I think something that we often forget, as members of the human race, is that there is more than one person located on this giant blue rock in the sky. We forget when we go and get our morning coffee, or walk to work, that there are hundreds of other human beings surrounding us. But we're always so entranced by the images and pixelations that make up our smartphone, tablet, and computer screens that we never take the time to realize that we're a community.
There are days when I don't want to talk to people. It's as simple as that, and everyone has those days. You just want to be alone and there's nothing wrong with that. (Hey Netflix.) But we have to remember to find time to put down the screens and engage in human interaction.
Ionia is a band that understands this concept. With a series of EPs set to be released in the near future (the first coming out February 1st), a new song entitled "I Hate Long Pretentious Titles and I'm A Hypocrite", and a motivation to bring people together, create healthy debate, and engage community, there's no stopping them. I had the pleasure of chatting with Blaise Beyhan, the lead singer, about the band's new series of EPs, their songwriting, and why it's important to speak out if you see injustice. Check out the interview below.
The band has been supporting the “Captain Humility” EP since its release in June. What would you say has been one of the most rewarding things about touring off of this particular release?
Well we haven’t done a ton of extensive touring since we released this EP, we did a lot of touring beforehand. The thing about the band’s evolution until now is that we’re really active with touring, and then we stopped for a bit. But we were back and forth so much the past couple of the years of the band becoming an actual band, and back and forth in our recording process with Mike Sapone that we needed to get something out. We wanted to have something, and we wanted our fans to have something, so now the plan is to put out a series of EPs.
The songs on the EP are all very powerful, but the one in particular that has stuck out to me a bit more is “They Look Like Big Strong Hands Don’t They”, particularly because of the video. When you’re writing a song like that, what kind of mindset are you in?
You know, I kind of think, with music, very cinematically. Videos, to me, are an opportunity to express the song in a more elaborate way visually. That’s why I prefer to make videos that are either linear-story based, or somehow related emotionally to the material, not just related to the band playing. I think if you want to see the band playing, you can come to a show.
To me, to create these characters and a whole world around a song… I think a song should tell a story. And whatever that story is should be about involving the audience in that, because songs and music are ultimately about human connection, and about bringing people together, for me. That’s the most integral part about creating any kind of art.
The mindset, I guess for me when I wrote that…that song came from the idea of a dial tone. The beat of that song, and then slowing it down, which was the way that guitar is being played rhythmically. And that idea of not really being able to get through or not being able to reach out to people that you need when you’re kind of desperate or unable to push forward by yourself anymore. I think everybody gets to that place in their lives when they’re young, and I guess probably when they’re older as well. I think it’s incredibly hard for a lot of people in the world that we’re living in now, and sort of the separation of people and how we’re all in these little boxes, and how we’re all connected through technology, rather than actual human connection and interaction. Like me and you talking on the phone. Most people are just passively texting each other, or emailing each other, and they’re just not very connected to the rest of humanity like we once were before things became so passive. Because of that, I think that it’s incredibly hard for people to get over the hump and reach out when they need to. None of us have come to where we are, ultimately, completely alone.
Someone has been involved in all of our defeats, and all of our victories, and all of our moments of awkwardness. Someone has been involved in making all of those things happen, whether it’s our parents by creating us, or the people who we feel emotionally attached to. I think it’s important for people to able to put their egos aside and reach out.
That’s what that song is about, for me. It could be about something completely different for you. As far as I’m concerned, the minute an artist puts out music, it belongs to whoever is getting something out of it, and that’s the most important thing. But for me, that song is about the idea of needing to shout, and being at the end of your rope, and needing some extra line.
How was the writing and production process for this release different from anything you’d worked on in the past with the band?
We actually haven’t done that much stuff. We did a demo that turned into an EP, which essentially I did by myself with a producer when I was seventeen. I released that. Then we took that, and another demo, and put those together to make “Moral Hazard.” We worked with Ross Peterson and some different producers on that. The only time that we got into really working with a producer that we really respected and looked up to, and really sought out to work with was Mike Sapone, the guy who did all of the brand new stuff. He did “Captain Humility” and the next series of EPs. We’ve been working with him for the past two and a half years, on and off. That’s where all of this new music is coming from.
I think where it’s different has been that it’s really surrendered a lot of our own ideas and really took a lot of his input in hand. Granted, they’re still our songs, and they’re still my songs the way that I wrote them, but we gave Mike a lot more clout in the recording process.
Where does the title “Captain Humility” stem from?
The idea, once again, was a conceptual story song. The idea was about a superhero, or this anti-superhero, of a character who sort of led his fight, where his superpower was to let people see their own humility. The idea is that if you can see your own humility, you can actually set yourself free. If you can get out of the ball and chain of ego, then you can see things subjectively. You can move more freely. So Captain Humility can help us see that. And all of those videos are connected into one story.
I’d read an interview back in December that said the band is working on a new release entitled “Post Cards From The Edge. Chapter 1 Delta 32”. Is there anything you’re allowed to say about it now? Or will we just have to wait and see?
I mean, right now, I can tell you that the Revolver Magazine song premiere is the first song from that which is “I Hate Long Pretentious Titles and I’m a Hypocrite”. The EP is a series of stuff that we did with Sapone. It’s got a bunch of songs on it, and we just shot a bunch of stuff for a video today. We’ve got a bunch of stuff coming.
What kind of message would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
I don’t know that, necessarily, there is a particular message that I would like people to walk away with. I would just like people to find value in whatever they do, whether it’s musical or lyrical content, or visual content. As long as people are getting something out of it, that’s more than we could ever ask for. We’re music fans, and we believe that music, however naïve it may sound, does and can change and shift the values in society. I think it has the ability to inspire and make people feel things, come together, and create community. If they can find value in that however they do, that’s awesome. If it can provoke thought and ask questions, that’s great as well.
What does music mean to you?
Music means, like any art, is a reason for me to get out of bed. It’s value is insurmountable to me. It’s kind of inspired me and kept me going. It’s brought me to where I am now, and taught me so many things. I think that I’ve commiserated over and felt more like I’m not alone because of music, so many times when I’ve been in dark places. I’ve felt similarities in the way that I’ve felt, and the way other people have felt. Music is about connection, you know? It’s about connection, and about not being afraid of expressing yourself.
Anything else you’d like to let fans know about?
If you see injustice in the world, speak out. Don’t be afraid to have contrary belief in other people. Contrary belief and contrary ideas should be celebrated, and healthy debate is a good thing. If you ever want to talk to us, we are there, and this is what it’s about for us: creating dialogue and creating community. You can reach us at Facebook.com/Ioniamusic. We have a new EP coming out called “Delta 32”. That’s off the “Postcards from the Edge” series. We look forward to seeing you at a show, and keep the faith.
This has been another Shameless Promotion.