Message To Bears: A Grand Musical Departure

message1Message To Bears is the stunning yet ethereal work of art from composer Jerome Alexander.   Presenting music you could drift off and reminisce to recalling the memories of the past, Departures is a kaliedoscope of wondrous sound that should be heard by all adventurous musical types.  Based out of Oxford in the UK, we sent Mr. Alexander a collection of questions regarding his project.  Here are the messages we were forwarded…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Message To Bears, and how long the project has been together.
Hello, I am Jerome Alexander and I write and record music under Message To Bears. I first began writing music under this name around 3 or 4 years ago.

Where are you from and what is your local music scene like there?
I’m originally from Bristol but have lived in Oxford for the past few years, which has a fantastic and varied music scene. Many talented local bands and different venues keep the city exciting when it comes to music.

Where did you come up with the unique name Message To Bears? Any particular story behind the name? And why Bears as opposed to any other type of creature?
There isn’t really a story behind the name, but I think it somehow fits the music. I’m a fan of all animals; bears just happened to be the ones for this project. I especially like pandas and polar bears.

Is there any story or concept behind the Departures title?
The album is primarily about people leaving and disappearing, for better or worse. It also refers to changes in my life and the lives of those around me, of which there were a lot during the course of writing the album.

How long did it take you to record Departures, and what were some of the more difficult aspects of the recording process?
It was mostly written between the end of 2008 and first few months of 2009, with final tweaks and adjustments continuously being made until it was released. I went into perfectionist mode. That was probably the most difficult aspect, trying to figure out when something was finished, and to be able to take a step back from it.

How close are you to recording all new material and what could we expect from the new compositions?
I have just begun recording new material back in Bristol. I am currently only using my parent’s piano, banjo and my voice. I think the new recordings will be less electronic, possibly leaning more towards traditional folk with vocals. It is early days though, so things could change as time goes by. If it begins to sound very far removed from Message To Bears, it may be released under a different name.

What was it like doing your first show as Message To Bears? Were you nervous at all and what are your live shows like?
Terrifying, it was something I’d put off for a long time and was difficult to work out the best way of performing the music. Now I am joined by my talented friends to help me perform the songs, we are currently a 5-piece and try to link the set into one long piece of music. As there are so many of us on stage, it sounds a lot fuller than on the record.

message2Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Message To Bears, or have you ever been in the past?
I have just started talks with a talented electronica producer about collaboration. We have just begun exchanging ideas but hopefully something very interesting will come of it.

How did the split CD with The Soul’s Release come about and have you ever met Alex from the band?
I was just asked from Daniel at Dead Pilot Records if I was up for it and I said sure! Especially as I was already aware of Alex’s music. We have never met though.

Have you ever composed music for films or is that something you would like to do in the future?
I have composed for a few short films and it is something I welcome greatly. I would love to do it more.

What was your favorite CD of 2009 and why?
The Antlers – Hospice. I caught onto it late in the year and it blew me away. It is one of the most heart-wrenching things I have ever heard. It is almost too upsetting to listen to, but it is too brilliant not to.

How did you get in touch with Dead Pilot records, and will they be releasing any of your future recordings?
I asked if they wanted to do a re-print of my ‘Ep1‘ when they were first starting out and we’ve enjoyed working together since. My future recordings are in such early days, I haven’t really thought about how they will be released. It’s certainly a possibility though!

The Found You And You’re Safe remix is quite a bit different than your other recordings. Is this a direction you might want to take in the future and who remixed it?
It’s probably not a direction I will take myself as I don’t have the expertise to create such heavily electronic compositions. The remix was done by my good friend John Owen under the moniker ‘The Peace Of Westphalia’. He is a talented animator and wonderful chap.

What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing Departures for the very first time?
Nostalgic memories of their own experiences.

Any final words of wisdom?
Be kind, and stay safe.

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

Message To Bears on Myspace

Dead Pilot Records on Myspace

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