Jason Damico - 10 Questions Music Interview
Jason Damico is a contemporary Blues artist, multi-instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter. At 15 years of age, Jason Damico became the youngest member of the Duke University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of John V. Brown, Jr. He is the winner of the 2015 Carolina Music Awards Rock Male Artist of the Year, 2015 Video of the Year nominee, 2014 Carolina Music Awards Rock Male Artist of the Year nominee, 2014 Triangle Blues Society Blues Challenge Solo Winner, a recipient of the 2010 Best Overall Musician Award from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Music, winner of the Carolina Music Awards 2011 Youth Artist of the Year and a Song of the Year Semi-finalist Winner. Child prodigy Jason Damico has shared the stage with jazz, blues and Broadway greats such as: Vincent Gardner (trombone), Ray Codrington (trumpet), Kevin Mahogany (vocals), Jason Marsalis (drums), Joe Chambers (drums), Monty Alexander (piano), Trae Pierce (bass/vocals/lead guitar/piano), Big Daddy Wilson (vocals/guitar), Claudette King (vocals), Lucky Peterson (piano/guitar/vocals), Slam Allen (guitar/vocals), Joe Louis Walker (Blues Hall of Fame, Grammy Award Winner), and John Arthur Greene (NBC's Peter Pan, West Side Story, Matilda, and School of Rock).
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
When I was fourteen, I experienced severe trauma to my right eye due to a fishing accident. It left me essentially in a convalescent state for nearly six months. I couldn’t read or lift anything above five pounds during that time. All I had was music. Prior to this, I had been primarily a drummer since I was four. So, whenever I listened to music it was always from that reference point—I wasn’t really listening to The Police, I was listening to Stewart Copeland, etc. But after the accident, I noticed that something had changed dramatically in the way that I interpreted music—I somehow instantly and innately was able to discern, dissect and understand an entire production as a whole as well as music theory. It was as if a veil had been lifted off of my ears and I could now listen to and understand “everything at once.” This all happened in about 15 seconds. From there, things just started happening. I also was highly influenced by my long-time mentor Hayden Wayne who really taught me how to get out of your own way, still yourself, and just write.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Wow, there’s so many—especially in this business! I’d have to say that having the chance to collaborate with YouTube/Reddit blues star MessiahSez was probably the craziest thing that has happened. What’s crazy about it is that it all resulted from a DM that I sent to his Instagram account. I told him that I wanted to shoot a short documentary on him and he actually agreed to do it. We shot the documentary and it was a great time and it became a feature episode on The Jason Damico Show. He’s the real deal—one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. I’m blessed to be able to call him a close friend.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I’ve had many, but I’d say the most honorable was winning Carolina Music Award’s Rock Male Artist of the Year. The icing on the cake was having legendary producer and industry veteran John Custer present the award at the ceremony—it was definitely a surreal moment.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Honestly, anything goes. I have literally thousands of recordings archived on my iPhone voice memo app. You’ll hear all kinds of random noises in the background—road noise, a shower, the TV, family members talking, etc. Capturing that spike of inspiration is essential and then everything else will fall into place if it’s supposed to, regardless of whether it starts first as an idea, a riff, a vocal phrase, a drum pattern, etc. I find that the best stuff usually writes itself and will happen in about 15 minutes.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
That’s definitely a loaded question, in the sense that I believe indie artists are facing the ultimate Catch-22 with unavoidable engagement and utilization of Web 2.0 platforms and social media. The internet is continually gaining the power to literally make or break you, although I would not regard it as the absolute medium for recognition or success. But it seems to be a luxury trap for many industries now, not just the music business. It can foster a cynical and competitive attitude that’s hungry for views, shares, likes, subscribers, etc. As far as implementing change, I’m not sure that such a behemoth reality can be shaken—only the perspective and how one looks at it really has the malleability for change. I think social media is just amplifying underlying causes of the human condition that were already there before we were. If I personally could change one thing, it would regard indie artists having a platform to showcase their talents and spotlight their work. This was the main reason why I started The Jason Damico Show. I wanted to bring people together in a positive, synergistic atmosphere to talk all things creative. I think these days that’s honestly all you can do—share the love, good times, and memories which each other. I’m trying to maintain that frame more and more these days. Because if you make it about the numbers this industry will eat you alive. Now more than ever your perception is truly your reality.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I’d love to do a tour with my friends C2 And the Brother’s Reed (Kentucky Ruckus)… it would be wild! I was asked to run sound for them when they came through North Carolina and it was just a hell of a good time down in ECU.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
In the early days, New Blue tended be a more consistent lineup locally. Recently there usually exists a rotation of players in the scene that come in as the rhythm section throughout the east coast depending on where the shows are. So many times, rehearsals consist of just sending new material to the guys and having them prepare remotely before we get in the room together a week before touring. Then it’s on to the stage and feeding off of the vibe in the moment. There are simply certain things you can’t rehearse—especially with the blues. But it’s good to be prepared and in sync.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
It’s funny because I always say I wish living life was as easy as writing songs. Without much thought, I’ve somehow trained myself to be acutely self-aware as a writer. I know when something has the potential to be something and when it doesn’t within a matter of seconds—in either the thought world or with the instrument/voice. If anything, usually it’s the small but vital stuff that can lend itself to be the greatest challenge—deciding the key, tempo, etc. If there was one song to mention I guess I’d go with Terra Firma. For some reason, that riff stayed on my iPhone for a solid six months and I could never really do anything with it. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but somehow, I came back to it after working on other songs for The Terra Firma album and the chorus came to me. But again, that goes back to developing the self-awareness. You have to know when to walk away—same thing goes for life (wish I knew that more in my teen years).
What's coming up in the future?
Due to COVID-19, a few months’ worth of show dates have unfortunately been canceled or rescheduled, but we’ve got some exciting stuff in the works. I’m finishing up acting in another film shooting here in NC as well as Nashville. The Jason Damico Show always keeps me busy with all of the incredible guests we have on the podcast. As far as music is concerned, I’m finishing up my third LP for a release in the later part of Spring as well as a whole other LP that was inspired due to all of the down time with the COVID-19 shut-in. I’m very excited about what I’m recording during the shut-in because it’s just one of those no-nonsense blues records. It feels great to be back in the studio with little distractions—and this will be my first-time incorporating harmonica into my sound… I’ve been practicing! Later in September when shows start kicking back up, I very much look forward to playing guitar for Eliza Neals in NC for one of her shows as well as opening up with New Blue for my good friend Jessica Lynn on one of her international tour dates.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
Subscribe to the YouTube channel for music videos, behind the scenes, and to watch full-length episodes of The Jason Damico Show podcast.
Follow on Spotify to pre-save upcoming music releases!