A Rising Star Feature
by Melissa Minners
My first introduction to music from the Canadian band known as The Soles came in the form of a promotional CD containing four songs. I discovered that lead singer and songwriter Dean Jalonen (aka: D.I.N.) used very personal topics to create the lyrics found on this CD. His vocals could be very haunting, especially when dealing with topics especially close to his heart. I had eenjoyed the CD and was extremely happy to receive You Burst Into Fire Again, a finished album from The Soles featuring all of the songs on the EP and several other songs I had yet to hear. As I listened to this album, I realized that The Soles were performing songs that gave us glimpses into the depths of their souls (no pun intended). Their sound was exciting and I wanted to learn more about them – how they created their songs, what message they wanted to get across to their listeners, what more we could expect from them in the future. All of these questions and more were answered when I was given the opportunity to interview Dean Jalonen.
When did you begin to realize that you wanted to have a career in music?
When I was very little (like 3 to 10 years old) two of my favourite things to do were to a) listen to records in stereo on my headphones – stereo music always fascinated me, b) imagining that I was singing to stadiums in my room – I’d turn my room into an imaginary stadium, and I clearly remember singing that 60-70’s song, “Joy to the world, all the boys ‘n’ girls, joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea.” My Dad raised me on a whole lotta 60’s and 70’s music – from Steve Miller to The Beatles.
At age 15 I remember finding U2’s The Joshua Tree, and even stole a copy of Rattle ‘n’ Hum from a music store (I had no money but knew I needed the tape). Note: I don’t steal, and that was the only thing I ever have stolen!
At 16, I saw a Tragically Hip video (New Orleans Is Sinking) and at a time of mostly Hair Metal music, this band made me fall in love with Rock ‘n’ Roll, in a pure, direct and honest way, for some reasons I connected to the four regular looking guys who were igniting my TV screen. The gritty voice, the warm natural guitar tones, all spoke to me of the essence of rock. Soon after I went to see them at an early show at The Consert Hall (Masonic Temple) Toronto, and I decided that night, that what I wanted to do for the rest of my life was to write songs and sing in a rock band. Also, NIRVANA and grunge broke soon after and these bands also did the same for me. Since then, I knew what I wanted to do and have never looked back.
I took 5 years off music from 20-25 to focus on my Ontario College of Design Fine Art studies, knowing that as soon as I graduated (graduating/ an education was very important to me). So, since about 25 years old my number one priority has been music. The Soles were formed February 16, 2001 at Free Time Café.
What made you decide to form the group The Soles, rather than going solo with your work?
Well, playing music with others can be way more of joy than solo. Also, the album You Burst Into Fire Again [Reprise] had Nadjiwan on about half the songs. The Soles were actually formed Feb 16, 2001, but I took a hiatus and worked on the cd for 3 years. When it was completed, I realized it was in fact a group effort, and therefore a The Soles release. We are now playing as a four-piece, with a Canadian tour in the works for the summer. Of course, I seriously want to get to the US – New York and even LA, seeing as how we are getting some good National US radio play based out of LA.
What other interests do you have besides music?
Art would my by other major interest: and you could say that I live my life by what I call The Way Of The Artist – no matter what, my main priority every day is to create what I know I can’t live without creating. This attitude was tempered and sculpted at OCAD and has carried over into my music. I graduated with honours from Fine Art and have sold a wide variety of artworks and have done a few prominent commissions (see Art by Din). Aside from that, I love the movies – the cinematic art from combines so many of the arts I love: Theatre, Music, Art, Martial Arts, Design, Architecture etc). I have also moonlighted as a part-time activist; in the recent years my focus has been First Nations of Canada. The reason for this is that this social justice issue is one I am actually a part of in a direct way. Meaning, my ancestors have betrayed our First Nations in many ways (stolen land, residential schools etc) and I want to be part of the healing and justice process – This is what Sky (In The Name Of You) is about.
What is your preferred instrument of expression – music, art, the written word?
Music all the way! Picasso once said of himself, “Why do birds sing? Because they have a song.” This is how I feel, I have never written a good song just to write one. It doesn’t work that way for me, the good songs just happen, then I feel I have to express them to an audience. Last night I played this new song at an open-mic, Were All Sand In The Sun (next cd) and everyone turned silent, heads towards me and listened to every word. When this happens, when a musician can make a room feel like ‘one’ through music – by the whole room being engaged in the performance, this is an experience so direct that I could never feel that way by people just looking at one of my paintings. It’s a sort of communion actually, in the literal sense of the word… a coming together, a community of listeners.
What musical instruments can you play and which is your instrument of preference?
I play guitar and sing. I do think of my voice as an instrument, and have even taken years of weekly vocal lessons. However, I just may love the piano as much, but I have yet to learn how to play it. Thankfully, Evan plays it very well (you’ll here a lot of piano on the next record, by the way).
What sort of message do you hope to send with your music?
The message of You Burst Into Fire Again [Reprise] was that there is always some hope and light to be found even in our darkest moments. This record expressed my dealing with and healing my 10 year depression. I am now cured/healed and I hope that others listening to it would find that message (Songs: Coals, Sunburst, Pain, Desert Star, etc). Our next record (of which we’ve already recorded demos) moves to the next step of healing: finding joy in every aspect of your life. I have done this through finding a spirituality of living daily life – one that is not specific to a specific Faith – but can be in harmony with any of the world Major Faiths. The sub-themes on the next record also deal with Nature and traveling. Ultimately, my message is only really one message: That The Darkness can and will be turned to Light with one’s willingness to commit to that journey.
Out of all the songs you have written over the years, which one holds the most meaning for you and why?
Sky (In The Name Of You), Coals and Hey Old Man. To me, Sky is a great example of the spirit collaboration. Marc Nadjiwan helped be re-write the song. Seeing how it is about a First Nations blockade of an illegal mine on their land, and seeing as how in Canada, it is maintained by Native’s that we should share the land equally, it’s fitting that this is a 50/50% co-write between Nadjiwan and I. With Nadjiwan, this song wouldn’t song as good. Hey Old Man – I’m really starting to love it; more and more people come up to me, especially performers who can relate to being ‘put down’ especially by older generations. It seems to me that most people out there see thing negatively instead of positively. The song is a mission statement, saying no matter what I’m gonna see what’s good about me, and ‘round myself up’, metaphorically speaking. In my experience, if you round yourself up, you eventually get there. Some reviewers love it, some hate it and attack the song – and at one point it saddened me but now I realize that That kind of power in a song is what you want. I love Coals…I always wanted to write a universal Love song that many could relate to, and this one worked. The angle of the tale is unique, that a bad relationship can aid one’s depression, and that for healing, one often must move on. I don’t know if there are many song out there that specifically deal with depression/love/health.
Is there anything that you think we should know about you or The Soles that we might not know already? What upcoming events would you like me to make your fans aware of?
We’re working on a few things: a) A new record is in the works for the not-so-distant- future (12 demos are already done), b) we are planning a Canadian summer tour (we are available to consider booking opportunities in your town – we are hoping to find a way to get through the USA as well, c) We’ll have an EP of Sky (In The Name Of You) with Coals + remix , Hey Old Man + remix, plus a live track to promote Sky as a single – as well as to have a cheaper CD to offer people. Most importantly, I think we are at our best live, so I want people to keep coming see us play.