New York-based Indie rock singer/songwriter Jordan Sommerlad used to stay up late in his room to work on music when he was a teen and he still does the same thing today, recording in his apartment. Music has always been therapeutic for him; it’s a way to separate from the worries of the day.
For Jordan, this migration took him from a feeling of malaise that hung over him like City Of Angel’s smog, to soaking in vibrancy of Gotham life during artistically inspiring late-night Harlem walks.
Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?
In middle school for Christmas one year my aunt gave me a 4-track cassette recorder. Up to that point, I had been taking piano and guitar lessons, but that all felt a little bit like homework. When I had the chance to combine elements together and actually have something tangible to show for it, everything changed. It unlocked writing in a different way I hadn’t known before. Production is my favorite part of the process, and the real joy is hearing all the elements of a song come together for the first time in the form that other people will hear them in.
Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?
Usually, it starts by fiddling around on the guitar or synth late at night in my bedroom studio. Whenever I’m playing, I’m also recording, so the songwriting process and the recording process are sort of the same thing for me. If I find a riff or sound that I like, I find that I have to structure it out that night in one sitting or the song will probably die in demo-land. I have tons of half-finished samples of things that I keep wanting to revisit, but it’s really key to pounce on that initial excitement to make sure the skeleton of the track is there. Once that is in place, it’s just a lot of tinkering that usually goes on far too long before it’s finally finished.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Almost without fail it’s going to see bands I love play live. Halfway through a set, I’m itching to get back home and start working on a new song. Something about seeing the artists you admire most do the same thing you want to do just really works.
As a musician, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the art and the business. Is there anything about the music scene that you would personally change?
Eh, I could complain about streaming services for a while but one thing I’m consistently sad about it seeing people with crummy headphones. If I had one recommendation, it’s to get a nice pair of over-ear headphones, I don’t go anywhere without them.
Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
Studio work and music creation. The joy of coming up with a new song or sound that’s really working is tough to beat. It’s like knowing a secret before anyone else, and it’s so exciting to think you have this thing that no one else has heard but when they do maybe it’ll be the one that they love.
What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?
Soundcloud has been an amazing community to share music in. Once I got a message from a guy in Japan who covered a song I had uploaded. That was a first, and a very cool feeling, knowing that someone on the other side of the world was not only listening but making it their own.
What’s on your current playlist?
I’m on a Big Theif kick at the moment. I just saw them play here in New York, and it was a fantastic show.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?
My latest album, “Your Favorite Palindrome” just came out Oct. 4th. Thankfully I have a backlog of songs I’d been toying around with, and I’m going back to record in a friends studio in a month or so. It will be the first time I’m trying to do something outside of my own home studio, which is a new challenge I’m looking forward to. Other than that I’ll be playing live around NYC as much as I can.
Famous last words?
Progress not perfection, good words to live by.
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