by Van Roy
LOS ANGELES BASED SINGER – SONGWRITER DUO HAVE DEEP LOUISIANA ROOTS
Imagine, if you will, you’re a working musician, and you’ve just fought the battle of your life: The Big C. And your partner is not only your caregiver, but your best friend who also happens to be the other half of your band. You’ve both prevailed and slowly but surely the unexpected and frightening process is in your rear view mirror, for the most part, and a new year, 2020, beckons. You’re going on an arena tour for a year, maybe more, opening for the iconic Grammy Award winning band, Chicago, along with now dear friend, Rick Springfield. But as the new year unfolds, there’s news looming that life as we know it is about to change due to a pandemic the likes our world has never known.
LOUISIANA BEGINNINGS – Lafourche Parish, Ruston, College and Hydrovibe
“My parents are from Alexandria and I grew up in Ruston. Heather is from Lafourche Parish and we met at Louisiana Tech,” says Mat. They started a band soon after called Hydrovibe. The band started playing coffee houses and local bars and worked their way up to regular regional tours. It was around this time that Mat and Heather, already dating, started spending more time in Los Angeles, where they enjoyed the change and networking with other musicians. They had yet to make the big move and traveled back and forth for a time. College done, band members soon went their separate ways. The year is 2001 and with it comes yet another life changing, world changing event – the terror and attacks of September 11. This moment in time was a catalyst for a bold move and the couple packed their bags and headed west to Los Angeles.
L.A. MOVES, ROCK ROYALTY AND HORROR MOVIES
Once ensconced in North Hollywood and, with thanks to their previous visits and contacts made in the music business, they began getting work. Heather stayed busy writing, while Mat quickly became a sought after hired gun for touring acts, one being the lead guitarist for Kelly Osbourne, rock royalty Ozzy’s daughter. At the time, the younger Osbourne was making a lot of noise and Mat benefited from a massive tour and countless TV appearances. A friendship between Mat and Heather flourished with the Osbournes and led to a Labor Day BBQ attended by the likes of Metallica’s Robert Trujillo and actress Shawnee Smith of the enormously successful SAW horror movie franchise. Friends bonding over music and food is nothing new, but for the Louisiana musicians trying to find their way through L.A.’s highly competitive music business, this was an unprecedented turning point that led to more work and opportunity. As touring slowed for Osbourne, Heather and Mat dusted the Hydrovibe moniker off for a reboot with a new lineup for the band. Their big break came when they were asked to write and record a song for SAW III. The single, “Killer Inside,” received critical acclaim and was featured in both the film and soundtrack. “The exposure was phenomenal and through it we were able to cultivate a pretty strong following,” says Mat. Hydrovibe secured a record deal with a major label in Japan with a tour to follow. Japan’s catastrophic earthquake of 2011 put a halt to those plans, but, thankfully, Mat was still in high demand as a touring guitarist and began touring with the critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Schuyler Fisk (Academy Award winning actress Sissy Spacek’s daughter.) It was during this time that Heather and Mat were offered opening slots on Schuyler’s shows. Their bare bones acoustic act was so well received on tour, that it created a spark that would lead them to revisiting their roots as a singer/songwriter duo. Excited about this new creative venture, the pair began writing and recording when not on tour. The budding project was christened Dauzat St. Marie.
FALLING AGAIN, RICK SPRINGFIELD AND “THE DIAGNOSIS”
With 2015 came the release of their first EP “Falling Again.” Deeply compelling lyrics and iron butterfly vocals soar in this collection that was primarily written in a cabin on Spacek’s Virginia farm. A tour followed, including numerous dates in Louisiana with some regional favorites, Spirits in Alexandria and Bailey’s on the Square in Marksville.
Back home in California, the pair continued to gig incessantly. Rick Springfield’s front-of-house sound engineer was at one of their shows and introduced them all. This led to Dauzat St. Marie opening for one of Springfield’s solo acoustic shows called “Stripped Down.” There was an undeniable connection, and not just between artists but between fans. Heather elaborates, “Rick’s fans had mentioned to us that they often hadn’t liked opening acts on his shows because they felt that it takes away from their “Rick time.” However, they embraced us immediately and have really adopted us as part of the Rick Springfield family. One show led to another and soon we weren’t just opening his acoustic shows, but bigger theaters with full bands.”
After a string of successful shows, Springfield brought them on the road with Pat Benatar and her husband, guitar wizard Neil Giraldo. “The shows exceeded any and all of our expectations. There was just so much enthusiasm and support,” says Heather. “Pat just embraced us, much like Rick, and gave us so much love on stage every night and after every show. Definitely a pinch me moment!” says Heather who still sports her 318 area code on her cell.
The tour was coming to an end and as lofty as everyone was feeling, Heather found herself not feeling well. One night after a show, she came out of the shower and told Mat that something just didn’t feel right. There was indeed a lump and after a mammogram, the doctor urged Heather to do a biopsy that same day. The doctor left town the next day but, once the reports came back, his nurse felt the urgent need to call her with the news, stating that while she couldn’t provide a full report, it was definitely cancer. She was later informed that hers was aggressive and fast growing. A year of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation followed at UCLA. Cancer free as of 2019, Heather will now have ten years of preventative treatments. She and Mat received not only love and support, but many accolades at how they documented Heather’s poignant journey through their social media platforms, offering countless support to others. They now work closely with Susan G. Komen and are ambassadors of their continued efforts to find a cure for breast cancer.
2020, CHICAGO, COVID AND WHERE WERE YOU?
The new year certainly seemed bright. Heather had fought a valiant battle against cancer, and won! Dauzat St. Marie had continued to write and record, and, armed with new music and a new world view, they were also slated to embark on a massive arena tour with Grammy Award winning heavyweights, Chicago and Springfield. For these tenacious two, who had endured so much along the way, 2020 was destined to be a banner year. Then came COVID-19.
The tour is postponed until 2021 and DSM remain positive through tweets of pics backstage at arenas just months ago, but all acknowledge that things have changed and that the pandemic has been tragic and far reaching on so many levels. Artists in today’s world make their living from performing live and the hope of licensing material, not record sales. “This has taught us to pivot and be nimble,” says Mat, somewhat optimistically.
Though advised to hold off on releasing any new material until their tour with Chicago could support it, Heather and Mat felt otherwise. “Our global community is more important than business at this time. We feel the best way to help ourselves through this is to help others.”
“Where Were You?,” their new single released just days ago, was, ironically, written long before the pandemic, yet it begs the listener … “Where were you …. When?” Rick Springfield tweeted the video stating, “This is my favorite duet of all time (other than the Everly Brothers). Amazing singers, writers and beautiful people … ” Quite a testament from an artist who has truly stood the test of time. The video for “Where Were You?” is a haunting and powerful tapestry of images, from war to famine, reminding us that we are a global community that must come together in peace if we are going to thrive as a people.
Provocative. Mindful. Loving. The music and story of Dauzat St. Marie continues to evolve.