Advertisement

Interview with musician Jarrod Lawson

4 October 2014 | Jessica Johnston

"I literally was sitting three feet away from him and trying to keep myself together musically while feeling completely enamored and star-struck. One of my greatest musical memories."

We had a chat with American soul sensation Jarrod Lawson, ahead of the UK release of his self-titled debut album...

London Calling: When were you first exposed to the sound of soul music?

Jarrod Lawson: I was exposed to soul music as a young child. My father being a musician himself and one who always had a deep appreciation for soulful music, always had something playing on the turntable that would touch the soul.

LC: What did you listen to growing up?

JL: Growing up, I listened to a vast variety of music from classical, with artists such as Chopín, Debussy and Ravel, to jazz music and the likes of Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea… into the realms of r&b and soul music, with the sounds of Sam Cooke, Al Green, Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway.

LC: For those who have not heard your music, how would you describe your sound?

JL: I’d describe it as a fusion of r&b/soul songwriting a la 70’s vintage Stevie Wonder with a bit more of a modern jazz complexion. There’s definitely a strong NEO-soul element as well, taken from my absolute fascination with the sultry stylings of D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Van Hunt, etc.

LC: Tell us about your debut album...

JL: This album is a culmination of a decade of thoughts and feelings about life, love, spirituality, and togetherness. It has been THE labor of my creative life thus far. I feel that the soul music scene has been long lacking in music that is lyrically fulfilling, melodically and compositionally rich, while retaining a make-you-move, danceable groove orientation. So, that is what I have attempted to bring to the table with this album. In general, my goal is to stir up people’s minds with provocative lyrics carried on the back of infectious grooves and beautiful melodies.

LC: When you are writing songs what comes first, lyrics or music?

JL: Every song is different. Songs come to me in various different ways. Sometimes it’s the lyrics first. Sometimes it’s a melody. Sometimes it’s a catchy bass line or chord progression. I approach songwriting from all angles.

LC: How long has it taken to put this album together? What has the process been like?

JL: The album took about three and a half years to complete recording, mixing, and mastering. The process has been incredibly exciting, and yet extremely educational for me. I feel as though the next record project will be much smoother and more easily executed as I now have a much clearer idea of the potential pit-falls involved. Because of the fact that I made the decision to record a large portion of this record at home alone in my own space, my skills as an engineer have increased ten fold over the course of the project, which will certainly come in handy on the next go-around.

LC: You have played at Stevie Wonder’s birthday party, how did that come about? What was it like?

JL: I was performing weekly at a restaurant in Portland called Quartet, the owner of which, a man named Frank Taylor, new Stevie Wonder personally from a past time when Frank had owned a restaurant back east. Stevie had come in to eat one night and the two of them apparently hit it off immediately and became close friends. Fast forward to last year, Frank decides he wants to bring Stevie to Portland for his birthday and throw a big party at the restaurant for him. Stevie agrees. Frank reached out to Farnell Newton and myself, asking us to assemble a band to back up Stevie Wonder. It was a dream come true! A completely surreal experience…one I’ll never forget. I literally was sitting three feet away from him and trying to keep myself together musically while feeling completely enamored and star-struck. One of my greatest musical memories.

LC: When will you start working on a second album? Who would you love to collaborate with?

JL: I’ve already begun working on the next album. I’d like to have it out in the next year and a half or so. I would love to have collaborations with Erykah Badu, Lianne La Havas, Lalah Hathaway, Snarky Puppy, Lewis Taylor, D’Angelo, Moonchild.

LC: What should audiences coming to see you live, expect?

JL: They should expect a spiritually enriching experience…food for the soul and mind…and a healthy dose of spontaneity.

Jarrod Lawson releases his self-titled debut album on October 13th - Listen here. Lawson will be performing at Ronnie Scott's on 4th October with a live web stream of the show from 11pm.

Advertisement

Most popular

What to See at The Cinema
What to See at The Cinema
Advertisement
Top Theatre of the Week in London
Top Theatre of the Week in London
Advertisement
The Best Exhibitions in London Right Now
The Best Exhibitions in London Right Now
Advertisement
Top Gigs of the Week in London
Top Gigs of the Week in London
The Best Street Food Markets in London
The Best Street Food Markets in London
Spotlight on: Gay’s the Word
Spotlight on: Gay’s the Word

Your inbox deserves a little culture! Get our monthly newsletter

Advertisement