Written by Dustin Sclafani
As music continues to evolve and grow so do the outlets, we used to listen to it and so does the way in which artists are discovered. Whether we are talking about the old days documenting Americana for the national libraries that brought us Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, or the buzz of the Sunset Strip in LA that brought us the Doors and Motley Crue. Or even the gas station encounter that gave us the great Toni Braxton leading to the YouTube discovery turned bidding war that gave us Justin Bieber. There will always be new ways for industry people to discover the next big thing. That is the case with the amazing artist I had the opportunity to sit down with before his show tonight at the Foundry. Let’s get to know a little bit more about JAWNY.
Dustin Sclafani: Did you fully get your sea legs back after the rollercoaster of going from an unknown artist to being signed to one of the biggest labels out there today?
JAWNY: Like I think so but probably also no hahaha. I am definitely in a better place than I was in 2019, I didn’t know wtf I was doing when I signed. I didn’t pay my dues; I just got a Disney fast pass from nobody to somebody with streams and I don’t think I knew how to maintain that expectation because I was still learning how to be a better songwriter and producer. I think by now though going into 2022, I have a better compass of where I’m going and what I’m doing but still learning every day. It’s a wild thing. I’ll always be learning. Music is always changing!
DS: What artist do you consider your biggest influence?
J: I don’t think I could ever pick one or put together a definitive list ever. There are just too many. But, If I must name a few off the top of my dome though I really like MGMT, Beck, the White Stripes, the Killers, Mac Miller, Luthe
DS: What inspired you to write “Honeypie”?
J: I do not think anything really inspired me. Something just naturally came out in a room that day and I did a thing. I spent a year trying to explain it or figure it out or pinpoint what the root was or how that happened or what inspired that so I could do it again hahaha. I learned that it’s nothing. No pretentious answer. No like deep-rooted emotion or story. I just chased something that excited me in my room that day and I still do that to this day with no expectations. It makes music fun.
DS: Do you prefer a studio to live performance and why?
J: I prefer studio over live performance any day of the week. Shows are cool and I’m extremely grateful to have the privilege to die on this earth having experienced people sing my lyrics. It is insane. Outside of that awesome hour of live shows, I would not trade for the world a lot of other shit that goes into just making that one show happen. Lots of strain on the voice and I’m not really a good singer, so I am always f*cking my voice up haha, sometimes not finding time to get a meal in your stomach, playing a show, and not getting back to your spot until 1 am and you have a 7-8 am rollout time to the next city where you sit in a car for six hours. It is a grind for sure, but each set makes it worth it once you are there with the audience, but as much as I love it, if somebody put a gun to my head and said choose between that or waking up whenever you want and going to a studio on your own time and doing whatever you want with no pressure, I would pick the studio 10 times out of 10 hahaha. I was born to be in the studio and eventually, that will be my job to just write for other people once everyone decides they are done with JAWNY and wants to take him out back and get rid of him.
DS: What has been the “omg is this real?” moment for you that best describes your experience?
J: Oh boy. I don’t know. There have been a lot of those, especially when my song was doing its little thing in 2019-2020. I mean that the entire process of signing a deal was wild. The whole bidding war thing and doing 15 meetings and flying back and forth from LA to NY for different dinners. I went from being a fry cook to having meetings about numbers that would change my life forever within the span of a month. It was all a funny thing to watch happen because the entire time I was just thinking “y’all have no idea you are bidding on an idiot. like I have no idea what I’m doing.” Thank God I figured it out hahaha. I used to have terrible imposter syndrome, but now I do not.
DS: What established artist is on the wish list? If you had the chance who is the most have collab?
J: Beck. Easy. Next question.
DS: What is your favorite style of music to listen to?
J: Oh man, it is all over the place. I do not think I have a favorite style. It can legit go from Slipknot -> Conan Grey -> Jonas Brothers -> Hum -> the White Stripes -> Taylor Swift -> Maxo Kream.
DS: Who has been the artist comparison that you get the most, but you can’t wrap your head around?
J: I legit do not even know. You would have to tell me. I have not heard too many, the closest thing I could compare myself to is Garbage.
DS: Mark Twain once said, “writing is easy you just open a vein and bleed all over the page.” Do you relate to this as a songwriter or do you pull inspiration from a different place?
J: I mean. Honestly, not really. Like sometimes, yes, but I would be lying if I said I do this all the time to channel stuff. If I want to pull from my personal experiences, I can, and do at times, but also inspiration can come from a conversation. Watching a kid ride his bike around with childlike joy. Standing behind somebody at the grocery store, reading a line off the internet, and even watching a movie.
DS: From concept to distribution how long do you usually take to create a piece?
J: Oh man, my answer to this is not by me choosing anymore but at this level of operation (the major label world is what I mean I guess), there are just rules and order. You get the music done and you get the master and then you got to give them a proper runway for the song and make sure there are not competing releases sometimes, get your budgets approved for your music videos, and everything lined up. It is hard to give you an answer if you know what I mean. Back in the day when it was just me, it was like yeah, I made this, it is done, I am going to put it out. I am grateful that it is not that simple anymore though because that means that the team is growing bigger, and we are evolving.
DS: Your personal playlist, what would be the one song or artist on there that would surprise your fan base the most?
J: I don’t know. I am pretty open about my music taste, so I do not think anybody would be surprised. Jonas Brothers, Lovebug though.
DS: You wear many hats, performer, songwriter, producer…. What hat suits you the absolute best, which one is the truest example of the person behind JAWNY?
J: I think songwriter/producer only because it is just like an extension of me. At the end of the day when I play a show live or whatever it is, music videos, interviews, I am not pretending to be anyone other than me, but I am like ON if that makes any sense. I am there to make sure nobody leaves disappointed. There is an expectation. Something to live up to. I want to be the best form of me that I possibly can be and give everyone a good f#$%ing show because every person who bought a ticket changed my life. The studio songwriter/producer part of my life is a little more forgiving. If I wake up sad and do not really want to turn that switch on, I can go into the studio and make a sad song. If I am mad, I can vent that out. If I am happy, I can let it out. It is the place where I can just be 100% me and there is nobody watching and nobody to disappoint other than myself. I like that hat.
DS: As someone who wears many hats, do you see yourself further branching out? Film? Acting? Directing? Where do you see your next evolution?
J: If acting, def only in the most minor form but I do have plans to write a TV show one day. If I ever acted, it would be like a minor role in that but that is on my list and has been on my list since before music. I have written a pilot before but never gotten to do anything serious, but I have ideas with my writing partner, and when the time is right, and music is not consuming my life every moment of every day, I will def try to do that.
DS: You can only share one tip with the artistic generation coming up, what is it and why?J: Tik Tok is kind of unhealthy, making kids who just started any art form think that if they aren’t blown up in 6 months, they are a failure hahaha. It’s crazy to see. A lot of people originally only knew me from “Honeypie,” but I was making music for 4+ years before that on different monikers and alias’s just getting nowhere, and that is ok! Even when my song blew up, I thought i got it 2 early. If you are working hard on something and it’s not working out, that does not mean that it can’t work out in the future? The inflation of streams, likes, and views and stuff is insane to me every day… I see some narration videos on Tik Tok of somebody being like “Yo what’s up, I’m “Sam.” I’ve been making music for 2 months and I have TEN months left to make this work.. or I’m going to have to quit… and go to college” and I’m just like YO. you got time yo y’all are young hahaha. I didn’t pop until I was 23. I dropped out of college twice. I do not know, I guess that is the only thing I would want to say is do not feel like you are failing because you are not “viral.” Music lasts forever. Kids might be doing a 2-step to your song 7 years from now on some app called ping pong you never know.
DS: A lot of artists begin to build stables or record labels to reach back and shine a light on other artists, like Ye and G.O.O.D Music, can we expect the same from you?
J: I’m gonna keep it real with you. I don’t know what I’m eating for dinner tonight or what the cover is for my next album. So, the thought of thinking about anything like that is miles away from my brain. Let’s just wait and see.
DS: As artists, we are constantly surrounded by talent “on the come up.” What new artist do you have your eye on?
J: [The] People on tour with me right now are fire. Handpicked them. Spill Tab “slaps.” Vanillaroma “
DS: Finally, a lot of people will look at what you do as “living the dream” has it been a true dream for you, or are you dreaming even bigger?
J: It’s definitely a dream come true when I think about it hard but also, it’s life you know. Back then I used to think, oh man once I get _______ THEN I am going to feel like I am here and that I am like doing it and everything in life is sick. Then you get to that goal of whatever it is and your like wait, woah, nothing has changed, and I feel the exact same. I will tell you what… for that one hour that I get to be on stage for a show and I am listening to people scream the words to songs I wrote that ish is what makes every negative thought wash away. That is when I feel like I am living the dream. That is when I feel the most grateful because I did not do anything. I did not get any streams, I did not sell any records, I did not sell ish. My people bought it. My people listened. My people streamed it. I would be nothing without those folks and I will never forget it.
DS: Thank you so much for this opportunity and I totally look forward to connecting in the future.
J: Yes sir, you too.
It is always an honor when a busy artist takes time out of the whirlwind to show us a little bit of the person under the art, especially when they understand the process of making music is bigger than just writing a dope track. So, if you have the opportunity to catch him whether at the show tonight at the Foundry or any time he is around. I say do it I mean he did promise to give you his all in every performance and trust me when I say that is not an easy feat.
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