Mother:bear is Jay’s final 3rd year production and live project for creative sound and music.
The brainchild of Jay Hillyer and Josh Vickers, Mother:Bear is a conceptual, guitar driven, high octane rock band from Newport, formed in 2012. Visuals and music come together to form a sensual singularity, designed to explore a narrative set within it’s own universe. The story follows the spirit of the stars, taking physical form throughout time, the first being the Mother:bear. Through the 3 ages of man, the spirit is passed on through the ashes, becoming a relic that all men desire.
Production module video
live module, video in which Jay and Josh played live post rock soundscapes over the short concept film we made to explain the narrative of our project
Mother:Bear is a concept based musical project. Our primary aim was to create a multimedia entity using music and visuals, in order to create a narrative, applying the aesthetics of an art project with a more typical western approach to the music. Stylistically, our music is influenced by progressive and modern rock, as well as modern cinematic approaches to story telling.
The Motherbear is a god like being who is the protector of mankind. In the 3rd age of man she is forced to journey to the physical realm. A warrior, who was searching for ultimate power, kills her. Her carcass was set alight and her ashes are gathered, creating a relic that was highly sought after. To hold the power of a god is to be a god, and all men desire the power to create and destroy. Throughout time, many different people go in search of the ashes, which were hidden by The Guild, a secret society created by a man called Beorn, in order to stop man from destroying the world.
The story reflects the problems that we feel the world is suffering from, as well as offering solutions to the problems in an artistic manner. The Motherbear reflects our idea of God being in nature, and the fact that man has killed the Motherbear reflects the idea that mankind is destroying nature for personal gain. Mankind wanting to have the power for themselves, shows our feelings that man is trying to act like god, willing to take life unnecessarily. The idea is that the multiple story arcs shown in the video gives context the lyrics in our songs, and can help people to identify that the band is about more than just music. The story lines are ambiguous in their time, and also form a juxtaposition of different ages. These reflect the idea that humans could have existed billions of years ago and could exist billions of years into the future.
Artistically, we would call ourselves post-postmodernist. After both writing about the subject of postmodernism in our dissertations, we discussed the ideas of transcending postmodernism, and both felt that the postmodernist aesthetic was far to empty and meaningless. The idea that postmodernist work is ambiguous, and left to the audience to interpret was something that we feel misses the point of good art. For us, sincerity and actual story telling is much more important, and any interpretations the audience has is great, but not the primary aim of our project.
Our project is also politically motivated, and our story parodies many political ideas and beliefs. One of these ideas is unification of the people of earth in order for mankind to survive, as well as the destruction of social barriers. It is our belief that mankind needs to consider itself as one, and we are all the people of earth, no one more or less important than the man next to him. Science has shown us that the earth will one day die, either by the sun dying, or by a collision with another planet. If humans are to outlive the earth, we must look for a new planet to call home. To do that, we must first stop trying to kill each other, and start looking at exploring space together. To quote Bill Hicks:
“Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”
This is something that has artistically influenced us, and this positive thinking is something that we have strived to show in our work.
The Visuals and Art
The album artwork for our E.P is part of the of consolation of Ursa Major (the great bear) set on a plain pale background with the colour of the stars inverted, with the title ‘motherbear’ across the top, it symbolises how our project is expanding in narrative and musicality, as the universe is always expanding, it also suggests a symbol to be worshiped, how the motherbear watches over mankind, we tried to shows our concept with a very simplistic but artistic form
When we starting thinking about what visuals motherbear would incorporate, we decided that we wanted to challenge the traditional conventions of a music video, to use narrative and slow paced artistic shots rather than fasted pasted imagery of a live band or other high motion visuals, we wanted to tell a story. we decided that we wanted motherbear to be seen as a expanding creative project. We decided that as it is a heavily concept based project that the one video would not tell the whole of the motherbear narrative but part of the story to give a more ambiguous feel and to make the project never ending, to be worked on for future motherbear releases.
Our initial visual ideas came from, cinema and art films, films such as lord of the rings, as it is set within its on mystical universe with a diverse amount of characters and interweaving narratives, we wanted to tell a story that was set within its own universe so that we could creative our narrative within its own boundaries and limitations.
The Recording Process
The approach we used when we started to write our music was to record everything as we wrote. This made it much easier to perfect the songs melodically, rhythmically and conceptually, as we had to write all the parts ourselves, so writing music in a traditional band environment was not practical. We used logic to record demo versions of our tracks, we recorded the guitars and bass with a Line 6 POD, Blackstar HT1 and other amp modeling software for the guitars. Working with riffs and chord professions to create an initial harmonic backbone for our tracks.
We then programmed all of the drum parts, experimenting with changing time signatures and tempo fluctuations to make our music more interesting, we aimed to not just stick to 4/4 and incorporate some 7/8 and 3/4 with midi and used drum modeling plugins to make the drums sound more realistic these were Toontrack’s ‘drum kit from hell’ and XLN Audios’ ‘Addictive Drums’. We then worked on the structuring of the tracks after all the instrumentation was recorded. We then experimented with different vocalists and settled on one and we started to write all of the lyrics to our music.
After a few sessions of recording and different approaches to production, thinking if we should use real drums or midi drums and what that meant to us and our sound, if the post human approach of hyper real drum samples and ‘ultra-speed’, non-human-like rhythmic patterns would send us on a different creative journey.
After experimenting we decided that the best possible way to create the sound that we wanted was to record real acoustic drums with a session drummer and to re record all of the guitars through hi-gain valve amplifiers at loud volumes to create the tone we were searching for, after we had re recorded all of the tracks with real instruments we started recording vocals and due to commitment issues we had to change vocalists, which may have changed the preconception of our project as his voice has a more mainstream and pop edge to it which may divert us from our initial idea of our music but we feel that his vocals do not distract; rather they add to the recording as they are very tight and pleasing to the ear.
The Audience & MarketingWhen we started the project we initially aimed our music at the prog rock and alternative rock audience which is a typically young white male audience but it has an older fan base too, we looked at bandcamp.com and found there to be a huge database of rock and metal artists that were receiving a lot of internet traffic and attention, receiving a lot of plays and downloads, a huge majority of music marketing, distribution advertising and sharing is due to social media and online networking. Which is going to be our main go to for getting our music to the people that we know in hope that it would be listened to downloaded and shared.
After we recorded our EP with the new vocalist we realised that the tracks have a much more mainstream and pop sound, so we feel that the audience may be opened up for us in a much broader array, as the vocals are very pleasing to the ear in a western musical sense
a lot of the promotion for musical acts in the rock/metal genre is the live performance platform, but because at this time we do not have the musicians to sustain a reliable gigging act we will not be performing as often as we would like to, so creating an online presence and getting our music heard without performing is very important to us.
We uploaded our tracks to BBC introducing, and we were lucky enough to be broadcasted on BBC Radio Wales, on the Adam Walton show on Saturday night, 13th of April.
The Business Strategy
To market ourselves and to gain following, we are using Facebook as our primary platform. We purchased likes from Fiverr.com, paying $5 for approximately 10,000 likes. This was not to fool anybody per se, but to act as social proofing; the fact that we have so many likes encourages others to check us out, and it sets us apart from the majority of other local acts who have hundreds of likes, as apposed to thousands. We also paid for Facebook promotions, at $5 per post on 2 separate posts, one of which was a digital poster we created to announce the release date, and then for the link to our Soundcloud page when the EP was released.
We decided that the best way to release the EP was to make it available to listen to for free online, but for anyone wishing to download, we made it available on Bandcamp.com for £1.99. Our reasoning behind this was to enable the sharing of our music in the digital realm to be free, sharing links and building up following, but to maintain the idea that our music has actual value, so if a fan wants to play our music on their iPod, or in their car, etc. they must pay for it. It gives people the option to own a copy our music or just to appreciate it for free. To us, this really was the best of both worlds, and we feel that it has worked well in gaining interest, as well keeping our project professional, and valuable.
As well as releasing the EP online and creating revenue from downloads, we decided to have t-shirts made. Our first batch contained 16 tees, 15 for initial sale and 1, which is included here for demonstration purposes. So far we have sold 12 shirts, and already made our money back from them. We have since ordered more, and hope to sell more at the graduation show.
The images included demonstrate some of the promotional material we have produced, as well as the reach our posts have achieved.