A little bit of John Mayer, a little bit of John Legend, and a whole lot of Alt R&B soul. Meet the cheerful, laid back, and incredibly talented Ezra Jordan.
SKYN sat down with the talented musician to talk music, motives and all things Ezra.
SKYN: Who the heck is Ezra Jordan?
EJ: I’m a 23 year old guy from Toronto. Music is all there has ever been for me, I never even considered trying to do anything else with my life. On the surface I’m cheerful, goofy, and very laid back (almost to a fault), but quietly I’m kind of a serious person. This serious side of me has really only surfaced in the last 5 years after some pretty dramatic life events really changed me.
SKYN: Oh wow, that's fascinating. Funny how life events can out all of our different sides like that. Speaking of sides, you've got a pretty versatile combination of them to your music. I mean, to us, you’re kinda like John Legend meets John Mayer, but with a more soulful twist. Ha, is that how you hear yourself too? How would you define your style of music?
EJ: Firstly, I will definitely take that as a compliment because I love the music those two make, especially John Mayer. He is probably my biggest influence. That said, my style of music comes from a lot of different places. Growing up and listening to music, my taste went through all different phases, all the way from Backstreet Boys to Sum 41 to Rise Against to Coldplay to Skrillex to James Blake. I like to think that I pulled a little bit from everything I used to enjoy to finally bring me to the music I’m making now, which I guess you could say falls into the “Alt R&B” genre.
SKYN: Ha, that's wild. Well trust us, the mix suits you, and you definitely pulled from it well. Tell us about your newest single Drag Me Down. What was the inspiration behind it?
EJ: The main inspiration behind Drag Me Down was just feeling depressed for a couple of months, and knowing I had to find my way out of it myself. These last couple of years, I’ve been living back and forth between Toronto and LA. After plans to permanently move there after this past summer didn’t go smoothly, I was kind of stuck in limbo. I didn’t know whether I was going to move or stay put, and I didn’t know how to get my shit together career-wise. I knew I had to start playing live, start promoting myself, and otherwise just start doing all the things associated with a career in the entertainment industry that aren’t locking myself in my room writing songs, and that scared me.
SKYN: Absolutely - we can totally see how that would be. Creating is one thing, believing is yourself is another, and then stepping out there and not only telling the world what you're all about, but showing them?! Well that's a whole other, and it would be quite scary. That being said though, you're definitely no rookie. This might be your newest single, but it’s certainly not the first! Tell us about some of the other songs you’ve written.
EJ: I haven’t been writing songs for as long as a lot of writers my age. I’ve been playing piano since I was 4, but I never even tried to write a song before I was 18. My parents are both musicians, so I grew up around the music business, but for one of those strange and complicated familial reasons I could never bring myself to write a song. However, things changed in the summer of 2012 when I had a really bad sports accident. I nearly lost my leg, and was unable to properly sit at a piano for the better part of a year and a half. Out of that, my desire to start singing and writing songs was born, and 200 songs later, I finally created something I was proud of. That was Drag Me Down.
SKYN: Gah - 200 songs?! Talk about persistence. That's actually wild, and is so impressive. I guess practice really does make perfect because you absolutely nailed it with that tune. Since you've had so much experience with it now, what would you say is the most challenging part of the writing/recording process?
EJ: For me the most challenging part of the writing process is getting past my own self-criticism. I know I am far from the only creative person who is their own harshest critic, but I’ve always been a perfectionist. When I was young (but not really young enough for this to be acceptable), I used to cry most weeks during my piano lessons when I would mess up my scales. Knowing that, you can imagine how difficult it is for me to pour my heart into my lyrics and music, and then decide that it’s good enough.
SKYN: Gosh, we can only imagine. That must be heart wrenching. While some of it clearly is quite difficult, there must be some wonderful things about it as well. What’s your favorite thing about being a musician?
EJ: My favourite thing about being a musician has to be working with other musicians. I have wonderful friends from my childhood that I’m still close with, but because I was so shy about my musical side, I didn’t have many musical friends. Now that I’ve grown out of that nonsense and I’m working with so many great musicians and writers, being able to share this side of me makes me feel fulfilled in a way I never really have before.
SKYN: That's so great to hear! It must be incredible to play off of each other's talent. You’ve also had some pretty heavy musical influences growing up. Can you tell us a bit about that?
EJ: My parents are both wonderful singers and songwriters that I absorbed a lot of knowledge from as kid through osmosis, really without ever realizing it. I often notice my mom’s little tips and tricks about how to write a proper catchy pop song, or my dad’s bizarre, ethereal perspective that he uses to write his lyrics popping up subconsciously when I’m sitting down to write.
SKYN: Funny how that happens. Influence works in mysterious ways for sure. Now that your new single is out you’re definitely going to be influencing and inspiring a lot of people out there, but we’d love to know, who inspires you?
EJ: I have a lot of people who have inspired me musically, and a whole different set of people who inspire the things that I write about. Musically, I’m really inspired by John Mayer, D’angelo, Coldplay, James Blake, and Frank Ocean to name a few. In terms of my inspiration for lyrics, sometimes it’s as simple as looking inward and writing about how I feel. But I also often write about the lives of my friends (although they never know it!), as well as girlfriends past. Sometimes I make up a life about a stranger I see on the street and turn it into a song.
SKYN: That's so cool, and also sneakily hilarious. Ok now that we now all your inspiration secrets, it's time to spill the biggest secret of them all. If we were to turn on your iPod/iphone/music playing device right now, what would we hear? What’s top of Ezra’s playlist right now?
EJ: Funny you should ask that, I’ve recently been going through a music-listening drought of sorts. I’ve been scouring Spotify’s curated playlists to try to find some new artists to listen to. A couple artists that have caught my ear recently are Charlotte Cardin, Foy Vance, and Maggie Rogers. Aside from that, I’ve been really delving into the artists who were the inspiration for the artists that inspired me, if that makes sense. People who shaped music for the next generation, people like Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum.
SKYN: Dope. Ok we've now got our homework cut out for us. Definitely taking some of these to the Spotify bank. Alright, enough nonsense, we’ve gotta ask about the faces. If we go on your instagram account there are all sorts of pictures of faces in things. Where the hell did that come from?!
EJ: That came from a little thing called "pareidolia”, which is basically your brain finding familiar patterns where there are none. Everywhere I go, I see faces in everything, so I started to document it to see whether other people saw them too, or I needed to commit myself to an institution of some kind. Where I lived in Hollywood, somebody was going around to all the discarded furniture on the curb and cutting these giant grinning faces into them, so I guess I’m not alone.
SKYN: That's hilarious! What else do you like to do other than find faces, write and record music?
EJ: I am an avid and rabid hockey fan (and obviously a Leafs fan). Besides obsessively staying updated on every single thing that happens in the NHL, I love to be in nature. I love camping and hiking, but my family cottage in Muskoka is my favourite place on Earth. I spend as much time as I can up there regardless of the season. I even got the co-ordinates tattooed on my arm
SKYN: Very cool, and a really great way to commemorate such special place. Seems like there's quite a bit that's left it's mark on you, but what kind of mark do you want to leave? What would you like your legacy to be? What do you want to be remembered as?
EJ: I’d love to be remembered as a guy who worked really hard at his craft to become a great singer/piano player, but above those things I really just want people to relate to my music, to be able to see themselves in my songs. It may sound a little bit cliché, but I think it’s a cliché because anybody that makes authentic art really just wants an audience that is moved by it.
SKYN: Now that certainly is something worthy of living up to, and a legacy you're certainly already living out loud. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us Ezra!
Catch Ezra's newest single ONLY GOT EYES FOR HERE on Apple Music here.
For more Ezra, check him out at:
@EzraJordan | www.ezrajordan.com
Or download some of his sounds at:
Clark Devins | www.clarkdevins.com
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