With “Kites” from their newest release Animal Shapes EP featured in a Twitter ad, the Baroque-rock-meets-synth-pop-with folky-vocals sound of Geographer has won over music-loving hearts everywhere. SOTR spoke with frontman Mike Deni about Geographer’s sonic journey from naming the band to their current goings-on.
SOTR: Why did you choose the name “Geographer?”
MIKE: When I was visiting my friend in Boston, he had MTV on and I heard this song playing. And, I was like: “What is that song?” It was the video for “Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I was transfixed by the song. I was like: “I want to create that sensation in another person that I am feeling right now.” Then, I was thinking about how can I incorporate things like maps – so I landed on “Geographer.”
SOTR: Who has influenced you musically?
MIKE: Right now, my influences are different than they were on Animal Shapes. Right now, I’m kind of obsessed with: Kate Bush, Arthur Russell, Billy Joel, and Bruce Springsteen. I was listening to a lot of Bruce Springteen in Animal Shapes especially when I was writing “Verona.”
SOTR: The subject matter of your songs on Animal Shapes is rather dark but there is a lightness and danceablity to the music. Why did you make that contrast?
MIKE: The contrast stems from that sort of contrast in myself. I am very danceable and also sometimes dark. I struggle with a lot of things in life as I think a lot of people do. It’s kind of a mind-boggling, bizarre sort of thing going on and that affects me in a lot of serious ways and in a lot of humorous ways. I think I am also determined not to be morose. I think I try to engage with those feelings in a stimulating way. Most of where those thoughts go is to my music. I try not to be depressed because I don’t like the way that that feels. I really don’t want to make music that’s depressed either because that’s the whole point of music for me. Music is something you can step out of that and into a new realm that you can understand and control and you can create any number of emotions.
SOTR: What are you working on now?
MIKE: Well, one thing I wish I could do more of is keep that dichotomy at bay a little more where it’s like this one song is about this one thing. A lot of the songs that I listen to so much – especially people like Billy Joel and Paul Simon – are about one thing. They make it a full a mediation on one thing. It’s just not one aspect of it. In the past, I have had a lot of trouble reigning myself in and just sticking to one idea because I write the songs over a long period of time. The guys always love peaks and valleys and if I do bring a song to them that’s too monochromatic, they’re like “Where can we take this? What we all do – but especially them – love about music is when something a song takes you on a journey and changes so that’s something we’re working on, too.