Windup Exclusive: Jonas Martin premieres “Because Love”
Dallas based retro blues provocateur Jonas Martin is gearing up to release his new album The Color Scheme on August 26, and today is premiering a new track, “Because Love,” here at Windup.
His psychedelic genre bending is at sometimes unconventional, but Martin continually finds ways to mix old school ideas with modern production. His lyrics dance between tongue-in-cheek and heartfelt in a way that you can imagine Martin delivering every line with a smile, whether it’s a quirky observation or a sobering realization. Either way it’s real.
Today’s premiere “Because Love” was a therapeutic track for Martin, helping him come to grips with the passing of his father, a major theme on The Color Scheme. I talked with Martin about his new record, artistic growth and got his thoughts on how Dallas moves forward after last week’s tragedy.
WINDUP: Let’s start at the beginning Jonas, what’s the first album you can remember buying?
JONAS MARTIN: Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty. It came out the summer between 6th and 7th grade and I remember riding my bike to Sam Goody at Richardson Square Mall the morning it came out to buy it. I still love that album.
How’d you get into playing music in your early days?
It’s a long and boring story. The short version is this: I got into school band when I was 11 and stuck with it through graduation. At some point, I noticed that I seemed to have an intuitive knack for rhythm and melody. Add to that, being raised by a radio DJ father that adored music and then a rock star idolization in college and eventually I started writing my own songs.
What was the driving force behind leaving your band and going solo?
Well actually, I did the solo thing before I left the band. The reason for that was simple. We had three active songwriters including me, and output was strained. After a few years, that became frustrating so I put out a solo album. There’s a lot of compromising when you’re in a group but with my solo project, I can get all the creative collaboration I want and still be in total control. I liked that a lot, things seemed to move faster. So shortly thereafter, I decided to do the solo thing full-time and I haven’t slept since.
Walk me through a typical writing session for you: do you start with a lyrical idea, melody or just jam around until something clicks?
All of the above. It just depends on what is inspiring that day. Writing is fun for me but I think describing my methods is about the driest thing I could talk about. It’s not interesting. Let’s just say it’s a lot of sitting around, smoking cigarettes and searching.
Let’s talk about your new record, in what ways is this a progression from your first solo record?
The songs are better and sonically more interesting. I went into the studio with more knowledge of what I was doing and therefore more intent. I also think the subject matter is a lot deeper than anything I’ve done before. This one is more about me than the previous album. It’s fun, it’s sad, it’s happy, it’s yearning. It’s a well-rounded album.
How did the album evolve during the writing / recording process? How close is the final product to what you set out to make?
We nipped and tucked here and there during the mixing but otherwise, it came out exactly the way we wanted it. This is the hardest I’ve ever worked on anything in my life, by far. My producer and I spent a lot of time prepping so things mostly came off without a hitch. We did have to completely start over from scratch with two songs but they came out perfect in the end. Sometimes, you can spend too much time on a song and forget what you were going for. In those cases, start over and shorten the process.
I read your new album is a tribute to your father. What’s the most important thing he taught you?
Be curious about everything and never stop goofing off.
What do you hope people are able to take away from the new record?
That life is precious and we don’t have a lot of time to enjoy it. Spend more time truly connecting to other people and less time jerking off (literally and figuratively). Think for a moment and ask yourself, “Who do I know well? Like, actually know? Who cares about me? What’s the point of these things I do every day? Will this matter in 10 years?” I just want people to really live. Get out there and experience. Follow their dreams without fear or explanation.
You’re debuting a new song “Because Love” today, what inspired it?
This is actually the only song on the album that was co-written by someone. My producer Jason Burt originally brought me the main skeleton of the song and I kind of finished it. Other than the chords, his main contribution were the words “Love is all around you” and that seemed really profound to me. It might sound simple but it was exactly what I needed to hear. I was coming out of an almost year-long depression after my father passed away and those words really inspired me. The verses I wrote describe that realization. That you don’t have to be alone. That if you just look around, there are always good people that are willing to give you love and support. Also, I read that The Beatles used the word “love” a total amount of 613 times in their career. There are 37 in this song, so I’m doing my best to catch up.
What are your thoughts on releasing music in 2016: technology has made it even easier to reach people, but the market is also very saturated with talent.
It’s tough. I wish I had been around 50 years ago when labels were just handing out money. But yeah, I honestly don’t know. Sure, there’s more saturation now but there’s also a lot more opportunities to make a living. And more mediums on which to express yourself and your art. It’s a little overwhelming sometimes but I think overall, it’s a good thing. We have to embrace change.
I wanted to touch on your hometown Dallas and the events that have taken place there in the last week. How has the city responded to the tragedy?
I was actually there when the shooting started, participating in the demonstration against police brutality. I don’t know how the city is responding. For one thing, I was pretty traumatized so I wasn’t really watching the news for a few days after. Then, when I did start reading the news again and got back on social media, there was just either a lot of “Look how great our city is” stuff or a bunch of “Why don’t you idiots understand what ‘Black Lives Matter’ means?” Dallas is a fairly liberal city in a really conservative state. It’s not always easy to tell what people really think.
How do you feel we can grow as a society and move beyond these violent events being part of the norm?
Demand change from the people we supposedly employ to govern and protect us. If you’re scared, get involved. Join organizations that are advocating for change. Give them money. I also wish I knew the cure for racism and corruption but sadly, I don’t. All I can say is, keep yelling about it and make yourself heard. If more people get involved, we will grow. It takes time but eventually change will come. The young don’t stay young forever.
Where’s your favorite local spot to play in Dallas?
As far as the larger rooms go, Kessler Theater. But for a fun and kooky party atmosphere, I like to play at Double Wide. I always have a good time there and that’s actually where I’m having my album release party on 8/19.
What’s up next for you?
My wife and I are moving to Brooklyn. I love Dallas but I think it’s given us all it has to give for now and we need a change. She’s an actress/playwright/model/