An Interview With The Indie Art Project, HERMAJESTY About Their Latest Music, Their New York Tour And More!
Posted On 28 Apr 2016
Tag: Adam's World, All Access, All Access Music Group, Apparat, Artist Interview, B-52s, Boxer Rebellion, Brian Eno, CMJ, Crystals, Dancing Barefoot, David Bowie, David Leatherwood, David Sylvian, Dayle Raymond Jellyman, Days Turn to Nights, Fountains of Wayne, Freud, Giorgio Moroder, Greek, HerMajesty, Highline Ballroom, His Majesty the baby, Irving Plaza, Joan Chew, Jody Porter, John Coltrane's Ole, Jon Darling, Jon Hopkins, JP, Konrad Meissner, Mariana (I'll Find You), Mavrothi Kontanis, Mercury Lounge, My Body Your Mind, Neu, New York, Nic Hard, Northeast Party House, Patti Smith, R.E.M., Radiohead, Rochester, Rockwood Music Hall, Roxy Music, RY X, Sam Snyder, The Acid, The Church, The Cure, The Oh's, Tony Visconti, Van Der Graaf Generator, Webster Hall
herMajesty consists of JP (vocals, rhythm guitars, programming), David Leatherwood (guitars, backup vocals), Joan Chew (bass), Dov Manski (keyboards) and Konrad Meissner (drums, percussion). Keyboards on “Crystals” were handled by Dayle Raymond Jellyman.
“Featuring a sound that would fit in perfectly alongside the likes R.E.M., The Cure, and Radiohead, My Body Your Mind is an intelligent rock EP worthy of repeat listens.”
Indie art rock project herMajesty released their new EP My Body Your Mind to digital stores worldwide at the beginning of this year.
The opening track “Mariana (I’ll Find You)” features loops of field recordings of rooms in an abandoned home and sounds of a dilapidated front door that were processed in unique ways to create a post-apocalyptic Giorgio Moroder symphonic. The song, like all of the EP, touches on existential issues of an immigrant man’s journey. “Mariana” asserts that perseverance, faith and love in times of chaos, transition and loss lead to redemption and salvation.
Poetry to a wall of textured sound fashions the EP from start to finish. Track two, “My Body Your Mind” incorporates an ancient Middle Eastern instrument called the oud to amplify the immigrant son’s blues. At once specific and ambiguous, explicit and implicit, the themes of survival, loss, memory and desire resonate in the aching middle eastern melodies that capture the universal and timeless wish to be loved despite the damage done.
“Fashion Trance and “Days Turn to Nights” take the listener through more layers of sound and metaphor integrating psych rock, new wave and world influences. Fountains of Wayne guitarist Jody Porter contributes to the closing track “Crystals.”
herMajesty has been putting out music consistently since forming in NYC several years ago. They’ve shared the stage with acts like B-52s, Tom Tom Club, Boxer Rebellion, Say Hi To Your Mom, and received airplay on tastemaker stations like KEXP-FM in Seattle and WFUV-FM in NYC.
“You may have heard ambient rock group herMajesty’s on KEXP in Seattle and WFUV in NYC. If not, the NYC-based band will hook you with their haunting lyrics and vocals, as well as pulsating guitar riffs and keyboard lines.”
Thanks so much for your time today! So how’s 2016 been treating you so far?
Thanks so much for having us. 2016 has been great so far. We released our new E.P., “My Body Your Mind”, to positive reviews, performed at Irving Plaza and are releasing our version of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” on April 14th. We are also performing at Highline Ballroom on the same day.
What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you and your music?
2015 was a wonderful year. We completed the recording of our E.P. and had the pleasure of working with some extremely talented guest musicians who contributed their own aesthetic to the overall sound of “My Body Your Mind”. Jody Porter of Fountains of Wayne added his lush psychedelic guitar on “Crystals” and “Days Turn to Nights”. Sam Snyder of The Ohs, an eclectic Rochester band, contributed guitars on the song “My Body Your Mind” and Mavrothi Kontanis added his sinuous loud playing to the same song. Nic Hard, our long time producer, was once again in charge of the enterprise. We toured the Northeast three times and visited Philadelphia, Providence, Boston, Buffalo, Rochester, and other cities. We also performed at Webster Hall for CMJ which was a blast. It was a busy year.
How did you all meet each other and decide to start this band?
I met David Leatherwood, our guitarist, through a mutual musician friend. Konrad Meissner, our drummer, was recommended by Jon Darling, a great singer-songwriter. I met Joan Chew, our bassist, on the New York club circuit.
How did you come up with your name?
The name is derived from Freud’s “His Majesty the baby” which was used to elaborate on the attention and sense of omnipotent control that the most helpless being in a family has over the adults.
What other names were you considering?
We considered Queen but that would have been a legal nightmare, don’t you think? In all seriousness, herMajesty was the only name we considered. It is the best fit for the lush, elegiac, and melodic aesthetic at the heart of our songs. We create intimate music for big spaces and big music for intimate rooms.
How do you think the band has grown since your first release?
We expanded our musical palette and have incorporated Middle Eastern influences and Greek Blues into our sound. I would also add that touring and performing every night over a period of time contributed to the creation of a musical life form that transcends any one individual in herMajesty. That kind of collective sound develops over time and requires trust and a degree of emotional vulnerability.
In January, you released your EP, “My Body Your Mind”. Can you talk about that collection of songs? What was the inspiration for the EP?
The songs were inspired by my experience as an immigrant and various current world events that highlight the challenges of those who emigrate. The songs are about geographic, emotional and cultural dislocation and the need for love and affiliation in times of upheaval. “Days Turn to Nights” explores the emotional fallout at the end of a romantic relationship and focuses on loneliness, self doubt and isolation, while “Crystals” is a love song told from the perspective of its female protagonist, a resilient and extremely intelligent woman.
I’d like to know about the making of your song, “Mariana (I’ll Find You)”. It features loops of field recordings of rooms in an abandoned home. Where did this idea come from exactly?
One summer I was traveling in Greece when I saw a dark cloud spread over the horizon. This kind of aerial smoldering mass is uncommon during the clear Greek summer days. An area north of Athens was set on fire by real estate speculators. Friends had to evacuate, others were at risk of losing their possessions. When I heard of this, I felt a certain stillness followed by a revolting chill. My body had become an extension of my city and my city was being threatened. I wanted to capture that sound in a field recording and use it in a subtle way to amplify the lyric, “I saw my city in ruins, a sentry of dust surrounding the hillside, from north to south and east to west…but I wouldn’t give up that beautiful sound”. The beautiful sound of faith and truth in the city in a time of devastation – the smoldering trees, the scars of greed, the black cloud had to be memorialized in some way. That experience led me to record the sounds of an abandoned house in upstate New York.
You’ve shared the stage with some amazing bands like the B-52s, Boxer Rebellion and others. What’s been a favorite experience of yours?
Sharing the stage with the B-52s was amazing. They are an incredible live band. We also loved performing with Boxer Rebellion at Mercury Lounge in NYC a few years ago. They are a spirited bunch that believe in the redemptive powers of anthemic music.
You’ve had a couple shows in New York recently. How were they?
We had the pleasure of playing at Irving Plaza, a New York institution. It is one of the bigger halls in NYC with an amazing sound system. Listening to our music in such a space made a lot of sense to me. The music soared and surged throughout the hall and carried with it an oceanic longing. We also packed Rockwood Music Hall, our favorite intimate venue in NYC. It is a room that we play at quite a bit.
Do you plan on playing any shows outside NY soon?
We are in the process of booking summer shows in Rochester, Buffalo, Boston, Providence and others.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Contemporary bands that inspire us include Apparat, Jon Hopkins, The Acid, RY X. We also dig Northeast Party House, a fun Aussie band drenched in club culture.
What musicians continue to inspire you all and your music?
We continue to draw inspiration from David Bowie, Brian Eno, Roxy Music, The Church, Neu!, Van Der Graaf Generator, David Sylvian, John Coltrane’s Olé.
Who would you love to work with in the future?
Brian Eno, Tony Visconti, perhaps sharing an evening and a glass of wine with a lad insane.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music?
We hope that our music captures true emotions and conveys real experiences that others can identify with.
What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
That there are others in the world who feel and think like you do. We are in this together.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about HerMajesty?
As I mentioned earlier, we are releasing our version of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” on April 14th. It is worth your undivided attention for 4’ 38”.