There is magic and wonder to be found within the intriguing compositions of Message To Bears. The solo recording project of multi-instrumentalist Jerome Alexander, the music found within is sure to transport the listener into the most serene of places. Folding Leaves is the latest sonic delivery from Message To Bears, nine tracks in all sure to leave a wistful impression on all who give a listen. In this interview, we discuss with the composer about the sweeping music, performing live, the Queen of England, another “Bear” band of the metalcore persuasion, and other grand and glorious topics. So read on and discover the blissful reveries of Message To Bears…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Message To Bears, and how long the project has been together.
Hi, my name is Jerome and I use the moniker Message To Bears for the music I create. I play instruments, program samples, record various sounds and arrange it all into songs. The name and first release came into existence in 2007.
Are you still based out of Bristol, and what is the local music scene like there?
For the past few years the project has been based in Oxford. The music scene there is brilliant I think, the quality of bands is superb and there’s a fantastic vibe for helping each other out. A very supportive and friendly community of musicians. I’ve just recently moved to London though.
How does Folding Leaves compare to your previous releases? There seem to be more vocals this time around.
It’s rather different I feel. People might be a bit surprised at the increased amount of vocals and also the electronics are far more prominent. I think both aspects were just a natural progression. In mood I’d say it’s brighter and more optimistic than Departures which was quite wintery and melancholic in comparison.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Folding Leaves?
This will sound horribly pretentious but it really came to me in a dream! I dreamt I was lying on my bed, when a leaf that was folded like a paper aeroplane flew through my window into my room. It was a beautiful image and in the dream I decided that this image would be the album name. I then woke up but only remembered the dream about an hour afterwards, luckily.
How has it been now that you’ve started playing live and what is the most difficult aspect of bringing Message To Bears in front of a live audience?
It’s cool to hear the songs materialize in a live setting. When the songs are composed there isn’t a primary intention for them to be played live, so it’s very interesting for me. This sometimes makes it difficult though, to recreate certain tracks with the band takes a lot of time to transmit them to a live ensemble properly, usually because there are way more recorded parts than band members. Some songs I have no idea how we’d play live.
I see your album is going to be released in Japan. How did that come about and have you ever been in Japan to perform or visit?
I was recommended to Nature Bliss by the very talented Will Samson who is on the same label. They got in touch and we came to an arrangement to make the Japanese version. I have never been to Japan but would really love to one day!
How did you cooperation with Dead Pilot Records come about?
When Daniel from Dead Pilot was in the beginning stages of setting up the label I simply got in touch and asked if he wanted to release a reissue of EP1. We share the same musical ethos and love for limited, physical packaging and have been working together ever since.
Would you like to do movie soundtracks, and does any soundtrack work for other artists inspire you at all?
Absolutely. I’ve had my music used in short films before and have done some original composition also but would love to do more. I particularly enjoy the soundtrack work of Clint Mansell, Yann Tiersen and Gustavo Santaolalla. Very inspiring.
Who are some of the other musicians you work with live and what other band work have they done?
When not playing percussion for MTB, Jack fronts the band ToLiesel and has a new side-project called My Crooked Teeth. Adam Harvey James has a solo project under his own name as well as playing guitar in ToLiesel and Laura has played viola for Stornoway occasionally.
Will there be any remixes for your new song, such as the Found You And Your Safe remix from a few years ago?
Yes, JermaineSoul has done a wicked remix of At a Glance – http://soundcloud.com/soulcloud/message-to-bears-at-a-glance
The Queen of England invites Message To Bears to perform one song at a Royal Command Performance! What song would you want to perform for the Queen and her guest and why?
Maybe ‘Bird’s Tail‘ because the live version is quite intense and very loud. I’d imagine that’s what the Queen would appreciate.
Have you heard of the band Iwrestledabearonce and if so, what do you think of their music?
Hadn’t heard of them so I just checked them out. She’s got quite a growl on her! Not really my thing though, think I’ll just leave it at that.
Do fans ever send you pictures of real bears or teddy bears?
No..that would be pretty bizarre.
What’s up next for Message To Bears?
Well we are presently booking a tour for April, visiting Germany, France and Belgium but the main thing right now is promoting the new album and seeing how it’s received!
Do you have any messages for fans of Message To Bears?
A huge thank you to everyone for the support this last year and I hope you like the new album!
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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