“My Demons” is about having the feeling that you are on the verge of giving in to your dark side. The lyrics dramatically describe the emotions that can result from this fear and the angst they can cause. In addition, this song manages to touch on the idea that the people we love can pull us out of our inner darkness.
This track, along with the whole of Transmissions, was born from a very specific concept that contains layers of lore. According to Starset, each creation on Transmissions is part of a cryptic, end-of-the-world Message (capital M) they’ve received from the future. Basically, they’ve taken the idea of the “concept album” to an extreme. “My Demons” is the first single Starset decided to give us.
In this article, we’ll perform an analysis of these edgy lyrics to discover their intended meaning. We’ll also take a look at the songwriting story and the human themes that make this song accessible to anyone. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
The lyrics begin by telling us the point of the song in a sci-fi metaphor. Dustin Bates says, “this ship is slowly sinking,” which has two meanings. Firstly, there’s the literal interpretation – something technological about a spaceship has malfunctioned, which matches the sci-fi theme of the album. Secondly, this line refers to the mind of the narrator. His psyche is slipping.
According to Dustin Bates, the lyrics for the songs on Transmission were purposely written with “dual metaphors.” This is because Starset wanted to stick to the concept, lore, and storyline of the album while also talking about universal things. The result, as Bates put it, was something like a “romance in space.”
The sinking ship line is an example of these “dual metaphors.” There is a human meaning and a scientific one, allowing both of Starset’s goals to be accomplished simultaneously.
Bates now continues by describing the narrator’s mental decline. The lyrics describe other people “circling” the narrator “like vultures,” which demonstrates paranoia. He fears that other people are out to “break” him and strip him of his “colors.” In simple terms, they’re trying to overwhelm him and turn him into something empty, colorless, and lifeless.
These other people may also represent the “demons” the narrator talks about later. Again, much of this song is deliberately written to allow for two layers of meaning. The track is likely describing a literal storyline from the future and a universal human experience at the same time.
The chorus is addressed to someone specific who goes unnamed. The narrator says the two are “one and the same,” indicating attachment between them. He uses them as an escape from his darkness and trusts them to save him if he becomes his “demons.”
The second verse delves deeper into the narrator’s mind, which is infested with a “sickness.” Some interpreters think this refers to a mental health disorder like depression, but I’m inclined to disagree. Here’s why:
For one, there may be some doomsday plague Bates is trying to hint at. After all, Transmission is about the end of humanity. Even if this is not the case, the lyrics to this song appear to be more tied to the moral darkness within us, not our trauma or chemical balance. How am I so sure? The bridge has the answer.
In the bridge, the narrator continues speaking to his unnamed companion. He tells them that he needs “a savior” when he becomes his own “worst enemy.” Basically, he’s talking about behaviors that are his fault, not things that could happen to anyone. This is why I refer to it as moral darkness, not just mental pain.
From this point on, the lyrics are repetitive. In summary, “My Demons” is a song with two layers of meaning. One has to do with the sci-fi storyline of Transmission, and the other is about humanity’s inner darkness. According to the Starset’s alleged Message from the future, humanity falls because of our own misdeeds. If all of us fight against our own demons, perhaps we could prevent a tragic end like the one Starset warns of.
As mentioned previously, “My Demons” and the rest of the songs on Transmission owe their existence to the lore concept behind the album. According to Starset, their debut album was designed to pass along the message they received from the future.
When asked about the story behind the songs, Dustin Bates gave an interesting answer in one interview. Apparently, Transmission specifically tells the story of the fictional Thomas Bell, who Bates refers to as “the messenger.” While the album is primarily meant to distribute his Message, it also manages to tell the life story of Bell.
This means that the lyrics in “My Demons,” while somewhat universal, were originally inspired by Bell’s character arc. Bates described Bell’s story as one of “love lost and overcoming life and perseverance” in the same interview. This gives evidence to the idea that “My Demons” is about battling with yourself.
Even though the creative process behind this track was a little far-out, the product itself had great mass appeal. “My Demons” reached a position of #5 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart and managed to put Starset on the map. It’s been listened to by millions of ears and received no shortage of critical praise.
The next time you play this moody hit, let these pieces of background information make it even more special!