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Jumpship Astronaut ~ Humans

Jumpship Astronaut

Jumpship Astronaut

Electronica rock band Jumpship Astronaut is on a mission to get fans off their rumps and dancing! The band combines their unique electronic rock sound with a terrific laser and light show, so everyone who goes to their concerts has a great time. I had the pleasure of interviewing three members of Jumpship Astronaut: Ryan Bryant on vocals and guitar, Chris Bourland on synth and Scott Dunn on bass and synth.

Their new release EP Humans has been a smashing success. I especially love the fan favorite track Change. Ryan gave me the scoop: “We’ve been working on that song for a little over a year. It started as a basic acoustic demo and we brought it together when Chris added a really cool synth line on top of it. It’s a collaborative effort and, for me personally, I’m proudest of that song.”

When I listen to many of the tracks on Humans, especially the first track Alive, I’m reminded of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD). So, I asked the band who they credit as influencing their unique sound. Ryan explained: “We’re all over the map. We do love a lot of 80’s new wave synth music, modern electronic music and a lot of rock music in general. We have divergent music backgrounds.” Chris confirmed: “We listen to a lot of electronic, but we are also rock guys. There’s a whole genre of music coming out of mixing the two. We listen to Dead Mouse (Deadmau5), LCD Soundsystem and James Murphy Project. The mixing of genres is what we’re doing and hoping it comes out dancy and fun.”

Jumpship Astronaut performing 4Jumpship Astronaut is well-known for adding lasers and LEDs to their explosive synth music. I wondered who choreographed the light shows. Turns out, members of the band program it themselves. Chris is the mastermind behind the lights: “For the most part, they’re computer-based. We design them ahead of time to synch to the music with software. We have a computer that just runs the light show. Usually, we’ll have a person run the lights at the show to get the human mistakes and errors and fun stuff like that. Sometimes, it’s just automated; we do a click track and go.”

Amazing! Jumpship Astronaut programs its own unique sound and they program their own light show. Scott added: “We’re all detail-oriented and somewhat bookworms. We spend a lot of time researching this stuff, especially Chris. We all set it up at the shows. The lights add that extra to the experience.”

How did Jumpship Astronaut come together? Scott explained: “Chris and I were in a band together prior to this one that played a similar style of music. We had so much fun doing it that we decided to keep going. With another drummer, we decided to ‘jump ship’ and continue something along the lines of what we had been doing. We found the name Jumpship Astronaut worked and was catchy.” The band found Ryan through a Craigslist ad, and they’ve been working together ever since.

What are those diverse backgrounds for members of Jumpship Astronaut? Ryan started: “In my teen years, I was really big into metal. That’s my primary background when I was learning guitar. Before this, I was in a band called The Omaha System, which had a 90’s alternative rock sound. I always wanted to do something that was a little more dancier and electronic, so this was a perfect next step for me.”

Jumpship Astronaut performing 7Scott added: “I’m the youngest of my siblings, so I grew up in a time when they listened to a lot of late 80’s, early 90’s rock-and-roll. I started with piano. I thank my parents for keeping me up with piano. From the rock-and-roll background, I also wanted to learn guitar. Then, bass naturally fit, because I always had drum beats in my head. With the left-hand bass clef in piano, it was an easy transition. I was classically trained on piano, then moved into jazz in high school and college. I took classical guitar lessons in college. I also spent a lot of time doing ragtime with piano. I somehow merged all that into this project.”

Chris started out as a jazz and blues player: “I was self-taught on piano, mostly organ. I picked up sax at 9 years old. I played jazz and blues for a long time. Then, I started composing different compositions and different styles. I moved to the East coast for a while, then I realized that I’m a young, white guy from the country, and I probably shouldn’t be playing jazz and blues. I played country, and now I play electronic rock.”

The drummer on the EP, Kris Davis, has a degree in music and percussion. He was playing heavy metal when the band asked him to play with them. Chis told us: “He sounded like a drum machine. He played things that most humans can’t do.” Scott went to college with Kris: “He was in the percussion program there, and he played a lot of symphony concerts. He has great technique. He played in Carnegie Hall in sixth grade.”

Because Jumpship Astronaut has such a unique sound, they spread the word on social media and get their fans involved too. Ryan explained: “We try to utilize every social media channel. We started out on Facebook and Twitter, but we’ve really expanded. We try to keep an eye out for all social media that we can put our stuff on. The more ground we can cover, the more fans we can attract. There’s so much going on right now, you have to stay on top of it.”

Jumpship Astronaut performing 6Scott told me about some new approaches the band is experimenting with: “We try posting things that aren’t about us, that we find funny or humorous or something we can relate to that we think other people can relate to. We’re trying to make that personal connection and get more engagement on our pages.”

What advice does Jumpship Astronaut have for other indie bands whose music is not mainstream? Ryan answered first: “Persistence. There’s nothing I can recommend more than just keep working and don’t get discouraged. You’re gonna have setbacks. Don’t stop.”

Scott added: “This applies to all aspects of business. A third of the people are going to like what you do, a third of the people have no preference, and a third of the people are not going to like what you do. You can’t please everybody, so do what you like to do and keep pushing on. You’re gonna have bad days and good days. Have fun.”

Chris told me that the band purposely pushes the envelope: “We try to play shows with bands from different genres. We’ll play shows with bands used to people sitting in the audience staring at them. Our thing is you’ve got to go out and shake your rear. Music is for people to have fun with and dance.”

What’s up next for Jumpship Astronaut? More shows, more music. Ryan said that the band is working on some new music: “The goal is to have more music out later this year. We’re trying to write as much new music as we can.” Chris added: “The EP Humans is about us being more human. We also recorded six more tracks related to mechanical machines or robots. This is our experiment about mixing the two genres. That will be our next EP, which we’ll probably release this summer.”

The Amused Now Featured Artist Series

Jumpship Astronaut Humans coverJumpship Astronaut

Cynthia Kahn, Founder of Amused Now