One of the biggest and best contributors to FDRMX are The Jepettos who for 15 years have made some wonderfully endearing songs together. Made up of the husband-wife duo of Mike and Ruth Aicken, The Jepettos are proficient musicians and filmmakers, creating an impressive amount of videos for an Independent band. They talked with FDRMX about their music as well as some exciting plans for the future.
FDRMX: The Jepettos is spelled different than most other versions of Geppetto in English, Is there a specific reason for this?
Michael: No good reason. Mainly a lack of research though it does sounds phonetically better.
Ruth: It is easier to Google and sets us apart from the typical Geppetto spelling.
FDRMX: You and Ruth are the two main members and are the most featured in the music videos, but your Facebook page lists 8 members. How large are they involved.?
M & R: It changes from time to time, people have had to leave for different reasons and commitments. Living in a Belfast we are surrounded by so much talent. We can call upon so many of our friends who love to play and then we jam with them. Everyone can be so busy its hard to get the same people back again and again.
FDRMX: The Music Video “Even Though” is for a short film “An Actor Prepares”. Was the song written knowing this?
R: No. It was a Northern Irish filmmaker/actor named Denis Halligan who wanted to use the song as well a number of other Jepettos songs for his short film. Eventually, he expressed interest in making a music video for “Even Though” and cut together clips from the song. We’re not physically in his film though much of our music is. Fun Fact: Denis, who stars in “An Actor Prepares”, had a featured extra role in Game of Thrones as a member of the Night’s Watch. He plays “Nico”.
FDRMX: What was the experience like to be in a film while making a music video of it?
M: It was more enjoyable for us to have a proper production team working on that video because often in the past we had perform multiple roles in addition to being in front of the camera. Ruth would be doing makeup and art direction while I would be doing production work whereas this time we could relax and enjoy it. We felt like we made it.
FDRMX: Who is the child in the music video for “Goldrush”?
M: That’s actually our daughter Freiah-Beth.
R: She had to play around with our friend in the garden and she was perfect at the banter. There is a moment she cries in a flashback. Those tears were real because at the time she was having a really hard day. So when the tears were coming she started saying “Okay I’m about to cry! Film now!” She’s a method actor.
FDRMX: My personal favorite of your songs is “Chemicals”, because its part of tat tradition of the inevitable loss love sets you up for. You two are a real couple though, so was it hard going to that dark yet loving place?
R: Because it does have such a dark edge there were times I felt embarrassed singing it. You’re exposing yourself and it can be a bit sad. But I love the video so much and am super proud of it. It did what I wanted it to do.
M: When you get into the nitty gritty and technical of mixing the video there’s a chance you can lose the emotion. During filming the director, who we had just met a couple days ago, asked me to suddenly kiss Ruth at this moment of the video. It was kind of a bit of a shock, but we rolled with it and it was really emotional. That got us thinking about the meaning of the song and brought back all of the emotion that was lost during the technical stages.
R: Yeah, it is a heavy song for our fan base. Definitely not a party song.
FDRMX: For unsigned artists you’ve made a lot of music videos? What’s your secret?
R: We’re just really into films
M: And we’re very goal oriented. We know people as well so we sit down and plan what we can do by knowing people’s availability. Really, we were fortunate to choose the right people we knew before they “blew up”. “Chemicals” and “Gold Rush” were our first videos and they were used with crews that we can’t get now because they fly around the world doing TV and documentaries.
R: We get a thrill out of making music videos perhaps slightly more than live gigs, which I think is different from other bands. We love the journey. We love meeting the videographer three months before the video shoots in a Starbucks to go over the storyboard and plans.
M: We also noticed in the past five years that not as many people are going to live concerts. We realized it would be better to invest our time into something that could go onto the internet and be watched at anytime.
FDRMX: Our newest video of yours is “Orchard” featuring Tabitha Agnew. What was it like to work with her?
R: She’s my second cousin and it was brilliant. She’s just 15 and we were able to work with her during the day which made it very smooth. That girl is so talented that we only needed four or five sessions. She is such a pro that it was so easy.
M: She has her own band with her brothers who learned how to play the banjo just by watching YouTube videos.
R: She has such great tone in her vocals. She had such a nice way about her in her singing.
M: We’d love to work with her again. We have a huge appetite for collaborating with people
FDRMX: What’s the best piece of musical advice you have ever been given?
M: More business advice that applies to the music industry: Setting goals. Planning where you want to be six months from now, three months from now. It’s a boring one but it works.
R: We’ve been in other bands before where it was very restricted. We weren’t allowed to write or play things certain ways. Now I feel very free and learned that there are no rules. If you want to make great music, don’t limit yourself or people in your band. I’m all for crazy riffs. I don’t like rules anymore.
M: Early on we toured with Snow Patrol as background singers and through that we learned that music has to be crafted in painstaking detail. A lot has to be grinded to make the song a polished final product. Hopefully our songs have begun to show that now
FDRMX: What is the best time of day for you to make music?
R: In the early days of The Jepettos we would have waited until night, put the kids to bed, opened a bottle of wine, and then started writing. That was more for fun. Now we take it very seriously. We make a schedule that says “write now from 2 to 4 so make sure you’re available”.
M: Through collaborating we can also compartmentalize and work on multiple songs at the same time. I always come up with my best tunes when I’m really busy.
R: Yeah, it comes when I’m serving food or something and I say “quick! Get the IPhone so I can record something!”
FDRMX: What are your top three best artists your listening to right now?
M: I kind of try to remove myself from other songs because I’m so paranoid I’ll come up with a song that will be a copy of something else. That being said when I’m stressed out I listen to some jack Johnson.
R: We listen to some Jeff Buckley. We also love Radiohead. There’s this new band called Matrimony who are a husband and wife. They have just been signed to Columbia and moved to Nashville. I knew them early on and I can tell they have worked very hard with their music. Also a girl named Foxes over here that just released a wonderful pop song.
FDRMX: What makes you and Ruth such an efficient musical partnership?
R: We have most of our major fights when we’re song writing.
M: We hear that’s common. I usually come out with a high volume of songs while Ruth chops them down and makes them a bit cool.
R: Vocally we found a great balance between each other. We’ve been singing for fifteen years now so we know how to use each other’s voices.
FDRMX: What’s the next big step for the future? Any albums or big tours?
M: We’re writing four songs at the minute so we want to add the folksy tune but add some electronic as well. We think the songs we’ve written at this stage are the best songs we’ve ever written
R: We’re going to merge the two genres and we’re going to take our time and be patient with the songs as well.
M: We’ve also written a few songs for a local theatre company. They asked us to write five tracks.
R: That’s been really fun actually because we’ve had to really focus in on writing good songs.
M: And collaborating with people.
Best of luck to The Jepettos in all of their future endeavors! We can’t wait for more songs and more wonderful music videos from this band. You can be sure FDRMX will be keeping up to date on this band. Check out their Facebook and Webpage to stay up to date as well.