Earnest and vulnerability mixed with a stream of conscious and intentional lyrics are an interesting balance for a pop track. For John-Robert’s music, it’s about where his intent lies for the perfect balance of all things artistic. John and Brandon talk about extremes and the balances in music, their relationship with obsessive thought loops and sleep, and along with writing from a perspective of exaggeration with some truth.
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Virginia native John-Robert probably received his biggest break by a chance in counter with Grammy-winning music producer Ricky Reed. Ricky’s credits include Twenty One Pilots, Jason Derulo, Lizzo, Halsey, and Maroon 5 just to name a few. What started as probably not the best of collaborations with another producer, Ricky decided to take John-Robert under his wing and introduce the world to the young songwriter. Along with Ricky Reed, John cites other early influences like the elements of folk and bluegrass where you can feel the sorrow of Johnny Cash or the observations of Sufjan Stevens. Also, the edge of The Weekend’s lyrics holds a place for John’s writing style. Pretty extreme if you take these references as they are but for John. Extreme is an intentional dichotomy of his craft.
One extreme is John-Robert’s voice. Once you hear his tone it’s undeniable that it’s unique, but with a hint of Jeff Buckley’s qualities of honesty and grit. Another extreme is John’s take on art, especially in his music videos. At one moment it could be a ride with Death on prom night, or a de-humanized bondage character searching for love. All compliments to his crafts, but John-Robert is not one for compliments. Paraphrasing a Jimi Hendrix quote, “Compliments are crippling…” adding that there is a risk of losing motivation and giving a sense of ego to lose a drive.
It’s interesting to mention extremes but as you listen to Brandon and John-Robert converse about his music. Balance keeps being referenced. Citing most of his works already released like Adeline EP, Bailey Barley Knew Me EP, and Healthy Baby Boy Pt. 1 EP. You begin to see a thread of how balance is incorporated but possibly unintentional in John- Robert’s works. A debate happens within the conversation, where either the representation of a song is about the production or the lyrics. Eventually, it might boil down to interpretation and intent where one doesn’t dominate the other in songs which ultimately can be described as…balance.
In this episode, Brandon and John-Robert also touch on obsessive thought processes, writing styles, and of course the music of Healthy Baby Boy Pt. 1 EP. John’s latest offering can be listened to on all streaming platforms as well as his past projects. For more links and episodes of Surviving the Music Industry with Brandon Harrington, subscribe on your podcast app here and visit www.smipodcast.com.