Industry Fame to Deep Independence

Ashley Rindsberg

French singer and singer-song writer Mark Daumail is the founder of the band Cocoon. He is prevalent in the French music scene and signed a record deal early on in his career most musicans only dream of.

Mark's Band Cocoon:

Follow Mark on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook @listentococoon

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Ashley Rindsberg: So Mark Daumail, thank you for joining us here on the Burning Castle. It's nice to meet you. I've heard a lot about you from a mutual friend. And of course, I know your music, which I was just listening to this morning on Spotify. So, I wanted to start on just to get a little bit more about you because you're really well-known in France. And you sing in English, from what I've heard, pretty much only in English. I'm sure there's some French stuff that's out there, but I want people to get a better sense of where you come from, where you are right now, how you talk about your music and characterize it so that I don't mischaracterize it. So, just give us some of the basics and the bio on you.

Mark Daumail: Thanks for having me. So, my name is Mark, I'm from the middle of France, a small city called Claremont which is really rural, not urban. It's a little bit countryside. I started music really late, maybe 16, 17, and I first wrote my own songs. I never covered songs at first. I'm 36 now and when I was 17, the main social media was MySpace. I don't know if you remember.

Ashley Rindsberg: Of course.

Mark Daumail: And I recorded my first album and put it in MySpace, four tracks, and instantly I had private messages from some labels. In fact, in France, all the music business is based in Paris. And it's mainly two or three streets in Paris where you have all the business. I think we are like 400 or 500 people working in the music industry in France. It's really small. Wow, wow. It's a really small market right now and it's going even more smaller since the streaming DSPs are getting bigger as well. So, I went to Paris and then I signed my first record label contract. And I was really happy because I was really young; I was like 18, 19 years old and really easy for me. I didn't do the bars and pubs and all these really heavy and hard music side, so I was really lucky. I created the band cocoon, this is my main project since 15 years, this is the Folk Pop Band in English which is a little crazy because in France, you have a law saying that you have quota.

The quota means that 70% of the music that you hear on the radio or on TV must be sang in French. You have these accepts these Frances thing, which is a cultural exception. It was really hard for me because even if my music is produced and paid by French money, I go on the 30 persons side of English sung music. So when a radio or TV decides to put my music on the air play, they decide not to put U2 or Beyonce or Coldplay, you know, so this is really heavy because my competitors here are really big.

But I have always said, okay, it will be hard at the beginning, but English is also traveling in the world. And the French language is really mostly spoken in France. But what happened is that my music was taken for publicity advertisement and cinema all around the world. And I started to travel first in Germany, in the US, in the UK, in Asia, in North Africa, and that started to go everywhere. And with just French lyrics, I couldn't have done that, so I don't regret, I don't forget today. Anyway, we signed on Universal, a major company for the second album because the first one was sold maybe 400,000 copies worldwide, so it was big. And the second one did the same with Universal. And then I did, I think, five albums with them, five albums with Cocoon on Universal. And my record label at Universal just went bankrupt, so they released all the artists. We are all free now. All the artists that were on this label, which was a little bit hard for me to leave because you have this family thing, so, I'm without a label since the COVID right now, since maybe one year and a half. But we will talk about that later, I think. So yeah, folk pop music in English, produced in France by French guys, and I'm the singer song writer of Dan Cocoon.

Ashley Rindsberg: So, you know, there's a lot that's really interesting there. I think when people hear a story of someone being 16, 17, 18 years old, whatever, whatever you were, putting your music on MySpace, and then just, boom, you got the deal. That's the fantasy, right? For people in creative spaces and arts, that's the thing that you always dream about. And I think 99% of the time you find out that that is usually not how it works.

Mark Daumail: I think my luck was that was the sound of the moment. I arrived with this new acoustic pop and folk really light ukulele acoustic guitars. We arrived with like maybe five or four similar bands, so there was a little scene; we were doing the same vibe of music. So we were more powerful in media because we were together with these five or six bands. The problem is that today, the four or five bands that were with me don't exist anymore. I'm the last survivor, I don't know for how long, but they all split or they all stopped or they all grew older and they all... it's really a difficult job to be a musician. It's a golden job when it works, but it's really difficult to stay, to get, to grow, to make a living of it.

Ashley Rindsberg: Who were the bands, who were some of those bands that were coming up at the same time?

Mark Daumail: You had a band called The DOE, which was really famous and even started to go in the US and everything and played. They were a couple, there was a boy and a girl, they broke up, so that broke up the band. There was a band called Moriarty which had a few hits. They sound like The Lumineers, you know, the song a little bit like that. I think they stopped, we don't... there was a band called Aaron, they had a big music on the movie film and that made them, but they only on one hit and I think they stopped as well. And also the thing is, we were replaced by a new wave of singers because now we are old singers, we are 35 and you have to be 20 to 25 to, you know, there is this first album hype thing. When you arrive at five or six albums, a six album of cocoon, I think to me get more interested than the first album of a new girl or boy, really light and fresh, and so I understand that. And also, so these new albums, these new artists arrived and they made the French speaking language cool again, because when we arrived, people were fed up with French, you know. And now there are new cool guys coming up, they mix rap urban music with French speaking. So it's really cool, really interesting, really... and the made us look old all at once, you know, and the other cool guys now.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, but you've also had quite a big hit when you did your collaboration with Lola Marsh, and that was fairly recent in this time span. So, you know...

Mark Daumail: That's the biggest numbers of streamings and YouTube views ever in my band, which arrived at my sixth albums. So, I think it's the algorithm of YouTube and Spotify were hyped by the two names, Cocoon and Lola Marsh. And it made like a - and I think also that the featuring, you don't have to collaborate with a Beyonce if it's not the same vibe of your music, you know what I mean? Lola Marsh might not be that famous in France. I think they are really famous in Israel.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, they are very big in Israel.

Mark Daumail: And they are getting there in France, but the COVID-19 - the second album of Lola Marsh I think just went out before the COVID, so it was really complicated. And my album as well, the album with the duets was released three months before covered, so it was dead instantly. But this song went big, and I think it's because I picked the perfect featuring with Lola Marsh.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. And also aside from the algorithms, it's also just a magical song, you know what I mean? It's got this, it pulls you into it and you want to stay there. And I feel like that's, you know, when I was listening to your music again this morning, just to reconnect to it, and there's something about that music that has a lot of atmosphere, you know what I mean? It feels like you're in this kind of world that's a bit different because as you're saying, it's got a clear folk element, but that pop vibe makes it really like tender and really, like it taps into this emotional core very quickly in the song. Like right from the first beat, like you really feel that emotional connection to the songs. And that's why when I listened to the Lola Marsh thing, I know who the Lola Marsh are, I've heard them, but I'm not particularly connected to the music. But when I hear that song, I just have that instant connection. That's what people are craving, especially today. You know, we're in the middle of COVID, people are sitting at home by themselves. They have been for the last almost two years, and they want to feel connected to something.

Mark Daumail: What is funny is that I talked about rap and urban.. I'm sorry if I cut you speaking, because I think I have a latency between you and I'm sorry.

Ashley Rindsberg: No, feel free. Feel free at any time to interrupt us, this is the benefit of doing this.

Mark Daumail: During COVID, my music is default pop and Lola Marsh music; it's not really the main streaming and the main music at the moment. The main music at the moment is urban and rap music all over the world. But what happened with COVID is that all the pages of bands like me or Lola Marsh are the pages and the streaming numbers increased by maybe 30 or 40%, just thanks to COVID. The kids are listening the same song over and over again, you know, during the transport in the morning to go to school. And we as adults, we don't do that. We listen to the same album, maybe two times in a week, so that's why also these bands are less big numbers of streams and sales. But what happened is that during the COVID, the kids couldn't go to school, so they couldn't listen to the same thing again. And they started to learn the jazz and classical music and the world music and the folk music, all the sweet music became really much more important because people were discovering things with their parents. They were at home, so they also decided to buy abundant on Spotify or YouTube or Apple music buy a monthly subscription. So, I think COVID was a disaster for many things for my last album, for Lola Marsh, for everybody. Concerning the streaming, it was a blessing because people were listening.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, that's really interesting. I mean, you know, from the business side of things, it's interesting. But I think also from the more human side of it, where you're saying that people were opening up a little bit, because when you're in that routine and like, I know what it feels like, because I like the same thing and it's with hip hop. Like when I get sometimes in the morning and I'm like, kind of trying to get going so I'll put Kanye just to like get some energy, you know what I mean? But when you're out of that rhythm and you're just kind of there with the computer and you can't look at the same website again, because you're so sick of whatever website you're looking at. So you do, you're looking for content and you're looking for content that has a bit more meaning than the usual bullshit because there's so much out there and it feels terrible. You know what I mean? It's like sugary snacks that, you know, you want to eat it, you want to eat it, but then you're just left with this terrible hollow feeling. And then you find something that's really got something to it and it's different. And it's not something you were exposed to before, and it makes you feel like more of a person. It makes you feel like a real person.

Mark Daumail: You know, all the rap and urban music, I love some of them. I love Kanye. I love Drake. I love things like that, but I compare them to burgers as well. Just like you, I think it's just like getting hamburgers that you munch on. And my music or Elliot Smith or Nick Drake or Bob Dylan, who are much more talented than me, but I think it's a little more engaging for the brain. Because it's more complex, I think more, you have a melody, you might not like it at first. You have to listen twice or three times. I think your brain has to get used to it. What is funny also is that during the COVID, I started to be much more creative than before. I started to write a song every night... That was my mother-in-law, sorry. So sorry, she loves me. But during the COVID, the confinement - how you say that - when you had to stay at home?

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, when you're confined to your houses.

Mark Daumail: And I started to think to think only music; that was my way of escaping myself. I started to be, you know, since the beginning of this interview, I'm a little bit on the business side of things, because I think today it's a little bit important because you have to analyze the data that we have all over. For the first time I started to forget all the data, all the business and I started to write and my goal was to write one song a day, and that was my way of escaping from COVID. And I don't know why I'm saying that, but I think it's really important because I reconnected to the music, to the teenager, Mark Daumail, you know.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, I do know. And it's something, I was just talking about this with a friend last night, who was a screenwriter, a French screenwriter. And I just released a book in the last few months. And with the book launch, it's just about, you know, marketing, marketing, marketing, PR, numbers, analysis data, and in the world we live in today, you as the creator or the artist are responsible. You have to be involved in that stuff because it's your thing. But what happens is and what you're pointing to is that it pulls you away from that creative space. And once you leave the creative space, it's very hard to be back in that place where you feel kind of open and just kind of drifting and ready to explore. And I think that's something that creative people around the world are probably having to face, which is playing two roles at the same time. You can't just be the creative who's like having the creative moment all day long. You mean you can if you want, but it doesn't necessarily mean that anyone's going to read you or listen to your work or watch you, or whatever it is. You need to be doing that other thing. And it creates a division inside of your personality, so...

Mark Daumail: A little bit further, I think you have to be eight people at the same time. You have to be a community manager. You have to be accountant. You have to be a label. So you have to - all the distribution, you have to be a publisher. You have to be tour manager to book all of the concerts and gigs. You have to be an author, composer, an arranger, a singer. You have to be a manager, a label manager. You have to be 10 people., and I think that's why I'm talking a little bit more business than before is that we are little entrepreneurs. All the artists right now, since the major companies are now on fire and I think the music and art in general is completely changing. So you have to put your brain and your mind in this shape, and you have to consider it yourself as a small entrepreneur. And that's interesting because since the COVID, since my label was shut down, I started to think differently and to force myself to be interested by the business side and the data and everything. And I think what before was 80% of my life was music, and I think it's only 30 or 40%. That's a shame, but that's the case.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, I mean, I don't know, because on the one hand, I feel the same thing. It's the, it's exactly what you just said. You've got to be all those 10 things, and there's probably even another five things that you're not doing that you know you should be doing, but you just can't. So on the one hand, you know, I almost have a question for you, which is I think for people who are listening to this and also for me and myself, just to understand because I struggle to be eight things at one time. I struggle with it, like on a logistical level, just how to actually manage it. And especially if you're coming from this as a creator, as an artist where you know how to do one thing, which is create, but you don't know how to do scheduling or time-blocking or managing cashflow or all these things that you like. And you don't want to learn it either because you don't want your brain to be doing those things.

You want your brain to do the other things. But like you're saying, there's no choice. You need to, you have to be that person that can do, that octopus, really, that's got eight tentacles, but I do think there is something very positive there, which is that it returns control and power to the creator, to the author, to the musician, the artist. You are, I think, as an artist, more in control of your work, your career, your finances, than probably it's been in a long, long time, I think at least for the last few decades. And that's the advantage; you don't just hand over, sign away your rights. And, you know, I know in publishing, book publishing, for example, you're not just signing the rights to the material to the publisher, you're signing the way that it's positioned in the market. You know, the way that it's marketed, the way that people speak about it, you no longer have control.

Once you sign that paper and they give you your money; if they want to market your book as like a teen romance book, even though you feel like it's a literary novel or whatever the case might be too bad, it's not up to you anymore. And I think that's what being eight people in one can do for you. But I think the question then becomes, okay, fine, how can we be eight people at one time? And you know, how do you do it as my question is my question to you.

Mark Daumail: How do I do?

Ashley Rindsberg: How do you do it? How do you exist as eight people at one time?

Mark Daumail: That's the best question of this whole book. So it depends. For all the artistic producer, singer, songwriter arranger, composer, author, I know that I know, it's okay. I can do that. I just need maybe five to six hours per day for that. So, I compare to my time my daytime, so I five hours per day. On the morning I try to do all the paperwork, so I decided to hire people. So now my label, I created my label, which is called Yum Yum Records, and Yum Yum Publishing. And so, I started to hire one and two persons. One is my wife which is now a full-time job on the label and publishing. So she's the contact with the accountants, with all the money, all the money thing. I don't know how much money we have on the bank account, she knows. I don't want to know. I just want to know, can I buy a new guitar? Yes or no?

Ashley Rindsberg: What is the answer, is it usually yes or usually no.

Mark Daumail: Usually no. She says you already have 10, so it's okay. It's a joke, but we have to buy some new gear every year, just to be on the same shape and the modernity as the other studios. I mean, if you have the same mic as the best ones, I need to have the best gear. So, all the Macintosh, all the Apple thing, we have to renew sometimes and everything. So yeah, we have to invest in the company like normally. But she says when and how much, and she says all that. And then we started to hire one of the girl, Pauline, and she's the key of everything. She's the girl who has launch with Spotify, Deezer, Apple music, YouTube, she's in Paris, but we are not in Paris, we are in Bordeaux, in the Southwest. She's in Paris and she's doing all the daytime launch with this guy presenting the projects, the New Cocoon, the Lola Marsh. And she's having what is the center of everything now, it's called the playlisting. The playlisting is the key thing. It's the new radio is that Cocoon is big, big numbers in streamings because we have many playlist because we go on having lunch with your friends. You know, the playlisting, you have themes, like having lunch, doing the laundry, singer/songwriter, you have everything, and the key thing is to get in there, to get in the playlist. And then it generates like a cashflow, a small, and also it generates streams, so you connect with more and more people every day.

So, that's why the streaming is the key of everything today, because the CD's dead with COVID. It was already a little bit dead, but the CD is dead. The vinyl is a fake good news because the vinyl is maybe one of the reasons why the music industry is dying even more because you have to wait for 12 weeks now to get your vinyl ready. And they are completely overcrowded with new stuff and the vinyl is really complicated to get. And the numbers, I really love streaming. So the CD is dead, the vinyl is not really alive, so the streaming is the key. So the playlisting is the key, so you have to hire someone if you have a labeled who will work this side of things, but really you have.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, you know, having that, Pauline in the mix of what I've come to consider this position or this identity, a persona that I've stepped into as a creative entrepreneur, and it's across platform. You need to be working on multiple platforms, and something, I think about it in terms of this is that I don't create content, but I create culture. And that's a distinction because, you know, when we talk about content, it's like a marketing thing. You're creating content to fill the vessel. But when you're creating culture, you're creating something to have an effect to make a change in people's lives, even if it's just a change while they're consuming the culture you're creating. So this is like this new category that I think is emerging, which is what the term I use is a multi-platform culture creator, or more generally, it's about being a creative entrepreneur.

And just like you're identifying, you really need to build a team around you. But building a team, you know, if people are listening, it sounds easy enough, right. Just find the people, you pay them the money; it's extremely difficult because finding those people, keeping those people, making sure everybody is communicating that your goals are aligned with one another, that you just have a rhythm together, it's so, so difficult. I mean, these are things that management and business schools have studied for well over a hundred years, and they still really haven't figured it out.

Mark Daumail: I think the main... sorry, but I think the main thing is to at first is to have a brand and my brand is Cocoon. And now I assume that and acknowledge that, and then I decided to work. It's like Nike or Adidas or Reebok, you know, but my brand is Cocoon. So it's a small brand, it's big enough for me, and since I assume there's a brand there, and I assume there's an entrepreneur thing, all that we'll do artistically will go into there, but I think you have to assume there's a brand there. And since Cocoon is a well-known brand in France in the music business since 15 years, and I worked with a lot of people now when I was at Universal and I met some different guys, like I said, at first, I think we have 400 or 500 people working in the industry, and I know all of them. I know two thirds of them.

And so that was quite easy to find my team, because first my wife, she's my wife and she was in the music industry before. And Pauline was at universal before she was fired because they have less money than before and the fire a lot of people every year and it's a really bad, bad business to go there and to go in the major companies. And I knew her before, I knew her before when she was at universal and we were friends before. So I instantly, when I knew she was fired, I called her at first and then I want you in my team, and that's what I'm doing right now. I'm hiring two new people, one for the TV radio and web, and one other to go to more radio, like a radio guy, a TV radio press guy. And so, I think we will be like five people at the end of the year. And all these people were at universal before, so I take their talents, I take them and I put them in my team, and I know that good because they were good before at Universal.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, and I think another interesting point there, and that's something that's very important for people to understand is that your brand is not your logo, it's not your design. Your brand is how you interact with the world, which means how you interact with people, how you treat people. And you knew these were talented people, and they probably knew that you are not only a talented person, but that you're a good person to work with, which is why they would say yes. And I think that's something that people really need to keep in mind when they listen to something like this is to say, when you're building yourself as a, they call it a personal brand. It's not about your photo on Google. I mean, it is a little bit, but it's much more about the relationships you build, how you treat people, how you react to people and respond to people.

If you're going to be a diva or be an asshole, or if you're going to be a decent human being who sees these people as partners, as collaborators, and I think that's a key difference, and I think that's how this stuff will work. And the other thing I think that's really important about what you're saying is that you really have to be willing to take a risk to invest, and that means invest money. At the end of the day, I mean, we could also talk about investing energy and time, which really is very important, but you really have to take a risk to invest the money and to find a way to do it because you can always say to yourself, well, I don't have the money, I don't want to spend the money. I don't, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But just like any other entrepreneur, if you want the thing to grow, if you want to reach more people and affect more people and create a bigger career and a longer career, then you have to find a way to invest resources into it. So that's a really important point that I've been learning over the last few months where I've hired. I went from hiring zero people five months, six months ago, to at this point I've hired, I'd say close to 10 or more people, not all at the same time, but for various projects or processes that I just can't do, so that's also key.

Mark Daumail: For the money side, I think you just have to look at the numbers, which is really basic. So 1 million streams on Spotify is like 4,000 euros of rights on your account. And 1 million streams on Deezer is 6,000 euros on your account. 1 million streams on YouTube it's like a horrible, I think is like 2000 euros. So you have just to calculate that and people know that. They know the numbers, it's not a secret. So what I do is that you have two ways of paying people. You can pay them monthly or on the mission, or you can pay them like, yeah, on a mission. Like if you get me there, you will get paid because it will generate 999 million of streams. So if you let me there, you will be paid that much money. If you get me halfway through there, you will get half the money on the data. You can pay people by the mission as well, because we all are free, it's free consulting, so they don't have to be paid by a year or two years, or they don't have to have a contract forever. You can just take... so this mission thing is really important because in music, you release one album every two years or three or one single every two months. So I can just take one people and say, hey, do you want to work with me on this one song? Yeah, okay, okay. So if you want, I want to go there and I want to go on that playlist on that radio or to play that TV show. If you can get me there, how much do you want? How much do you need? So, that's what we do. We play per song or per album.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, and then it sort of puts that other person in a position that they're also an entrepreneur, because then it's about them hitting their goals.

Mark Daumail: Exactly, and they are. They are entrepreneurs, and Pauline is starting... she's out of Universal. She was like depressed, and what I'm going to do, I don't have this big, major, fake security above me, I'm all alone. Yeah, but you're free. You can do what you want and you're the best. So you have talents and if they know... also, if they know that with Cocoon, you have achieved that, everybody will call you. And now everybody's calling her because they saw that she's good.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, that's a hundred percent of the case and that's also a double-edged sword. Your people start to do well, then they start to get the phone calls too, which is great. You want the people you're working with to succeed in their own right. Do you guys plan on opening up the brand, the label to other artists, or do you think you're going to keep this as your thing?

Mark Daumail: That also the entrepreneur and cultural entrepreneur thing. I've always wanted to have my project, which is Cocoon, which is what it is right now which still exists, but I think the key is to produce other artists. So, since maybe five or six years now, I'm also a producer for new talents, and what I saw is that it's just exponential. So, I just signed a project called Chien Noir which mean black dog in English, which is a French singing guy with influenced by Kenya west and Bob Dylan, so it's really interesting. And so I signed him on the publishing side and I made him sign on the big, big label called Belief in France for the label thing, because I don't want to release his albums, I just want to publishing and to help him value his work. And we had for him a big, big advertisement for Amazon, and so that was fresh cashflow, not generated by my music, but it was the first time that it was generated by a guy signed. And that changed everything because all the business in France saw me for the first time as an entrepreneur. And then the they started to send me even more new artist to sign or to produce, so that's really interesting. If you go there and if you are successful in that, it's exponential as well. So yeah, I'm wanting to do that.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, it is exponential. And I think it's also probably scary in a way because stepping into that role as an entrepreneur and starting to be known as that, I imagine, I know I would have a fear that I would never come back to the creative thing. And it's something that I'm wrestling with right now to say, I'm doing all this creative entrepreneurship right now, and I'm starting to wonder what happened to that creative dream of mine. What happened to the dream of being the fiction writer and all the purity of that dream, the purity is also very naïve. It's a naïve dream.

Mark Daumail: The purity is still there, it's just that the experience of 15 years in this business, you have to acknowledge that it is business first because if you want to make a living, you have to know where you can generate rights. And you have to know how to do your art the most honestly and the most easy, yeah, you have. It's a fragile mix between art and sensibility. And the little Mark that I was when I was 10 or 12 years old, and they want it to be a professional musician, and the 36 years old Mark, which is now okay, so music, okay, you have to do that and that, and that, and not do that, so it's experience. And also, I think what is funny is that since I became a really full-time entrepreneur, I think I have to now plan some time just for me, because since January, I think I just recorded two or three songs for my project and I recorded like for 50 or 60 songs for all the projects. So, it's just inverting itself so I need to next year when I'm done with all my projects right now, I need to to take five, four months just for me, for Cocoon to record an album because I need that.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. I forget who it is. I think it might be Steven Pressfield. He's an American author and he talks about, you have to be your own CEO if you're an artist. It's like, okay, here's your day off artists and here's your day that you're going to work artists and be accountable. So it's like, again, you got to be playing more than, that's probably the ninth role that we have to add is the role of CEO of all. So, another thing I wanted to ask you about, which is you use the word mission, which you know, I think it's, it's something that's really important in a different sense, which is a sense of having a purpose to all of this. You know what I mean? Because otherwise it's just really hard. It's really hard. From the outside it can look really sexy, it can look glamorous and mostly it's not as. Sure you know, it's a lot of work. It's a lot of being alone. It's a lot of feeling alone and feeling like people are not responding, like all that stuff and you deal with that every minute of every day.

But I think the only way to really fight that is to have a sense of purpose. Why am I doing this? And to have an answer. So, you know, how do you deal with that question of purpose and the question of why? Do you think about other people? Do you think about your audience? Do you think about, you know, like how does that work in your mind when you're thinking about the purpose of your work, both as an entrepreneur, and as an artist?

Mark Daumail: At first, I think the purpose, I think it's a little bit egoist, but I think it's for me because I love to learn things. I love to learn and I love to get better at things. So, I love to learn a new instrument, a new keyboard, a new plugin; I love that because I know it will make me more powerful in the future. If I know this plugin or this keyboard at 100%, then it's like driving a car, it's going to be really easy. Also, I think it's going to be a little more eccentric, but my mission is to make folk acoustic music the more popular possible. It's really a mission. I want people to learn to love this sounds. You know, there's an anecdote; I've been working with a big, big French producer, maybe one of the three best producers for mixing one of my albums last year, and there were acoustic guitar on the album. And he told me - and I was really sad. He told me, oh, Mark, it's been like five or six years I didn't hear an acoustic guitar on a record. And I was like, oh my God, it's such a shame, you know, because kids, they want the drum machines, they want the keyboards. The guitar is not cool anymore, so I want to keep that. It's my mission. I want to get the guitar cool again, even more the acoustic guitar because acoustic guitar is not cool.

When in the sixties or in the seventies, it was cool because you could bring that everywhere. Now the cool thing is a laptop. My MacBook right now, you know they have porgrams in there, that's the cool thing now. And when I was young, when I was a child, the cool thing was to go on the beach and sing to girls, the acoustic guitar. So I want the acoustic guitar to be cool again, and I tried to put acoustic guitar in as much albums that I can, that's my mission. And I think for the public, for the young guys today, it's important too to hear some acoustic guitars or acoustic instruments. A real piano, for example, when you hear music on the radio, you don't hear a real piano anymore, you hear fake piano, for me, sounds like plastic, you know? So, I'm really in love with the sound of things, that's the mission. And my third mission is to try to get Cocoon to get there to play in countries where I've never played, to play to people I've never met. And for example, I've never been to Japan and it's really a dream of mine. And I think my new album will be entirely around this country, around Japan. I think I will write about that, and that's my dream. So, my mission is also to fulfill my dreams, you know?

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, for sure. But you know, I do feel like you mentioned the Lumineers earlier and I feel like there is that kind of, that strain of music that really does have a pretty good following, at least in the...

Mark Daumail: Yeah, but you have to accept that you will never be Kanye West. You will never be that powerful in media and never be Drake or Dr. Dre. You will never be Kendrick Lamar. And it's okay. But 10 years ago I was struggling against that and it made me sad. I was sad about that because I wanted to be Kanye West in a way. Maybe it's an ego thing, but I think when you have a band that is working well, that is doing well, you want to play in stadiums. Really, I wanted to go there and I couldn't, and I didn't understand why. It's just because of my music, in fact, it's just because of the genre. You have one band playing stadiums called Coldplay and they have really cleverly changed their music since the first album. The first album was beautiful, pup and McCartney and beetle Z radio ad music. And now, today they made these really nice music that's really more pop and it sounds like everybody else. Now today it's beautiful, but it sounds like The Weeknd.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. Well, that's the cost, you know, that's the cost you have to decide, is it worth it for me? Or like Taylor Swift who started out country, and she understood if she wanted to play those stadiums, it's like, you got to get on the pop train and leave all that other stuff behind. And I think for some people it's worth it, they just can't think of anything else. Or maybe they're not even making the decision. It could just be the machine around them, the managers, the agents, the whole thing that's making that decision on their behalf.

Mark Daumail: It took me six albums to understand that I will never be Taylor Swift and to be okay with that. And no, I'm okay. I'm a bit joking, but you know what I mean? I didn't understand why I was not... I couldn't understand why some people were on stadiums, and I didn't hear my music as people heard it, you know. I heard it in a much popper way, and I think it's much more quiet and easy listening than I thought. And today when I hear my music at the supermarket or on the radio, or when I'm in my car, I think it's the perfect place for that music. And it's a cool thing to be in the supermarket in fact, and hear your music, it's, a good sign.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, it's amazing. I mean, because it's showing that there's a cultural impact. You know what I mean? It's showing that it's actually being felt by other people, people you don't know and people you never will know, and that is amazing. But you know, before we sign off, you know, when I was listening this morning, I was on the way to have my morning coffee. And that's another great place to listen to your music because it's not overwhelming. Like, it doesn't take over your brain like Kanye does, you know, where Kanye's just...

Mark Daumail: Another mission is that I don't want to invade people's spaces and minds. I don't want to invade things. I'm not you know... I want to be as quiet and sweet and soft as possible.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. But there's also something about the music, like where a lyric will pop out that's really funny. There's a humor where you rhymed something about a plane crash and you know, God wants cash, which I actually laughed out loud. I thought it was so funny to hear, I'm like, there's a lot of these little dark notes of humor, which is also really great, and it's also something... You know, actually, I do find it. Sometimes like in really great hip hop, you can find a sense of humor; most of the time not though because hip hop takes itself very seriously.

Mark Daumail: It's always like drugs, drugs, drugs, girls, girls, girls, money, money, money, you know, it's a...

Ashley Rindsberg: Ego . It's the domain of the ego. And unless you have the real genius who can just transcend that stuff and can actually make those jokes and be funny, be interesting, be self-reflective, but it's very rare, but-

Mark Daumail: There's a great band that I just discovered. I'm working with a band right now who made me discover a band called Run The Jewels. Do you know them?

Ashley Rindsberg: No.

Mark Daumail: It's an American duet of rappers, and it's super good, super funny.

Ashley Rindsberg: Okay, I'll check that out. That sounds cool. So yeah, you know, again, there was so much I heard in your music, so much music that I love, like so many influences that I could pick up, like a bit of Smashing Pumpkins, you know, having some of the violins. And I think it was your first album was like real heavy strings on the album. Suthan Stevens, who I adore, Elliot Smith, who you mentioned, who I also just found to be...

Mark Daumail: Suthan, I met him for the first time two years ago. I arrived in the south of France in a hotel and he was there with his boyfriend. And we were at the swimming pool discussing of music, and I was like, it's amazing how much I connect with this guy, especially with this album, Carrie and Lowel, which I love. And also the music he made for Call Me By Your Name, was amazing too. So yeah, I have his email right now and I want him to collaborate with me on a future track.

Ashley Rindsberg: That would be incredible. I think there's huge, huge potential there. But you know, before we sign off on, tell me about some of the names of the bands that you're producing, or the artists, just so that people can hear and get a little bit of exposure for these people and for us to be introduced to them, to new music.

Mark Daumail: Yeah, thank you for that. You have to listen to Chien Noir. He has his first EP called, Histoires Vraies, which means true story. It's been out three months ago and it's getting great with the public and with the media.

Ashley Rindsberg: Cool. And for people listening, that's CHIEN, and separate word would it be N O I R like in English.

Mark Daumail: Thank you. And then a new guy, in fact, I even, I invented a concept which is called the Cocoon Classroom, which means that every two weeks on my Facebook, because my Facebook page is my biggest page because I'm an old artist. I connect and I do a Facebook live and I do a classroom of a Cocoon Song. Because it's a big, community on YouTube with thousands of videos of people playing Cocoon because it's easy to play. You only have to get a ukulele or an acoustic guitar. And what I noticed is that they don't play it the same as me, they don't play the same as I do. And sometimes they do mistakes, so I started to connect with them and create a community of people called the Classrooms. And so I played them a song, teaching them the chords, and then they send me their version of the cover they make of my music and they have to put it on YouTube. So, it's creates a big ecosystem of covers and the best one wins a little gift.

One of them was invited on TV to make a show with me. One of them was invited to sing on an album of Cocoon and the last one won a recording in my studio on my label, and he won a signature with my name. It's so cool. This guy he's amazing. He's called Blue Bird, so Chien Noir Blue Bird. And it's a small four track EP, which is beautiful and which is calm and soft and sweet and beautiful melody and lyrics, and which makes me feel good, in fact. Don't know if you've noticed actually that the music is loud. It's really loud, all the time it's like - even the, you know what I mean?

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, I do. The world is loud and the loudness is everywhere. Noise is everywhere and everything's in your face, you know what I mean? Like in Israel when I'm there, I like to go for this - I like to go for coffee in this kind of farm. Basically, there's like a little cart, like a little truck that opens up and they make coffee there. And it's such a beautiful place, outdoor in the nature and it's early in the morning, but they're playing the craziest music. They're playing like house music. And like, what are you doing? This is seven in the morning, let's be peaceful for one hour, for two hours.

Mark Daumail: Where is it? Where is your coffee?

Ashley Rindsberg: That's in Moshav, a collective farm, and it's called Moshav Haniel, H A N I E L.

Mark Daumail: It's like a house.

Ashley Rindsberg: It's like similar, you know, they were collective farms, but they weren't collective communities. So they were working together, but it wasn't completely centralized authority on the collective form.

Mark Daumail: I love that.

Ashley Rindsberg: It's beautiful. And you have lots of them all over Israel. And there's like, there's real culture of people. Israelis love to like, sit outside and have coffee. They can just do that, like the French in a way. They can just sit, and it's something that you absolutely do not have in America. Americans they're not - like Americans are taking 15 minute lunch and like moving on with the day.

Mark Daumail: Americans, they live in their car.

Ashley Rindsberg: They take coffee in the car and that you don't really have that culture, which is something... I was reading about the great innovation of Starbucks was not the coffee. It was giving people, what Howard Schultz called a third place that was not the home or the workplace. It was the third place that they could meet. And you know, that's something that's completely alien to American culture, it's still is. Starbucks sucks. It's not fun. It's not nice. It's just a money machine, like so much is in America. But in France, you know, and I was in Bordeaux about a month ago, and just having that... yeah, I was visiting our mutual friend Jason, and just having that ability to find a cafe anywhere you are, anywhere, like you're in Bordeaux, it doesn't matter. You can just look around and be like, okay, there's a cafe right there. And it may not be the best coffee that you could hope for, but you can go and sit there and sip your coffee, talk to a friend or read a book, write a story, or a note or a song. And I think that's so important to the human existence, like just to have that simplicity. And it sounds like a luxury and it is a luxury, but financially it's not, it's a dollar.

Mark Daumail: You know that silence will be the next luxury, silence.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yes.

Mark Daumail: My main mission is silence, in fact, and I'm a musician, but silence in music is so much powerful. When you have like a full verse and the chorus, and then you put a little silence of one second and then everything seems to have more impact after the silence. So, it's a producing thing, but when I chose my house, I chose the most silent neighborhood I could. And even if it took me now, 20 minutes by car to go to Bordeaux, I don't care. I just bought silence, so I think it goes with my Cocoon thing and my music.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, that's right, to be inside of the Cocoon, which we're always so exposed today. And I agree with you. I think silence is just - it's essential. I feel like it's necessary not only to the metaphor of the soul, but I think for the brain, I think it's a very important thing for the brain to be able to have a few minutes of silence or hours, if you're lucky. And it's something we don't, you know, I was just reading about that in Phillip Roth in Exit Ghost. He talks about how he's come back. He's now in his seventies, he's come back from the countryside to live in Manhattan for a few months. And he's known that there's no more silence in the world, because if you're in an elevator or a car or wherever you are, it's no longer silent. Oh, there we go. Yeah, I've got my copy right behind me.

Mark Daumail: We read the same things.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. When did you read it? Did you read it recently?

Mark Daumail: Yeah. Maybe one year - during the COVID, during the first COVID.

Ashley Rindsberg: Wow.

Mark Daumail: Yeah, yeah. Phillip Roth, I think is one of my favorites. It's truly amazing.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. Yeah. A great writer and, you know, very self-aware when you're reading his writing, you're like, this guy understands his position in the world and he's open about it. That's what kind of what makes him great. But anyways, Mark, I know you've got a lot going on, and thank you for being so generous with your time.

Mark Daumail: It was nice talking to you.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, it was great. I hope we continue the conversation and I'll put links to all the various artists to your label, Yum Yum. I think people remember that one. So yeah, but I hope to meet; we will sit down and have our silent coffee in Bordeaux or somewhere else. But yeah, thank you for joining us.

Mark Daumail: Of course. Thank you. And it's funny because I learned things talking to you. You conceptualize things even more when you talk with someone about things in the... yeah, it was helpful, this podcast.

Ashley Rindsberg: That's great. I'm happy to hear it. So again, thanks Mark. Mark Daumail of Cocoon now Yum Yum. Everybody I think would do well to check out the music and to have those moments of silence and peace and atmosphere in your ears, rather than noise and anger and emotion and ego. Again, thanks.

Mark Daumail: Bye, Ashley.

Ashley Rindsberg: Bye-bye

Mark Daumail: This is my book thing, so much...

Ashley Rindsberg: Good place to end.

Mark Daumail: Yeah. Bye-bye.

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