Azwel -
                     leaving the past ahead of us

 This guy to me epitomizes the mystery and appeal of indie music.  His songs are just melodically sophisticated.  He shows a level of songwriting prowess that the mainstream just doesn't have.  You can only find songs this original by deep exploration of the internet.  When I first heard Azwel back in 2004, my reaction was WTF is this?   On his page I felt like I discovered a treasure chest of exotic music, this was some self-contained powerhouse.   I couldn't guess the influences at all but within his unique style there was maturity and deep accomplishment from an artist who was clearly paving his own way in the world.  Azwel is Jason Perrillo and he lays out his deep, catchy soundscape songs with keyboard and vocals, and also some guitars.  He's reached the top of the Kayak list in the past and is currently on the rise with All The Things To Come.   His catalogue is enormous for an indie, it both shocks and saddens that great artists like this are still new to most music fans.  He also still gives away his downloads unlike many of us in this realm.  I was curious to know him a little better so I requested this interview.



Scott:    I watched some of your videos from your live show and they were good.  Is this the first time you took out a live band?  What's it like, is it going as you hoped?

Jason:  This is the first time I played with a full band. There have been Azwel shows over the years but they were only me and a guitar.  We picked out songs that would be easy to reproduce live as a 4 piece. We do hope to find a 2nd keyboard player, or maybe even use backing tracks for the additional parts.

Scott:   Do you consider yourself more a singer, a songwriter, or a musician?

Jason:  All 3 I suppose. I enjoy writing songs and the whole recording process in general, and especially growing as an artist and engineer, I have performed on stage a lot within the last few years with several other bands, playing keys and guitar to keep those skills going. So in return, I guess I've been preparing all this time.

Scott:    You've been making records for a long time.  I'm guessing you don't sell that many cause most indies don't.  What keeps you interested these days?  Is it more that making music is second nature or do are you still pursuing the career aspects of your music?

Jason:  The records are available all over the net but most download it for free, which I don't mind.. even though it says 'donational are optional,  Giant paypal logo' ;) 

The most important thing for me is making records that I am happy with.  I started recording some songs for another album, but then i stopped and felt it really wasn't necessary. Recently, I pulled all of my pre 2010 albums from my site and am reworking each one by one.   There is so much stuff from the past, that is very different and should be represented in a better light  Theres no reason why they should sound like demos compared the last 4 albums.  I completed reworked versions of my 2nd 3rd and now the 4th album should be released in a couple of weeks.  The fact that I have not pressed any copies of the albums, enables me to do this. I can even change the tracklsiting to the cd's and lyrics, as I have actually done in some cases. New art is being worked on for them too by now official Azwel artist, Neko Zero, aside from 2 album covers that are done by other artists.

Scott:   What's your approach to songwriting at the present?  Which comes first, music or lyrics?  Has it changed from when you first started writing?  

Jason:  Usually a chord progression. I believe that if you start off with some pleasant sounding chords, the song has a better chance of sounding nice from the start.

This has always been the case for me.  Sometimes I write on keys, sometimes on guitar.  The only song I've had lyrics for first was "Living in a Car," from The Great American Tour. I just had that chorus in my head.  I'm sure there are a couple other things in the past, but i can't remember them.

Scott:   What's your career highlight as far as greatest moment involving your own songs?  What was the low point?

Jason:  The highest point is now. Getting all the new and old songs in order and being happy with the past 10 years of creating.  And the live band. coming together.  They are very excited about the music.  Joe plays guitar, Gregg plays bass, and Johnny plays drums. The lowest point is always losing mixes.  Theres one unnamed album from the last 00's, that I would love to remix and rework, but i will never get to because the masters are lost along with a failed hard-drive. Also, I use a quite old version of cakewalk, so sometimes the automation gets all screwed up in the program so I have to back those tracks up often.

Scott:   The first song I ever heard by you, at first I didn't like it but then it was running thru my head all the time, was Con, Invade and Sue.  I still love that song.  What inspired it?  Have you done it at all on your current tour?

Jason:  That is on the very first album, which I should re-do soon. That may take some time to actually sound good though...I wrote that song on an acoustic guitar back in 2000 or so.  Back then, I used mostly keys on the albums because I was too lazy to mic up an amp, no really. So it turned into something a bit different than I first envisioned, which is kind of cool.  Its important to me that fans will be able to download songs that they enjoy live, so we will start playing some of the older stuff once it is re-done. A couple of other songs on that album I really enjoy. Maybe I'll get to that one next.

Scott:   You had a number one song on our site called Harol Dalley Way.  Very catchy tune.  Did that come from Harold's Alley Way or something different?

Jason:  Mid career Azwel was very strange. I forget, either I ran out of stuff to sing about or I wanted to really wordplay as much as possible. That's just the sort of stuff I was listening to.  I have recorded over a couple of hundred songs so I forget what that one was all about.  Then it had a nice mellow coda too...

Scott:   I read that you call yourself melodic pop, that certainly is true.  If you have a great tune to work with, how important are the lyrics to you?

Jason:   They have been the most important thing within the last few albums. It didn't quite start off that way as explained above.  When re-doing old albums, I change a few lines here and there to have it make more sense etc.   So the lyrics are important, but also the sound of the words/vowels etc.. As far as topics go, I never write about myself. Some of it is metaphorical. topical,  Story-based, 3rd person etc.

Scott:    I'm an artist myself and my life is downright weird, I keep strange hours and such.  What's your life like, outside your music page?

Jason:  Most of the things I do are music based. Lots of live music on the weekends, and then I do some business related things.  I like movies, youtube, and live in the suburbs. I am not a fan of big cities.

Scott:   ok, do you get frustrated by the fact that there are all these mainstream artists having huge success with songs that are inferior to your own?

Jason:  Hah, well music is always changing. I just kind of go my own way.  I listen to see whats still going on. Sure, not much of it excites me but I suppose I am not their target. Music can be a great thing..well it is..but for some reason it separates people more than it should. Everyone is so opinionated in what style they like. Which, I guess  they should be since music is a personal thing.  I never even recommend music to people because its like,  everyone hears it so differently,  A song one person thinks is crap can move the next person to tears. I wish that weren't the case but anyway. Movies are a lot more universal.

Scott:   I ask all the Spotlight artists this question, have you had any experiences of high strangeness like UFOs, the supernatural, etc?

Jason:  I used to write songs about that stuff in the mid 00's.   Songs like mm,  Shapeshifter, What I Saw, etc. which would be hard to find now.   I haven't had any personal experiences with the supernatural, but I would like to. Theyre out there somewhere in this big universe. I wish we knew more and of course, theres a lot the government hides from the people.. but mystery is cool too.  I'm definitely not a conspiracy theorist, in fact those types annoy me, but I like reading about the different theories and make my own opinions about it.

Scott:   What do you think your involvement with music will be when you are 80 years old?  :)

Jason:  If I am alive at that age, I hope i'll still have a voice and will to write and perform.