I first heard of John West from my friend Gelesia. The girl has been my concert/show company for almost two years so naturally I trust her instincts when it comes down to good music. Over the summer, she sent me a video of a live John West performance and from that moment on I was sold. His entire CD was on repeat for at least a month while I was at home over the summer. John West is an artist that reminds me a lot of the Seattle music I listen to. Although I have never seen him perform, his songs are very catchy and relatable to a wide audience. Plus he sounds just as good live on his tracks as he does on his CD, which believe it or not, that is not always the case.. John is great, let’s make him come to Seattle ya dig?
Q: Where are you originally from and has that influenced your sound if at all?
John West: I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana originally. I would definitely say the southern feel, particularly the jazz and blues of Louisiana have influenced the music I’m making. But so did Erykah Badu :)
Q: When I was sixteen years old, I knew I had wanted to work with music and PR when I planned my first concert. At what point did you realize, this is what I want to do?
J: In college I was studying art – cartooning to be exact, but music was something that I had pursued since I was a little kid singing in the church choir. It wasn’t until my last year of college, when I started my first real band that I was like “Hmm, I think this is my real passion.” Also, some of my music had been selected for an end-of-the year concert thing at Columbia College in Chicago where I was graduating from (another town that influenced my music). So that random opportunity inspired me to really go after it.
Q: What’s a typical day for John West, give us a run through.
J: Wake up 9:30am. 200 crunches and 100 push-ups – not really. More like 20 emails and 50 friend requests on Myspace/Facebook. I try to get a workout in three times a week. Emphasis on the word ‘try’. During the past summer, I’d be out on the Santa Monica Promenade 4-6 days a week. So that’d be from noon-8pm usually. I have lunch meetings sometimes, and even afternoon naps. I tend to work on writing/recording music in the evening. I stay up late watching “Mad Men” and “Californication“.
Q: Pick one: John Mayer, Jason Mraz, or Jack Johnson and why?
J: Ha, I like this one. I’m gonna have to say John Mayer because of that song he did with Alicia Keys. But I think hanging out with Jack Johnson could teach me a lot. And Mraz is just dope and making music that he loves to make – I think he’s the most interesting of the bunch.
Q: I follow you on Twitter, it sounds like you enjoy playing in lots of public places such as Third Street or the Promenade, why these places? I think it’s great that you are bringing the music to the public and expanding your fan base by the way, maybe more artists should do that!
J: Street performance is a great daily opportunity to get in front of hundreds if not thousands of new potential listeners, to refine your live show, to make a living, and to promote upcoming “traditional” shows. It has it’s ups and downs, but I’ve been loving it this year.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure collaboration? Who would you like to collaborate with that your fans might find a bit surprising?
J: I would love to link up with Wil.I.Am, I think amazing things could happen. Production is such a fascinating mystery to me. There are some real geniuses out there. Surprising collaboration? How about John West & The Jonas Brothers? haha
Q: The music industry is a tough business to get into, what is one hardship you have endured and what piece of advice would you give to those who aspire to become a successful musician?
J: It takes time, and meanwhile you get older. A hard thing to reconcile sometimes. You have productive months, and then months where you feel lost. My advice would be to make great music however you can. I think it’s valuable to understand ProTools or Logic (two most popular recording software) so that you make your own music or at least communicate intelligently in the studio. Promotion is so important. Exposure. Playing shows that make sense. For more advice, email me. I work as a new-model consultant haha
Q: What is on constant rotation on your iPod?
J: Pandora is my new iPod. I love setting up a station around Friendly Fires and Cut Copy. I like Thom Yorke’s new solo album (the single at least). I want the soundtrack to “Away We Go”. I like listening to jazz on 88.1
Katie note: I wholeheartedly recommend Friendly Fires and Cut Copy as well.
Q: Some of your songs revolve around love? Were these songs inspired by experience? What’s your idea of a perfect date and what traits do you look for in a girl?
J: Wow, what traits do I look for? I just want someone real and kind. Who loves to laugh and knows what it is to cry. Besides that, who knows – there are wonderful people everywhere. And yes, my love songs come from real experiences.
Q: Aside from yourself, who do you think is on the rise currently? Who should my readers be listening to?
J: I’m definitely no music expert, my finger is not on the pulse of the business, but I really dig that one rapper Blu. U-N-I are cool. There are probably a bunch of great singer-songwriters I’ve never heard of that are awesome and about to get record deals.
Q: Are you considering touring at all? And if so, Seattle will make the cut right?
J: Girl, you know I’ve got Seattle covered. Seriously though, expanding throughout the west coast is the next move for me.
Q: What’s new for John West? What can we expect from you in the next few months or year?
J: Autumn EP coming soon. Big Roxy show on January 23rd. Headlining on a Saturday night, wooo- new website in the works, more big moves coming soon :)
Me: Thank you so much John! Best of luck to you with your music and future!
J: Only two months late on the interview, but was my pleasure to answer your questions! They got me thinking.
To listen to more of John’s music visit his Myspace