Last night, DAMIEN JURADO played at Berlin’s Lido. We had the privilege to meet him before the concert. To cut a long story short: This man casted a spell on us from the moment he opened the door. He was completely different than any interview, we read for preparing, made us believe. Instead of all prospects he was really communicative and charming. Damien presented himself as the opposite of what others wrote. And therefore he donated us an insightful interview about touring, the new album and his passion in life.
We’ve found a little video including some impressions of the European-Tour you did at the beginning of this year. How is touring for you? Is it a blessing or a curse?
It’s both. It’s a blessing because I get to provide from my family. But it’s also a curse because I don’t get to see my family.
You did 28 concerts within a month. How does it feel to be so far away from home, having such an intensive time together with your band?
It’s difficult. But the members of my band are some of my closest friends, so that part was great. Everybody in the band, except from me and my bass, player had never been overseas before, so that was their first time. This was really exciting. It’s really special because you become the chance to see Europe through their eyes.
How is it to come back home after such an intensive time?
To go back home is good, but coming back to Europe is good, too. It gives me the opportunity to stay busy. When I finished the last tour, I came home and started painting. I like painting a lot. So being on tour now again, begins to make me miss painting.
You were painting a lot before you started to make music. And then you stopped, right?
I stopped to paint, but this is the year I started again. So actually it is possible to focus on both, which is good.
Touring inspires you?
Not really. My music is so different to what I paint. My music is some kind of sad and my paintings are looking much happier.
What is ‘normal life’ for you? Is it being at home? Is it being on tour? Or just all in all?
For me, my life is pretty normal. Even when I’m at home, I still get approached by people when I’m on the street. That happens all the time. But I stop to be a performer when I’m at my house. Outside the people would like to talk to me, but I’m ok with that. Though Seattle is a little different, because most people there know who I am and they give me my space, which is really cool.
Do you appreciate that there was never the great international success?
Yes, because to me it is not a success, if everybody in the world knows who you are. That’s not what I need. For me it’s already a big success, because I’m able to pay my rent and to take care of my kids. I don’t need fame, I don’t need to be in TV or radio to be successful. Famous means nothing. Would I be more famous than I’m now, I wouldn’t be able to play such shows like tonight. You wouldn’t be able to see me. I would be like RADIOHEAD, like ‘ah, this is the band away there’. And I would be unable to see you. I prefer intimate, characteristic locations. What I’m singing about is very emotional and it connects with people. It wouldn’t work o perform these songs in an arena. I wouldn’t be able to experience and be close to people.
How would you describe the feedback you get from the audience?
It’s love. Love is an interesting thing, because it is not kissing or hugging. – That is just an expression of love. Love is a feeling. For me, love is a vibration. I compare it to hot or cold, it is like the weather. You go outside in the summertime and you realize that it is really hot. You feel the warmth of the sun on you and this just feels like love. So, the audience is the sun projecting this love on you.
In another interview you’ve said, that your songs offers a lot of space for individual interpretations. Nevertheless it’s important for you to get some feedback?
For sure. The band I’m playing with, for example. I offer them to do whatever they want because I didn’t want them to perform the record exactly as it was produced. People already have the record, they don’t need to hear it again. They should hear a different version of the song. It is more interesting. So, for me, I would like to give people the space to do what they want with my songs and in that way it is fun for me, too.
Actually you’re playing some songs from you’re latest record, called Maraqoba. What is the story behind the album title?
Maraqoba is a fictional place. Until now, every of my songs takes place in a different town. But now it is an entire record based on this fictional place. It’s based on a dream I had about a musician who decides to quit his life. He wouldn’t like to be a musician anymore and so he leaves on a road trip and never comes back. People don’t know if he’s dead or alive.
Is there some reference to you? Do you wish to take a time out?
No, no, no. The character of the album disappears forever and never comes back. I’m not like that. I would never do that.
Producing so fast was possible, because Richard (Swift) and I recorded exactly like you’ll see it in the show later. It was one chair with one microphone in front of me and he just pushed record on the tape machine and I played it. I finished a song and started another. And then it was done. In one hour we were done and then we thought: Oh, what are we doing now? Let’s go to lunch. We had 18 songs and later we just had to choose ten of them. It was all one take.
Is this possible because of routine in doing a record or is it the collaboration with Richard?
I think it is the collaboration with Richard. I never did this before. During the albums before I was recording the guitar, and then I messed up, went back and did it again. For me you have to allow mistakes to happen. If you put a professional musician and you sat him on the chair and beg him to play my record, he would recognize that the tempo changes during the song. This is because I never play to a click track, which helps you to keep tempo. So, if I don’t have it, Richard also doesn’t have it, when he’s playing the drums. For that he had to close his eyes and it really forces you to feel the music. He had to feel it, when there was a change and then he reacted.
So, you released yourself from pressure of perfectionism. Is this the reason for being able to produce ten albums one after another?
Yes, of course. But it was also a process. My record Caught in the trees took a year to be finished. It was a nightmare. And after that I decided, never to do it like that again.
In other interviews you covered that the songs you write have nothing in common with your own feelings and that making music is a job for you. How are you able to write such heavy emotional numbers like Museum of flight without any reference to yourself?
It is like acting. An actor has to prepare himself for the role. He becomes this character. And this is, what I do when I perform. The person you’re going to see on stage tonight, would not be this person, you’re actually talking to. It looks like me, but when I sing my songs, I’m not longer me. I’m more a character I’m singing about.
What does hope and passion mean to you?
Hope is always used as a positive thing. But for real it is a sad word. Hope means that you don’t have it yet. And there is something inside of you that makes you want it. It is painful. Hope is the opposite of have. And passion is a feeling that drives you crazy. You feel so much for a thing – whether it is a person or food or music – that you just have to express yourself to this other person. Or you would like your friends to try this food. It is like a longing to, as well. That is hope and passion for me, but I could be wrong.
Is making music a passion for you?
Music is not a passion for me.
It’s a job?
It’s a job. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy it. I wouldn’t do anything that I didn’t enjoy. But it’s not my passion. My passion in life is living in the now. I could sit back here wishing I was home right now. Or I could be like: Wow, I’m in Berlin. This is an amazing city. I’m here, talking to you, there is some food and the supporting band is going to play. I could enjoy the now without complaining about what could be. And if I’m not living in the now, I’m missing out the entire picture. I would’ve robbed myself and then someday I would lay on my death bed and would ask myself, why I didn’t enjoy myself more. Living in the now is my passion. I’m doing my best.
The show in Berlin was really intimate and from the moment of the first accord everybody in the room got caught by the characteristic sound of Damien. Ruthless he started to play his endless desolate songs picking up the whole audience by leading them to individual thoughts, memories and feelings. During the concert he evolved from the “acting” singer DAMIEN JURADO to some kind of a preacher. The last song – Let us all in – he wanted the audience to sing with him. And he persuaded us with the words “Time of coolness is over”. That seems to be the device of DAMIEN JURADO. An affectionate DAMIEN JURADO, we didn’t expect.
from Seatlle, USA