Life goes on: Dave Masud’s new single ‘Chrysalis’ explores both grief and joy

Music is one of the most powerful things in our world. It can help people heal after immense tragedy—or be a vehicle for expressing pure happiness. 

Local multi-instrumentalist Dave Masud knows the power of music well, as he’s used his solo work to heal from the loss of his mother, celebrate the birth of his daughter, and tackle other emotional challenges. You may know Masud from his drumming and hardcore vocal chops in Vampirates, but his solo music career spans other genres. His debut EP False Island, released in July 2022, saw Masud tackling alt-rock on “Boop,” poppy-acoustic on “Jenni’s Song” and even beautiful harp on the appropriately titled track “Harp.” 

Masud has returned to solo music with “Chrysalis,” an emotionally charged crunchy-rock song that deals with intense feelings of loss—and overwhelming feelings of happiness. During a recent phone interview, he talked about how life events have worked their way into his music. 

YouTube video

“For the last album, False Island, I wrote most of it while I was navigating my mom’s passing,” Masud said. “She had a stroke, and we had about two years of hospitals and rehabs and retirement homes and all the shit nobody ever wants to go through. It was a really tough time, and losing her just hit me harder than anything ever in life. Then my daughter was born, and in seeing her, I could see so much of my mom in her—just in her eyes and her mannerisms—and all of a sudden, it was kind of like getting a part of my mom back. That’s really what the song (“Chrysalis”) centers on, kind of feeling like you’ve lost a love, but then being reminded that love is there, it’s always there, and it’s just kind of constantly changing form.” 

Some lyrics from “Chrysalis”: “The light has been reborn inside your eyes / I stood in disbelief as love transcended the grief.” He compared how it felt to write “Chrysalis” with how it felt to write the songs on False Island.  

“With my last album … I also lost my brother to suicide in the midst of (dealing with my mom),” Masud said. “The music was definitely a big part of helping me get through and just kind of process everything that was happening. Right when I was going into the studio to record False Island last year was when I found out that my wife and I were expecting, so on that album, it’s pretty dark subject material throughout most of it—but then at the end, it has kind of a positive upswing, reflecting finding out that I was going to be a dad. 

“With ‘Chrysalis,’ there’s still that bit of the lingering subject matter—still dealing with those dark times and stuff—but it’s now being overshadowed by just pure joy, and having a daughter. I think the song represents a transition from that really tough time into a much more positive, happy present.” 

“Chrysalis” was created rather quickly, Masud said. 

“I kind of slowed down on writing stuff a little bit since my daughter was born last year, but once she was born, and we were back on our feet a little bit, I was able to pick my guitar back up,” Masud said. “I started writing this song, and it just kind of came together all at once. I think I wrote and recorded the demo in one night. Sometimes I’ll spend a really long time on a song, and it just takes forever to come together, and then other songs, it just kind of just falls out. It’s those ones that just kind of come together right away that tend to be the best ones, in my opinion.” 

Masud enjoys experimenting with genres and moods from song to song; to him, being a solo musician is about creating songs that are “most representative” of him. 

“As far as genres go, I just can’t really make up my mind what it is I’m doing,” he said. “I pull from so many different influences. When I was a kid, I started off with jazz, and then found punk rock and metal, and I still listen to so much of everything. I have this tendency to write one song that’s a hardcore song, and another song that is more melodic pop, and from what I hear, that’s not the right way to do it. I guess I’m supposed to be making individual artist profiles for each of the genres; that’s what all the business professionals are saying to do these days. Whatever is coming out of me that day is what the song is.”  

When Masud released False Island, he gathered a group of friends and members of the music scene for one live show. As he returns to finding more time for music, he plans to create more material that will justify playing more shows. 

“The band consisted of Zack Ryan and Kodeus McKinley from Donkey Jaw, Bun Chettaraj from Sucka Punch, and Chris Fox from Vampirates and Boss’ Daughter,” Masud said. “We just did the one show, because it was only seven songs, a really short set, so I didn’t really think that it was right to go around booking a bunch of shows. … I think I play four or five different instruments live, so I definitely spend more time setting up than actually playing with the amount of material that I have right now. I’m trying to fill in the catalog a bit more. I’d like to do another EP, and then once I have more material and something that can fill in a whole set a bit better, I plan on playing live a bit more with that same lineup.” 

But first, Masud is gearing up for a mini-tour celebrating Vampirates’ 20th anniversary. After shows in nine different Oregon and Washington cities in nine days, the tour will conclude with a show at Alturas Bar on Dec. 10. He insists that his solo work will always be distinctly different from his hardcore punk project. 

“Most of the stuff I write is a bit more simple musically,” he said. “These are always kind of just intended to be my own thing.” 

Vampirates will perform at 8 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10, at Alturas Bar, 1044 E. Fourth St. in Reno. Admission is $10, and attendees must be 21 or older. For more information, visit vampirates.org. For more information on Masud’s solo work, visit davemasud.bandcamp.com