Behind the Song “Fire” by Diz and the Fam

“Never fit in any shoes if you ain’t walked in ‘em.” “Breaking glass ceilings with kindness.”

These lyrics in “Fire”, the new song from Dash Mihok’s Diz and the Fam, are more than just lines in a rhyme, they are themes and profound statements of hope contained within a three-minute and fifty-six second canvas. ”Fire” features Desi Valentine lending his moving and spirited singing to the anthemic chorus. Throughout the video you are graced with faces of children, looking deep into your eyes intently, and counting on you to make a difference. Mihok then tells you why.

In a way, it’s a similar experience to Mihok’s relationship with music from a young age. You may know him best as Brendan “Bunchy” Donovan from the hit series Ray Donovan on Showtime, but for Mihok, music has always been an outlet of expression open to anyone who simply has something to say or something they feel. I recently had the chance to speak with Mihok who here, takes me inside the tree-lined journey of “Fire”.

“The best of this land understands that our strength is diversity.”

Photo by: Trevor Traynor

Season six of Ray Donovan has wrapped up and your new song “Fire” is now out, how are you feeling?

I feel terrific. It takes me awhile to release music like this because I’m a perfectionist and I want to bring out a message. If the message is not refined to the way I want it to be received, then I’m reluctant to put it out there. The feedback so far on “Fire” has been positive – that it’s moving and sparks something in people’s hearts. The response I sometimes get is, “I wish there was more of something like this out there.” And there is, you just need to look further, but I’m happy people feel that way, and there will be more of this type of stuff coming from me.

What has been the strongest reaction that you’ve gotten? Has there been anything that has surprised you?

I don’t go through every comment because it can be detrimental and I don’t want to rest on my laurels. But what I have read and from what friends and family have told me – it seems to resonate. I wanted “Fire” and the video to be ambiguous enough so that people would have to think about it in multiple ways and through multiple sittings and viewings. That’s the strongest thing that I’ve heard. People tell me they will listen or watch on loop and every time they catch something different. Another cool thing that has been happened – people will send me videos of them with their kids.

I believe the best art makes people feel something and makes people think.

There are a lot of young faces in the video that kids seem to relate to. I never thought about it in that regard, but people will show me their Instagram videos of them and their kids watching the video on loop. I wasn’t expecting that at all, those are the wonderful surprises.

You wrote “Fire” right after Charlottesville last year. When the inspiration strikes, what is the creative process for you? Did you go right to instruments or jotting down the words?

I don’t have a set way, it changes and it’s eclectic. For this particular process I went straight to words. I didn’t have a melody in my head, I was just so upset and emotional about the state of the union. I needed to write something. I knew the story I wanted to tell was one of inclusion – we all have separate views and that’s the beautiful thing about this country. I really wanted to paint a picture that drove home the message that we are diverse and that’s what makes us beautiful, but also to try and bridge the view to see the kid in all of us. Some of us have deviated from that point and have become more hateful and close-minded. There’s vulnerability in all of us. The guy who was just convicted for killing the young woman in Charlottesville, I’m sure there was a kid in him that did not feel the need to do that in some point in time. We were all kids once, we didn’t all come out hating, all we wanted was to be loved and accepted. That goes away for a lot of people.

So, with that in mind, for “Fire” I needed to write something to get that off my chest. Other times a beat of a melody will come first, but this time the words lead the way.

Photo above and featured photo by: Corey Nichols

There are a bunch of lyrics that I have found to be very deep and compelling with “Fire” starting with the hook, “I can run through the fire, the fire that runs through me.”

It was key to have this song be courageous, making a stand, but also emphasizing that we all started from the same point where you didn’t have to think about anything. I then build a narrative that we break off and find our own ways and are all still insecure. All the separation on the planet I believe comes from our core insecurities. I made a point to emphasize that. It’s the most political song I’ve ever written. I simply couldn’t shy away from that given the state or our politics right now.

I always say – the arts are leading the way.

Yes indeed, they have to.

You’ve been very open in the past about how strong music has been in your life – overcoming Tourette’s and learning the drums. When you think back to that now and all you’ve overcome personally, do you still carry that with you today?

Yes, music has always been there for me. Some people characterize it as an escape but for me, it was more of something that soothed and inspired. In overcoming my Tourettes or just having a bad day, music has always been something that lifts up my spirits. My two children play every day. I think less about myself because they are there and I’m watching them now. I see how it impacts them, so I don’t think about how much it means to me as much anymore in terms of overcoming something. But it is engrained in me, it always has been an outlet and one super-freeing thing whenever I’ve doubted myself or locked in some way. Music frees up my soul and reconnects me with everyone and the planet and energizes me again.

Do you still play drums? How many instruments do you play?

Mainly just drums. I can play a little bit of everything – writing songs on piano and guitar, but drums are my main instrument. I have an electronic kit in my garage and I get on them at least every other day. Now that my six-year-old plays piano and violin, I can get her in on the synthesizer and we jam. It’s so magnificent.

How about when you are acting, does music play into your preparation to get you in the zone?

It depends on the moment with me. If there is a certain vibe in the scene that I am feeling then yes, I will put on a certain song. But I don’t have an exact method in my approach to prepare before I go on set. There are definitely some days where I realize I am not in the zone and need to focus on what I have to do and convey. In those instances, I will put on anything from a classical piece to hip-hop to Led Zeppelin. I’m a free in-the-moment person and make decisions based around what I think will be the best outcome for me to do my job properly.

What’s next for you? What do you have on tap?

I have an album ready, it’s called Love and Loss. I don’t have a release date yet. I’m definitely going to release another single before I drop the entire record. There’s a beautiful song called “Flawed By Design” that I think may be the next single. It’s just me and an acoustic. Actually, it features my niece on the show Ray Donovan, Kerris Dorsey. She has a gorgeous voice. It was originally a hip-hop track and then I changed it suddenly to be more mellow and acoustic-based, and then I had the thought to have Kerris sing over it. It’s about how relationships can fail and sometimes we have to give up and just be ourselves because people don’t change. Other than that, I have a bunch of stuff in the can and I’m glad to get “Fire” out because it felt important.

When you think of this moment as an actor, artist and creator, and the impact your work has had, what does it mean to you?

This has been an incredible learning process. To me, it’s very emotional and vulnerable. At the same time, I feel optimism in that vulnerability. This moment has taught me how to let go and be free. When you do that, the courage and the fire come easy.