Melding elements of soul and pop with a classical background, award-winning musician, producer and songwriter Jerry Jean has an eclectic and timeless sound. We speak with the talented US-based artist about his single ‘September Sky’, future plans and much more.
What drew you to music?
I love the way music makes you feel. It transcends language, age, race. It’s wonderfully therapeutic. Although I currently create pop songs, I grew up taking classical violin and piano lessons as a young child. My parents’ small music collection was largely classical when I was a child, but I vividly remember hearing ‘Ribbon In The Sky’ by Stevie Wonder playing on the car radio when I was 8 or 9. It blew my mind and my spirits soared. While the song itself wasn’t new, I hadn’t heard anything so marvellous before. It certainly sparked an affinity for soulful, popular songs.
What do you hope people take from your music?
Inspiration, enjoyment, comfort. I care that the song has something meaningful to say. One thing that I really appreciate about the artform of recording music is that it allows me to crystallise my intentions for posterity. Each song is a little time capsule and people can resonate with the emotions now or discover the music in the future.
What or who inspires you to make music?
I’m self-motivated to create the best work I can. Perhaps I’m hardwired to want to make things since I get quite restless if I have not composed, produced or recorded anything for a stretch of time. As someone who writes, produces and performs my own music, I’m very impressed by artists who invest immense craft and emotion (each realm working together) into their work and are involved in virtually every creative aspect. There are obvious examples such as Stevie Wonder and Prince, and there are wonderful contemporary musicians who also meticulously do this. A few that quickly come to mind include Imogen Heap, Jacob Collier, and Alex Wong.
What can you tell us about your single ‘September Sky’?
‘September Sky’ was inspired by seeing my young kids’ childhood rapidly passing by, as well as seeing my parents ageing. This song imparts some earnest soul as I’m dealing with the swift passage of time. Essentially, it’s nostalgia in advance.
‘September Sky’ is also the first song of mine to prominently use saxophone. It’s such an expressive instrument, probably the closest to the human voice, and currently underused in pop songs. NYC jazz saxophonist Ojiik did a killer job.
If you could change one thing about ‘September Sky’, what would it be?
Luckily, I was able to do this. I wanted the song to be available in both its fully produced form and as a “stripped” version. Both have their merits! The alternate version is reduced to just piano and the saxophone around the voice. Minimalism can be extremely powerful if the bones of the song are strong. The performance video of ‘September Sky’ is of the stripped version (see above).
What advice do you have for new artists?
The music comes first. Not the marketing, not the music software, not the recording gear. The focus should be on deepening your musical craft. However, don’t turn a blind eye to all the non-music stuff either because the world changes so fast and it helps to be familiar with the new tools that emerge. Think of the new technologies as just that – tools – and use them only if they are actually helping you. You do not need to be active on every social media platform, use all the latest software plugins or wait to buy the perfect microphone. Anxiety caused from FOMO will only delay you from making your best music.
How would you describe your music?
My music is driven by melody, soulfulness, honesty. I generally write from life experience and usually use real instruments more than samples, though I’m not at all reticent to use the marvels of modern software to manipulate sounds. My songs are often described as having a soulful, pop sensibility with a timeless and sometimes melancholic vibe. I try to balance bright and dark colours within the same song. The goal is to make things evergreen and that usually means having yin-yang.
Do you have any future plans as a musician?
I can visualise my future body of work comprised of multiple full-length LPs. However, time is finite and music shouldn’t be rushed. With that in mind, I’m gradually working through my second full-length album releasing the songs one by one and giving each piece the attention it deserves.
Do you have a message for our readers?
Thank you for making it this far. I’m stoked to be sharing new music regularly throughout the year. If you enjoy what you hear, you can connect with me on Instagram, YouTube, Spotify or join my mailing list.