We caught up with Columbia-based artist Jon Rooks following the release of his excellent single ‘Can’t Stop’. Read the full interview now!
Hi Jon, tell us about yourself?
I grew up in a small town in South Carolina, which was known for little else than being the birthplace of James Brown. I cut my teeth as a musician playing street shows outside of the metro in Washington, DC and playing over 300 shows a year in clubs at night.
What is your songwriting process?
I like what Hemingway said about writing drunk and editing sober. I lot of my songs begin chasing inspiration in the moment and very often half improvised in front of a crowd towards the end of the night. I read a lot, and sometimes I write down my best thoughts and try to marinate on them until I find ways to communicate them beautifully.
Tell us about your latest release?
This single specifically is about my frustration with the polarization of our cultural debate. I tried to ask questions that would help people consider how they establish moral authority and how not having a transcendent source to anchor our reasoning we’re left with just opinions. It feels kind of disillusioning like “We’re feeling high and our feet ain’t even touching the ground.”
Who are your musical influences?
I wrote this song listening to a lot of Anderson Paak and John Mayer and tried to mix those two vibes.
Who are your non-musical influences?
Non-musical influences would definitely be Jesus, philosophers like John Frame, and the random people that I get to talk to.
What’s the best gig that you have ever played?
Best gig…hmmm Notoriety wise I got open for Erykah Badu, Babyface, and Cee-Lo at the 2017 Funkfest in Charlotte, NC. I think honestly my favorite gig though was playing the Tiki Hut in 2019 with my band where the weather was perfect, the moon was shining on the water in the background, and everybody was locked in that it felt like magic. I looked at one of the guys in my band and started to tear up because it was so beautiful.
What is your funniest gig moment?
I get so many random things that happen at gigs between drunks grabbing mics, crowd surfing going wrong, and running off stage having to use the bathroom in a middle of a song. lol
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
The biggest obstacle for a lot of artists is learning how to be a businessman while growing as an artist. We have to learn to wear so many hats that small businesses would hire whole teams for.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
Work hard, pursue excellence, not competition; success is being able to say something true and make it beautiful and putting in the work so that people can hear it.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
I’ve got a lot of songs in the pipeline, but I’m also working on writing a book and maybe putting together a podcast. I guess the main goal would be to accomplish all that and still love my family and not neglect the people around me.
FV Music Blog August 2020
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