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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Exclusive Interview with DION BAYMAN

The list of independent musicians is long. In the last few years many artists went over to produce and promote their music all alone. One of them is Dion Bayman from Down Under and to be honest nobody else impressed me that much in 2013. With his album "Smoke & Mirrors" Dion showed that a big budget is not necessary to produce a great album. On September 23rd his follow-up "Afterburn" will be released and this one is also an impressive album, which shows that passion is much more important than anything else. With that in mind I talked to Dion to learn how he makes his music sound that good, why he wants to be a solo artist and what it's all about being an independent musician. Find out more in this interview.

Hello Dion! Great to hear from you. How are you doing? 
Dion: Hi Thomas, I'm doing well. Thanks for the interview.
In a few days your new album “Afterburn” will be released. How are the reactions from the press so far? 
Dion: So far so good. I've had lots of positive feedback and the couple of reviews that have already come out before the release have been great. Hopefully I'll get a few more good reviews to help promote the album once it comes out.
You know, your last album “Smoke & Mirrors” was the surprise of the year in 2013 to me. What is the biggest difference between this album and “Afterburn”? 
Dion: I think there is an overall heavier sound to 'Afterburn'. The guitars are heavier with a slightly darker tone. I also played around with the drums a little to get a fuller, rockier sound. With each new album I want to improve everything. Better songs, better production is the goal. I think I achieved that with 'Afterburn'.
Has the title of the new album a special meaning?
Dion: Not really. I find it difficult to decide on an album title. I just wanted a good sounding rock title that would fit this album. I narrowed it down to a few options and finally decided on 'Afterburn'. I like it.
Which song is the most personal track on “Afterburn” and why? 
Dion: A very difficult question to answer as there are quite a few personal tracks on this record. I do have a soft spot for 'I Remember' and 'Morning Light' though. I wrote them a few years ago and I've re-recorded them several times in various ways. Maybe because they've been with me for a while, but I love these two songs and I've always wanted them to be heard at their best. I'm glad they've found a home on the new album.

In general your lyrics always feel like they would come straight from the heart, so what inspires you while you are writing songs?  

Dion: Sometimes it's past or current relationships, sometimes I just want to tell a story. The opening track 'The Great Unknown' is about how I see the world at the moment and how we need to stand together. For most of my songs usually a melody or a cool chord progression or maybe even a song title will come into my head. Then the process begins. Generally, I usually write the music first with a rough melody in mind and then sit with it for a few weeks. Over that time the lyrics usually come to me to fit the music. Then it's time to record.
What makes a perfect song in your opinion? 
Dion: I love a good hook and a good chorus. I mix things up from time to time, but I'm a big fan of songs having a beginning, middle and end. That may change over time, but that's how the bands I grew up with wrote their songs so I guess I've been influenced by that style of writing. As far as the perfect song goes, I'm yet to hear it, but I've heard some awesome songs that are pretty close.
We all have records that were/are a big part of our life, so which album and artist inspired you the most in your youth? 
Dion: When I was growing up music was everywhere in my house. Rock, country, jazz, was great. In my late teens Bon Jovi released 'Slippery When Wet' and I was hooked, as was most of the world it seemed. Richard Marx 'Repeat Offender', Bryan Adams 'Waking Up The Neighbors' and Def Leppard 'Hysteria' were all over the radio and were big influences on my song writing. Today there are plenty of bands and artists I enjoy such as Matchbox Twenty, Keith Urban, Vertical Horizon and the many fantastic melodic rock acts like Harem Scarem and H.E.A.T.
Speaking about the past: you were part of some local bands back then. When and why did you decide to become a solo artist? 
Dion: Yes I played in bands most of my life. They were cover bands and I really enjoyed it. Other band members though didn't really have any interest in writing or playing original material. It basically just got to the point where I didn't enjoy playing live as much as I used to. After many years I decided to take a break and concentrate on my original music and music production, so that's where I'm at right now. I'm not saying I'll never play live again, but for now I'm happy doing what I'm doing.
You play all instruments on your albums and you do all the mixing and the production alone. Where did you get this know-how? I mean I can imagine it is quite difficult to make everything sound that good. You must be a wizard. 
Dion: Ha, no not a wizard. I've just been recording music for as long as I can remember, and over this time I've gathered a fair bit of knowledge and experience. As a kid I remember placing two tape recorders in front of each other, playing the piano and singing, and then doing the same thing over and over again playing different parts. I remember writing my first song at 13 and recording it on an old 4-track cassette recorder. At the time I thought it was the greatest song ever, but it was awful. These days, like many others, I have my own studio at home and thankfully I can go there whenever I get inspired to record some music. I'm constantly learning more about production and doing my best to make the songs sound as good as I can.
Could you imagine producing other artists? 

Dion: It's not something that I've seriously thought about, but if the opportunity came up I'd certainly consider it. 
Are there any famous producers or artists you’d like to work with? 
Dion: As unlikely as it would be, it would be an honour to work with John Farnham, Richard Marx, Rob Thomas, Keith Urban, and about a hundred other people. It's a long list...
What are you doing when you take a break from recording albums? Any activities in your free time or do you have a special day job? 
Dion: Yes like a lot of musicians I have a day job. I'm also a big football (soccer) fan, I played it all my life and attend games when I can. I like the normal everyday stuff like good company or a good movie. I'm certainly no party animal that's for sure. I like to keep things simple. Family and friends are my priority.
What about the musical landscape in Down Under? Not many musicians, who play AOR come from Australia. Ok, you have AC/DC and rock-chick Orianthi, but this isn’t really AOR. Is this genre not so popular? 
Dion: Well it certainly isn't mainstream. Like most countries these days, you hear the same songs on the radio every day without much variation. I don't think that's going to change any time soon.

What is the most difficult thing for you as an independent artist? 

Dion: The hardest thing is promotion and just getting my music heard. Obviously self releasing albums is very difficult without a record label. I email websites and ask if I can send them my music. Most are great and are enthusiastic about it, others don't reply which is fine, it's totally their prerogative. I'll just keep doing my thing and promoting my music the best I can and if people want to support it, then that's great.
Why is it so hard for new independent musicians like you to get recognized by the record labels? What do you think? 
Dion: I'm not sure. As you know many artists self release their own music these days, and a lot of the time the quality is as good, if not better than the big name label releases. Obviously releasing an album through a label opens up more promotional opportunities, but labels certainly have the right to sign whoever they want so good luck to them. At the end of the day I'm not bothered by it all. I get to write, record and release my music on my own terms and whenever I choose. Sounds good to me.
Which goals you’d like to reach in your musical career? 
Dion: My goals are pretty simple. Just try to write and record good songs. If other people enjoy them, then that's a bonus.
Thank you for taking the time, Dion. The final words are yours! 

Dion: Thanks very much for the interview Thomas. Your support and the support of those who have enjoyed my music is very much appreciated. Cheers. 
Dion Bayman on FACEBOOK 

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