Welcome to BuzzMusic Jon Davis! We are loving your banging new tune "Easy"! What was the production and songwriting process like for it?
"Easy" was a really fun song to write. It started out as a ballad but evolved during the writing process. I sketched out the chords on the piano mapping out the concept for the song, but it took a dramatic turn when I ran it through the production software on my laptop. Up to that point, I had written a lot of music that had a very adult contemporary feel, and I wanted to branch out of it. I took the piano progression and ran it through a synthesizer plugin that arpeggiated the chords (bounced the chords around) and gave it a really fresh commercial feel. The only surviving element from the original was the pre-chorus, "I wanna love you like we were young" everything else underwent an enormous shift from my contemporary sound to a pop contemporary hybrid, and that was a very exciting leap for me as an artist. I think as a writer, one of the most challenging things to overcome in the early stages was the eclipsing need to communicate an enormous, profound, and earth-shattering message which can be an enormous distraction from writing what you feel and letting the entire piece of music communicate its own message. What ended up coming out was the first real blend of my classical training and something I would actually bop to or blast driving up the coast in LA.
We are loving the power in your vocal here, it's incredibly dynamic and moving. How has your classical training influenced your writing and performance of "Easy"?
The majority of the people around me in my immediate circle would consider me a writer who can sing, but I've always considered myself a singer who can write. The funny thing about my identity as a writer is it completely arose out of necessity and not necessarily because I believed at the time I had a profound message to communicate to the world. I loved to sing and just didn't hear any pop music by male vocalists that I could actually sing, or that I could really connect with. As a baritone with a partial tenor range, I wanted to find a way to incorporate a Josh Groban style in a more commercial way, and there really wasn't anything like that at the time. I think that's generally how unique ideas emerge; not out of a desire to be different or unique, but a desire to be included and represented ultimately leading to an unintentional filling of a vacancy. Over time I've found I have quite a bit to say in my music. I'm a very emotional person but I've always struggled to express that aspect of my personality and found that passionate, and emotive lyrics and vocal really helped me to express myself. All of those things combined allowed me to stumble into "Easy" - My classical training, and my love of commercial pop. I also grew up singing choral music and played the cello which definitely has had a heavy influence on my love of melodic music. My choral background inspires a love or dynamic harmonies, which you don't hear much of in "Easy" but you will hear more of in other songs being released in the coming months.
It's really exciting to work with C-Ray, what was that like? How did you get to work with him? Do you have any interesting stories?
C-Ray was so much fun to work with. Right before we started working together I was really at my breaking point. I had been working on my music for nearly two years. I knew a good number of people from my early days in acting but was really discouraged at how little I'd been able to accomplish in music. C-Ray and I were introduced by my first commercial agent Raynard Pearson. I hadn't spoken to him in years, come to find out he had been watching my music development on Instagram and had begun talking to C-Ray about me setting the stage for a potential partnership. Chris is very creative, but what I really loved about working with him was his meticulously detailed nature. Creative professions tend to have a reputation for being very unstructured, but I found both Chris and I were very aligned in our organization and diligence which made the entire process of working together very smooth. He also has a phenomenal way of hearing the "soul" of a song. I already had very structured cohesive ideas when we started working together, but he would listen to only the top line of the vocal without any surrounding instrumentation and it was really impressive and fascinating to hear what he heard. The process allowed me to dramatically elevate my music. "Easy" was particularly exciting because the song was such an active representation of its own musical evolution from the original piano ballad to the final product.
Your sound is quite unique. There are a lot of interesting moments throughout the record. What inspires you to create the music you make? Do you have any idols you look up to?
I touched on this a bit in question number 2, but my biggest inspiration was to create music that I could actually sing, which made me feel good, and that was vocally inspiring. My biggest music idol has always been Whitney Houston. When I write, I don't write for any particular audience, I write what makes me feel good, and I hope and assume that whoever needs to hear it will hear it one way or another. I write what I care about, what I feel strongly about, and what I feel like people need to hear at any given moment. Not every song is "Easy" some are grittier, some are sexier, some are more somber but I believe music is meant to be an honest expression of the heart and its emotions - the good, the bad, and the ugly. I believe that if I'm inspired to write it must come from a space that connects me with others who feel the same way, and that's really the healing/unifying power of music.
What can we expect to see from you throughout 2020?
Well...! 2020 is off to an interesting start but what better time than the present for new music! I have a few more songs coming out in the coming months and each has a very unique personality. I expect to touch a few hearts and move a few bodies, even if it's in a quarantine dance party in your living room ;)
Listen to "Easy" here.