Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
The very first instrument that I picked up was a violin in 6th grade. I learned how to have a good ear for music by playing in an orchestra throughout middle school. But the violin was short-lived whenever I went to Best Buy when I was still in middle school and picked up the CD, Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses, when I was with my family. I put that CD on, and learning the guitar became an obsession for me. The opening riff to "Welcome to the Jungle" changed my life, and I knew that I wanted to learn how to play the guitar. I continued with the violin throughout middle school, but my main focus was learning all the famous guitar riffs from the legends. After Guns N' Roses, I picked up the CD "Back in Black" by AC/DC. But, the three artists that inspired me to start writing original music were Tom Petty, the Eagles, as well as Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20. Tom Petty and Rob Thomas are two of my favorite songwriters of all time. I think they were masterful at writing music that was relatable, catchy, and meaningful. I knew that I wanted to be just like them and write music that anyone can relate to regardless of where they are from and their background. I became obsessed with finding the formula to writing a catchy song that was meaningful through impactful storytelling. I still have my very first songwriting notebook, and it is funny to see the growth of my songwriting over the years. I have rewritten my songs dozens of times to get the lyrics and melodies just right. I strive to be just like Rob Thomas and Tom Petty.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
My very first live show experience was an absolute disaster. It was a humbling experience and I grew from it. I was playing "How's It Going to Be" by Third Eye Blind and it was at a block party. So, I was playing in front of all my friends and family and people that knew me very well. Everything started out smoothly until the beginning of the second verse. At the time, I did not know how to properly loop the guitar cable through the guitar strap. So, I stepped on it and it got pulled out and my amplifier started making a piercing noise. I quickly plugged it back in. I wrote a little guitar solo for the song and during the solo, my E string broke. So I started freaking out and so I had to improvise and I played the worst solo you have ever heard. Towards the final chorus, I accidentally swung my guitar too much and the guitar neck knocked over the microphone. Let's just say that it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life and we only played one song instead of the four songs we had planned. It took me a while to regain the confidence to play a live show again, but I learned a lot from this experience. I learned how to properly loop the guitar cable through my guitar strap, I learned how to be able to improvise whenever a guitar string breaks in the middle of a song, and I learned how to remain confident when things are not going smoothly.
What has been the high point of your music path?
The high point so far on my music journey has been surrounding myself with an incredible team of people. I have had many learning experiences throughout my music journey. I am originally from Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, but I moved to Los Angeles my sophomore year of high school. I made a best friend there named Paul and he has been someone who has pushed me to continue chasing my music dream. We formed bands throughout high school and they were not very good, but we always had a blast. I always showed him my original music and he helped me make some of the songs better. Even whenever I was not ready to have my music recorded, Paul was there for me. Even when I moved away from LA to Nashville, and now Austin, he has been someone I can always reach out to for advice and to continue motivating me to chase after my dream.
I was scammed out of about 10,000 dollars with a producer in the Los Angeles area. This guy claimed to have worked with big artists, and my naive self always believed him whenever he said that he was going to market my songs to his big time connections. So I kept going back to him and gave him so much money. When I listen back to those recordings he did for me of my original songs, they were awful. I had a similar experience with a second producer in Los Angeles. This was a very good learning experience for me and I knew the importance of doing a lot of research on a particular producer before working with them. I eventually found a producer in Nashville that I will continue to work with throughout my music journey because he is the best producer I have ever met, and he is extremely talented. He has brought my visions to life. His name is Andrew Middleton. I would not be where I am at in my music journey without him. I am currently working on two new songs with him at the moment. My girlfriend, Emily Williams, has been a huge supporter of my music journey from day one since I have known her. We always joke around that she's my girlfriend, music manager, agent, and biggest supporter because she is the reason why my music videos have turned out good. She helped me find the actors and actresses for the music videos. She is the videographer behind many of my cover songs on YouTube. She helps me with what to wear for photo shoots and for videos. She has even taken many of my photos. She is my biggest supporter.
I have been grateful to have met Eugene Foley. He has been a big supporter of my music journey and I know that he is someone that I am going to continue to work with for a long time. It is important to surround yourself with people who believe in you and are in the business for the right reasons, and Mr. Foley is that person. He is passionate about what he does and I am grateful to have someone like him on my team. To summarize, the high point of my music path has been being surrounded by an incredible team of people. I have made many great friends while filming my music videos and they continue to support me by being in my upcoming videos as well! Thank you to Paul, Emily Williams, Andrew Middleton, Eugene Foley, and of course, my family, who have been helping me make my dream come true. I cannot do this without all of you.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I take a very different approach. It would be kind of funny for someone if they were sitting in the same room as me and I was coming up with a new song. First, I come up with a cool guitar riff or chord progression. That guitar riff or chord progression usually sparks a melody for me. The way I create a melody and piece one together is to sing a melody and say gibberish. In other words, I piece together a melody by singing random words and incoherent sentences that make no sense being put together. But the sound of certain words helps me piece together a melody and helps me come up with a catchy chorus because I am not worried about the words, rather the way the melody flows. Once I come up with the melody that I like, I determine the type of emotion the melody evokes and then I think about a memory of mine that would fit that emotion. Then, I begin the lyric writing process. Sometimes when I am experiencing writers block, I go to a beautiful and peaceful place like Lady Bird Lake, Lake Travis, a park, lay in a hammock, or some place that can help me get away from distractions so I can simply focus on the story I am trying to tell.
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?
The biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today is the ability to break through all the noise. There are so many songs released every single week, so no matter how good a song may be, it will have a hard time getting heard if you don't have a lot of money or a big team behind you. The one thing that I would ask the music industry to change is accessibility for Indie Artists. Being in the music industry is expensive. I think Spotify has a great system where they give opportunities to indie musicians to get placed on editorial playlists without being signed to a label. There are other great platforms out there as well. But now music releases are so common that platforms are overly saturated with new music that it is hard to give opportunities to new musicians without these musicians having had already proven themselves.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
This is a tough question. Modern day, it would either be Harry Styles, John Mayer, or Morgan Wallen. But to answer the question, I would say Harry Styles because I absolutely love his sound. He is so unique and he is redefining pop music. The production quality of his music is incredible and I have been trying to adopt a similar sound to his by trying to write catchy melodies, but with unique instrumentation and production that sounds different from everyone else. It is kind of funny to know that artists like Harry Styles, Morgan Wallen, and Luke Combs competed on singing/talent competitions, did not win them, but became some of the most influential and successful people in the music industry. It is because they have a story, an image, and a brand. They are all unique in their own ways. I would want to share a stage with Harry Styles because he puts on incredible shows and I would want to become as good as him at crowd interaction. It is all about creating an experience for fans. This is why I am a huge fan of Harry Styles.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
I rent out a rehearsal space in South Austin and a week before meeting up with the band, we come up with a list of songs to learn and practice, so whenever we meet up, we are efficient with practice. Of course, it is not all serious and we have a good time. For every single practice, I always buy a pack of beers, and I always change it up for each practice. We like to try local Texas beers. We then determine the set list and which songs to create breakdowns in so we can have crowd interactions. Texas is an incredible place to be and I am excited to be pursuing my music journey here in this great state.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
The most difficult song for me to write was "Something in the Water". I wrote the guitar riff for this song when I was in middle school and I never knew what to do with it. It is funny to think about all the different melodies I have written over top of that guitar riff. Even though it is an upbeat guitar riff, I have written sad songs with it, angry songs, depressing songs, and much more. But, I never gave up on the guitar riff and I knew that I had to come up with a catchy melody to it. It was not until I went to college at UC Santa Cruz that I knew that I had to write a party song to the guitar riff. It was one of the most epic nights of my life while going to school there that sparked the idea and melody for the song. I probably should not go into the details, but it was very memorable. Even after this experience, it still took me a couple of years to finalize the lyrics because I was never completely happy with it. I had big hopes for this song for the longest time, and I hope I delivered. But I can confidently say, I am happy with how the song turned out.
What's coming up in the future?
I am excited for my next song "Burning Love" to be released everywhere on October 14th! This song means so much to me and "Burning Love" is about teenage love and how powerful that experience can be. It is about that overwhelming feeling of being with your first true love, but life takes you separate ways. I am currently working on a music video for "Burning Love", and I am working with the same videographer that directed and edited my music video for "Something in the Water". I like his work and his attention to detail, so I know he is going to do a great job on "Burning Love" as well. I also have a radio campaign set up for October and I look forward to my music being played on college radio. I am currently working on a fun project where I am going to do live in studio video performances of original songs as well as cover songs where I am going to cover Sam Fender, Morgan Wallen, Leon Bridges, and many more amazing artists. Lastly, I am setting up live shows in the Austin area and I am excited to play live. I have a great team behind me so there is a lot more in store. This is only the beginning.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
About JB Elwwod
"The moment I fell in love with music was the moment I first heard Slash from Guns N’ Roses shred the guitar. I must’ve been ten years old at the time, and the opening riff from “Welcome to the Jungle” inspired me to pick up a guitar. I come from a musical family in West Virginia, where some of my relatives, including my grandpa, played the fiddle, banjo and guitar, and others sang gospel songs on the local radio station. So, instead of formal lessons, I studied the legends, like AC/DC, The Eagles, Tom Petty and Led Zeppelin, and taught myself how to read and play music.
Music became a creative outlet for me. Growing up, my parents moved my brother and me around the country, bouncing from one state to the next. I spent a majority of my life in Chicago as well as its suburbs. I have lived in Los Angeles and Nashville as well. I learned how to adapt to new places and environments.
In recent years, I’ve planted new roots in Austin, Texas, which is home for me now. Austin is a vibrant city and rich in opportunity. I fell in love with its culture and people and knew it’d be the perfect place to launch my music career.
I’m a city boy with a country heart. I’ve never forgotten my Appalachian roots. A few years before my grandpa, “Poppy,” passed away, he told me: “Son, you sure know how to pick that guitar. Stick with it and you’ll go somewhere one day with it.” He believed in me so much that he gave me his 1960’s Gibson Dove guitar, which I‘ve used to write all of my recent music.
My stage name, “JB Elwood”, is inspired by my other grandpa, John Elwood Ball, who was a small business owner and entrepreneur in the coalfields of southern West Virginia. As you can tell, my identity and sound have been shaped by family and life experiences.
My music has a pop and pop alternative sound to it with my main influences on the sound of my music being Harry Styles, John Mayer, Rob Thomas, Tom Petty, and the Eagles. I am very excited to share my songs with everyone so people can find inspiration from them and live through my music.
I work with an incredible producer based in Nashville, Tennessee named Andrew Middleton. He has been an important person in my music journey that has brought my vision to life. My music would not be the same without him.
My goal is to write and produce music that tells stories that everyone can relate to. Whether you live in a big city, the country or suburbia, my songs tell relatable stories about love, heartbreak, commitment, change, ordeals and adventures. Simply put, I want my music to be the soundtrack to your life."
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