JRtheBand - 10 Questions Music Interview
JR is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and composer of modern rock anthems. JR's mission is to find common ground among us and keep rock alive by channeling a diverse and eclectic range of influences. Under the surface of this sound, fans discover stories about complex human emotions. JR started releasing original songs in late Summer 2019 and has released eight songs as of September 2020, with song number nine, "Blind Eye Beholder", due for release on October 2nd. JR has built a small, but passionate and growing fan base. JR reached 23,500 plays on Spotify with his top song "Not the Enemy"garnishing over 5,000 plays. On YouTube, he has hit 415K views with 570+ subscribers. His lyric videos have been very popular with four lyric videos each having 100+ likes. On social media, JR's loyal fanbase is growing with equally impressive numbers.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I can't put my finger on that one. Ever since I can remember hearing music, I've never been able to turn the song off after I heard it on the radio. If I loved a song, it would play over and over in my mind, but my mind would always take the melody and stretch it in new ways. By the time I got done tweaking a melody in my mind, it was something totally different. So I guess you could say I've been writing music since before I could physically write anything. The catalyst for getting those unstructured melodies out of my head and into structured, recorded song form only came in the summer of 2018 after a major life event made me realize it's now or never.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I've been wrapped up in the studio writing and recording for the last 2 years, which has yielded 23 songs, 8 of which have been released so far. A good friend of mine who owns a production company, True Story Films, saw me working hard and liked what he heard so much that he offered to produce a professional music video shoot for my song 'Stray Dog', on his dime. This allowed me to fulfill a childhood fantasy and record a pro video of one of my own songs. It really captures the essence of who I am and what I'm about as a writer and performer. I released that video, not two months ago, and it already has over 100,000 views on YouTube. Definitely the early highlight of my career so far!
What has been the high point of your music path?
The personal fulfillment associated with creating and releasing original music. Through this journey, I've developed a songwriting process that works for me and I'm proud of the fact that I have done everything my way. Being the quintessential one-man show, I am the writer, the composer, the performer, the producer, and the money guy. I haven't taken a dime from anyone, and I own everything I create, from the rough to the master. That allows me to be completely free and write from my heart, but also not rush anything. It gives me space to continuously iterate (and fail!!) on lyrics and melodies until I find the one I know in my gut is true, the one that gives me goosebumps.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I always write the music first, usually on an acoustic guitar, then the lyrics. I was a guitar player long before I ever attempted singing, so that might explain why. I'll write a chord progression on the acoustic guitar, then I'll record it. I'll drive around listening to it for days sometimes weeks, and then see what melodies form in my head. Typically, at least 10 melodies will come out of it. Some of those melodies turn into the bass line, the electric guitar solo, the overdubbed guitar parts, and/or the main lyrical melody. Then it's back to the studio to iterate and lay down the various instrumental parts which came out of my driving efforts. I wake up every morning and go driving to see the sunrise - this hour in the car every day gives me countless inspirational deep thoughts to write about :) If fans would like to see the process in action, I take you through it on my website where I post three versions of every song I release - the acoustic idea, the instrumentals, and the vocal version so you can see how the song formed, developed, and then closed with lyrics.
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 for an Indie Artist has to be the fact that just staying relevant takes a lot of work and self-promotion, like 24-7. It involves immersing yourself in social media and embracing it as a tool for promotion. For many artists, myself included, it was a difficult transition to make and can still feel overwhelming at times, because you also have to stay just as dedicated to your craft and improving your abilities, but you have to be willing to self-promote and you have to be willing to hustle. If you're anything like me, the hustle part is easy, it's the self-promotion part that doesn't come naturally. If I would change anything it would be to somehow make songs more valuable so that streaming can be a viable income source for artists who willingly do that hard work and self-promotion.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I would love to be up on stage singing and playing my song 'Footprints in the Sand' with Dave Matthews Band. Dave is one of the most prolific songwriters of my time. I appreciate his earnestness in songwriting, like how he goes all-in. I envy that release and always wonder if I could ever fully give myself over to my art like he can. Plus we have similar philosophies on the power and usefulness of the acoustic guitar :)
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
My performances are relegated to the studio, especially during lockdown. As a full-time songwriter at least as far as music goes, I am open to performing, but my happy place is in the studio, creating. You know how they call people who spend too much time in gyms "gym rats"? If there was a similar word for studios I'd be a "studio rat" :)
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I have a song called Live my Grace. I wrote the original lyrical melody for a female vocalist I was going to collaborate with. She had a beautiful voice and great range, but that collaboration went south, and I learned the old adage: "If you want something done right...". So I started taking vocal lessons and learned how to sing. And I've been singing my own lyrics ever since. But that particular song 'Live my Grace', since it was originally written for her voice, gave me the most fits, but on the flip side it probably expanded my range more than any of my other songs!
What's coming up in the future?
I've released eight songs in the last year, with number nine, "Blind Eye Beholder" coming out on 10/2/20. With another 14 songs in the bag, I'm just waiting to release them to you all! I've been averaging a release every 1-2 months, so I'll keep on releasing music until some big label backs me, buys my catalog, or I can't write anymore :)
Tell us where fans can access your music?