Between Giants is a new project by my good friend Tyler John, previously in Kalimur. His new solo project Between Giants is fun, energetic and cinematic. His single ‘My Truth’ paves the way for future singles with it’s infectious sound that makes you want to get up and dance. We talked about his debut single ‘My Truth’, his goals for the future and Key Lime Pie.
Why did you choose to go with Between Giants?
I was looking at paintings with my friend down town and there was this one painting called ‘Among the Giants’. It was this picture of a guy on a dirt road, he was really small and there were trees on either side of him towering all the way to the top of the painting and covering him. I looked at that and for some reason it really resonated with me, like the symbolism of showing he’s on that path and the path isn’t blocked. He has all these things looming over him, he’s still able to stay on his path. I wanted to do a name for the project instead of just my own name because I wanted it to connect with people more. It’s not just my project; it is everybody who listens and collaborates with me. Instead of being among the giants, to me the picture was more between the giants because you still have a direction and it resonated with me at the time because you have all these anxieties and all these insecurities and all these problems looming on either side and it is scary and it can block out the sun but you never lose sight of where you’re going. It kind of matched with me because I’m very optimistic and forward thinking.
You’ve been in other projects before, how do you think this differs from them?
This one is my creative baby. This is the first time I’ve ever worked on something where I just got to have complete control of everything and got to collaborate with people openly in whatever direction I wanted to go. I’ve been working on this for 8 or 9 months behind the scenes putting in work; writing and recording and doing photoshoots. In my live set I play piano and guitar at the same time and sing over it, so it really pushes me performance wise. This is really the first time that I’ve gotten to express myself in every aspect of composition, production and lyrics.
Your single ‘My Truth’ is out now, what does it mean to you?
‘My Truth’ is about self-discovery and the journey of actually finding yourself. Because a lot of times, at least for myself, I found I was being restricted by people’s judgements. I couldn’t fully try to understand who I was because I was so worried about what other people were thinking. ‘My Truth’ is kind of about casting those things aside, there’s a lyric in there; “your wants and desires are not my own”, it’s just like stop measuring up to other people and actually take some time to see what you’re about and get to know yourself. I mean, usually people are pretty cool so once you get to know yourself you’ll probably be pretty happy with it.
The single is very cinematic, energetic and upbeat; is that the road your taking?
It is a solo project, but I wanted to find a way to create a band like sound. So in my live set I play piano and guitar and I’m able to manoeuvre my keyboard so I have all these different sounds that come through, so it stays pretty true to the recording. I wanted to do the same thing with the songs, I wanted it to be full of energy, something people can move to and get excited about. All the songs are different, but they are in that same vein of being driving and energetic.
How did you come up with the single cover? It looks awesome, very snazzy and sleek.
Snazzy! I like that word. I need to start incorporating that in my day to day. We’re going to bring it back.
Everyone will be using snazzy by the end of 2017.
That’s like my mission. Basically, a lot of the artwork as it comes out will be based on human features because music, to me, the most important thing is the human connection. I want it to be a humanoid type thing, but I also wanted it to be very vague. I designed it myself and the way it kind of blends into space and it’s pixelated a bit in the middle, so you can’t quite tell what it is. A lot of that, especially for ‘My Truth’, a lot of that self-discovery is, every person is different and every person is their own thing and you have to dive in really deep and sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking at. I wanted to create a piece of visual art that was thought provoking and also complemented the single. But the same sort of human type atmospheric image is a common theme through the rest of the single art.
When I was first looking at it I was like oh it’s starry that’s nice, I love the dark colours and oh my god there’s a face. I was confused as to where it came from.
That’s the goal – I’m trying to freak people out. That’s cool because that’s the type of thing I was trying to say from the song. You’ve got to dig a little deeper whether you’re getting to know somebody or getting to know yourself you’ve got to get below the surface a little bit. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking at. I’m glad you liked it.
What do the next couple of months have in store for Between Giants?
The project just launched and over the next couple of months I’m just going to be playing as much shows as I can. I live for live shows, I have been driving myself crazy because everything is fun, you know writing and producing, that’s all fun. But I live for being on stage and connecting with people and getting to preform for them. I’m going to be playing as many shows as I can fit into my schedule, hopefully in the fall time I’ll be able to put a tour together and get up the east coast a little bit. I’ll just keep releasing music. We have an EP in the works right now, so I’m hoping to get a couple more singles out and then drop that. New music, lots of shows and traveling.
What would you like to achieve through your solo project?
With Between Giants, I really just want to preform for people and have my music be heard. Obviously I want to succeed and the more people I can do that for the better. The ultimate goal is to be able to live off your music and keep releasing stuff and keep playing shows and keep releasing as much as you can for as long as you can, that’s the dream. Obviously, I’d love to come to the UK and all that so I’m going to work my ass off. But as long as I’m playing shows for people and my music is making an impact and helping people, that’s all I could ever really ask for.
Who would you say influences your sound for this project? Is it different to previous projects?
It’s very different. I have a lot of influences, like everybody you’ve listened to at some point, you take a pocket of what they did that you liked and you fit into the mould of the sound you’re going for. So every artist I’ve listened to has some kind of effect on me. The biggest ones; I love The Weeknd and the way that he sings, a lot of the drum kits I’m using on there are tweaked to be my own style but were inspired by him. Jack Garrett inspired my live performance a lot, he plays keys, drum and guitar at the same time. He’s a monster. I really like his music. Brandon Bernette is another artist I really enjoy, he kind of helped me define the sound. If you listen to the singles as they come out there are really small pockets that sound like different people. But those are really the big 3. I’m also a sucker for Top 40 music, I love mainstream stuff so I take some influence from Top 40 pop and twenty one pilots is a huge influence to. I love their live set and their sound.
What would be your dream tour?
I want this tour to be perfect. I’ll go with twenty one pilots, Panic! At the Disco, The 1975 and Imagine Dragons. When people are walking in I’ll be the background music, then I can just sit back and watch that set happen.
That would be an insane show! Most people who are fans of those bands like all the other bands.
The cool thing too, is that not only would that show be legendary and I feel like I would somewhat fit into that genre. But all those people in their interviews are just so cool, I’d love to travel with them. Can you imagine hanging out with Dan Reynolds, Brendon Urie, Tyler and Josh? It would be so fun.
Where would you want to be in 5 years?
In 5 years I would really like to have a self-sustaining project, so I could still release and produce music and use the profits from streams and album sales to keep everything going like that. I would love to be able to do a not-just-US tour. I’ve toured in the past and in the fall I’m going to tour most of the east coast. A United States tour would be 2-3 years off, but I would love to be playing shows internationally. That would be super fun.
It’s a very important question; what is your favourite dessert?
Okay, my favourite dessert is Key Lime Pie. Key Lime Pie is amazing. I could eat 1000 pieces of Key Lime Pie, I would die – but what a way to go.
How do you go about writing songs?
It varies song to song, sometimes I’ll just be fooling around on the guitar and something will kind of come out of it, sometimes I’ll be fooling around on piano, sometimes I’ll just be walking and a melody will come to me and I’ll write the music to fit it. Most the time piano is what I start with for the foundation, it’s easiest for me to write melodies on piano. It does vary because even of the singles I’m going to be releasing, ‘My Truth’ was written on guitar first. Other ones were piano and others were melody.
What’s the easiest, hardest and most important part of a song?
Usually the hardest part for me is the lyrics. I try to be really honest with what I write and sometimes it’s really hard to put what you’re feeling into words and articulate it. That’s probably the hardest part. I would say the easiest part is the instrumental, just because once I get the feel for the song and I know where I want it to go I can usually figure out what I want for it. I would say the most important part is probably the lyrics, melody is really important too, but I think the message you are saying and what that can mean to someone, that’s more important than the way you’re singing something or the way the production sounds.
What is your fondest musical memory?
I could say it was eating Key Lime Pie for the first time, but probably my fondest moment was when I realised music is what I wanted to pursue. I had always kind of pursued it, throughout life I’ve always been in different bands, but I had never known that that was my passion. I played a show with the old lead singer of my old band and it was his solo project and I was just accompanying him, I wasn’t even in it and it was a sold-out venue of like 170 people. I got up there and I felt this fire in me, I can’t really describe it, it was kind of like time stopped and I was outside of my body looking down because I was so ecstatic and so pumped to perform. That was the moment, right after that on the car ride home I was like ‘man, we’ve got to make a band’. After that I’ve been devoting my time and devoting myself to pursuing that goal of packing venues and performing to people because performing is what I love and music is what I love.
When you’re buying music to you tend to buy it as a CD, digitally or vinyl?
Vinyl is so cool, I don’t have a record player though but I wish. I usually buy it in CD’s, streaming websites are really nice – Spotify is my go to now, but if I really like someone or want to support a band in my local scene there’s something nostalgic about holding a CD.
Reading the booklet at the front is the best part.
Exactly! You see the behind the scenes.
And they’re so easy to get signed. I couldn’t imagine taking vinyl’s to get signed, but a CD can just fit in a bag or a large pocket.
That’s true. The physical copy is cool because you can get a collection going. They’re like memories, you can remember the show that I played when I got that and who I met.
What’s the most challenging song to play live? I mean, technically you only have one song out.
I can tell you, I’ll drop a lovely teaser. The next single I’m going to release is called ‘Sympathise’ and that song is so hard live. I play piano and guitar at the same time and like I’ll usually loop the guitar and do the same thing with piano but for that song, the transitions, there’s a huge tempo change that happens and I have to swap the loop and it’s really difficult. And vocally it took me so many takes in the studio, because when I wrote it I wrote it 2 steps out of my range so I had to practice and train for about a month to be able to actually hit the notes that I wrote. That song live is still a pain because that song is about as high as I can sing. It’s a cool song.
My mum likes to ask, what’s your favourite app on your phone?
I always check up on your blog and I looked and I remembered it from last time you asked me. I read it like a week ago and I wanted to find a cool app and be super prepared and blow you away but I dropped the ball. Alright, I’m going to say House Party. It’s like FaceTime but you can do it with more than one person. So I’m able to get together with my friends and talk to 5 or 6 people at a time and be able to catch up on the go. It’s easier to co-ordinate because people can be out or be FaceTiming you from the mall or Target. Your Mum’s question is always so good.
What would be your dream collaboration?
My dream would be to be able to put together a band to play with me and I would just play keys. I would have to throw all the legends on there. I think I would give up vocals and I would bring Freddie Mercury back and I would have him sing my tracks and I would play piano for him. Then I would have John Mayer play guitar, Flea on bass and maybe Ringo Star playing drums. We’d fun this perfect band. They would sound amazing. That would be a fun time.
Have you met any idols and freaked out?
Well actually, weirdly enough, I didn’t freak out but this happened about a week ago so I’ll tell you about this. Do you remember David After Dentist? It’s a YouTube video where this kid is crazy on drugs after getting his wisdom teeth removed, it’s pretty funny. It’s been like 20 years or something, so he’s a grown man, and he came into my work the other day and his Mom was like ‘hey do you know who this is? This is David After Dentist’. I was like ‘okay’ and that was it. It was really weird. I also saw Halsey live about 6/7 months ago when she was on tour and I was like at the barricade and she winked at me, or in my general direction and I’m gunna assume it was at me, and I died a little bit then because I am in love with that girl. I had a freak out there, the David After Dentist thing was just weird.
What would your advice be to other people trying to make it in the music industry?
The two big things I would say are to dream big and never give up. It’s a grind, it’s a lot of work. There will be times you play shows to no people, there will be times you play sold out shows, there will be times where 10 people download your songs, there will be times where hundreds of people download your songs. You have to keep working, you have to be constantly booking shows, be telling everyone about your band, be recording and writing your best music. It never stops, it’s not something you can take a break from if you want to succeed. You can’t half ass it. Dreaming big is important too, like some people I talk to are like well I have realistic goals towards my music, at the end of the day everybody at some level wants to be able to share their music to a lot of people. Who would say no to being able to sell out MSG tomorrow? Or hey you can play in London tomorrow and sell out their biggest venue? Who wouldn’t want to do that? Musicians and artists in general, we are dreamers. We shoot for that goal, that unobtainable. That’s what can keep you working and keep you motivated. So yeah, dream big and work hard. It can become kind of dull when you’re putting so much into your music and you’re playing venues and the only person there is the bartender, it can get discouraging, but if you think about that feeling of performing for hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people and your music being blasted on the radio and the song of the summer. Those are the things that get you through the tough times.
Between Giants is an energetic, feel good project – the debut single ‘My Truth’ is infectious. As usual it was a pleasure talking to Tyler and I highly recommend following Between Giants on social media so you never miss a thing. I can’t wait to hear what’s coming next from him.
Facebook: Between Giants