Exploring Entertainment in Florida's 850 & Beyond
Dharmata is one of those powerful live bands that it is easy to get lost in watching. That is part to the intensity and powerful voice of Jay Slim.
Jay was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about his history, the band, and what’s next for the group.
When did you first start singing?
Actually, I was rapping before I was singing. I started rapping in high school, mostly freestyling at parties. That eventually parlayed into a band called Presence. The early days of Presence were mostly rap vocals, but that began to gradually shift to more melodic vocal ideas. I would say I didn’t really start singing until the last Presence record, in 2005.
How did the band name come about?
We played our first show under the name Revery. But another band called Revery contacted us and asked us to stop using the name. Then it was my mother who came up with the name Dharmata, which is a Buddhist term. I’m not Buddhist or affiliated with any religion, but I have always found Buddhist teachings very interesting.
How did the band first form?
I had met our bass player Kevin while touring with my previous band Presence. After Presence split up, I had moved from Tallahassee to West Palm Beach and ran into Kevin again at a strip… mall. We talked music, he sent me a few instrumental tracks, and a few months later we had a band.
What does the future hold?
We all hope it holds a career making music. I think that’s what most musicians hope for. But ultimately, we do this because we love it. It’s the love of music and the process of creation. I build this wall of noise with my friends, and then I get to watch it come to life in front of an audience that somehow makes sense of these sounds and react emotionally to it. It’s weird, and it’s magical as shit. And I feel lucky that I get to be part of whatever that energy exchange is. There’s nothing like it.
How do the new songs differ from your previous material?
There was a big gap between songwriting for the first album and songwriting for the new album that we just finished recording. You’re constantly searching for new sources of inspiration, and during that time between albums we all sought out new music that stretched the boundaries of what we were used to listening to. I think the expanded influence will start to show in our new material. The goal was to continue writing the anthemic-type rock songs that anyone can sing along with, but to also inject more musicality into the fold. We’re trying to keep it simple, simple is good… but we also want to start incorporating subtle complexities that appeal to our more musical side. The new record should reflect that process.
Who would you most like to open for?
Who are your idols and why?
I’m pretty sure I don’t have any of those. When I hear the word idol, it immediately conjures up a number of things that I don’t identify with! I definitely have artists that I prefer to listen to, but they’re constantly changing, morphing, disappearing and reemerging. I usually find myself more closely identifying with great songs, rather than artists that recorded them. As far as influences, Tool’s Aenema album was a huge catalyst for me in a number of different ways. It came along during a time in my life when I needed it, as a musician and in a personal sense. So I love that album, and I have the highest respect for the members of Tool. But “idols”… not so much. I can’t find the good in keeping anyone perched on a pedestal. At eye-level, it’s easier to see the similarities rather than the differences between us. Most of our songs get behind that message as well.
Dharmata’s Official Website: http://www.dharmataband.com/