Interview: twenty one pilots
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Beginning their muscial experimentations in a basement studio, twenty one pilots have shaken the creation of music well and truly to its core. Front man, Tyler Joseph, talks to The National Student about working with his bandmate Josh Dun, how embracing technology has revolutionised music and why a songwriter can never been too much of a drama queen. How did you start out as a band? I never really had lessons but my mum got me a keyboard for Christmas when I was younger and because I was much more interested in athletics and sports I just put that keyboard in the closet. Then one year, I decided to pull it out and experiment with it and figure out if I could play it just for fun. Then I became addicted to it, figuring out chords on my own and realising that this little key here and this one here, I press them at the same time and they sound good together. I gathered a basic understanding of the keyboard and the piano. And one of the first songs I ever played on the piano was my own. So, I was very drawn to creating my own songs right away and I started writing right off the bat and trying to get better at it ever since. So, do you write your lyrics before you start the music, or vice versa? That’s a very good question. I usually make the music first because now I have a small studio in my basement where I can lay down my thoughts musically when it comes the progression and then I usually come up with a melody and then fit the lyrics to that song. But, sometimes I also like to write poetry a lot so I’ll create a song musically and then fit the poetry with that. I’m mostly inspired by chord progression and song structure and the lyrics kind of come after that. A lot of the time, the music can inspire the lyrics depending on what the music is saying. I know that sounds all very dramatic but I am a song writer and a dramatic guy! You push the boundaries of genre. Do you agree that you fit into a self defined genre in a way? You know, as a song writer, I wouldn’t ever want someone to listen to 30 seconds to one of our songs and then say “oh ok, I get it” and then just turn away. I wouldn’t want to listen and anticipate what happens next, that doesn’t sound interesting to me at all. As much as I understand how some bands and song writers like to stay in one certain genre and try to create different versions of the same music they have been creating for years, for me I would like to catch someone off guard before the song goes. So, yeah I’m influence by so much and a product of a generation of kids that have the ability to get their hands on any style of music. I know it’s hard to put us in a certain genre, but if that means we are starting a new one, then I’m on it. Your first label-signed album, Vessel, is released in June. What themes are most prevalent on the record? I write from a very introspective, perspective, which is very much a view inside of what it is that I am going through at the moment. I know that are a lot of people who write songs about love because I feel like music is a catalyst to getting your emotions going and a lot of time humans believe that love is the most powerful emotion there is. I tend to not agree with that and I think that there is another emotion that is equally as powerful, if not a little bit more power; the emotion of fear. I’ve seen a lot of people in love or that love someone or love something that can get psyched out of it because of fear. So, a lot of this album has to do with dealing with fear and the power of fear and trying to find hope, peace and redemption at the end of and inside of that fear. Again, I know that sounds very dramatic. It’s one of the best feelings because as a songwriter it’s almost like permission to take the first step forward in trying to say something. And then when I pick to emit this message that I’m trying to say and I feel that other people are resonating with what I am trying to say and I feel that message bounce off of them and echo back at me. Sometimes literally, at shows, this happens I get the amazing feeling that I’m not alone and that’s a great feeling to have in a world where there is a lot of fear.
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