Jon Dots is from the severe north of County Dublin. From that perch he streams some unpretentiously wordy lyrics through globs of psychedelia, an impressive vocal range and a cap perhaps tipped to David Bowie and Kevin Barnes.
Jon Dots – The Great Dictator
Q 0.5 How are you?
Fine. A little tired.
Q1 Nowadays, when everybody has a decent computer and gear is more available, it’s much easier for anyone to make music and have it heard quickly – does the bedroom music explosion devalue music at all by making it so easy to do?
I don’t think so. When you talk about music being ‘devalued’, you’re depriving art of the weird, absurd qualities that make it different from things like currency. Would an EU white face-paint mountain devalue mime? Real musical talent is just as rare as it ever was – it’s still unusual that I hear something that I know is singular and Great.
Q2 Is downloading a good thing? Does the fact that it’s possible to get so much music so easily and for free make it more disposable at all?
Maybe it’s more difficult to give something the time it deserves. Now that music doesn’t have a fixed physical form that you’ve parted with pesos for… You’ll go for what stimulates the most immediate pleasure centres. Maybe. I, personally, am an anti-shuffle (2-step?) organism. I will take off my shoes and listen to a thing, in order, from start to finish, over and over again before I can decide whether or not I like it………………
Q3 Is there anything that makes your music quintessentially Irish? Is it intentional?
I’m obssesed with the surreal and obscene, which could be a national trait.
Q4 Do you find it difficult to self-edit, or to take a step back from your music and look at it objectively?
Certainly, I get caught up. I was one of those kids who stayed up late at night writing the opening chapters of that 23 volume epic, or planning to the last bus transfer that trip to Machu Picchu we’re gonna make once we hit 18. I’ve written and recorded hours of self-indulgent rubbish, but the point is knowing what’s constructive purging and what’s the thing everyone needs to hear. I haven’t gotten that feeling yet – that something is utterly wonderful and the world needs it – which is why I ain’t all that productive. But I’ll get there.
Q5 Is there a Dublin scene, or even smaller genre-based scenes? Are you a part of one?
I think Karl Marx said something about not wanting to be part of any Soviet that would have him for a member, I’d concur.
Q6 Name a non-musical influence on your music.
Cinema – in particular silent cinema. It feels natural to make noise and fill the silence.
Q7 Take one of your songs and explain the process of writing it from the beginning to the finished article.
“The Great Dictator” is a kind of midtempo dance-ish thing, which I wrote after watching the film of the same name. I’ve had constant issues with nightmares – the kind that can colour your whole experience of life in a weird, refracted way, for days after. I watched this film, slept, and had a nightmare about a dictator ending his days in a bunker built like a ballroom, dancing and prophesising and whispering weirdly tender things to his out-of-focus partner while half-dead guests swayed and moaned. The verse is a weird death chant, with chords that are too scared to go anywhere, and the chorus came in a rush, like a pretend release.
Q8 Has music criticism ever influenced your music, or at least made you think about it differently? I mean proper reviews, but also blogs or even just hearing someone you don’t know talk about you.
I think so. Before getting into what I’m doing now I did some work for plays and things, different little events, and I was stuck in this stubbornly internal way of writing that no-one could relate to. I heard people wonder to each other about me, and say pretty negative things. I found it remarkable that something I had done had impinged upon someone’s consciousness, but realised too that I had to start putting in some choruses.
Q9 Have you ever felt guilty for trying to get other people to take an interest in your music, if you aren’t making the effort with new music yourself?
No. Why should it be an effort if it’s good? if it’s not I’ll go score Casualty.
Q10 Would you call yourself a traditionalist with regard to music, either as a listener or in how you go about writing/recording/performing?
I’m open to a lot. If it’s got a great melody, I’ll take my shoes off and listen. Similarly recordingswise, I love making something palatable out of the oddest sounds. Bjork made one of the beats on Vespertine out of the sound of a pussywillow bud bursting open – that’s swell. performancewise I’m still down in the lab, with dracula and his crew. Experiments are necessary.
Q10.5 What’s something you’re listening to right now?
Right Now it’s Fever Ray’s ‘When I Grow Up’ video. Swedish and leafy.
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