10Qs with José Ayerve of A Severe Joy and Spouse

October is LGBT month and Factory Portland will be highlighting Maine-connected LGBTQ artists for the week of October 28th.

José Ayerve has been performing and recording in Maine since the mid 90s.  His first band in the state, Spouse, has been on hiatus since 2011 (with one benefit performance in Northampton earlier this year) and for appearances in bands like Bullyclub, among others.  For the past couple of years, Ayerve has been performing as A Severe Joy, a solo project that was born out of multiple band-member relocations.  As A Severe Joy, he’s released an eponymous album, five plexi singles, and a compilation of those singles entitled ‘Cinematesque.’  A second set of five singles are planned over the course of the next year.

Spouse at Port City Music Hall, photo by Stephen Quirk // Factory Portland

Where were you born?
Bogotá, Colombia

What brought you to Portland?
After graduating from Bowdoin College in 1996, I became involved in a local theater troupe based in Portland. I moved to town in 1997, then moved away in 1998, returned in 2000, left again in 2003, and have been residing here once more since 2009.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I do. I work as a Spanish language translator for a public school system based in Massachusetts.

What was your most memorable gig?
I’ve had quite a few memorable gigs. With Spouse, it was definitely in February of 2011 at Port City Music Hall. It was a perfect set and at the end of it, I was overcome with emotion (because I knew that I was going to put the band on indefinite hiatus, but hadn’t told my bandmates) and I smashed my guitar on stage. It was the most incredible feeling ever. Kevin O’Rourke of Lo Fine (and occasionally, Spouse) rebuilt it for me. It sounds better now than it did before the smash. With ASJ, I think my most memorable gig was the Free Range Music Festival in Belfast in April of 2012. It was a beautiful night, totally packed, and I had the lovely dancers from Haus of Paradigm performing with me.

What was your worst gig?
I played a show at the Free Street Taverna in 1998 on a Sunday night. My bandmates had bailed on me for the show and I tried to perform drunk. It was a disaster.

A Severe Joy, photo by Stephen Quirk // Factory Portland

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Album: “Long Live the New Flesh” by Flesh For Lulu. It changed my life.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My phone, because it houses all of my backing tracks and the drum machine ap that I use for ASJ.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Do it because you love it. Learn to take care of your gear, be good at math (and accounting), follow-through, and for chrissakes, be a good example for other musicians. I believe musicians struggle as much as we do because people in general have a negative impression of us unless we become nationally or internationally recognized for our work. Also, value your art and if you’re not enjoying it, switch it up.

What was the origin behind your band name?
Spouse is short for “Cheating on Spouses Can Be a Messy Management Affair” – the title of an article that I had to read for Psychology class in college.

A Severe Joy is an anagram of my real name, José Ayerve

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I don’t feel guilt about liking any particular artist. I’ve always been a fan of Huey Lewis & The News. I really like the new Cher album, and Justin Timberlake is fucking awesome. That said, my favorite album is “The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin”.

Bonus Questions

What was the first album/recording you owned?
“Free to Be You and Me” – Marlo Thomas and Friends

What are you listening to at the moment?
“Destruye Hogares” by Fobia

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
The Pixies at the State Theatre in 2011 was my favorite, not sure it was the best, but I really enjoyed it.

You can learn more about A Severe Joy at Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, and SoundCloud and Spouse from Bandcamp and Facebook.

Stephen Quirk
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