An Interview With Miami’s Jellyfish Brothers

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The Jellyfish Brothers are one of Miami’s most mysterious bands. I decided to interview the band in order to obtain a better understanding on how they achieve their cult-like following.

When the Jellyfish Brothers’ music hits your auditory nerves it’ll leave you both confused and mesmerized. The Alvarez brothers, Greg (guitar/vocals) and Ed (drums) unite with stoner-sludge queen Janette Valentine (bass/vocals) to interbreed surf, sludge, punk and pop elements that make the Jellyfish Brothers truly a band above the rest.

Who are the Jellyfish Brothers?

The Jellyfish Brothers are three very different individuals with a lot of crazy ideas about life, food, religion, art, music and beer. When we get our brains in the same frequency, somehow, it all mixes; the heavy, the melodic and the weird.

When did you guys start playing together?

Greg has kind of always been in a band or involved with music. I [Ed] was more of a film enthusiast.  But then a friend from film school wanted to get a band started. I told him about Greg. One day we got together and I picked up the bass and we started playing together. It was very natural. Then a year or two later Greg and I started The Jellyfish Brothers. Janette heard us playing from her studio (she works in the same building) and asked if she could jam with us and we’ve been together ever since.

What’s the best part of the Miami music scene?

The best part of the Miami music scene is that there are still places where you can do whatever you want to do and people that support it.

Greg Alvarez of Jellyfish Brothers. Photo by Cool Richard

Greg Alvarez of Jellyfish Brothers. Photo by Cool Richard.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

The classic rock bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Sex Pistols, Sonic Youth, Yoko Ono. That’s our foundation. It wasn’t until we heard Dan the Automator’s work with Deltron 3030, Handsome Boy Modeling School and Lovage that we figured out that we could actually make music.

How’s the songwriting handled in the band?

Sometimes we open up a science fiction book to a random page and look for a phrase that we like other times we try to think out of left field. Like for the song LHC (large hadron collider) we wanted to sing about a particle waiting to collide and release its true nature.

Ed/ Greg you both are Dominican. Who’s the better Dominican performer- Juan Luis Guerra or Johnny Ventura?

Juan Luis Guerra is a classically trained musician graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston. This education has given his music the world-wide appeal it enjoys.  Although sometimes he writes political songs, these songs are mostly from the perspective of the Dominican middle class. On the other hand, Johnny Ventura comes from the gritty side of the island, this has given him a more folkloric and political voice. Songs like “El Tabaco” caused a big uproar in the Dominican Republic due to its anti-corruption and anti-government lyrics. Johnny Ventura always seems to connect more with the Dominican people.

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How have you grown as a band from your debut Bloom to now?

We have been exposed to more of a variety of music from heavy sludge rock to ear-piercing noise.  Also, our curiosity with the mysteries of the universe and our love for science fiction has given us a new field to explore lyrically.

What language is the song Teenage Jellyfish sung in?

Japanese. Ed wrote it using Google translation.

Janette Valentine of Jellyfish Brothers. Photo by Cool Richard.

Janette Valentine of Jellyfish Brothers. Photo by Cool Richard.

Janette, you’re the bass player for doom sludge band Shroud Eater. That’s a quite a transition to Jellyfish Brothers, what do you find musically to be the biggest difference performing with both bands?

I love jumping between both worlds.  Each satisfies two completely different centers in my brain.  While playing and writing in Shroud Eater I’m swimming through a dark and murky world that allows me to wrestle with my demons and explore the not so bright side of life [and] this is all very therapeutic.  While playing with the Jellies, I’m catapulted into a strange and vast playground whether underwater or in outer space. It’s a peculiar peacefulness, tinged with a certain curiosity and playfulness.  I’m exploring two very different worlds playing in both bands and it’s awesome to have that balance.

Who’s releasing your EP Sentinels of The Space Age?

The EP will be a combined release between Bufu Records and Audio Junkie. The peeps at Bufu Records have been awesome and we’re really excited to have a release on vinyl.

When’s the Sentinels of The Space Age EP hit the street?

By the end of April.

Gregorio Alvarez of Jellyfish Brothers. Photo by Cool Richard.

Ed Alvarez of Jellyfish Brothers. Photo by Cool Richard.

Ed and Greg you’ve been known down in South Florida for years for your work in the Audio Junkie web video series. Is that still a thing? What has been the weirdest thing you’ve encountered with Audio Junkie?

Audio junkie is in the post-production stages for the 3rd season. We will hopefully release new episodes for Sweat Stock which falls on Record Store Day,  April 19th. The weirdest thing we encountered with Audio Junkie is probably Kenny Millions and Rat Bastard.

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Other than world domination, what’s the future hold for the Jellyfish Brothers?

We just finished recording a song for a compilation CD benefiting local art gallery Space Mountain. We’re also getting ready to play in New York and Boston by the end of April and also working on booking a tour for the end of summer.

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Chuck Livid

Chuck Livid hails from Miami, Florida. He did a zine in the '90s called Muddy Chaos and is best known for his work with independent music label Livid Records. Chuck lives in Boca Raton, Fl with his wife illustrator Helena Garcia and their son Nico. He founded TuffGnarl.com and hosts TuffGnarl.com's official music podcast - Another Music Podcast which is available on iTunes & Google Play

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