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.
And you can buy the EP here:
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.
**** Update 26/07/2017****
Pushing at the boundaries – “Classical Music” EP launch
Chestnut Inn in Worcester is an unusual place. For starters it looks like it should belong in Hay On Wye. Books and antiques can be found in every corner. On second glance, the pub feels like a crossover between Leaky Cauldron and Peel Archive. Fat, red cat roams around demanding cuddles from the customers, big portraits of rock and blues stars on the walls seem alive and there are vinyl records in big piles near the bar. No wonder that Chestnut was chosen as a venue for Jesse River Dylan Murray`s EP launch on 19 July 2017.
A wild child of Worcester music scene, Jesse cannot be easily squeezed into a box and they have more aces in their sleeve than a skilled gambler. One moment channeling Bowie, the next singing like Tom Waits, Jesse easily changes from glam to indie to alternative with charm and buoyancy that captivates the audience. We can tell you that when we entered The Chestnut, the house was full.
Before Jesse hit the stage, we had a pleasure to listen to two support acts: Stephen L Wright (locally known as Nobby Wright) and Benjamin Dallow. Stephen L. Wright continues a proud tradition of classic blues and we are sure that sooner than later Nobby will find himself on the other side of the Pond. Ben Dallow (who filled in for Redwood as she could not perform due to conflicting schedules) on the other hand is fully immersed in British rock. There is a lot of Oasis and Paul Weller influences in Ben`s music but since when comparison to the Modfather is a bad thing? Dallows version of Jam`s That’s Entertainment was fresh and done in his own style, so no complaints from us here. It also should be noted that Ben`s performance was arranged the night before the EP launch at a last minute but it worked out perfectly. That’s the beauty of our local music scene.
Once Ben Dallow finished his set – it was all about Jesse and their music. With their signature guitar, full make up on and snow white shirt, Murray mirrored Richey Edwards in passion and stage persona and equaled American indie sensation Michete in outspokenness. They played the EP in full and when that was not enough, they turned to a cover (brilliant version of Heroin by Velvet Underground).
For a young performer Jesse surely has dedicated friends – some of them came as far as London for the launch and at the end of the night, Jesse was presented with a huge bouquet of summer flowers. Not Morrissey-esque flowers but equally sweet.
Not everything was perfect. Jesse like many other acts has to learn on the job and perhaps the set was too longish but we did not really mind. Even if we had to buy the EP from one of Jesse`s friends and not the artist themselves.
It was a fun night – full of excellent music, chaos, silly conversations, too many pints and had all the marks of “I was there” moment. If given right amount of endurance in this dog-eat-dog industry, Jesse River Dylan Murray has all the talent and persona to become not just a local starlet – but a full grown rock and roll start in their own right.
Jesse River Dylan Murray:
Stephen L Wright (also known as Nobby Wright)
The Chestnut Inn
Our review has been now published in August issue of Slap Magazine. You can read the magazine online (turn to page 43) here:
Or download a copy from here:
If you need to purchase a copy of the EP – please click on the link below. It costs just £3 and supports a very talented performer who, like many on Worcester music scene, is fully independent and DIY.
The EP is accompanied by a free download digital single “That`s got nothing to do with music”. Jesse decided not only to give one song completely free for their listeners, but also offered lyrics (it`s actually a very long and contemplative poem) and hi res artwork. We really believe this is a fair deal – from a very promising artist. You know what to do!
On 12th July, the single was debuted at BBC Introducing Hereford & Worcester to a warm welcome from listeners and the broadcaster Andrew Marston himself
And if you need any more recommendation to get yourself a copy of “Classical Music” – please have a look at the photo posted recently by Steve Lamacq (of New Musical Express, Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music fame). Jesse`s EP has landed on his desk and was scheduled for listening. We think this is uber cool and only shows what potential JRDM has!
Hope you enjoy the review, coming up – everybody`s fav section – images from two great local photographers!
**** Update 28/07/2017****
It`s been a week since the EP launch (you can buy it HERE) and we are getting some amazing shots from the night. Please let us show you photographs done by Andy O`Hare. Andy is a journalist of local chapter of BBC (BBC Hereford and Worcester) and also a staff member at the local SLAP Magazine. He is often seen in front rows, documenting local music scene with his camera in hand– the amount of gigs he attended would make John Peel envious!
Andy was so kind to come and photograph the EP launch despite a very busy schedule. And he allowed us to republish some of his shots on our blog.
Please visit Andy at:
**** Update 02/08/2017****
More coverage dear readers! Let us present you with some stunning works of Duncan Graves. Originally from Manchester, Duncan relocated to Worcester and has been one of the cornerstones of the scene for many years. He is a freelance photographer working with local bands and magazines and documenting the music community we have in town.
Duncan was so kind to come and shot the EP launch and he agreed for his images to be part of this humble blog. And thanks to him, we can finally close the gap in our coverage as we did not have any shots of Stephen L Wright performing.
Duncan`s a top lad. You can send kudos (and your gig dates) to him here:
We will round up our coverage of Jesse`s EP with this statement. Classical Music has been sitting in our stereo for good three weeks now and we just love it to bits. It is such a nice little local record and surely one of the best debts we have seen on our scene in a long while. Actually, we spoke to folks who have been attending local gigs for years and what pops up in almost every conversation is the excitement people feel. Peace and The Tights are brought up (two local bands that hit it big) and how they made the town proud. What is also being noticed is Jesse`s much more ambitious approach and his strive to forge his own stage persona. Imagine, if this kid grows to be new Bowie – mentioned one gig veteran we ran into at the Market Hall Records one Saturday morning when we were all digging through newly arrived rarities. And there was no sarcasm in his voice. That man been going to shows around West Midlands for thirty five years and seen the good, the bad and the ugly of local music. If Jesse is able to win over such hardened listeners, then what really can stop him? All the best Jesse, we have our fingers crossed!
Ps. We really think you look better with flowers than Moz. Thanks for reading this blog!
Indieterria crew is so so happy with how this blog tuned out – and we hope you agree with us dear readers. Weeks of following the artist, at least 11 updates and corrections and we think we nailed it. Its rock and roll and we are so excited to bring you all the details and angles to the story:)
Mal & Rita