Gore singer-songwriter Jeremy Dundas is living proof that social networking sites can get you noticed globally. He talks to Chris Chilton about his dream ride so far and mice.
It's New Zealand Music Month in May but Jeremy Dundas is dreaming of a platinum September.
The artist formerly known as Mark Parry is off to Christchurch next Friday with the finished master files of his debut album Platinum September, ready to be mixed by Rob Mayes.
Dundas/Parry previously worked with Mayes in 2003, when he recorded and produced The Pill's album Right Between The Eyes.
There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then.
There's the whole thing about his two names, for starters.
How did the one-time lead guitarist for Gore band The Pill transform himself from hard rocker Mark Parry to emo-surfer dude Jeremy Dundas?
Well, now that you ask ... Parry was living in Dunedin in 2005 and entered a song, Cryin' 'neath the Bar, in the Primal Acoustic Sessions songwriting competition.
"For a laugh I made up a pseudonym, taking my middle name, Jeremy, and the street I was living on at the time, which was Dundas St," he told The Southland Times.
"I ended up winning my heat, and the regional, and came second in the national final.
"A lot of people then knew me as Jeremy after that, so I started up a My Space in that name, and now it's too late to turn back! It's pretty cool though – gives me a kind of alter ego, if you know what I mean."
Before there was Jeremy Dundas, Mark Parry had picked up the guitar aged 17, mainly, he says, because his mate had learnt the guitar and he was picking up girls.
The fact Parry's dad, Gore District Council chief executive Steve Parry, is a longtime hard rock drummer is possibly more than a coincidental factor in Parry jnr's musical development. Mark and Steve Parry ended up playing together in The Pill.
Mark Parry went to Otago University, experimenting with music and life, changed his name to Dundas and graduated with a music degree.
He moved to London in 2005 "with naive starry eyes and ended up losing everything in an online scam", which resulted in him sleeping rough for a bit.
Most young people on their OE would have scuttled home to mum and dad, embarrassed and broken, but not Dundas. He wrote a song about it.
The song was called What I Do, and it made him a kind of minor celebrity on the internet.
It has been available for free download on Dundas' websites and has scored more than 104,000 hits, serious internet action by New Zealand standards. The net has opened up vast opportunities for Dundas and he encourages other Kiwi musicians to "get amongst it".
Be advised, though. It takes a lot of time and work to become an overnight sensation.
Dundas' website presence is eye-catching and thoroughly professional.
The Jeremy Dundas site on reverbnation.com features an elaborate merchandise store with a bunch of branded hats and clothes. He's on Facebook. He blogs. He Twitters. In short, J Dundas is out there.
He's so out there he was "discovered" on My Space by a German promoter, who flew him from London to Frankfurt to perform at a festival.
"Since this gig I was flown to Germany again on two other occasions," he says.
"I was lucky enough to visit Luxembourg and see a lot of rural Germany around the Frankfurt area and Luxembourg border, an amazing opportunity made available to me through My Space.
"It's amazing to think something like this can happen just through uploading a few demos online."
Dundas' look and sound haven't hurt his musical journey at all. He has a melodic guitar style that can loosely be compared to John Mayer and Jack Johnson, with a harder rock edge.
"I guess a fair description of the music would be that if you combined John Mayer, James Blunt, Deep Purple, Boston, Metallica and Coldplay you'd be on the right track," Dundas says.
"The music is very big – a lot of guitar playing, keyboards, strings, often four or five-part harmony vocals, as well as drums (by Steve Parry) and bass (by Chris Phillips).
"It's been a somewhat indulgent process, but the result is epic."
The album has been a lengthy labour of love put together over six months at Gore's Southern Sound Foundry Pro-Tools studio, engineered by Joseph Borgman. Dundas says in the rush to get the album finished they've been pulling 10 to 15-hour days five or six days a week.
"It's a been a painstaking process and a somewhat foreign process also, to not just me, but Steve and Chris, as all the songs had to be conceptualised from acoustic tracks to full band pieces."
The recording process has featured cameo appearances by the Southern Sound Foundry's legendary rodent population, which has interrupted takes on a regular basis.
"Mate, you ain't kidding. There's mousetraps all over the show at the minute," Dundas laughs.
"It's not unusual to see them dashing around the place.
"I was sitting in the studio the other day, laying down a guitar track, and saw two mice in single file dash around the floor next to the wall. About a minute later, they appeared again in single file scampering along at about eye level along the fruit cartons which line the studio wall."
After Rob Mayes has worked his magic on the mixing desk, Platinum September is going to be mastered in the United States by Brad Blackwood, who has polished albums by the likes of Eric Clapton and Black Eyed Peas.
What happens once the album's out is anyone's guess, Dundas says.
He's living and gigging in Gore and at the Craic Bar in Dunedin every Saturday, as a solo acoustic performer.
"Once the album is finished, I'll be travelling around the lower South Island, playing some shows and doing a tour of some description. We'll also be making a video for Cryin' 'neath the Bar, which will be the first single, so hopefully that will be on the air in the near future."
A record deal with a major company is Dundas' objective, and with the charmed start to his career that he's enjoyed so far you wouldn't bet against seeing and hearing a lot of Jeremy Dundas in the future.
- © Fairfax NZ News