Music that comes from the heart: interview with Jamie Dean (God Is An Astronaut)

  • 09/04/2017 - 15:31 Read: 3013  Rate this item
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Before the upcoming Minsk show of the Irish  "astronauts" - God Is An Astronaut the journalist of MH managed to talk to the positive Jamie Dean about music, coincidence, reality, and, of course, about space.

MH: Hello Jamie! Nice to have you.
Jamie: Nice to be here, thanks for the call.

MH: We’re looking forward to the show in Minsk on April 12. Do you know what day it is?
Jamie: No, what day?

MH: It’s the Cosmonautics day, it’s official in the former USSR countries.
Jamie: Alright!

MH: Is it really a coincidence or did you plan it and just don’t tell us?
Jamie: Yeah it looks like I have to say that we planned it and it was the part of the show, but the reality is just it’s a very convenient coincidence. But it’s certainly handy to know this piece of information and we’ll absolutely mention it on the night. But it’s really interesting!

MH: Will you prepare smth. special for the fans?
Jamie: Yeah! We’ll have to talk about it before we go on and we’ll see if we can come up with smth.

MH: Aren’t you still tired of the questions about space?
Jamie: Ah, no! Every interview is different, so you never know which question is going to come.

MH: Cool! You’ve already visited Belarus, how did you like it? Did you have opportunity to get acquainted with it?
Jamie: [ According to the info we've got later, the following incident Jamie talks about took place before the show in Ukraine last year. But well, one can't remember everything, right? :) - author's remark ] Well, with shows generally there’s a level of stress because everything has to go in accordance with certain time schedule. And there’s not always really enough time to do extensive exploration of each area. But the last time we were there it was a bit of an interesting situation: we arrived there and all of our gear didn’t show up. That day we had a little time off and we were hoping to spend a few hours exploring and taking in the sight. But unfortunately what we had to do… Oh we’ll never forget about it, we only talked about it yesterday. Yeah, we had to spend the whole afternoon trying to organize replacement gear… Fortunately the gear showed up in the end, but it was a very stressful period, so we hope it won’t happen this time and any additional time that we do have we can spend taking in all the beautiful sight.

MH: OK! I do hope too. But you know, one says that a bad PR is still a PR and maybe it turns into a memorable occasion.
Jamie: Yeah! It was an interesting experience and it was one of the greatest shows, I remember it well. We really enjoyed the last show that we played there, so it was all worth it in the end. And I remember the promoter at the time, Eugene was his name – really nice guy and he helped us a big time there. When we realized the gear hadn’t arrived, we also turned to each other and said: look, we gonna have to cancel the show because nothing was there. At the end of it all when thankfully all went according to plan and it was a successful show, it just made all us sweeter. It was a great experience and it was a pleasure to play there.

MH: OK, nice! Once you’ve told you would like to play show in space, and it would be an occasion I think. Have you already set up a crowd funding campaign for a space ship?
Jamie: It’s folly – actually Lloyd owns a space ship, and as far as I know Niels and Torsten are familiar with the way how it operates, so we don’t actually need to set up the crowd funding. We’ll be the first band not only to perform in space but also to travel there ourselves without any sort of help. It’s all still going according to plan and there will be an update soon, but I don’t really wanna talk much about that because it’s… confidential, you know?

MH: OK, being an instrumental band when vocals occur only as a kind of backings, have you ever thought of a feat with any vocalist like many other bands do?
Jamie: You know, we’re not entirely against but generally what we’re about is melody, this idea that music is going kind of speak to you on a deeper level than lyrics. Melody can be extremely touching. You know it’s not smth. we plan, but it’s not smth. we’re entirely against either if the collaboration is right. I think what GIAA is about is ultimately melody and music that comes to the heart, we express that true. Our instruments are very atmospheric, sort of textural vocals on it seems to be a sound that many people thankfully respond quite well to, so I think we’re going to stick with our form that what we used to.

MH: Alright, we’ve talked about the band and now I’d like to ask you smth. more personal. You joined the band significantly later than it was formed. So was it easy to find your own way within the band?
Jamie: I will never forget it - it was absolute dream come true. I’ve been very close and friendly with the guys for many years and I’ve been to many shows when the band was a three piece. We all went to the same school; it’s a German school in Dublin. Right for the beginning whenever I first joined the band back in 2010 it was a great working relationship that we all had and I think the fact that we were all familiar with each other for a few years definitely helped and we’ve spent so much time with each other with the years that it feels more like a family really than a band. And it goes to the whole crew, we’re very close.  It’s certainly advantageous to be in the position when you get along very well… You know, there are times at the end of long tours when we don’t want to speak to each other, but I think this happens at every band. On the personal level it was one of the greatest accomplishments in my career and I respect as musicians all the guys in the band: I’ve learnt so much about composition and performance, some technical side of it… It continues to be every day a tremendous source of gratitude and joy.

MH: And how would you define your own input, what did you bring into the band musically?
Jamie: We each have our own domains that operate and we’re like a fine-oiled machine at this point. I think my contribution is… I’m predominantly a piano player/the keyboard player; I also play the guitar, but I can say to myself first and foremost a pianist. So when you’re composing from a certain more traditional piano-based background the composition is slightly different, the kinds of melodies you compose are slightly different. Torsten is more familiar with technological side of things and he’s a great guitarist, but from a performance perspective he wouldn’t be as familiar with the instrument so I have that. I wouldn’t probably be as technically confident as he is, I’d have more experience on a more performing space level. So when we write together we each bring kind of different elements at the table and it’s certainly that was captured on this latest album that we… I don’t wanna say we finished yet, but we’re close to. We’ve managed to reach the level of sophistication that all of us are tremendously happy with, and I feel this album is very sophisticated in the compositional approach and all different inputs are captured as well.

MH: You’ve mentioned your new album; will you reveal some secrets about it?
Jamie: It’s an album that is very close to all of our hearts: there’s been a series of events that have taken place in our personal lives and we’ve lost people very close to us recently. I don’t want to say much more about it, but what I can say is that we’re all very-very close to emotionally and on the personally level it’s probably the work I’m most proud of I would say. And of course it’s going to be the first record that we put at under Napalm Records – it’s the record label that we’ve recently signed with, so I hope that with the help of those guys we’re can get to kind of like a bigger platform again. Because as I’ve said we’re very proud of this album and we hope that as many people as possible would get the opportunity to hear it.

MH: And do only events in your personal life affect your music or some current social world issues as well?
Jamie: Yeah, it’s definitely a combination of both. Everything we write is based on smth. real on a personal or collective level. You know, on the last record “Helios | Erebus” it was very much based on the surroundings and the civil conflict that was happening in the world and continues today. The latest record is probably more personal expression based on individual situations of ours. As you’ve mentioned we don’t use the sort of conventional vocals, so for us it’s very important and very clear that the music does the talking. So long as it’s based on smth. real we’re confident and we believe in what we’re saying through the music.

MH: You know, it’s a kind of interesting combination since on the one hand the concept of your band seems to deal with smth. fantastic, but on the other hand it’s all based on real thing…
Jamie: The music is based on reality, maybe we express it in a space-like perspective. We’re all into kind of sci-fi, so I think it’s probably like a healthy combination of both.

MH: Sounds nice! And now let me take you out of reality for a couple of minutes and to make you use your fantasy.
Jamie: OK!

MH: If you had to record an album using just one instrument, what would it be?
Jamie: The piano for me for sure. Torsten would probably say the guitar, Niels… I don’t know… But I would personally choose the piano.

MH: What would you like to be remembered for in the history books of future?
Jamie: I want to be remembered for… it’s a great question actually… as smb. who I guess set smth. important musically. Maybe someone who’s a nice kind person who sort of did his best to travel through the journey of life in such a way maybe helpful for at least one or two people. Yeah, definitely like someone who left a sort of musical memory.

MH: Of course you transmit your thoughts with the means of music, but if you had to do it visually right out of your head on screen, what would we see?
Jamie: (laughs) On the screen, OK! Maybe like a picture of a smiley face, I don’t know. Smth. that would make people smile.

MH: And now say smth. to people that are looking forward to your show in Minsk.
Jamie: Thanks for the continuous support. We’re really looking forward to all the shows of the tour, especially in Minsk, it’s going to be great. Thanks again for buying the tickets and coming to see it, it really means a lot.

Watch the updates and buy tickets in the official vk community of the event.
P.S.: Let's arrange the warmest welcoming for the guys at the show so that Belarus could turn into the place one neither forgets, nor confuses with anything else! :)

Interviewed: Gella Inspired
Photo is taken from the official facebook page of GIAA

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