'The Musical Mission In Full Flow'
“We’re on a mission to change the world,” proclaims 80 Bug, singer, songwriter, DJ and half of the format-busting musical duo Jupiter Rising.
After one listen to “Go,” the barnstorming lead track from the pair’s debut album, Strength in Numbers (due this spring from Chime Entertainment), you might be forgiven for thinking the change in question will start on the dancefloor. If this relentlessly funky amalgam of hip-hop, pop, rock, dancehall and more doesn’t make you move, consult a physician.
But 80 and her partner, composer-multi-instrumentalist-programmer-human beatbox Spencer Nezey, have a lot more up their sleeves. Take, for example, the soaring ballad “Hero,” which was selected as the theme for the acclaimed International Museum of Women’s project Imagining Ourselves. The song’s soulful refrain yearns for “a hero to save us from ourselves,” but declares that if one doesn’t arrive, “I will do it myself.”
This sort of determination is at the core of Jupiter Rising’s mission. “We both felt so unsatisfied by most of the music out there,” 80 notes. “It’s either bands asking why life sucks but offering no explanation, or trite, dumb stuff about shaking your ass, getting the guy, getting money. We want our music to make people feel full of hope, full of self-awareness and a sense of connection and belonging. We want them to feel something they didn’t feel before they listened to us.”
Chatting recently with 80 Bug - as Spence was off making beats - and noting that it had been stated in their press that they were '... on a mission to change the world,' I first wondered how that was working out so far?! "Well, we feel really good that right out the box our song 'HERO' is being used to represent women worldwide in the International Women's Museum outreach program called IMAGINING OURSELVES (http://imaginingourselves.imow.org)... and we know thats just the beginning."
"Look, we realize that party songs like 'GO' may not make some poignant social statement, but it's really just about having a core of values that are expressed in the body of material. It's that we want to connect to people, and make them feel less alone, less afraid, and more aware."
"I like to use the term ripple. Meaning that everything you do and say has a ripple, that what you do affects the people in your life, who affect the people in thier life, and so on. The more status you have the bigger your ripple, so personally I feel the more folks you got watching what you say and do, the more responsible you are to be a good example. Basically, I just think we should be kind to each other and look out for one another. Like, if you're gonna party just do that. But recycle the bottles and don't drive drunk. That's all. Just be aware of your ripple."
Just what was lacking or missing completely from the songs out there
today that has inspired you to try and musically change this yourselves? "Mostly just a story. I hear a lot of songs that are a couple hooks pieced together. Very catchy but not really memorable."
"We want to create timeless tracks, that mean as much today as 20 years from now. I love to tell stories, about my life, about the things I see or encounter. And I just don't hear too much story telling out there. Also, I'm really over dumbed down music. I think the population is undervalued, listeners aren't stupid, they have broad vocabulary and imagination, and we should feed it. Not starve it!"
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of
buying the debut CD 'Strength In Numbers,' how would you yourself describe
your sound? "Well, first off we decided to change the record to just a Self-Titled Debut. There was a lot of confusion right off the top with the Jurassic 5's 'Power In Numbers' record and so we just decided to keep it JUPITER RISING."
"Our sound is eclectic, while I am influenced by gospel, old soul, rock, hip hop, blues, and electronica, spencer's influences are even more wild. From Tribe Called Quest to Drum-n-Bass. But the band, well they are seriously funky, and quick. Like the JB's James Brown's band, if I holla hook, or bridge they can jump on a dime. I couldn't be happier!"
OK, but where did the pre-chosen album title 'Strength In Numbers' originate from though? Does it have a more personal standpoint for you, perhaps? "Well, we really wanted to name the record that because it took so many more folks to pull this record together than just us two. But we also felt that we wanted to world to be strong with us. All of us together strong. We feel that there are no limitations for unity, no matter race, religion, finances, or philosophy, we can all play together."
If there was one track on this new album that truly encapsulated Jupiter
Rising at their musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? "Wow, I would think Spencer and I might differ greatly on this point, but huh, well I just love 'LIVE THE DAY.' It's hard and soft, funky and musical. I actually get to freestyle a little on verse three. Plus it's got a good message. So for me it would be that."
"I had to call Spencer in on this one ... and his answer is 'THEY SAY'! Spencer says, "Because it has everything; good lyrics, dope melodies, funky beat, and the chord progression is ill". A little liner note: 'They Say' was actually written in the studio in a matter of hours by Jason Villaroman, Spencer and myself, with sick drums from Mike Shapiro, who created a great vibe for the whole record.'
And while we're revealing things, just where does the bands' name
originate? "Well, we had to find a new band name, our old one just didn't fit any more. I was actually working on an astrological chart for our producer/engineer Jason Villaroman and came across that term. And just really dug it. I felt like here's this huge wide open planet with mad potential and that's just us ... lots of room to grow."
OK, and keeping the wagon's of revealment rollin' here, at what stage did 80 Bug become who she is today ... and what does that nickname mean anyway?! "I was always 80, in one form or another ... but the bug came along later. It was a pet name that another band mate of mine had used for me, and it just stuck. When I needed a DJ name down the road well 80bug just had a perfect ring to it. And not long after moving out of my parents house, I made it permanent. So now it's my real name ... really!"
Noting you incorporate the musical styling of a Turkish banjo into your
music, how exactly does one go deciding that such an obscure instrument is
what's missing from a song in the first place?! "Honestly, Enor Evol, who used to play with Les Claypool, has been a dear friend and musical partner for years. He plays it and it was really about finding a good spot for it on the record. In fact I had him play the ukulele, banjo, guitars. Everything I could on this record. I only wish he wasn't permanently on the road with THE YARDDOGS ROADSHOW (http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=42444907), or I would have stole him away."
If you could cover any '80s (possibly cheesy!) pop song, which one would
it be ... and why?! "Wow, so many great records. Off the top of my head the Eurythmics' 'WOULD I LIE TO YOU,' or 'MISSIONARY MAN.' Madness' 'OUR HOUSE' ... anything by Peter Gabriel. I think there were some really fun tracks that came out of that time."
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! "Interesting story actually. I was at Burning Man and our camp was called The West Pole. It was a 60ft igloo filled with plants, and very cool inside. But outside we hand made some 200+ 2d penguins, that were posted on rebar. When the wind shifted all the penguins would snap together in the same direction. And since they were 2d sometimes you would never see them then all at once the wind would shift and 200+ penguins would appear. HILARIOUS! So yeah, I like penguins!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Jupiter Rising's new CD, just answer this easy question: As you know from reading this interview, one of their tracks features a saxophone (courtesy of Spencer) and even a Turkish banjo. But what is the exact name and spelling of that banjo used?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before November 1st with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: JUPITER RISING SIGNED CDs' to: email@example.com
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