Interview: Five Minutes with Jon Doe

          Image credit: Mike Musanu

Let’s explore the mind of Jon Doe – the rising mysterious musician from London making waves with his latest single, ‘In My Dreams’. Self-taught, the artist enjoys experimenting with sound on as many different forms of music as possible – learning the guitar and the piano, as well as singing, writing and producing his own music. ‘In My Dreams’ (released via Odd Grove Records) was written on impulse, inspired by a dream and driven by thoughts of the perfect partner, just out of the grasp of reality. 

Stream/ download ‘In My Dreams’ 

Cheerful, light and taking us back to the early days of indie-rock, we knew we wanted to sit down with the unique musician. Learn more about the enigmatic Jon Doe in the exclusive interview below. 

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

It’s an industry that I can truly say is unique in comparison to any other. The arts allow you to express a moment or a feeling in your life and once it’s released and out there in the world it’s like a time capsule of that moment or feeling that you can reminisce about later on should you wish to. I love being able to creatively express myself and to say to myself that this is my profession is a dream turned reality. Not to mention the power music has to connect people with one another it’s truly incredible and inspirational I feel like I can genuinely help people this way whether they want to laugh and feel good or need someone who knows what they’re going through. Music is that metaphorical friend who’s gets you completely.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

It’s always been a mixture of the two. There are times I’ve heard the sound of a new song in my head and replicated the entire track without having a clue what the song is going to be about and vice versa. It’s never just one way or another I think that’s too systematic and that’s not what music is to me. It’s more of a stream of consciousness a go with the flow attitude.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Not at the moment. Although I have a lot of fellow musicians that span across genres that I have in mind to collaborate with in the future. It may happen sooner than you think. But at this current time no there aren’t any.

What’s on your current playlist?

I’ve always had such a diverse taste so this question I could answer in an entire 20-page essay if I wanted to so I’ll keep it to the 5 most recent artists I’ve had on repeat. So far it’s been Wallows with their album Nothing Happens I love their sound and lyricism it truly feels like I’m in a small suburban town in America whenever I listen to them they’re great! Secondly, it would be The Neighbourhood whom I’ve only recently got into properly but I love their work from Wiped Out to Chip Chrome & The Monotones sonically they have a sound that I can only describe as ethereal yet grounded a weird dichotomy. And lastly, Parannoul with his album To See the Next Part of the Dream. This album is truly something special and one of the biggest inspirations for my most recent and future releases. It was one of the first albums to introduce me to shoegaze and I’ve fallen in love with the genre ever since. From the noisy production to soft vocals although I don’t understand a word of it due to the album being by a Korean singer/songwriter, the album feels claustrophobic and dreamy. It is truly worth a listen I highly recommend it.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

Since I started my solo career properly during covid I can’t say I’ve had a chance to truly gauge the chemistry between me and my fans on a stage yet. But I’d like to believe it would be quite special between me and the fans. I’ve always been a big fan of smaller venues due to the intimacy it creates between the musician and fans. So I’d like to describe it as exactly that. Intimate. 

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Anything and everything. I’ll try a bunch of different and perhaps unorthodox methods and effects such as a bit crushed guitars or heavy reverb on pianos I want my sound identity to be more than one thing or instrument that defines it. I want someone to hear a track and understand that it’s different in terms of genre but that it still sounds like Jon Doe. I’d say it comes down to conviction and doubling down even when people say this isn’t your sound stand behind what you create and people will accept it as yours if that makes sense.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Like I mentioned early I believe music is a stream of consciousness. So it’s very relaxed and chilled out and I’m a firm believer that you get the best ideas when you’re relaxed I can’t tell you how many times that has happened. So once I’m relaxed I’ll usually pick up a guitar or piano and start playing, just keep on playing until I’m feeling the vibe of what it is I’m playing. I’ll then proceed to lay down some drums and other melodies and before I know it I’ve got a fully fleshed-out song. Then I usually just bounce it all down into an mp3 and sit down listening over and over again until I’ve written the lyrics and once that’s done I record my vocals and then mix it all together the next day. That’s the core of my day in a recording studio.   

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

I was 16 just got out of high school and like most 16 year olds I had no clue of what I wanted to do. All the pressure was overwhelming I went to a few opening days for various things. It wasn’t until I heard The Weeknd’s “I Can’t Feel My Face” that I not only admired the artists work from that point onwards as well as his previous work, but that I decided to try my hand at music again and I never looked back. For context, when I was 12 I went and auditioned for Britain’s got talent as a singer. I didn’t get very far and I was crushed by the rejection that I stopped the idea of doing music until I picked it up again 4 years later.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Water, Water, Water! It can get hot while performing, you might get anxious, or just general thirst. It’s essential to stay hydrated and now I almost feel like I need a sponsor for this bit. Shout out Evian hahaha

Any emerging artists on your radar?

All the time. But one that has really caught my eye is Dayglow. His songwriting is phenomenal as well as his production. A big inspiration and definitely one to watch for the near future. 

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Honestly,  it could be anything. I might hear a line in a film or see a quote or listen to another song or hear a conversation on the street or see something interesting and the list goes on. Everything in life can inspire you all you have to do is stop for a moment and absorb it all in.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

It’s a very modest collection. There’s a lot of synths on my wish list so if anyone would like to buy one for me it’d be much appreciated haha. Other than the main essentials to record music I don’t have much outside of that and I honestly don’t think I’d need it. They’re luxuries to me they’re nice to have but not needed. As for software I use Logic Pro X. 

Any side projects you’re working on?

A few, but for one of them I’m contractually bound to not reveal anything. As for the others, I have a few collaborations in the works. Nothing is set in stone yet but only time will tell.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Constant practice. I was once told that to be a musician is like being an athlete you have to stay on the top of your game 24/7. I remember when I first started out I couldn’t sing to save my life. Now I can go into my falsetto with ease or belt or do whatever I want. Of course, I have a long way to go and I am far from a master of my craft but I’ll get there eventually.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

A whole lot of new music! And maybe a tour if the guidelines permit it.

Famous last words?

Maple syrup and pancakes tastes so good!

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