Colombian internet sensation DMK further expanded their fame Friday, releasing their latest Depeche Mode cover, “Black Celebration.”
The song is the fourth release by Dicken Schrader and his two children Milah, 8, and Korben, 5, whose music videos covering classic Depeche Mode tunes have gone viral on Youtube.
According to Schrader, the group originally made videos to entertain family and friends and their popularity was largely unexpected.
“We never decided to make a band or to you know, it never crossed our minds to say ‘Hey, let’s do this band and put some songs on the internet so we become famous,’ that was completely a side effect, that was accidental,” the father told Colombia Reports.
Be that as it may, Schrader and his kids have become local celebrities in Colombia, particularly after the December 2011 release of their third home-made video “Everything Counts” which had received more than 1.4 million Youtube hits in the six months after its release
Their latest video is similar to their previous releases and shows front man and father Schrader singing while juggling a number of instruments including the keyboard, xylophone, and a basic drum set made from a toy tambourine and Coca-Cola bottle. The kids accompany their father on backup vocals and a melange of their own instruments, some of which are made from household items such as a frying pan and a felt-tip marker.
But their newest release is markedly different from previous ones. For the first time the band appears in mildly gothic attire and makeup, all wearing black v-neck t-shirts and eyeliner, while Dicken and Korben sport matching faux hawks. Both children have also taken on new, more complicated instrumental roles with Milah on the melodica and Korben on his own toy keyboard, showing a noticeable musical progression from the group’s humble beginnings.
The Band’s Origins
The adorable family trio has captured the hearts of millions of viewers, but the group’s foundation was laid long before the kids were even born.
Schrader has been an avid Depeche Mode fan since high school and always related very personally to their music. He found their haunting synthesizers and melancholic lyrics particularly compelling when in 1992 he was enlisted to join the Colombian army, a highly dangerous enterprise in the days when Pablo Escobar still ran much of the country. He has since always maintained a very strong connection to the group’s music and even recorded his own personal covers to his favorite songs while living in the U.S. after his military service.
“Every moment in my life has always has had a Depeche Mode song as its soundtrack,” said Dicken.
After the kids were born Schrader constantly exposed them to songs by Depeche Mode as well as other 80s music and electronic bands. One day daughter Milah came to keyboard and starting trying to play along to the melodies herself.
“The kids were already into music and I never had to encourage them at all, they encouraged themselves,” said Dicken.
Although now known for their fun and lighthearted covers, the idea to make the videos actually stemmed from another rough time in front man Schrader’s life, when financial difficulties forced him to bring his family back to Bogota after 15 years in the U.S.
He was having trouble readjusting but once again found solace in his favorite band and he and the kids released their first video for “Shake the Disease” in late 2010. The song is “about knowing that you’re not going to get what you want but that you’re going to live through it,” he said. “That was what was going on in my head back then.”
“We did this first video in which the idea was that I’m kind of playing so many things at the same time and having the kids on top of me, on top of everything, making it more difficult for me,” explains Dicken. “So it was kind of a visual portrayal of my life at that point. But the kids loved doing it so we did a second video, “Strangelove,” in which they took on more musical responsibilities and stuff and it just started growing from there.”
“Everything Counts” and Internet Fame
The family’s first two releases entertained a handful of viewers but the trio received near overnight fame in Colombia and abroad after the release of “Everything Counts” in December 2011.
After receiving widespread publicity, including write ups in some of Colombia’s largest media outlets, the group became official and changed their name from one DMK (Dicken featuring Milah and Korben) to another, Depeche Mode Kids. But the group still doesn’t take itself too seriously.
“We’re making the point that music can be done with anything by anyone. I think that’s what people have appreciated about it,” said Dicken.
Fatherhood and the Future
Dicken has enjoyed his new-found fame, but he is wary of exploiting his kids for his own benefit. He doesn’t want this to turn into a “Michael Jackson situation” by using the kids’ talents for his own financial benefit.
“If you start putting them onto the stage into the spotlight when they’re too young to be able to deal with it, I think there’s a little more danger in there,” said Dicken. “I never want this to become something that is not fun for them,” he added.
The group has been asked to perform numerous times on stage and at music festivals abroad but so far they have declined all offers.
“This is something that I don’t think they’re ready for,” said Schrader. “Maybe someday they will tell me ‘Dad, yeah, let’s travel the world and let’s do this’ but I don’t want to be the one that takes that decision.”
For now, the group intends to release a few videos a year, showing the kids grow both physically and musically.
“Maybe when Milah turns 12, she’s going to be like ‘Oh man, this is kinda lame I’m not doing this anymore,’ so that’ll be the end of our band,” mused Dicken with a chuckle. “That’s the plan so far.”