Get ready to be blown away by the one-man band Jupiter In Velvet whose music is simply out of this world! Just think of adding dozens of interesting ingredients into a blender, mixing them all together just so and then consuming it all; that is Jupiter In Velvet. And you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good it all tastes when you hear it for yourself. Jupiter In Velvet is the real deal folks and original to the bone, so you definitely want to explore this act as you’ll be amazed at what you discover!
J Rae: Right away your band name Jupiter In Velvet stands out to me and you have my undivided attention. What’s the meaning behind Jupiter In Velvet, if any, and how did you decide on the name?
Jupiter In Velvet: Well it was formed randomly. I make lists of words I like and sometimes I’ll try making unusual combinations to create song titles or interesting expressions. I stuck Jupiter and Velvet together, added ‘In’ and something about the name Jupiter In Velvet really spoke to me, it sounded like a great name for a band. I later used it as a song title which was actually the last song I wrote for my last band. That band dispersed and I took on the name. Seemed like a good starting point. It means ‘Strength thru Grace’.
J Rae: So when I first started listening to the music I thought wow this is an excellent group effort with richness galore. And then when I found out that Jupiter In Velvet is primarily one person I was completely blown away! I still don’t believe it so convince me and tell me how the heck is this possible man?
Jupiter In Velvet: Yes, it is all just moi. I have been working solo the last few years. I know for fact that there are much more talented musicians than myself out there. But I have worked very hard on song craft for many years along with my arranging skills, so that helps make what I do probably seem better than it is.
J Rae: Your debut album ‘Screaming the Love Behind the Scars’ came out in 2012 and now you just released your third installment titled ‘Glitter On The Sun’. What has the buzz been like since the release of ‘Glitter On The Sun’? And how much have you evolved as a musician/artist since your 2012 debut?
Jupiter In Velvet: The buzz on ‘Glitter On The Sun’ has been fantastic. I have gotten some extraordinarily generous reviews and a growing support from more and more radio stations, who keep asking me to send them more songs from the album because of the response they’re getting. I am currently doing a college radio campaign through Tinderbox Music and we have had over 80 radio station adds already.
My evolution from my debut album ‘Screaming the Love Behind the Scars’ has been multi-faceted. The most prominent development has been in my recording and arranging skills. I have also become ever more self-critical of my work.
J Rae: Your musical style is dubbed as “electro dance rock” but I’m also hearing elements of: Pop, Alternative, Punk and New-Wave especially on ‘Glitter On The Sun’. Obviously you’re an eclectic guy who doesn’t try to classify himself or his music which I respect you for. Was this the intention all along to not be categorized into genres?
Jupiter In Velvet: Yes absolutely! Categories are so limiting. Because of my eclectic writing style I decided to label my music before someone else stuffed me into some suffocating box. It is human nature to label things and people as a way to more easily understand it, yet by doing so we end up never really understanding it. It was cool in the 60’s because it was all just being created, there really weren’t any rules. So bands like The Beatles and The Stones just did whatever they wanted and subsequently took their music in such a huge myriad of directions. I really like that. And because of their open minds and adventurousness we got so many different possibilities for rock music. That is where I am going.
J Rae: I simply loved this quote by Loren Sperry of GasHouseRadio.com where the person referred to Jupiter In Velvet as “a modern day version of David Bowie”. Sperry nailed it with that reference and I could not agree more! Right away, a Bowie influence hit me hard as I listened to Jupiter In Velvet and it came as no surprise to me that JIV covered “Starman”, a David Bowie number, on Jupiter In Velvet’s second record ‘Shut Off Your Mind’. The David Bowie touch is heard loud and clear and so why is David Bowie such a huge influence on you personally and what is it about him that inspires you to write & perform your own songs?
Jupiter In Velvet: Yes, I have great admiration for Bowie on many levels. Most prominently is his courage to not get stuck in one thing and consequently not be afraid to go off in uncharted territories. His Ziggy Stardust persona was such a winner, yet he cast it aside at one point and went with a bit of a crooner look and a different sound. That takes a lot of guts. His singing on the song “Heroes” is one of my all-time favorites. He sang it with such reckless abandon and a kind of dispassionate passion. I really like his unusual vocal phrasings and all the different voicings he sang with.
J Rae: Who are some of your other major influences not just in music but in life also?
Jupiter In Velvet: I have to say that I have a ton of influences, primarily from the 60’s-80’s with selected bands in the 50’s, 90’s and current. Probably my biggest influence is The Beatles. Their songwriting is so amazing, not to mention their singing and playing. Other particular prominent influences would be The Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Donovon, Prince, Duran Duran, Joe Jackson, The Clash, The Pretenders, White Stripes, U2, Simple Minds, The Killers, The Black Keys, The New Pornographers, The Hives… and so many more.
Influences in life?… Meher Baba – a spiritual master from India, Albert Einstein, Kahlil Gibran – poet, my father and mother.
J Rae: I also picked up on a British presence stylistically as I listened to your material so it’s no surprise to me that you’re living in the UK. How does living in England affect the type of music you make?
Jupiter In Velvet: Well I am an American actually. After my last band broke up I moved there in 2011 to immerse myself in a new musical environment. There is a real happening club scene and lots of new types of rock emerging there. So it was a great place to turn on to new ideas and new energies. My writing has been influenced by a lot of UK bands and so that British feel has probably seeped into my songs. I moved back to the US in 2013 but I was back recently this fall to shoot a video for my song ‘So Automatic’ with UK director Simon Riley.
J Rae: Your Bio states that you received a BA in Marketing, MBA in Finance, started your PhD in Finance and then traveled to South Africa where it is said you had an “epiphany”. I, along with the Skope audience, would love to hear more about this life-changing event. What triggered this while you were in South Africa; what specifically happened?
Jupiter In Velvet: Well, I started off in life in music young and did bands and such up until college, I did some band stuff in college but not seriously. Along the way I started gymnastics in high school and did it in college. After I got my undergraduate degree I got a Masters and I was assistant coaching at the University of Illinois to pay for my tuition. I finished my Masters and decided to go for my PhD in Finance – and all this time in the back of my mind was the desire, the thought to get back into music. Unfortunately, it seemed like my life path was pretty carved out for me. Well, come the day before the fall session was to begin and I was to start my PhD classes, I got a call while at team practice from USA Gymnastics, the governing body for gymnastics. Turns out they needed some gymnasts and coaches to put together a team for some competitions in South Africa and they wanted me, another Illinois gymnast and the other assistant coach to go to complete the team. We would be leaving the next day, my first day and they had to know right then and there on the phone. Butch the other assistant coach looked at me and said ‘we’ve got to go’!
My rational mind kept saying no, no, no but my intuition said yes … and so I just went for it. It was an amazing trip! And so the epiphany… one day they took us out in the bush (the wild) and as I stared out of the bus window I suddenly had this crystal clear realization that I wanted to do music in life – not be some Wall Street analyst. So at that moment I knew I would be quitting school in the near future which is exactly what happened.
J Rae: Music is part of who you are without question as I read in your Bio that you started playing drums at 9, performed your first gig at 10 and taught yourself how to play guitar, keyboard and sing along with starting to write your own songs. You’re a music junkie all the way but curious as to what sparked all of this originally? Do you remember that exact moment when you said to yourself, “Yep, I wanna be an artist/musician”?
Jupiter In Velvet: I have always felt music so deeply. Though I have done quite a few different things in life, music has always represented my truest self. My house growing up was so full of music. All three of my older sisters and Dad were always listening to music and it was all different. As a young boy I would go from one room where my oldest sister was listening to blues, Janis Joplin, Dylan, then walk by another sister’s room that was playing Led Zepplin or Ramones, past another sister who was listening to the current radio pop or new wave, then into the living room where my dad was listening to jazz. It was kind of like taking a blender, throwing all these different types of music into it, mixing them up and then drinking it!
My originality is innate, partly due to my being blessed with a wonderful imagination, partly from my immersion in so many types of music growing up, partly because I am a bit of a freak – always the square peg that never fits into societies round holes, and… partly because I am not particularly good at figuring out other people’s music, I always hear it a little wrong. I had to start writing my own songs because they sounded so much better than my attempt at doing covers!
J Rae: You and your music seem to have that classic touch with a modern twist that makes for one unique and refreshing listening experience. And it’s 100% original which I love! Would you consider yourself an innovator in the area of music?
Jupiter In Velvet: Innovator? Hmmm, that is a big title. Not sure about that. Maybe in my own little way, I am bringing something a little different, a little fresh to the musical table for other’s to taste. I don’t think about being original or different – but it just happens. I think I might have a knack for being able to blend different generations of music together, but it isn’t a conscious process; it just happens.
J Rae: I wish you much continued success with your record ‘Glitter On The Sun’ but wanted to ask what’s next for Jupiter in Velvet? Any plans of touring possibly to the United States?
Jupiter In Velvet: I am in the process of putting a band together again and plan on touring sometime in 2015. I really love playing live and I am quite ready to emerge from this self-imposed musical seclusion. I have most of the songs written for my next album which I will start recording right after the first of the year. Sounds like it will be a bit edgier than previous albums. I am also working on some other videos for ‘Glitter’ that I hope to complete by January. I am very much looking forward to coming out and meeting the world in person.
My thanks to you and Skope Magazine for doing this interview with me!
By Jimmy Rae – firstname.lastname@example.org