Louisville songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jesse Weber-Owens is a busy guy. Formerly in the band Beady, he has released music under the moniker of Joe Piano. His latest project called Durotan, heads in a totally different direction. We recently spoke with him about the new album, Bridges To Infinity, and get the story behind it.

Congratulations on the new album. We’ve enjoyed your work as Joe Piano and with Beady. We can say the same about Durotan. How did the concept of this project come about?

Thanks! As far as the concept of the project goes, I was really deep into synthesizers for a couple years before I started recording as Durotan, but had gotten some distance from them once I started getting serious about the “Joe Piano” project. A couple of years ago I was on my porch with some good friends playing my drum machine, just hanging out when they both heard me and said something along the lines of “man, you need to do something with that”. I didn’t really take it very seriously at first, but before too long I started recording instrumental tracks with my synths, guitars, bass, and various other instruments, and I enjoyed the music I was making so much that I decided to pursue a second solo project, Durotan. Those friends made all the difference in my musical life. Durotan if I’m not mistaken is the name of an orc leader in the World of Warcraft series. I’ve worked on Durotan music for about two years now, and I’m hundreds of tracks deep of unreleased material.

You’ve shared your story about your battle with schizophrenia before. Thank you for being so open about that. Does that play a part in the direction of the new album?

I would say it absolutely does, I consider Durotan music to be an instrumental expression of how it feels to deal with the things that I deal with, a journal of sorts, being that these days I produce at the least one track every day. In ways I can’t explain, my symptoms come out in the music, at least in ways that are tangible to me. Music in general is what keeps the control over my life and mind in my own hands, instead of in the hands of the illness. I eat, sleep, and breathe music. i rarely watch TV, or movies, its music, around the clock. Having schizophrenia will always be a part of my music, and in a way drive me to keep creating, as it is in music that I have found balance. For lack of a better term, there will always be schizophrenia in my music.

“Bridges To Infinity” is totally instrumental. Did you handle all the instrumentation?

Yes, I do handle all of the instrumentation, production, composing, mixing, mastering, etc. for this record, nobody other than me has touched these songs. However there are other artists I record over my instrumentals, lyricists such as Devan “Priceless” Sims, who is a brilliant freestyle rapper who I plan on releasing a record with, later this year. The final track on Bridges to Infinity “For Priceless” is dedicated to him.

We asked you to choose one song from the album to feature, and you picked “Saturn Nights”.

I picked Saturn Nights as a highlight because man, I’m just so proud of it, and i think it’s the best representation of the record of any of the others. Also, I sent that song to one of the friends who I mentioned earlier who inspired me on the porch to be Durotan in the first place, and it really spoke to her personally. I have a hope for the people hearing this record to have at least one song they really dig, and connect to personally like Saturn Nights did for my friend.

On another note…. any Joe Piano music in the works?  We get the feeling you’re always working on something.

You’re correct, I always am, and yes! I have my full length Joe Piano record in the works titled “Maybe Once”. I’m sure you remember playing my single “Deersinger” on air earlier this year, which will be one of the tracks on the next Joe P record. I’m working with one hell of a talented producer on Maybe Once, Louisville Orchestra Violist Evan Vicic. Another Louisville Orchestra Violist, and my best friend Jonathan Mueller, will be playing his viola on the record as well as many other close, talented friends. This will be a product of love and friendship for sure. But for now, Bridges to Infinity is available on all platforms, as well as a limited run of vinyl. You can follow my profile on Instagram @joepianoanddurotan to order one.

John is the mid-morning host on WFPK.