[Q&A] Ska Tune Network’s Jeremy Hunter Talks Steven Universe, Legend Of Zelda Covers and We Are The Union

By: Ian Maikisch

I remember being in high school skanking around at partys, drinking cheap beer and getting down to the rough-and-tumble poetry of Street Light Manifesto. Ska music was always a part of my friend group’s party playlist. The first time I ever had blood drawn in a pit was at a ska show. The first time I ever stayed up until 5 a.m. hanging out with my friends, ska music was there to knock out the silence in my friend’s back porch.

I say all this to give some light of how freaking overly excited I was to talk to Jeremy Hunter of Ska Tune Network. Jeremy runs a Youtube channel that takes your favorite songs and turns them into the fast-rowdy-rough music that we all love from 1996.

Do you want to hear what a ska version of My Chemical Romance sounds like? How about what Childish Gambino would sound like if he wore baseball tees and classic vans? Hunter has done it all. With over 21,000 subscribers and more than 50 videos Jeremy Hunter is keeping ska alive in Gainesville.

My co-founder, Graham Johnson, told me a couple years ago, “The dream of the 90’s is a live in Gainesville,” I no longer need anymore proof. We have a ska-cover channel, what else could you ask for?

With that, I hope you enjoy the interview.

Out of all the genres of music, what is it about Ska that made you want to create an entire brand around it?

“Ska has always just been a music that I loved since I first heard it on the Digimon movie when I was very small. It’s so upbeat, energetic, and carries so many different musical and cultural aspects to it. When I was in high school, I was introduced into the world of DIY punk through the ska scene and ska music. The culture and playing in my high school ska band had really shaped who I am as a person today. Back then, whenever I heard a song, I would tell my band “we have to cover this!” but we never did. There’s something about ska kids always wanting to hear their favorite songs as a ska song. I guess I’m just living out my high school ska phase dream (and most others)”

What is your coolest story where a popular band shared your videos or mentioned your work?

“When I first made my channel, me and my friend Simona made a cover of the World is a Beautiful Place & I am no longer afraid to die. They shared that cover, which gave me my initial pop that got the channel going! Has to be between that, or one of the storyboard artists of Steven Universe sharing my Giant Woman cover.”

Would you ever consider putting together a band and touring on your Ska covers?

“Absolutely. When? I have no idea, but I already have people I’ve talked to about playing live shows. Hopefully I can end up playing some shows in 2019.”

Is Ska your favorite music genre or are you secretly harboring love for another?

“In contrary to popular belief, I don’t listen ska all the time! Indie and Emo definitely has the number one spot in my heart. I’ve been listening to Indie and emo and all of its sub-genres religiously for about 5 years now. The Promise Ring, The Get up kids, Really From, Hop Along, Tigers Jaw, Rozwell Kid, Camp Cope, Slingshot Dakota, and Lemuria are just a few of the bands I really love. I also listen to a lot of Chiptune stuff because I’m a huge weeb and love anime and video games.”

What is the most difficult song you’ve had to change into a ska track? 

“I have 3 contestants for this answer. So far I would have to say my latest cover, Dragon Roost Island. The original is a very eastern folk sounding track, matching the aesthetic of the Legend of Zelda franchise. Transferring it from ¾ to 4/4 was a challenge in itself, changing the mood of the song completely. I had about 6 ideas on how to go about it, but I was happy with the outcome. Another challenging song to change into a ska song was Dakota, by Tiny Moving Parts. Their music is very guitar driven and technical. It’s not simple chords, so I had to figure out all the chords, then figure out which guitar parts were necessary to notate for horns and which parts weren’t. Finally, I did a mash up of 4 different Bluecoats shows, which are full on brass and percussion professional marching band arrangements. Figuring that out, as well as making them all flow was a huge challenge, and the back half of that cover just turns more into prog-rock than anything else.”

Have you ever tried to work on a song cover and just had to scrap it because the song didn’t lend it’s self to Ska?

“So far, I have not had to do that! I’ve finished nearly every project that I’ve started. The projects that I didn’t finish, I still plan on finishing and uploading at a later date.”

What is your Skanking technique?

“Being yourself! The cool thing about ska and skanking is there is no right or wrong way to be yourself. It’s super inclusive, and there’s no defined technique, so honestly just feeling and enjoying the music is all there is to it!”

Could you tell our readers a little about your other musical projects?

“So my main band that I play in is called We are the Union. Their first record debuted in 2008, but I didn’t join until 2015. We are releasing a new record soon and I’m super proud and excited to release that and go on tour with Reel Big Fish in October with that new record out. Aside from we are the union, I don’t have any terribly active projects out there. I have 11:59, which is my emo punk band, which is very up in the air as far as being active.”

What is more fun for you, being on stage or watching a video do well?

“I really love performing. Recording the videos is a lot of fun, but it doesn’t compare to being in front of people and putting on a show!”

Who has been the most fun to collaborate with in your videos?

“My friend Simona! They’re literally my best friends and their voice is perfect and we have been making music for years. Rosie was also so much fun collaborating with! I definitely want to collaborate with both of them again, and I may or may not be collaborating with them + many other friends in the near future.”

How do you pick the songs you cover?

“Honestly, I just hear the song and go “Oh man that should be a ska cover!” At first, it was just a random thing I did. Before recording my first cover, I did about 3 Steven universe ska covers which all sound really bad and don’t exist aside from one on Soundcloud, but as the channel started building momentum, and people started suggesting covers, I started to do a mix of what people suggest, what is popular, and what I know well enough to cover. If all 4 overlap (like the Mii Channel did) then I definitely do it. I also am starting to do a Patreon requested cover once a month so that’s 100% picked  out by anyone who suggests covers on Patreon.”

What is your favorite thing about American pop culture right now?

“Definitely the memes. Memes are so advanced and hilarious, and its beyond images. We have video memes, song memes, audio memes. Living memes. So many memes! They’re hilarious what a time to be alive.”

Lastly, is there anything else you want to say about your music, your channel or anything?

“Thank you to everyone who has supported my musical endeavors. It means a lot that people care about my bands, my YouTube, my covers, my content, and I’m glad that I’m able to put time into making content for my followers at the rate that I do.”

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