Let`s take a walk on the wild side. Our next discovery is not only talented singer-songwriter, with a unique sense of fashion and penchant for poetry. They also have a list of inspirations long for a mile (William Shatner, Shrek, Ted Hughes, Stefan Raab, David Attenborough, Julian Lennon to name a few), witnessed Eurovision in Vienna and have a whole box of cds from their trip to India. They play rock but their debut EP is called “Classical Music”. Feeling confused? Good, a little vertigo won’t hurt. We have been observing Jesse River Dylan Murray for weeks at the open mic nights around town and finally had a chance to question them for this month`s edition of Indieterria. We hope you will enjoy this interview, because we surely had so much fun preparing it. Can you blame us? Jesse`s cool as few tons of Persian kittens and we can barely wait for 19th of July when the EP and the jaws will drop.
Life’s got everything to do with music
Meeting Jesse River Dylan Murray almost feels like stumbling upon the icons of rock and roll golden era. Soft-spoken, dressed in vividly colorful attire that places them somewhere between Marc Bolan and David Bowie, Jesse instantly becomes the center of attention. Their impromptu, refreshingly innovative sessions at the open mic nights around Worcester are like a breath of fresh air. Having heard the rave reviews, we wasted no time to see them in action for ourselves. This is what we have learnt…
Jesse River Dylan-Murray – that’s a fantastic name and a well suited one for a rock star. Please introduce yourself.
Well, it’s not a stage name in case anyone was wondering, it is my full birth name. I’m apparently named after River Phoenix & Bob Dylan. I’m a guitar-playing songwriter based in Worcester (against my will) and I inhale hope and exhale disappointment. I don’t really aim to become a rockstar – in fact the very term somewhat grates against me like splintery wood. I feel like that whole title has been & gone and comes with this set of specific ways on how to do music which I don’t want to be tied down by. I loathe describing myself almost as much as I loathe BBC Radio 2 & The X Factor.
You have studied at Nunnery Wood High School that is known for placing a great emphasis on art and music. Other graduates include Jodi Hughes, Ewan Pollock and brothers Zac and Alfie Jeavons- from Lost Tiger to the Wild. Did the artistic education help to shape you as a musician?
I always thought Nunnery Wood was a science-biased school… I had very little interest in music generally when I was there. Pretty much all I was listening to at the time was Marilyn Manson & Michael Jackson (my goth phase & my inner child viciously grinding against each other.) It wasn’t until 2010 when I started to really get into music fanatically (starting with Alice Cooper) and I didn’t get my first guitar until the middle of 2013, a year after I’d left college. My mother’s boyfriend, who had been playing since the 60s, probably, gave me a few lessons in the beginning, but the short answer is that I was never formally educated in music nor was I at all inspired by my educational background. I hated school with a near-maniacal passion and still look back on it with disdain.
One of your songs entitled “Smoke without fire” received a lot of airplays on social media. It is a very complex and interesting composition. Can you tell us more about its beginnings? What is the message behind it?
This song I can actually, unlike most of my songs, pinpoint to an exact moment in time. I was having a conversation with my stepdad in a pub last March and we were talking about rumours & the media, and he said something like “People say there’s no smoke without fire, but you know there absolutely is.” And that’s what the song’s really about in my mind. Spurious rumours, dirty gossip, twisted media. From the playground level to the international level. A bit of anger there in that song
Given the opportunity, we have to ask about another of your songs – “Everyone Wants To Look At Me But Nobody Wants To Look Me In The Eye”. With its poetic yet sarcastically sad lyrics and melodic riffs, it almost sounds like a track that didn’t make the cut for The Smiths’ “The Queen is dead” album.
“I live on the outside of the outside because the rebels and the punks and the freaks and the queers don’t want to know me.” It’s a fairly straightforward song I think, with its almost comically mammoth title. Not entirely sure when I conceived that song, but I had the title stuck in my head for what felt like at least a couple of years. I mean it’s obviously about being stared at and not fitting in, as so many songs are (I’m not even a Radiohead fan) but on another level it’s a lot more. It’s about not even fitting in in the usual groups of outcasts, feeling out of place literally everywhere, accepted or otherwise, but most importantly not even having any clue what you are. To paraphrase the brilliant Chicago-originated musician Ezra Furman: “People say ‘oh just be yourself’ but I don’t have any clue what that is…”.
Your debut EP entitled “Classical music” will be released on 19th of July. What can we expect? Are any of your previously released demos included or are you going to treat your fans to something completely new?
Smoke Without Fire is on there in the center of it. Everyone Wants… is currently being worked on to be released separately. The EP will contain 6 tracks – 5 original plus an instrumental bit of classical music (hey-hey did somebody say theming ho-ho) – at a rather beefy 31 minutes and will cost £3 – that’s the same as a meal deal readers, only this lunch don’t have no consume-by date! It will also contain the bouncy anti-pop protest anthem That’s Got Nothing to Do With Music, which I’ve been bombarding poor old Worcester with for a while and will most likely be released as the leading single for this by the time this issue of SLAP comes out, available for download. So get on that.
You have recorded at the famous MayB Studios in Pershore along many established acts such as jazz sensation Hot Fingers, London legendary punk rockers Bad Habits or Worcester Music Festival veterans Amorphica. How would you describe working with one of the best music producers and engineers in the county?
The studio’s owner, Peter May`s top person. He always knows exactly what he’s doing and is pretty quick to figure out what you want if you’re not sure how to describe the sound you’re looking for. He’s in the room with you through the whole process – no soundproof glass, no separate room – so you get a proper teamwork feel to it and it’s pretty easy to communicate quickly enough and make the most of your time there (which is also pretty cheap at £10 an hour.) He is, so far, my only experience of working with a producer/engineer and I feel like I’ve lucked out. You also get to work with some pretty swanky top-notch equipment, and if you’re really nice to him he’ll even make you a lovely cup of tea.
Imagine you have a chance to gather any musicians from local or international scene to create an ultimate artistic dream team. Who would share the stage with you and why?
Thinking locally, I’m a big fan of Ellie Williams and her end-of-the-world song writing and absolutely bellowing pipes. Looking forward to her EP when it comes out and I’d love to work with her. I also like Ben Dallow quite a lot – locally nicknamed “Britpop Ben” for I suppose his rather Gallagher-esque appearance and drone. He has a great non-stop style of guitar playing where he mixes rhythm and lead really well, and gives the impression of being so ice-cool you could hit him with your car and he might not even notice. There’s also Rueben Lovett, Cheltenham-based guitar player and a brilliant writer. Only ever seen him live once so far, right after I’d just left the stage at Marrs Bar’s open mic. I was so sweaty and needed to step outside to cool off, but found myself rooted to the spot by this unique charisma he has. A bit punky but largely just special. Don’t know about a bassist and drummer though… just a load of writers & mostly guitar players lacking the foundations. Chaos.
Your fashion sense is very unique and you have been compared to David Bowie’s stage persona of Ziggy Stardust and Adam Ant’s Prince Charming. What inspire you?
My sense of fashion just exploded one day in Cheltenham, when I was 15 years old. I was there seeing my very first ever gig, and my friends & I found this vintage clothes shop on a side street called Browsers. And I’m talking ridiculous vintage here: flares, tassels, glitter, shoulder-pads, zebra-print. I’d never been somewhere like there before. Prior to that I was on the tail-end of my goth phase and moving into the zone of checkered shirts (God knows why) but in that shop something in my head clicked and said “Hang on… I can wear anything!” And I went to that gig that night wearing this ridiculous heavy red velvet waistcoat with 2-foot-long tassels dangling from it (still got it too.) My sense of fashion just evolved from there and that wear-anything philosophy. I’ve since lost sight of the point of even gender-pigeonholing and mix in the make-up, heels & dresses with the suits, leather jackets & jumpsuits. I want it all. I just get bored very, very easily and don’t like to stick to one style for long.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Where can we see you play live?
My EP launch party will be at The Chestnut on Wednesday July 19th – that’s free entry as well – and I’ll have my very first paid gig at the Brecon Fringe Festival on August 13th. Beyond that I’ll keep inflicting myself upon the open mics of Worcestershire – primarily The Marrs Bar, Firefly & Chestnut – until I move away. I’m still small time. I’ve only been performing regularly for about 14 months. You’ve caught me in what are hopefully only the very early stages. Just another noise-maker in a line of noise-makers. Though my noise is often a few decibels apart from the night’s standard – either quieter or louder, depending on my general mood and whether I want to croon about a mythical Greek monster or bellow & growl about alcohol. Do come see the noise, though. It will be – deep breaths now – FUN.
You can find this interview in the July edition of Slap Magazine:
or download the file from here:
As we said, before we sat down to talk with Jesse, we seen them several times performing live and each time Jesse would blow us away. Their stage presence is immaculate and the clothes and killer shoes are just unearthly. It`s like Richey Edwards raiding Bernard Butler`s wardrobe in the 1990s. Or Freddie Mercury, or Syd Barrett or Brian Molka or Marc Bolan or Stevie Nicks…it`s like walking on set of Velvet Goldmine, Breakfast on Pluto live… we can go on until tomorrow morning.
We took some shots for you, so you can judge for yourselves.
We will see you on the 19th July for the EP launch. As Jesse said – it will be FUN.