God Is An Astronaut Member Jamie Dean about his Solo Project
"There are now Sharks on the Internet"
I mentioned God Is An Astronaut member Jamie Dean's new solo piece in my June playlist some days ago. After he shared my social media posts about it, I asked him for an interview. I am very proud to present it to you today, and I hope you enjoy it. I enjoyed talking to him very much, and I think the outcome is quite exciting.
Anne: Hi Jamie! Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview! It's an honour and a pleasure to get to know you! How are you doing today? Where are you staying at the moment?
Jamie: Hey! Thank you, Anne. I appreciate the kind words and the interview.
I am doing well. Thank you. I'm currently on tour with the band, and we headlined Rock in Roma yesterday. It was a wonderful show. It started to rain, and there was fork lightning throughout our performance. The energy was absolutely incredible!
Anne: Congrats on your new single "Mutualism"! It's a fantastic song! I like the fact that there finally is a song about this fascinating topic – the ability of living beings to interact in a positive way and build relationships – even between different species. I think this is kind of like the thing that keeps the world together. It's fascinating! How did you come up with the idea to write about it?
"Marine life is fascinating"
Jamie: Thank you! Mutualism can be defined as "a symbiosis which is beneficial to both organisms involved." In an ideal world, every relationship would be mutually beneficial. But, of course, relationships can be mutually destructive too!
Anne: There are different forms of mutualism in nature. For example, the red-billed oxpecker lives in a cleaning symbiosis with the impala. It's a relationship that we also know from sharks and cleaner fishes, clown fishes who protect sea anemones, leafcutter ants who take care of their mushrooms and so on. Do you think we can learn from these fascinating creatures?
Jamie: I do! I find it fascinating, actually – especially the marine life you mentioned. It's the one area that humans haven't completely changed, and yet there still exists highly complex marine ecosystems.
The best part is – there is no internet! I've never seen a shark on Instagram, have you?
Anne: It really has the power to calm you down if you consider that all these beautiful things are possible. In times like this, should we remind ourselves more often about mutualism?
Jamie: Life is short, and time moves so quickly. I think it's important to use your time and energy wisely before it runs out!
"Chariot of Black Moth made my video"
Anne: You made a fantastic video for "Mutualism". It's pretty dark with these shattered-seeming sequences, which I like a lot, showing pictures of humans covered in soil, diving into a dark lake washing their bodies. The black and white images lead to a bloody seeming liquid that runs over their skins – I assume it's a mixture of the soil and the water. The impression is very intense – Moreover, the part where they start touching each other's arms. I don't want to reveal everything here. I recommend all my readers to watch the video if they haven't seen it yet. Do you want to tell me the story behind it? What led you to the idea, and who created the video?
Jamie: The music video explores the more destructive relationships that can exist between two people. The video was made by a Polish artist called "Chariot of Black Moth".
In it, two sick people are literally tearing each other apart. Although there is a subtle reference to the death/life cycle, too, I'm really happy with how it came out.
Anne: It's no secret that you are not only a talented guitarist and keyboardist, but a multi-instrumentalist. Did you play all the instruments on "Mutualism" yourself? So, not "only" strings, synths, and keys but also drums and percussion? And I think there are even more instruments? I would love to know more about this!
"I played all the instruments for 'mutualism' myself"
Jamie: Thank you! Yeah, I either played the instruments or programmed them electronically. There are a number of cool instruments that I used. I wrote the main sections on an electric piano and sculptured the rest of the track around that. I sent the electric piano through my guitar fx board, and into the orange amp to create weird distortions that give it an additional sense of teeth and punch.
I also used some analogue synthesizers to give it that big bottom end. The Sequential OB6 and the Roland Jupiter 6 were both used. I'm really happy with the synth bass. It's melodic, but it's also punchy and rhythmic.
I spent a lot of time creating dark, textural stuff too. I mostly used the Doepfer semi-modular for this. I spent a long time creating weird tones using whatever strange guitar pedals I could find. It's a great way to set a tone, and it really helps shape a composition the right way.
The main hook in the chorus is my voice sent into the Roland 201 Space Echo, which is such an awesome tape delay machine.
In terms of the rhythmic end, I combined some twisted samples I found online with the Pulsar-23, which is a really cool semi-modular drum machine I bought recently. It has such an interesting sound, and you can create all sorts of mad stuff with it. It's great!
I'm a bit obsessed with finding new instruments and working out how to play them. So, I recently bought a harmonium and a handpan, which I intend to use on the next track!
Anne: That sounds fascinating! And I am definitely curious about your next song! What led to your fascination for music? Did you grow up in a musical environment? Did you always want to make music?
"Music has surrounded me since my childhood"
Jamie: I definitely grew up in a musical environment. My father was the frontman in a well-known Irish Showband in the 1960s called The Freshmen. My mother bought me my first keyboard when I was nine years old. I'll always remember it. It was this Casio toy keyboard with all sorts of crazy sounds. I wish I still had it! My uncle Mark is in a very well-respected and accomplished Irish Trad band called Altan. He is an incredible guitarist. He used to teach me bits and pieces when I was younger, which was great! My grandmother was also extremely musical – she was a beautiful singer. I learned a lot from her.
Writing music has always been a very therapeutic process for me. Of the many escape methods, composing and performing music is what works best for me. I love sitting at the piano and getting lost in a composition. It can be quite a meditative process, and it can (at least temporarily) silence the incessant thoughts and noise that usually occupy my mind.
Anne: You joined God Is An Astronaut in 2010. I am certain that wasn't your first project?
Jamie: Before God Is An Astronaut, I was involved in a few smaller projects around Dublin. I was in a few punk/hardcore bands when I was a kid. The usual stuff, pretending to be Kurt Cobain (laughs).
When I was in my teens, I abandoned the piano and focused mainly on the guitar because Nirvana didn't use the piano! Eventually, I got some sense and started playing it again!
Anne: If there was one thing you could change or fix to improve the coexistence of humans and animals on this planet. What would it be?
Jamie: It's difficult to say. We still have a long way to go in terms of improving how we coexist with other humans! We can learn a lot from animals. Especially dogs!
"I want to continue writing"
Jamie Dean – "Mutualism"
Anne: What are your plans for the future? Are there more tracks coming up? A solo album? A tour?
Jamie: For now, the plan is to continue writing. I'm focusing mainly on the Spotify audience for the moment, but if there is enough interest, I would love to take the project on the road and tour it live!
I'm also working on a new God Is An Astronaut record with the guys, and we have quite a hectic touring schedule this year. It's fantastic to be back performing live again! We all really missed it.
Anne: Where can people listen to "Mutualism" and keep informed about new upcoming Jamie Dean Songs?
Jamie: You can find me on Instagram1, and on Spotify2 or wherever you usually stream music3. The "Mutualism" music video is available on YouTube on the God Is An Astronaut channel (You can also find it below this interview)!
Anne: One more question in addition. Sorry, I needed to ask this. Sadly, you had to postpone your God Is An Astronaut tour gigs from 2020 so often due to Corona. This must have been very stressful for you, and I feel deeply sorry for all the artists who had to endure this. I heard that the gigs now have been added to your ongoing tour. So, the gig in Hamburg, e.g., I have tickets for, is planned for September 9th. Am I right? I am so looking forward to this.
Jamie: Yeah, the whole situation was extremely frustrating. We kept having to postpone shows, but luckily, the fans were extremely patient, and now we get to make up for the lost time! We are focusing all our combined energy on ensuring the live shows have been worth the wait.
The response so far has been outstanding. You can find the full list of our tour dates on Bands in Town4!
Anne: Thank you so much for answering my questions, Jamie! It was a pleasure.
Jamie: Thank you, Anne. I appreciate it a lot. Catch you at the show in September!