Dino Jag has performed with music heavyweights including John Farnham, Jon Bon Jovi, and some of the world’s greatest guitar players such as Steve Vai and Sammy Hagar from Van Halen.
“Another one is Richard Marx who I admire as a songwriter. It was cool to open up for him.”
But when Covid hit, it was a similar story to a lot of musicians in 2020. The tours were cancelled, and adjustments had to be made in the new world. Hailing from Adelaide, Jag is grateful he’s in South Australia.
“We’re the envy of some of our mates around Australia at the moment.”
Making the best of a bad situation, Jag used his time in isolation to record and release a single to keep the fan engagement alive. His latest single “Can’t Keep Still” was only released on Facebook during Covid and has racked up over 150,000 views so far.
“Initially I thought, consolidate the focus really to the people who had been engaging online and I chose to just release it on Facebook initially really as a way to just narrow the focus of how everyone’s connecting and engaging with the song.”
So how did it come together?
“After being in my music cave for a few months, in isolation and from home and working with a camera. Starting to record videos of performances as opposed to the alternative of performing to a live audience. Once I started recording a couple, once I got to the third video, I wanted to introduce other musicians. This was right in the heart of the isolation stage, where everybody was keeping away from everybody else. So, the first couple of music videos I did was pretty much myself behind a piano or a guitar sharing some original music that I hadn’t shared with anyone before. That was a really positive experience and it got me working, making my own music videos. And then as things started to get a bit more relaxed, I thought it would be a good idea to release more of a band production music video. During that process the idea came up to invite people to become part of the music video.”
The musicians that he played with were friends that he knew and had worked with before.
“We’re so lucky in South Australia to have some of the best musicians in the country.”
Then came the call out for fans to become part of the film clip.
“It came about from what I was missing most about live performances and that was really seeing people’s faces in the crowd. The next best thing to that was inviting them to appear on a music video. So, I put the call out on social media and to people that are on my mailing list saying we’re going to be releasing a new song and would love to invite some people to be a part of it… Everyone got a short sample of the song that they could video themselves dancing to in isolation.”
“It kept me entertained for quite a while watching all the videos that came through. It was a real cocktail of people sending in different videos which was great because, you know, that’s life. People at home in the kitchen, people jumping on a bed, on a couch, some people drove out to some exotic locations in the outdoors. It was a combination of a lot of things, but everybody took some time out to get into the music and lose themselves in it. And that was really my brief. Lose yourself in the music and let’s capture some of that.”
“Can’t Keep Still” has been such a success that Dino Jag will be releasing it officially in the future.
“I do plan to release it as an official radio release and make it available for streaming and all those kinds of things. I just didn’t want to go there initially, I just wanted to work with my supporting audience straight away and use the song to introduce myself to a new audience not just here but overseas.”
“To get behind a song properly without major support from a record company it does require a lot of resources and I didn’t want to spread myself too thin. There’re no shows at the moment, so it just felt like we’re in a new world, there are no rules anymore. So hey, let’s give this a go and see what it feels like.”
Dino Jag has performed in some of the major music cruise festivals such as Rock the Boat, but with cruises looking to be unlikely at least foreseeably, what does the future hold in a post-Covid world?
“I don’t think I’m going to be doing any live shows this year. All my shows were cancelled. In fact, the only show that I had left was the Rock the Boat Music Festival which was leaving from Brisbane in November. I wasn’t expecting that one to go ahead but I was still confirmed and booked until it was cancelled about three weeks ago. I think they tried to hang on as long as they could to see how things were going to unfold.”
It’s a sad reality for the vast majority of live gigs and music festivals slated for 2020 and one that has hit touring musicians hard.
“I feel like I’m in the twilight zone at the moment… From a live performance perspective, I’m just not confident booking any event that I’m going to work hard to promote. Because the reality is for most artists if they’re putting on their own show and acting as promotor as well, you need a minimum of three months where you focus on pre-promotion and things like that and at the moment with all the uncertainty it’s quite devastating to have spent a good three months promoting a show, the cost of which including the marketing and the time and effort preparing it and to find a couple weeks out you’ve got to cancel. It’s a really awkward time for planning.”
“A lot of friends are starting to perform again around Adelaide and it’s great to see that people are going out and seeing live bands again. It’s forced the hand for venue to rethink their servicing styles.”
But until the live music scene is up and running Dino Jag will continue to release music for his fans.
“I’m about to release a new one this week to my audience to invite people to be part of the next one because I want to keep it moving forward. With live shows, like I said, I’m just not confident at the moment in putting my energy into announcing new dates and focussing on that but I’m excited about recording new music at the moment and sharing it with my audience and finding new ways to engage with people.”
The way that Jag’s creating his music has also changed on a couple of levels.
“The microscope got put onto you on your own and whatever resources that you have without being able to access other players and studios like we normally would, so it forced me to utilise the resources that I have. Particularly, in terms of choosing the song and how you shape the song energetically at the moment… The time felt good and right to release some of that because we’re all ready to get up and start moving again and that’s what the song is about.”
Jag has been one of many musicians who has turned to online and social as a way of connecting with his fans during isolation and the effect has been largely positive.
“I think it’s a double-sided thing. When everything shut down, live streaming really came to the forefront. The reality is that it’s always been around and it’s kind of been a little bit under the radar to the mainstream, but it exposed a lot of the big stadium artists that people are used to seeing on a big stage in their lounge room doing an acoustic performance and it kind of levels the playing field a bit. No matter what their status you can see them at that point where they were like every other artist that’s doing something in their lounge room.”
And who does Jag turn to for inspiration when writing his music?
“One of my greatest regrets is not seeing James Brown live because I’ve been influenced by his grooves. A lot of the stuff from that era, James Brown, the early funk is a big part of my psyche. I love the early soul and funk music.”
It’s great to hear musicians remaining positive and sharing their talent with the world despite all that’s been going on.
“No matter what happens people are always going to find a way to experience music, that’s always going to keep happening somehow. The music industry and the entertainment industry has been lumbered into the non-essential area so it’s hard not to take it personally as an artist. You’re confronted with questioning your value of what you’ve been dedicating your life to. It’s certainly been an interesting time.”
Check out the music video for “Can’t Keep Still” here.
“From my perspective as an artist, it’s a real treat to go through the journey of a release with your supporters. They’re really part of it in a tangible way and that’s really exciting. One fun thing that’s really come out of this is that my supporters have become affectionately known as the Jagsters.”
Want to be part of Dino Jag’s next film clip? Head to his Facebook page here. They will be inviting people to contribute to the next one in the coming weeks. If that’s something you’d enjoy then he’d love to hear from you.
He’s not going to give too much away but it’s going to be interactive and the goal is to get people to become a part of it. Become a Jagster today!