Jedediah Smith was originally formed as a one man band, by guitarist and Colorado native, Dakota Diemand – under the name I Hope You Freeze to Death. Things changed forever when Dakota journeyed to Musician’s Institute’s Summer Shot 2010, where he met bass player extraordinaire, Connor Coram. After completing the summer program, they kept in touch via Facebook. Eventually, the two reconnected as full-time Musician’s Institute students, forming the progressive metal project, Jedediah Smith, in honor of the legendary mountain man and explorer.
Read Progstravaganza Questionnaire answered by Dakota and Connor below.
How did you come to do what you do?
Dakota: I guess I had stars in my eyes, when I asked my mom for my first guitar, at age 11 – starting out with dreams of the rock n’ roll lifestyle. I eventually discovered that there was much more to music than that and it became the driving force in my life. I decided to go to Musician’s institute, where I met Connor. We formed the band not long after.
Connor: I have been playing bass guitar, for 8 years, and am working towards a Bachelor’s Degree, at Musician’s Institute. Jedediah Smith was formed in the halls of MI, around 4 years ago, and have been writing progressive music ever since.
What is your first musical memory?
Dakota: My mom told me that she played Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart – while she was pregnant with me. I, of course, don’t remember this, but I honestly can’t think of a better answer to this question.
Connor: When I was three or four, I began playing piano, and started taking music lessons in piano and theory.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
We both grew up in the 90′s and nostalgia is a huge driving force behind the band. Also, the band takes it’s name from legendary mountain man, Jedediah Smith and, as such, the old west is a big part of the band’s overall theme and presentation. Musically, we take inspiration from all genres of music, throughout time – but among our biggest influences are: Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, Haken, Meshuggah, Death, Cynic, Psycroptic, Scale the Summit, Ron Jarzombek, and 70′s prog bands, such as: Yes, Kansas, Pink Floyd, ELP, Frank Zappa, etc.
What message does the song on our Progstravaganza compilation carry?
Our new record, “Tall Tales”, is a concept album – telling the story of a man with amnesia who has to fight through time/space to save his family. The story will be released, in PDF form, on the bands website. “Meander” is the 8th track on the album and is really the penultimate moment of the story and inspired by the 2013 Colorado Floods. The man arrives back to his time, through a dimensional portal and races home to find that his family is holding his funeral. He tries to warn them of the coming storm, but they are swept away. The man tries to rescue them, but they are killed and he is knocked unconscious…
Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?
Almost never. Once we have a lot of material written, we will analyze for possible motifs and themes that we could use to tie the material together. As for pre-defined patterns, we throw concept that out the window.
What is your method of songwriting?
We just jam and have fun. A lot of the time, we come up with ideas or songs, on our own, and then we’ll get together and put the pieces together. We produce and record all of our own music, so as we go along in the process we are able to fine tune the songs. We also make a habit of transcribing all of our music and will have tabs/notation available after the album is released.
How do you see your music evolving?
We’re working on finalizing our line-up, so that we can start gigging, and you never know the cool influences that new members can bring. The tracks featured on the compilation are pre-production versions, so you can expect the final to be a bit more polished and we’re going to be adding keyboards to the mix. As for the future, we have all kinds of crazy ideas. We love what Snarky Puppy is doing with the whole big band prog fusion concept, but at the same time we still the love the sound of even just a three piece band. Our goal is just to keep experimenting with whatever pops in our heads, figure out what’s doable – and do it.
What advice would you give to other musicians, trying to make inspired music and get it out in the world?
Dakota: Never let anyone tell you who you are or what you should play (especially your parents…lol). Listen to your heart and play what makes you happy. Find the styles you love and just practice your ass off. I would also highly recommend taking lessons and/or going to school. There’s a big difference between someone who plays an instrument and someone who actually knows what they’re doing.
Connor: Find the perfect balance between practicing your art and managing your project.
What are you looking forward to?
Dakota: I’m stoked for the release of the new album and the accompanying short story that I wrote. I’m also looking forward to getting out and playing some shows, finishing my Associate’s Degree, and finding some form of gainful employment in the industry.
Connor: I look forward to seeing Jedediah Smith grow as a band and continuing to enjoy my passion of music.