JUSSKA: Compelling Emotions

Jusska

Belgian prog metallers Jusska have just put out their new EP titled Tsuki. The band, led by guitarist Leander Verheyen and singer Iason Passaris teamed up with drummer Mike Malyan for the recording process of the 3-track release. Prog Sphere talked about the band about the release, recording, and their big plans to switch to a full-time live band.

Define the mission of Jusska.

To bring compelling emotions and grooves in the form of a song.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your most recent EP Tsuki and the themes it captures.

As with our previous release the overall theme of the EP is the human psyche. Tsuki, is Japanese for Moon. Additional meanings are a nickname for a beautiful girl, and a strong thrust/stab using the tip of a (sharp) object. It deals with some of the darker places and emotions/thoughts in everyone’s mind. The name Tsuki seemed suitable since those darker places seem to be more apparent/exposed after nightfall and the music/groove propulses itself forward through the EP, like a thrust. We’ll be posting more detailed descriptions of the meaning of each song including the lyrics on our facebook page later this week (as we did with our previous release).

What is the message you are trying to give with Tsuki?

Every track focuses on a certain concept that is relatable to everyone. There is no real general, political, emotional, or whatever, message. If anything, the lyrics invite you to reflect on your own life and the choices you make or have made along the way.

Tsuki

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

We give the songs weird or funny working titles. Geisha was called ‘Beware of the tank’ because the groove was so heavy. Cascade was originally titled ‘I played out The Evil Within’ because I just played out that game.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

We actually work with standard song structures mostly. It’s not our goal to make long, spun out music. Although I love some bands that do so, like Between the burried and me, Jusska’s songs are more compact. It doesn’t rule out we might do some more elaborate songwriting in the future though. You could say that in a way we are going for a no nonsense, less is more, concept, which could be refreshing within the (over)complexity in progressive metal nowadays.

Describe the approach to recording the EP.

I make a song here on my little laptop, program some drums and when it’s almost 100% finished I send it over to Iason, our singer. He then pours some vocals on there and sends it back. We keep sending it back to each other with witty remarks until we both are happy with the song. The we head off to Atmo Studios to record everything for real. With Tsuki we also took Mike Malyan on board for drums. So like with Iason, I sent everything to him with basic drums and he could go wild as much as he liked over the tracks. After he was satisfied with his grooves we redorded the guitars, bass and vocals over the final drumlines.

How long Tsuki was in the making?

About 2 months I should say. Most song ideas and basic lyrics are already there when we start fine tuning everything. Because we work with a 3 month interval, that means a new EP every 3 months, we don’t have ages to work on the songs. The sence of ‘urgency’ makes songwriting easier though. Because you HAVE to get it finished, you just cut all the crap that doesn’t work faster haha.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Iason: Vocal-wise I would say that Dan Tompkins was a big influence, especially his work on the latest TesseracT album, Polaris. Apart from that I’m a big fan of the less powerful but ever so emotive vocals of artists such as Karnivool’s Ian Kenny, Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson and DeftonesChino Moreno.

Leander: Musicly, I think that everything I pick up or listen to at some point enters my own writing. I listen to flamenco, dark wave, post rock, some pop stuff. As long as it moves me, I like it. I’m not really bound to genres. The only thing we take into account while writing Jusska stuff is it has to be groovy and melodic.

What is your view on technology in music?

We like it, without it our collaborations would’ve been a lot more difficult! Imagine how long it would take to get the songs done without technology haha. I’d have to write Iason a letter explaining the riff, he has to write a letter back with his lyrics. Hahaha, their would be nog end to it!

Jusska band

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

I wouldn’t be so bold to go that far. As we said before, a lot of the songs deal with more complex and less straight forward human emotions. If anyone takes the time to read the lyrics and reflect them on their own life/thoughts I believe we’ve already accomplished something! Music is emotion, so if anything our purpose is to move people through our music.

What are your plans for the future?

We’re already hard at work on our next and final mini-release, scheduled for spring 2016. We’re really excited about the new tracks and, as with the previous release, you can expect another shift in style, while staying true to Jusska’s roots. We might even have another interesting guest appearance on it…

In the mean time we will recruit members to transform Jusska from a studio project to an energetic live band as we’re eager to perform our music across Europe. We’ll be looking for a drummer and bassist initially, so if anyone’s interested: hit us up!

Finally, after the 3rd mini-release we’ll be working on a first full-length (well actually the second since by then 2015-2016 will have seen 9 released Jusska tracks).

Get Jusska’s Tsuki from Bandcamp, and follow the band on Facebook.

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