JAWNY connected with AltPress for issue #399. During the 10 Topics conversation, the indie-pop artist talks about his greatest musical strength, his (almost) professional skateboarding career and the most important lessons he has learned so far.
GREATEST MUSICAL STRENGTH
I genuinely think my greatest musical strength is that I can play every instrument decently. I think it helps me a lot when I’m producing or creating music by myself. I might not be a god at any instrument, but I think by being just decent enough at everything, it made it so I can be a one-man band in my bedroom. I think that is what got me as far as I got before I was on a major label, and I owe a lot to that.
I have a two-headed toddler baby monster jump-roping on a fried egg.
I think my biggest inspiration musically, as of right now and the last couple of years, [is] definitely Beck, the White Stripes [and] MGMT. People like that had a really deep influence on me in [my] songwriting and teenage years, which are critical to [my] music now. The biggest inspiration outside of music is probably my mom, though. She gave up her whole life and all of her young-adult experiences and all of her chances to travel and do things for herself and be her own person. She gave up all of that shit, willingly, just to raise me and give me a good life. I wish I didn’t give her such a hard time in my teenage years, but I’m there now, and that’s all that matters.
COOLEST TRICK ON A SKATEBOARD
I was a god at skateboarding when I was 12 or 13. I was sponsored. My dad would try to get me sponsored by local companies in the area and try to give me free boards and shit. I could varial flip [over] six or seven stairs when I was 12. I thought I was going to be a professional skateboarder. Then I did not, and I lost all my passion for skateboarding. My father was very disappointed because he invested a lot and thought I was going to be a pro skateboarder one day. Now, I can still get back on a board. I can still push around the old woodblock. I can’t do shit anymore now, though. I could probably still land a varial flip on flat ground. If I had 10 tries, I could do it. That was a lifetime ago.
MOST SURPRISING SONG ON YOUR PHONE
I’m going to preface this by saying I know this record is super dated now. A lot of the lyrics are fucking terrible and misogynistic and awful. But I did recently play through the old 3OH!3 albums that came out when I was in middle school because I wanted to hear what it sounded like again. I have “Closer” by the Chainsmokers featuring Halsey, and I actually genuinely listen to it sometimes, and I’m not ashamed about it. I also have so much Conan Gray on my phone. I think “Maniac” is one of the best pop songs ever written. Oh, I have Jonas Brothers’ “Lovebug.” That shit slaps.
SONGWRITING OR PERFORMING SUPERSTITIONS
I feel like I live my life very freely and by the day. I have rules in place, but they’re not superstitions. Before a show, I may not talk as much, or [in] the days leading up to it, I might not be as loud or talkative or hyped. I do have a preshow ritual that’s pretty weird. The whole hour-and-a-half leading up to the show, I just don’t speak to anyone. I’m mentally preparing to go out and kill it. I feel the sense of preparing for battle. And then when that entry music hits, when that Taylor Swift song hits, we walk out, and we destroy. [The fans] just gave this venue their money to come see me because of a connection they have to my music. I feel like I got to prepare to go out there and give them a fucking show that they paid for.
FAVORITE MUSIC VIDEO
The “Honeypie” one is special. I got together with a friend. We didn’t even know what we were doing. We just went out and had a good day.
The best one I ever received was something like, “It’s really funny how people sleep. My mom sleeps on her back, and I sleep on my side and the whole world sleeps on JAWNY.”
GREATEST LESSON LEARNED THUS FAR
That’s a really easy one: to not try to chase anything, to always follow my gut. I was a baby in the industry—not in age but in the amount of time I’d been in the industry—and I had that song [“Honeypie”] go viral. It was so great and so cool that it happened, and [it] changed so many different facets of my life. But it also fucked my head up for the next nine months after that. Then you just realize you [don’t have to put yourself in an artistic box]. The whole reason why people like that one song is because that’s how you were feeling that day, and you did it organically. It doesn’t mean you have to repackage it or do it again. You just keep making organic songs that you like, and eventually, another one will connect with people.
WHAT FANS CAN EXPECT NEXT
If I was a betting man and people knew that I signed to Interscope in November of 2019, it would mean I did get picked up for an album, and I am working on an album. We’ll see what it sounds like. I’m not allowed to say anything else other than that, but I think an album is next. Maybe a song here or there, though.
Read the full article and more in issue #399, available to purchase here.