Having been discovered by the legendary Anthony Hamilton and with the video for his debut single "Truth" having had 40K+ views in under a month, Jaron Strom has certainly got onto music fans' radars in a big way, and rightly so. As he works towards an EP release and building his ever-growing fan-base, he kindly agreed to this interview to chat inspirations, Madison Square Gardem and social media.
PW: How would you sum up yourself and your music up in a couple of sentences?
Jaron Strom: How’s it going PopWrapped! I would like for people to see me as a genuine artist creating timeless music from the heart to make people smile. My music should be fun but also a little sexy because my goal is to make a change in the world but also just enjoy the small things and maybe bend the rules sometimes. I would say my own music bridges the gap between pop and soul.
PW: Which bands and artists did you grow up listening to and how did they influence you? Have such influences changed over the years?
JS: My mom used to put me to sleep by playing an oldies radio station on my first boom box so I would say I’ve always been heavily influenced by Motown and its simplicity. Over the years I’ve found myself being attracted to just about any music you can think of but a few newer artists who have inspired me are Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Gavin Degraw, Jessie J, and Anthony Hamilton.
PW: When did you first realize you wanted to be a performer? Was there an album you listened to or concert you attended that made you think 'yeah, I want to do that'?
JS: The first time I felt the urge to perform was the moment I heard the song “Hound Dog” and saw Elvis performing it. I wanted to be him. As I’ve grown up I’ve noticed that when I sing in front of people, their eyes get wide and they see something that makes them happy. Seeing that reaction from people tells me I need to be on stage and when I’m on stage a rush comes over like me unlike any other! It makes me wanna shake my legs and hips a little!
PW: Is there a band or artist out there today who you might say you sound at all similar to?
JS: I have been compared to Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, and Justin Timberlake.
PW: You started out posting covers of songs on YouTube. Of all the tracks you've done, could you pick a favourite, both in terms of your favourite and that of your audience?
JS: I would say the cover that stands out the most to me and my audience has been “I Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd. I took that song and made it my own by slowing it down and pulling in a personal and emotional feel.
PW: Which one song that you haven't done yet would you most like to cover and why?
JS: I would love to do a Motown song and make it sound new. One of my favorites is “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters. I plan to do a few oldie song covers very soon!
PW: You were then discovered by Anthony Hamilton while singing in a restaurant. What do you recall of that time and how much help and advice has Hamilton given you since then?
JS: I met Anthony Hamilton because he and his brother heard me singing in a restaurant in uptown Charlotte, NC. It was like a dream come true being able to walk up to an idol of mine and impress him with my voice. Becoming a friend with Anthony has for sure been a major highlight in my life and he supports and loves my music. Anthony inspires me more than he knows. He showed me when I was younger that you can make new music and still pull in the soul of Motown and classics. He has a great personality and is always smiling which shows me that humility is key.
PW: Tell me about your debut single "Truth." Is there a story behind it?
JS: Well let me start by saying that “Truth” is my first original song and music video to be released to the world. The song means a lot to me and I wrote it about a real situation with a friend of mine which makes it even more real to me when I perform it. In the video he is trapped in a controlling and manipulative relationship. This is his moment to possibly break free and tell everybody his truth. The song is gritty and dark but reassuring.
PW: The video only premiered last month and has already racked up an impressive 40K+ views. What was the creative process for it like and how much input did you have?
JS: I’m so excited to see the video getting lots of views and attention! I had such a fun time planning and shooting this video from just concepts and ideas to shooting scenes in multiple locations. Scouting for locations and making custom lighting for the video were both very fun and just helping coordinate the whole thing leading up to its final edit and premier here in Charlotte, NC.
PW: How easy/hard do you find the song-writing process and who/what most inspires you?
JS: Song writing is seriously one of my favorite parts of music! Just sitting down with my guitar, finding a good melody and then molding a life experience into it is so very fun! I normally write about an experience I’ve had or an experience of somebody close to me. Sometimes I will find myself also writing about experiences not from my life but relatable to others.
PW: Which song, in your opinion, is the greatest ever written and why?
JS: This is a tough question! I would say the first song that comes to mind for me is “My Girl” by the Temptations. This song is so simple but beautiful to me. It never gets old and I fall in love with the lyrics and melody every time I hear it. The song is pure genius.
PW: Is there an album or EP in the works?
JS: After I release another single or two I do plan on building up to an EP album release. This album is already in the works and I’m so excited to share it!”
PW: What's been your favorite live performance to date?
JS: I would say my last performance at Tin Roof in Charlotte, NC went amazing! I performed with my band Minutes & Years and really connected with the crowd in a way I’ve never done before. I had the chance to perform my single “Truth” and the crowd was so into it that a dance circle was formed!
PW: If you could play one venue anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?
JS: I’ve always wished that one day I could rock out at Madison Square Garden. That would be amazing to me! It’s the capital city of the world and being watched by such a large crowd as well as on TV for so many people to see would be a dream come true.
PW: If you could share a stage with four other bands or artists, who can be living or dead, who would they be and why?
JS: Elvis, Michael Jackson, The Temptations and Bruno Mars. All of these people have amazing stage presence and have started trends for different generations. They have always been inspiring to me and I could only imagine sharing the stage with them and the amazing feeling of accomplishment it would bring over me.
PW: What are your touring/performance plans for the rest of the year? Will you be playing any festivals this summer or just focusing more on your own shows and getting your name out there?
JS: I will continue with local shows as well as a possible release show for my EP album but outside of that everything is still in the works. My goal is to continue getting my name out there and to build my following.
PW: Are there any plans for you to head overseas and play in Europe?
JS: No plans for this yet but it would be amazing to play in Europe or overseas!
PW: What are your thoughts on social media and do you agree that it's necessary for bands and artists today?
JS: I feel that social media is a gift and outlet to artists today that should definitely be utilized for building a following and getting noticed. I’m working hard to build my following through social media and there are so many cool ways to go about it. It helps to engage fans all over the world.
PW: What does the rest of the year have in store for you?
JS: My goal this year is to release my next single “Freedom” followed by an EP album and sing as many shows as possible so that a buzz can be generated with my music not only on social media but locally as well!
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition as an artist and with that in mind, whose career would you most like to emulate and why?
JS: My goal is to release music, build my brand, go on tour and possibly be signed to a major label so that I’ll have the platform to share my gift with the world. My ultimate ambition is to make people smile with my music and to help make a change in the world. I would love to emulate Michael Jackson as far as my music career goes. His music was timeless, made people happy and had a sexual fun vibe. He inspired many and created something original.
Check out the video for "Truth" below and for more information on Jaron Strom, visit his website,