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Duane Lavold, aka Custom, grew up in rural Canada. He first made his mark in film, writing and directing the short Loafing, which was the winner of the Audience Award at the International Slamdance Film Festival in 1997. His unreleased film Limp featured INXS singer Michael Hutchence and was shelved after Hutchence's suicide. He moved to New York City to try to make it as a musician. Signed to Artist Direct Records as the label's inaugural artist, he recorded his debut album, Fast, in a home studio he had built with his father, playing most of the instruments himself. He earned controversy in the late winter of 2002, when MTV banned the video for his first single, "Hey Mister," which he had directed himself. Fast was released in March 2002.