1. “Batchawana” is a very layered song, how difficult was that to write?

Interestingly, each layer came very quickly – but the layers came with great time in between. The intro riff started as a warmup I invented; just kind of riffing on the blues. That verse vocal was inspired by my love of the band Gomez. CM guitar player Bill came up with the idea to throw a half-time chorus in, but that vocal took many months for me to find. That vocal was inspired by various David Bowie tunes. The horn section came up with that WICKED solo section. The first verse and chorus sections are (lyrically) a lampooning of modern politics, the money/power/fame games that are associated. I wanted the last section to replicate a dream sequence, where the “leader” is singing to his admiring minions. This whole concept screamed Roger Waters to me, so, that’s the sound we went for.

2. With your diverse background from church to the stage, how do you define your spiritual/artistic journey?

Music has always been with me. I could go on for hours about my interactions with music YEARS before even picking up an instrument. From age 12-22, I played guitar and/or sang and/or performed every single day. But, from time to time, like most of us, I lost my way – and the music. Those were always the bleakest moments, when the world was quiet and I didn’t even notice. The church band experience was amazing. This was musicianship, leadership, connection to message and audience, in ways I can’t explain. For 3+ years, that WAS my life, and my music. But the church leadership began to intervene in very private/personal matters and in the end asked me to make a very stark, very unnecessary “choice.” When I walked away in 2015 – everything got quiet again. It was the death of Chris Cornell (I was there to see his final concert) that re-awakened the musical urge for me. And in a strange way, I looked at his passing as some kind of message, a spiritual awakening that music, and life, come to us from a celestial place that has nothing to do with bibles, or steeples.

3. What was the inspiration behind writing “Batchawana”?

My fascination, awe and disgust with American politics (and Americans’ reaction to it) over the last 8 years or so.

4. “Batchawana” has some great guitar riffs and notable lyrics, which usually comes first the tune or the word?

Always music first for me.

5. You mentioned that you just started Let’s get our mojo going when the world shut down. That’s brave, how are you holding up so far?

The pandemic actually was a rather calm, quiet period for me. I’m not particularly afraid of dying (I’ve had a few very close calls already) and so this period where there were no expectations to be anywhere or get anything done was both great fodder for writing lyrics and great time to construct and perfect new songs.

 

6. How do you find the importance of artists communicating with fans through social media and other venues?

Rough! I’m frankly horrible at this part of it all. I need someone to hold my hand and whip my butt to do better…

7. Art defies borders, age, gender, and geographical borders. We would love to hear your take on that quote.

Age: I’m on the older side of most musician’s useful timetable. But I couldn’t have done what I’m doing today 20-30 years ago.
Gender: I’m very pleased with where the world is heading in this regard. I feel like art is human fluidity on display. I am personally surrounded by sexual fluidity within my music community and my very own family as well. It should seem obvious that those things should matter only to people within relationships.
Geographical: I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that digital music allows my music to be heard in places I didn’t even know exist!
Seychelles & Cote d’lvoire weren’t places I’d ever heard of until I saw them on my digital music artist report! I see I have listeners in both Ukraine and Russia and I want to know them all and speak with them right now.

 

8. Where do you plan to take your music in the upcoming months, both artistically and location-wise

Artistically, I plan on expanding stylistically. Our next release, Midwestern Daydream, with be an Americana/Country crossover tune. Next after that, I’m writing a song on ukulele. And, we just signed a sync licensing deal, so some instrumental, cinematic tunes. Location-wise, it’s hard to say. We’ve only just begun this journey, with our first real “known venue” gig coming up in April.

 

 Follow Church Mice on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp.

 

Jaylan Salah

 

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