The following is the bio questionnaire of Jeremiah Castelo provided by Anatole Ashraf of indiebandguru.com. The entire questionnaire combined with my answers is quite long as it is intended for a biography. I included only the most significant questions in this post. Thank you for reading and share it if you like it.
What is the story behind the name of the website?
My website is called Psalms and Psychoses. I love writing, and I love poetry. The “Psalms” in Psalms and Psychoses is taken from my favorite book in the bible, the psalms, which to me is the most poetic and troubling book. It is written by King David, the first king of Israel. His desire to constantly write songs and poetry despite his struggles, is a quality that I admire and like to take after. This leads me to the next word “Psychoses”. I have always had a fascination with the human mind, and all the ailments that come along with it. I have been fortunate enough to have significant exposure to those with mental illness, be it friends who had fallen victim to psychological trauma or drug abuse, or the psych ward that I’ve been an employee of. I myself had my share of drug abuse and have at times felt as though I was going crazy. Either way, psychosis is definitely an element in my music. My music can be seen as pure and uplifting hence the Psalms, but only because they once came from a place that is dark and twisted, hence the Psychoses.
Where are you from…how did that influence your music?
Im from Los Angeles, CA. I grew up in the South Bay specifically which is just south of LA. Living in LA gives you access to ALL kinds of music. I think it is mainly because of all the different types of people you run into. I guess that’s the case with most major cities; diversity in ethnic and sub-cultural backgrounds gives you diversity in music. I remember thinking rap was the coolest thing in the world as an elementary school kid, and then being introduced to alternative rock in middle school by the white kids and thinking that rap was lame. Then in high school, everyone said that only “underground” hip hop is cool so I started listening to that. Toward the end of high school, the surfers and skaters got me into punk rock and thats all I listened to for a while. In college, I was introduced to more “indie” type bands, which is when I started developing a direction for myself musically. I also was exposed to excellent jazz and classical musicians then. Now I listen to everything. From eclectic to straight up commercial. I like it all.
When did you know you wanted to do this professionally? Why?
It was in high school that I decided music was going to be a permanent part of my life because of the enjoyment I was finding in being part of a band. But by permanent, I meant “rockstar”. Of course my dreams, and my means of attaining them were unrealistic at the time, but I was definitely serious about the musicianship aspect. It was in my mid to late twenties when I had realized something. I had been out of college for some time, had a relatively well paying job at a state psychiatric ward, had overcome some tough personal struggles with drugs and self acceptance, and had been through some destructive relationships. The left side of my brain was telling me that I had grown up, and that it made complete sense to settle down. The right side of my brain however, could not stop creating melodies. I realized that if I had chosen a path of the family man with the stable job and the nice family, it would be considered socially acceptable. But I would probably experience many sleepless nights wondering about what could have been made with my music. I felt as though I owed it to myself as a test of character, after all, it must be for a reason that I’ve overcome the past and have ended up in a position to talk about it. I also felt as though I owed it to God, for bringing me out of such a dark chapter. So, with a now significant enough funding source to produce and promote the quality music that I know people would enjoy, I started doing everything myself.
Who are your musical influences? Non-musical? (please don’t say no one…)
I love the guitar playing style of Stevie Ray Vaughn. I love the passion in Jeff Buckley’s performance. I love the rhythms that Squarepusher creates through his laptop. I love the smoothness and delicacy of Maxwell’s voice. I love Conor Oberst’s lyrics. I love the innovation and experimental boldness of bands like Coheed & Cambria and The Mars Volta. I think Joey Eppard of the band ‘3’ is an absolute genius in every way a musician can be. Non-musical too? I think Clint Eastwood has a way of directing movies that make you feel things you never considered yourself capable of.
What do you like/dislike about the local & national music scenes?
What I do like about music right now is the fact that the business aspect of it is unraveling. I have no disrespect toward the major labels. They have helped mold the industry into what it is today. And to have that much power over that large of an industry for that long of a period definitely deserves respect. What’s happening now is just science. It’s a natural result of a wider avenue being accessed by those who have the means to produce, promote, and provide for themselves. I like the fact that Billy can now record and promote that awesome song that he always had repeating in the back of his mind, and not have to wait for an A&R guy or label to provide the means. But of course it’s a double-edged sword. Easier access also means easier access to crap. We’re gonna start and have already been hearing a lot of garbage music too. I think once the modern music model finally starts to form itself, the crap will be weeded out once those who just do it “for fun” will start to realize the amount of dedication required to produce your own music.
The main thing I don’t like about the modern music scene is the fact that we are so infrequently exposed to good, quality songs. Most songs that are successfully promoted and heard on radio and such have a lot of interesting sounds and innovative things that make them interesting to listen to, but the songwriting isn’t necessarily great, so the replay value of the song is short. I think a lot of musicians as of late have focused too much on sounds that would make the song “stand out” and be unique, rather than focusing on the songwriting part. I truly believe a great song can wear any type of clothing, or even be naked, and still look good.
What is your songwriting process like?
Everything starts with the acoustic guitar. A song may either start with a melody that comes to mind, in that case I would quickly grab my guitar and follow through, or it may start with some random strumming of strings as I’m already playing. If I hear a melody that I like, it jumps out at me very quickly and vividly and is easily recognizable as something that I want to develop. When a concrete chord pattern or melody has been formed on the guitar, I will ‘scat’ gibberish along with it until a desirable vocal melody has been established. For me it is best to create the lyrics on the spot, as words have a way of sounding natural when created alongside a melody. The prosody and accenting of the lyric has to match the melody. It is also best when a song is started and completed then and there, in one session, no matter how long it takes. That way continuity is established. Continuity is always your friend. There have been times where i have been up late into the evening trying to finish a song, knowing that ceasing would mean compromising the flow of creativity. I have before tried pausing and restarting where I had left off at a later time and what I had come up with was a Frankenstein’s monster of a song. Different pieces of emotion in different places. My best songs are always written in one sitting.
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