Roger Sellers, The Sonic Artist of Bayonne [INTERVIEW]
Interview By Dennis M. Kelly – Photos By: Roman Sobus
Having performed a mesmerizing set on the American Eagle stage here at Lollapalooza in lovely Grant Park, Roger Sellers, (a.k.a. Bayonne) graciously sat down with us to discuss festivals, music and an upcoming European tour.
Dennis: This is Dennis Kelly and I am here with Roger of Bayonne, how are you doing today?
Roger: Good, good, can’t complain.
Dennis: Welcome to Lollapalooza!
Roger: Thanks! First time.
Dennis: I am definitely thankful that you were here as it was the first time I’ve gotten to see you and you really put on a phenomenal show today! I’ve seen performance clips online, but nothing compares to actually being there; watching you craft your masterpiece of sonic art for your audience.
Roger: Thanks man, that means a lot.
Dennis: The only thing that was a bit frustrating was that your set was too short, but given where we’re at, it is completely understandable and it gives you another goal to shoot for to come back as a headliner one day soon.
Roger: Yes, the thing about festival slots, especially during the day is you have to condense your set, so that’s how it goes. You’ve gotta get as much as you can in.
Dennis: On your Instagram, you had gotten into Chicago yesterday, is that correct?
Dennis: So, you haven’t had a chance to enjoy any of Lollapalooza then right?
Roger: Not really, we just got in. But while I’ve not gotten to experience Lollapalooza, I have been able to experience Chicago a lot.
Roger: We’ll probably be here most of the day, it is pretty rad so far, it’s massive.
Dennis: Yeah, compared with other festivals you’ve performed at, how do they compare for you?
Roger: It’s just one of those big massive festivals, it seems like everything has been really well taken care of and every festival is a little bit different, but it has been very impressive so far.
Dennis: Cool! On that note, do you prefer playing festivals over regular shows?
Roger: There is definitely benefits to both, but I am the kind of musician who prefers venue shows, it is more my style. I don’t really like playing during the day. Maybe if I was headlining or something with a massive production when I was playing, that would be cool.
But no, I like having a solidified spot where my fans will come and see the show, it just seems to work out better for me. Also, I just don’t really like playing as much during the day, it’s just like I am not ready to play; it’s hard to get in the zone, ya know?
Roger: But again, it just depends on so many factors, I mean, there is a lot more exposure and you get a lot of new fans by doing festivals. They’re both good.
Dennis: With your headphones on, do you hear the audience yet enough to get their energy during the shows?
Roger: It depends on the venue and how loud the crowd is, but in general I do interact with the audience even with the headphones. I’ve kind of gotten used to it, but then I like the fact that it is kind of covered where I can disengage if I want, I can just get into my own world.
Dennis: Talk about multi-tasking, I mean, you’re all around, but now you have Matt on the drums and I apologize that I missed when he was brought into your live shows.
Roger: He’s kind of slowly come in and out really.
Roger: He usually does anything like Lollapalooza or something like this. At this point, I definitely want to have a drummer, but he can’t always be there, so sometimes I work with other drummers, but he’s helped out a lot with extra production on the record. He’s one of my best friends; my closest musical companions and its good to have him around.
Dennis: You’re almost symbiotic in percussion.
Roger: Yeah, we vibe well together in percussion.
Dennis: I think you had mentioned some time ago that Phil Collins was an early inspiration for how you approached side of it.
Roger: For sure.
Dennis: I totally see that with how Phil Collins worked with his other drummer, Chester Thompson. It is cool because you’re taking that and building something fresh and new, layering beats on top of melodies, making such vibrant images.
Dennis: I know you’re very into color and it all comes through in the music, colors, tones, vibes and hues all shine through reaching fans on emotional levels. That is where I wish I could have seen you in a venue format with all the light production elements added to your set that further accentuate the impact of your music.
Roger: Thank you.
Dennis: Has the brand of your equipment ever impacted how you make your music?
Roger: I think Roland is one of my favorite companies just because I love their outboard gear, like their boss pedals and that is what started me. Getting the RC-50 back in the day like when I was in my early 20’s, that’s what got me into looping and layering stuff.
It’s just like the basis of almost everything I do for the most part even if I am in the studio I use it most of it. So yeah, as a brand, I’d say Ronald is my go-to.
Dennis: Have you ever encountered a situation where one brand did not jive well with the other?
Roger: You can totally mix and match stuff, I feel like the way that I have it set up, it’s really rigged up in a weird way, but thats the beauty of electronic music to me at least using electronic equipment as your medium is that you can build whatever you want out of it. I am not a brand loyalist really, I use whatever feels right at the moment.
Dennis: Like a painter with all the different brushes.
Roger: Sure! Its just tools, toys!
Dennis: Yeah! I see you’ve got a European tour in the works, when is that scheduled to start?
Roger: September 9th, for about two weeks, not too long, but I am super stoked about it. I have a handful of headline dates, but then there is also a band called Sumo and I’ll be supporting them as well. I am hitting a lot of the spots I’ve hit up already, but they’re some of my favorite spots in Europe like Switzerland, and Germany.
I am starting in Austria for the first time in Vienna which I am super stoked about, I’ve wanted to go there since I was a kid and now I get to play a show there!
Dennis: Very cool! And switching gears now, you have your video for “Drastic Measures” which came out back in February, right?
Dennis: Do you have plans for a second video from the album as yet?
Roger: Yeah, I can’t confirm it, but we are working with somebody to do another video. I can’t say what it would be for. Hopefully it works out, it is very early in the works.
Dennis: Totally understandable, but that “Drastic Measures” video is very beautiful perfectly blending the sonic art to the visual art, great work with that!
Dennis: Do you do many remixes?
Roger: I’ve done three at this point. It was a slow start with that. For a long time I was never interested in them, I’ve never really [liked] remixes, but I am actually working on some right now. I am really into it now.
I love the idea you can do whatever you want with someone else’s stems, you know, I’ve learned to appreciate that and make my own song out of someone else’s art. It feels like a collaboration when it is not really, but yes, super fun.
Dennis: For sure. How about remixes of your own songs?
Roger: Oh sure. I’ve tried before, but it just didn’t work out.
Dennis: Like “QA” would be a great one for an extended remix, but I would never mess with perfection and you have perfection with your music already for sure!
Roger: Thanks man!
Dennis: Another thing that would be great to see would be a live video in the “Drastic Measures” direction that would employ the colorful visuals in and among the live setting.
Roger: I mean that is something that I feel I really need for this record too, something that was lacking, some kind of live visual representation of it.
Dennis: How would you approach it?
Roger: I don’t know. I’ve thought about a lot of different way of doing it but I don’t know, I am not a very visual guy…
Dennis: Really? That surprises me.
Roger: Not really. I know what I like, I guess, I guess I [am] a visual guy, but I don’t excel at it, like I don’t have any talent with it. I don’t even know how to vocalize what I want with it very well visually, it is all here.
Dennis: It sounds like you’re under selling yourself a bit.
Roger: Probably, I tend to do that too. But something where I could allow someone that is good at that stuff to take creative control. That is like what happened with “Drastic Measures” with that video.
I gave a concept of what the song was about and he was able to do his own thing with it. And I loved his work. Something like on a live level that could mimic that and have a live performance in a studio and have it all shot. That is something that I feel has been lacking.
Dennis: And of course finding the time for a project like that…
Roger: Yeah, and then finding the budget and the right people…
Dennis: Well, aside from the upcoming tour, do you have anything else going on before it starts?
Roger: Just working on stuff at home, just remixes and another song that I am working on but I don’t know where I am going with it yet. Just trying to get in the creative mode since touring is settling down a bit.
Dennis: Excellent. Thank you very much Roger for taking the time with me today and once again you played an awesome set today!
2019 Tour Dates
Sun, AUG 4, 2019 – Lollapalooza – Chicago, IL
Wed, SEP 11, 2019 – Grelle Forelle – Vienna, Austria
Thu, SEP 12, 2019 – Strom – Munich, Germany
Sat, SEP 14, 2019 – Papiersaal – Zurich, Switzerland
Mon, SEP 16, 2019 – Zoom Frankfurt – Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Tue, SEP 17, 2019 – Luxor – Cologne, Germany
Wed, SEP 18, 2019 – BI NUU – Berlin, Germany
Thu, SEP 19, 2019 – Reeperbahn Festival – Hamburg, Germany
Sat, OCT 5, 2019 – Austin City Limits Music Festival – Austin, TX
Fri, OCT 18, 2019 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
Sat, OCT 19, 2019 – The Loft – Atlanta, GA
Mon, OCT 21, 2019 – White Oak Music Hall – Houston, TX
Tue, OCT 22, 2019 – Trees – Dallas, TX
Wed, OCT 23, 2019 – Scoot Inn – Austin, TX
Fri, OCT 25, 2019 – Crescent Ballroom – Phoenix, AZ
Sat, OCT 26, 2019 – The Glass House – Pomona, CA
Sun, OCT 27, 2019 – Belly Up Tavern – Solana Beach, CA
Tue, OCT 29, 2019 – Teragram Ballroom – Los Angeles, CA
Wed, OCT 30, 2019 – Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA
Fri, NOV 1, 2019 – Neptune Theatre – Seattle, WA
Sat, NOV 2, 2019 – Biltmore Cabaret – Vancouver, Canada
Sun, NOV 3, 2019 – Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR
Tue, NOV 5, 2019 – The Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT
Wed, NOV 6, 2019 – Bluebird Theater – Denver, CO
Fri, NOV 8, 2019 – Fine Line Music Cafe – Minneapolis, MN
Sat, NOV 9, 2019 – Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL
Sun, NOV 10, 2019 – Mod Club Theatre – Toronto, Canada
Tue, NOV 12, 2019 – The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA
Wed, NOV 13, 2019 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
Thu, NOV 14, 2019 – Theatre of The Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA
Sat, NOV 16, 2019 – Webster Hall – New York, NY
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