Sunday, April 28, 2013

Local Spotlight - Good Jeans - May 2013 - Local Artist - Pittsburgh

Our local artist spotlight for the month of May 2013 is Good Jeans. Derek January is the main driving force behind the band. The project began as an experiment for Derek, borne out of his main focus Forget Right Now. He has recently released his debut EP entitled Amusement. Derek was kind of us to answer our normal questions along with stepping outside the scope. His album is streaming below. 

How did the band come together?

Good Jeans evolved out of my last solo project, Forget Right Now. FRN started as a way for me to experiment with different styles outside of the band I was in at the time. My last band was more of an alt-rock kind of thing, but I had been really getting into shoegaze and noise rock right around then and wanted to create music influenced by that. Bands like Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth were a huge discovery for me. Anyway, I recorded some stuff as FRN and played some shows around Pittsburgh before taking a break from music and focusing on finishing college. A few months after I graduated in December 2011, I got an M-Audio KeyRig 49 and some new software. I was listening to a lot of electronic stuff at the time, from 80s synthpop, to artists from the newer "chillwave" movement, to the more mainstream EDM artists. Usually what I'm really going crazy over at the time hugely influences the kind of music I want to create, so it was only natural that I start recording more electronic/dance material. Last August I took a month-long trip to visit a friend in England, which was hugely inspiring as well. Up to that point I was still going under Forget Right Now, but when it came time to release the Amusement EP on Bandcamp, I decided that it was time for a new name to fit the new material. Thus Good Jeans.

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?

The City Paper has described my sound as "atmospheric synth-pop and mid-paced dancey stuff with psychedelic elements," which I think is very fitting. The EP was mainly influenced by synthpop and dream pop/shoegaze in general, and I think that is very apparent in the songs.

Are you originally from the Pittsburgh area? Family here as well?

Yes, I've lived in the Pittsburgh area my whole life, and went to college here at Duquesne. Most of my family still resides here too.

 Do you create music full time or is this more of a part time venture?

The creating is definitely a part time thing. I wish I had more time to sit down and record. If I could make time to do it every day, I would have my full-length out in no time.

Do you have a day job?

Yes, I'm a marketing and promotions intern at Stage AE and I work at Barnes and Noble. The internship is a lot of fun and also very inspiring. I'm constantly seeing bands live and the job itself is very informative. I see live music as being one of the greatest pleasures in life.

How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?

A lot of the writing happens very randomly. Wherever I am, if something comes to me, I try my best to get it down, whether it's lyrics or a melody or whatever. Usually every time I sit down in front of the synth and start messing around, a song comes of it. Like I said, it's just finding the time to do it that is the hard part! I am usually not thinking about lyrics while writing the music. For the EP I wanted the vocals to act as more of a texture, or another instrument in the mix, so the lyrics were kind of an afterthought. For the next release, I would like to try writing and focusing on the lyrics first. Also I've been getting back into playing guitar a lot more lately because I want the next release to feature both electronic and organic sounds, unlike the EP where it was all electronics and samples.

What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? Are you trying to get signed to a label?

The main goal is to have fun creating music, and to get it out to people who will hopefully enjoy it. I'm definitely open to meeting with some independent labels and seeing where it goes.

What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?

It's all about networking, whether it's busting your ass on tour, social networking, or reaching out as much as possible to blogs and related websites. If you want to build a fanbase outside of your friends and the people who know of you, you have to try your best to get your name out there one way or the other.

Have you toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?

In every other band I've been in, all shows have always been local. I haven't played any live shows with Good Jeans yet, but lately I've been considering working out a live set.

Being in the Pgh area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed?

Not really. I think Pittsburgh has an excellent music scene, and the city is getting more attention for its music acts and filming locations than it ever has. There is a very broad amalgam of bands, from folk rock to punk rock to the DJ scene to you-name-it. The hip-hop scene is especially on the come up. Sure, some places like Brooklyn may be especially hot right now for indie rock, but I think Pittsburgh is due the credit it is being given lately for all the talent the city has to offer.

What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?

I'm not necessarily after success in general. I would love all the attention that Good Jeans can garner, and I'm very happy that I am starting to reach out to audiences outside of my friends. But really I'm not seeking a big record contract and all that. I just want to get the music out there for people to enjoy and maybe bust a move to.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

To me, Pittsburgh is a great city. The music scene is very broad, and the night life is great. There is lots of influence to be found all over the place, from the architecture, to the history, to the music, the sports, the people. Even the crazy weather can act as an influence!

Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?

Like I said, I haven't taken Good Jeans out live yet, but I'm working on it. In previous bands, Shadow Lounge was always a favorite venue of mine. I think I heard that it moved recently? Great atmosphere. You never know what you're going to walk into there. One night could be indie rock marathons and African drum parties, another could be a comedy show followed by an art show. And the owners and bartenders were always very nice and accommodating.

What are some of the more recent bands and artists you have gotten into?

I'm a huge fan of the label Captured Tracks. There are a ton of great bands signed to it - DIIV, Wild Nothing, The Soft Moon, and Craft Spells to name a few. Wild Nothing's Nocturne was my favorite release of 2012. Some other newer artists I love include Washed Out and Twin Shadow. I'm also a big fan of hip-hop, with Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky being two of my favorite newer rappers. 2012 was a great year for music. I released Amusement spontaneously on New Year's Eve because I got this sudden feeling that it had to be out that year alongside all this great music. I'm going to be working hard on my full-length in the upcoming months. 2013 should prove to be another great year for music, and I hope to have my next release out in time to join in.