HerMajesty Releases New Single “I Saw The Dog”



New York City art rock act HerMajesty bring a lot to the table with their music. They blend new wave, alternative rock and pop into an original sound of their own. The theatrical way of singing by frontman John Pasagiannis adds an interesting dimension. On Oct 17, the band released the single “I Saw The Dog” via Providence label Midday Records. I had a chat with Pasagiannis about the making of the single, putting it out on multi-colored vinyl, his view of the current political landscape in the United States, his profession as a psychologist and his looking forward to the holiday season.

Rob Duguay (Motif): HerMajesty’s new single “I Saw The Dog” is currently out on vinyl and there’s a bunch of different colors to choose from. From what I’ve seen there’s blue, yellow, orange and red vinyl. Who came up with the idea for that? Was it you or Davey Moore from Midday Records?

John Pasagiannis: It was actually a mutual idea after we talked about it together. He suggested that it might “pop” more and I went along with it.

RD: It’s a pretty unique thing. For a single, you rarely see a bunch of little 45s in different colors when most of the time it’s the classic black.

JP: Yeah.

RD: The song itself has a dystopian, romantic vibe that revolves around the current political landscape and the existence of “alternative facts.” When you were writing this song, did you write it to serve as a mental release from all the craziness that’s been happening these days or did you write it because you wanted to say something?

JP: The song was written in a few stages. Originally, when I started, my focus was dominant, submissive relationships and unrequited love. I was playing with the idea that in intimate relationships sometimes there is this unintentional lack of respect that takes place and sometimes it has an exploitative feel to it. As I got into the song, with all of these things happening in the United States and specifically United States politics, everything started taking a different connotation and I really started fleshing it out. I noticed that there’s a majority of the population that has a sadomasochistic relationship to, at the time, the presidential candidate who is now the president of the United States.

It started being a narrative of a bad relationship but also of United States politics on a global level. As I was thinking about these things, it was beginning to emerge with this connection between submissive, dominant, disrespectful, personal relationships and the kind of politics that the United States has been involved in for decades throughout the world and the current political climate within the United States. Out of that came all these really interesting lyrics that were originally not in the song. The lyrics in some ways reference the war in Iraq, they reference waterboarding, they reference the use of fascist symbols within communist symbols, and it’s all there in the songs for the listener to put together for themselves. That’s how the song came to be, and I really wanted from a musical perspective the orchestrations to tap into this dystopian, spooky vibe.

I started having a conversation with a producer named Nic Hard and he said that he had the people who could really make this happen for HerMajesty and bring that out in the song. Then I connected with Chris McQueen from Snarky Puppy, he’s one of the guitarists in that band.

RD: Those guys are great.

JP: Yeah, for sure. They’re pretty amazing. He also played as part of the orchestra in the limited theatrical run of David Bowie’s Lazarus. I also brought in Henry Hey who played keyboards on one of Bowie’s albums and who was also the musical director for Bowie’s Lazarus play. These guys really tapped into what I was attempting to do and what I was working towards.

Henry Hey really did a wonderful job with the keyboards and he tapped into the sad and desperate aspect of the song. Chris McQueen just went for the jugular with all these really incredible howls and almost strutting guitar rhythm parts that runs from beginning to end. It was an amazingly great experience working with those two.

RD: Along with being a musician, you’re also a psychologist.

JP: That’s true.

RD: When it comes to writing lyrics, do you ever find yourself including stuff from your studies or does it have any sort of creative effect on you?

JP: Being a psychologist, I’m constantly thinking about what it means to be human, who I am as a person and who I am in relation to others. I’m usually reflecting on my experience, reflecting on my environment, and things come into that place because I approach my world, my experience and my relationships with others with a lot of curiosity. I create a space out of that generosity and a lot of things come in. I often don’t know how they come in or where they come in but things come in and I write out of that place.

RD: One thing that’s striking about HerMajesty, in my opinion, is the way you sing. You have a very operatic style and you have an incredible range. How did you find your own singing voice? Did you have vocal lessons when you were a kid and it grew from there or was it something that influenced you to sing that way when you were starting the band and you just went with it?

JP: That’s an interesting question. I think a lot of factors contributed to the way I approach my singing and the way that I sing. I’m an immigrant and I come from first generation migrants from Greece. Part of the Greek culture is tragedy, and tragedy usually comes from things that are larger than life. The Greek culture in general can be larger than life and express itself in intense ways. I think that kind of drama has influenced my vocal style.

Coupled with that at a very young age I started listening to David Bowie. What really appealed to me about David Bowie was that there were many things but his voice really stood out for me. No one could ever confuse David Bowie with someone else. He had a really unique voice and I really aspired to sing in the way that was unique. David Bowie was kind of the prototype for that, as were other singers that I admired. Elvis Presley and Bryan Ferry from Roxy Music also come to mind, these guys had unique voices and it turned out that after that I pursued vocal lessons.

I really trained myself to sing properly and I studied with a few opera teachers. One of them that I still study with is Beverley Myers, just a wonderful woman who has taught me so much about my instrument and my approach to my instrument. I think all of the influences come together and have paved the way for the way that I sing and the way that I approach my singing. With that being said, it also helps that I already have a unique sounding voice to begin with. That’s just something that I was born with so that’s it in a nutshell.

RD: It also shows that you have your own artistic identity through singing like yourself, you’re not trying to sound like anybody else but you also incorporate your influences so it’s something that you love to play while also being uniquely you.

JP: Yeah.

RD: HerMajesty are currently on tour in support of the single. Afterwards, what are your plans for the holidays? Do you have any plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas in store?

JP: Along with it being mostly a tour of the northeast, we’re also going to be venturing out as far as Cleveland and it’ll be our first time out there. I’m really looking forward to visiting the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and when we come back I’m going to complete mixing our next song called “Weightless” with Nic Hard. We’re going to finish all of that before the holidays. The holidays are a time that I really enjoy being with family and being grateful for the things that I have in my life while taking stock of what I’ve been able to achieve as an artist in my life and planning out what next year is going to look like for myself and HerMajesty.

“I Saw The Dog” on Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/hermajestyny/i-saw-the-dog-1

Web site: hermajestynycmusic.com

2017 Fall Tour Dates
11/3 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place
11/4 Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar
11/6 Cleveland, OH @ Coda
11/8 New York, NY @ Bowery Electric
11/19 Philadelphia, PA @ The Pharmacy

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