Interview by: Camila C.
From sweet summer indie pop to fiery alternative, singer and songwriter, JAWNY has something for everyone. His authenticity and freeform nature radiates in all his songs despite how versatile they are, and this rings especially true for his new single “Strawberry Chainsaw”. This summer, JAWNY gave us a peak at what led him to this light- hearted and whimsical song, how he stays true to his sound, advice for aspiring artists, and more!
Thank you so much for talking with me; so go ahead and introduce yourself.
"My name is Jawny. I am an artist from Los Angeles, California."
You’ve definitely had a super busy year so far. What was the process of working on your single "Take It Back" with your idol, Beck.
"Oh man! The process was in November of last year, 2021. We were supposed to get in the studio and work at the end of November, but he was on a tour. And then I was on a tour, and I don't think our teams could line up or make anything work, and then usually from like december to like January 15th the music industry and everyone in it including, creators, all kind of go off of the map and that's when Mariah Carey kind of takes over and “All I want for Christmas” just becomes the biggest song in the world. And then when February came back around everyone was getting back to work and getting back in the studio and doing things, we were trying to link up again, but then again he got booked for some shows, and I got booked to do the French Music Awards, so it became this thing where every time our teams were gonna try to get us to work neither one of us was around, once I got off stage at the French music awards I think I was just riding the little high, having a good runner’s high from it all because that was kind of crazy. I just shot him a text from Paris. I was just like ‘hey, I know we keep trying to get in the studio and make something new, but I actually have this song that I have been touring around the world for the last year; it’s got a crazy reception, and it’s almost to the point where I feel like I need to kind of give it another little push and another little extra love, and re-inject it into the world one more time. And I feel like it might have slipped through the cracks.’ And by the time I woke up in the morning he was already texting me back, being like, ‘let's do it. I like this song, send me all the stuff’, and I mean, from there the rest is history. I got to work with my idol; we made a song that I really dig. I love all the stuff he added to it, and he got to sing on the chorus and sing on the pre-chorus. We added new guitars, new production elements, and it was just a really cool thing. And I even ended up getting to go on tour with him after that across Europe, and it was a wild, crazy, full circle life moment. And like you said it's been a whirlwind of a year so far, it's been a little crazy, but I'm holding on, and I'm ready to see where this rollercoaster goes."
How was going on tour with Beck and how has any of your previous experiences prepared you for your upcoming tour with Oliver Tree. What are you anticipating to be different, and what are you wanting to change from your last experience for this tour?
“Oh totally. The tour with Beck was awesome. Shows are amazing. There isn't much to say other than that… I was on stage opening up for someone I really look up to, and that just feels amazing and awesome. As far as what's going to be different about this next tour,
I don’t really know. I feel like I have kind of given my all at the shows.”
“I feel like if you would’ve maybe asked me that question a year and a half or two years ago, I’d have a lot more of not critiques, but a lot more adventurous thoughts of where I’d get my set, and how I’d like to get it to sound. As of right now, I’m feeling pretty good. I think I’m gonna go on the Olivet tree tour doing the same thing I’ve been doing and just kind of keep this train chugging along, and Oliver is a good buddy of mine so it's gonna be a good time. We’re gonna go play some shows across the United States and it’ll be a swell grand old time!”
How does your new single "Strawberry Chainsaw" differ from anything you’ve ever released in the past?
“I think it falls into the same guidelines as every song I release, which is that every song is pretty much different than anything I’ve ever done haha. It’s kind of like a weird habit of mine that I keep accidentally doing where like ‘Honey-Pie’ doesn't even sound like it could even be made by the same person that made 'Take It Back’, “Take It Back’ doesn’t sound the same as ‘Best Thing’ and so on so forth. I keep accidentally doing that, but I guess in the direction this one goes in, I feel like I’m finally making (with this song particularly) music that I wish I could’ve made when I was 16 and 17, but I didn’t have the capabilities or the resources… or even the skill at the time. I didn’t know how to produce or write that good; it took me years to figure out how to write a song.
“Now with Strawberry Chainsaw, I feel like I’m making a song that I really wish that I had when I was like 17, because it's kind of like right in the vibe, that little indie pocket thing that I was into with influences of people that I used to relate with to when I was younger, and I’m feeling really good about it.”
I heard you base a lot of your art strictly on intuition without looking too deep into how it might play out. You pretty much just go by the first thought you have; that’s how you go into it. How has that given you more liberty in your passion?
“You are correct. I mean, it doesn’t become pretentious, you know what I mean? Like I don’t think too hard, not in like a simpleton way, it's just like…it’s music… you know, this isn’t ‘The 9 Inch Nail’ or a ‘Grave’. I’m not writing this deep freaking song. Like, when I’m writing a fun pop song I’m just having fun; I’m just getting on the mic and I'm singing whatever feels good off my chest. I can get to those darker moments, you know what I mean, but you know, ‘Hurt By The 9 Inch Nail’ is one of the best emotional written songs of all time. Like if I'm feeling really emotional then I might really start thinking about what I’m gonna say and how I’m going to say it, and what I’m trying to portray in this song. But for the most part, if I’m just trying to write like a fun upbeat song, then I just tend to really not think too hard about it . Same things that flow off of my mouth really easily and feel nice, and I don’t try to think too smart on if I sound smart or this line sounds like genius or something, because I don’t think people need that or really care about that. And I don’t think I really care about that. I think I just want to make something that feels really good to me that I like to listen to and that’s all I really care about it, like I don’t think anything else past that. If it feels good, and it gets me excited, that’s all I give a f*** about, and it’s helped me out throughout my passion for art. It helps you not feel like you have to pull teeth to write music. Sometimes, you know, like I said, if you want to channel something serious, there’s a time and a place to do that.”
“Man, sometimes you just want to get in the room and just make something freeform that’s fun, and that’s what art is about sometimes. Sometimes it can be very serious, but in this case, this is a fun, uplifting, indie, summer song, and I love it. I had a good time. I didn’t think about it too hard. I wrote it really fast, and I hope that you and anyone else reading this likes it as well.”
Let’s kind of jump back in time a little bit; what gave you the courage to leave nursing school and to continue pursuing music? What advice do you want to give your fans who may be struggling with starting fresh again in regards to a passion?
”Okay, so before I answer that, I need to be clear, so I’m not a fibber. Did I drop out of nursing school technically on paper? Did I ever even make it to the nursing program or take a single nursing class? No. I dropped out during the remedial classes. I dropped out during the math, and the science, and the credits you need to get before you even get to the nursing program.”
“I didn’t make it 6 months into my first semester at all. I just kept making beats in the parking lot, pretending like I was going to class. But any advice I'd give anyone, whether it's college or life or anything, is just do what you love while you can, you know? It’s kind of what I told myself, even when I was working a day job or really struggling to make everything work. Me and my dad would butt heads a lot when we’d be on the phone. It's like, I don’t want to be 50 or 65 years old, just never say that I did try at least, you know what I mean? I’d rather try then fail and than go do something I don’t love to pay the bills, than be one of those old guys that is just bitter that he never at least tried to do the thing that he loved, and this doesn’t even just apply to music. This is like ‘go be a f******* astronaut’ or for whatever reason your dream is to be an accountant, which I think is the most boring job in the world, but if for some reason that’s your dream, like go f****** do it or try to do it, or else you’re going to be one of those people that’s just miserable and didn’t ever do anything that you really wanted to do and just lived life for other people, and do everything you can to make it work . You know I try to do music but my god there’s times where I had to work all these crazy odd end jobs where I would wake up at 5 in the morning and then work a whole shift, and then go into my studio and make music and then do it all again the next day for like six days straight, every week for months on end like…it’s not fun sometimes. It’s not always going to feel like your living the freaking dream, but man one day you’re going to look back on those years though, like even how I do now, and I’m like man those are some of the best times of my life. Even when my back was up against the wall and everything was crazy and stressful…I kind of love it weirdly. I don’t know. I'm not a good ‘Ted Talk’ guy. Just follow whatever you want to do; do it to the fullest, live life with no regrets. God bless; there you go. “
Your upcoming music is said to be much more emotionally provoking; what inspired you to become more vulnerable with your listeners? How has this approach changed your writing process?
“I don’t think anything necessarily inspired it. As far as the genre, right, I don’t think I was like, ‘oh man, I am inspired to make mad music now’. Like I said with that last question, you know, from a couple of questions ago, sometimes you write and are like, ‘yeah I want to make up beat fire little bops, that’s really carefree and freeform; you don’t have to think super hard, but I'm a human, right? And life is a crazy, vicious cycle of love and heartbreak and disappointment, and there’s highs and there’s lows and there’s peaks and there’s valleys. And I’m a human at the end of the day that makes music and art as pretentious as it sounds, and I think there were times in my life like the human experience for the last couple years where things got really not super summery and bright outside. Like it didn’t feel that way to me with my perception of what was going on with my life and certain events. And because I’m an artist, and because I make music and that’s the thing I do everyday, I think some go those situations some of those memories or some of those things that were bothering me or something probably went into the art and the songs that came out happened to make that project; I liked it and that’s kind of the explanation why there’s some really serious songs and why there’s some emotional orchestral songs and moments . But yeah, in short, the human experience can be pretty wild sometimes. It's awesome. Sometimes it can be sad. I think my music reflects that and however I’m feeling. My music is like a mood ring that I have on my finger, and you kind of hear how I go through emotions in live time.”
Your music is so multifaceted in regards to genre , so how do you stay true to your sound while working with such a variety of music types?
“I think my true sound is shaping whatever gets me excited in my studio or in that room that day. It’s not so much as how I can fit my personality per se into a genre or song; if I’m already chasing that idea or writing that idea to begin with, no matter what the genre is, it's gonna sound like me because I only work on s*** that gets me excited and gets my gears going. I talk to my friends and say its like digging for dinosaur bones when you first start a song, no matter what the genre is, or the beat, or the melody, or the core progression, or the guitar, or the piano core progression you are starting with. I look at it as you’re just scraping through dirt, right. Or at least for me, I have that little brush, and I’m at the little site with all the other archeologists, and I’m just scraping the brush, and then when there’s like a core progression, or a beat, or something in a new genre that I write or do in the studio that gets me excited, it's like that’s where I see a little piece of a bone, and then I just keep digging and brushing and then I add this over there, and I keep digging and brushing and then I add these drums over here, and then I keep digging and brushing. And now I’m really excited because I’m about to uncover this thing, and then I start writing and I keep on uncovering this thing, and then eventually I take 10 steps back and it’s a whole f******* dinosaur or like a dinosaur leg, you know what I mean? And then that’s kind of what it's like for every song. Like, if it's released on my Spotify and made it past my crazy brain and made it onto my managers, and made it from managers to the label to be this song that I got super juiced about and finished.”
“Like I got hyper obsessive almost until I finished it…so it’s less about how to spit me onto a track and more about if I’m already juiced about something and I’m going in that direction it’s gonna have all of my little personality to it already because I couldn’t even be making the song unless I was extremely inspired and juiced about whatever was going on in the room that day, which is probably why they are all super different and one song never sounds like the other one which some can say could be a fault, but I don’t think it’s a fault. I think it makes it fun and ever changing and never gets stale for me, and it makes me shows f****** awesome for me, because I get to do all these different dynamics and different and different moments and different emotions. And it’s a cool time. It makes it so when I go on stage at a show it’s almost like a therapy session, like I have all these peaks and valleys and I have all these happy moments and sad moments and they are all lyrics that I wrote and things that I’ve related to, and I get to kind of go through it in live time at the show every single time I play it. It's pretty sick.”
A huge characteristic that makes you stand out as a musician is the whimsical nature of your sound. How have you connected to your inner child with your music?
“I love that question…”
“For the most part, when you’re a child, an infant, a baby, you don’t really know about the pain in the world yet, and you don’t really know how cruel life can be and how wild it can be sometimes. And I feel like, at least in my experience, if you ask about me and how I do as my inner child, I feel like if I look back at me being a kid, I just took on life as it was.”
“I think when I’m in a studio it’s the closest form I can get back to that, as far as the thought process.”
“I can just take on everything as it comes to me. “
Looking back at who you were writing your hit, "Honey Pie", what advice would you give that version of yourself? (The version of yourself writing that song before you knew anything that would happen or come of it)
“There's one time in my whole life, or my whole career, or my whole anything that I didn’t do any of the stuff that I said…”
“I chase what gets me excited; I’ve been harping on that, right? ‘Honey Pie’, I wrote in 20 minutes. I didn’t think too hard. I got excited. I made the song…wrote the song. I made it, didn’t think about it. Put it out, but I’m a human like I also said a couple questions ago and humans are complicated and wild individuals, and clearly I tried to be an artist for years and years and years and years and years and years with different aliases and different names and busted it out and tried for so long and I would get some success: a couple hundred thousand streams here, a couple hundreds thousand streams there. But when you put out a song and it gets viral, you have that thought of like, ‘well, clearly if I did X, Y, Z, this is the result, and when I do that, this is the result, so I just need to do this every time. That was where my brain went. I was like, ‘clearly this works so I have to do this again’, and I wrote and made the song ‘Anything You Want’, which it’s not like it’s not me or that I didn’t put myself into it, but it’s the only song I ever made or wrote that I can say that I think I made it for the wrong reasons, or that I was just trying to replicate a version of myself that was natural and connected with people, and I thought I had to do it twice, and this is all a long winded answer to say that I feel like if I could back in time to the moment right after I wrote that song, I would have this conversation with myself to say, ‘hey, this song you made is about to come out, and it’s gonna so wonderful, crazy, beautiful things for the next 3-4 years. And every time you think that moment is over, it’s gonna come back again and do something crazier than the first time. And then in 2021 when you really think it’s over, it’s going to do something even bigger than it ever did the first two times, and then this year in 2022 whenever you think it’s over, it’s gonna do something even crazier…”
“Don't let that get in your head, this all happened, and this is all the end result of you just being excited in the room that day and chasing what gets you excited.”
“Don’t overthink it; don’t make ‘Anything You Want’. Okay, goodbye. That’s what I would say.“
Talk to me about what else we should expect. Is there anything else you have coming up that you’d like to share with us?
“I have a song called ‘Strawberry Chainsaw’, that’s at the time that we are talking, coming out in a week, I believe.”
“I’m really stoked about it, and I’ve been sitting here kind of harping on how I kind of make things that I like and that people should just do what they wanna do, and what they like, and it’s a song that I just really love and I made it really fast, and it feels really good to me and I loved it for a lot of months before I submitted it for release and I’m really stoked that it’s about to come into the world and I hope that people enjoy it and can have a good time to it, and bop their little head around, and blast it in their cars or wherever they listen to music. And hopefully they like it, and if they don’t, that’s okay. I hope I have something else in my catalog that you might like, because like I said earlier, everything is a little different than the other one. And that’s all I got to say.”