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Music PopWrapped | Music

Exclusive: Jon And Roy Talk Inspirations For New Folk Track "Come Again"

Rebecca Haslam | PopWrapped Author

Rebecca Haslam

12/27/2015 10:22 am
PopWrapped | Music
Exclusive: Jon And Roy Talk Inspirations For New Folk Track
Media Courtesy of Erica Chan Photography
Following in the footsteps of artists including The Lumineers, roots-folk band Jon and Roy have enjoyed an incredibly successful year. Jon and Roy consist of vocalist/guitarist/harmonica player Jon Middleton, percussionist/drummer Roy Vizer, and bassist Louis Sadava. While their 2016 tour schedule is taking shape with plans for more shows in Canada and in the United States, Jon and Roy chatted with us about influences, inspiration and ultimate ambitions. PW: How would you describe yourselves and your music? 

Roy: We are two humble guys who like making music together and seeing where that takes us. 

PW: Who were your influences growing up and have they changed much over the years? 

R: We definitely both have diverse tastes in music. Everything from Bob Dylan to Wu Tang, The Ethiopique compilations to Toots and the Maytals, just to name a few. 

PW: What is it about the folk style and genre that appeals to you so much? 

R: We really like the grass-roots element of folk music and the lack of pretense. Connecting with the audience is really important to us as well and that seems to be a big part of the folk scene.

PW: Would you agree that folk music is enjoying a mini revival at the moment, and which bands and artists do you think are mostly responsible for it? 

Jon: Yeah, people definitely seem to be listening to more folk these days.  Bands like Mumford and Sons, Ray Lamontagne and the Lumineers definitely put modern folk back on the map. Some great Canadian artists like Frazey Ford, the Deep Dark Woods and Andy Shauf are also making it an exciting time to be playing folk music in Canada. 

Folk music though is definitely another one of those blanket terms for something that's very diverse and in the traditional sense, not folk.  Anything with an acoustic guitar, really, could be considered folk. But there is often something about the acoustic guitar and about folk-leaning music that gives it a natural appeal. I think the revival stems from that natural, stripped down and honest emotional force that comes through in a lot of 'folk' music.

PW: What to you makes a good song and where do you find inspiration for your songs?  

R: A good song speaks from the heart and connects to people in some way. A lot of the inspiration for our music comes from our friends, our surroundings and women.

PW: Which song, in your opinion, is the greatest ever written and why? 

J: Honestly, to me, and this may seem ridiculous to most people, but probably my favourite song of all time is by a band Inti Illimani called, "Tema De La Quebrada De Humahuaca."  It's an instrumental song, and perhaps it stands out because it's not really a "popular" song and yet every time I listen to it, like really listen to it, I get a welling of feeling that few other songs can provide. I remember telling a friend once that I would pay $100 to own a copy of that song if the only way to hear would be to buy it for that much.

Jon and Roy Erica Chan Photography
PW: Is song-writing something that comes easy to you or does it depend on the subject matter etc.? 

J: Song-writing for me doesn't really come easy. Making sounds does as does coming up with parts, phrases, chord combinations and intrumentals. But actual song-writing is a challenge. Sometimes a song will more or less just write itself, but it's rare. Often though, those ones are the ones that stick.

PW: Is there a story behind your latest track “Come Again”? 

J: Kind of, I was in the midst of pursuing a girl, and we had done some singing together. I got really inspired by the idea of writing songs for me and her and could hear in my head this sound that I wanted to hear us perform. The song worked as a Jon and Roy song though and so we put on the record.

PW: You've played a considerable number of shows and festivals, notably in Canada, but of all the shows you've played, could you pick a favourite and if so, which is it and why? 

R: Playing festivals is always an incredible experience and they are each unique and memorable in their own way. We really loved the Winnipeg Folk Festival - we got to share the stage with Glen Hansard, saw some of our favourite live acts like the Cat Empire and they even release dragon flies to eat all the mosquitoes!

PW: Which venue, anywhere in the world, would you most like to play and why? 

R: We’d love to play the Filmore in San Francisco – the history in that building – the walls must have some juicy stories.

PW: Which three bands or artists, who can be living or dead, would you most like to share a stage with? 

R: Bob Dylan, Toots and The Beatles!

PW: How has social media impacted your ability to reach a new audience and share your music with people? 

R: Social media has allowed us to reach people all over the world that we never would’ve been able to go out and play for. It really makes the world a smaller place in some senses.

PW: Do you think you'd have earned the support that you have without it? 

J: Probably not. Although, I'm always surprised thinking back or reading back on the spread of music before internet culture. The spread was a little slower, but we still spread music out before the internet just as much I would say. If anything, before the web, the spread was more organic and honest because there was more effort involved in doing so such as making a mix tape and mailing it to a friend. For us, we most definitely would not have fans in as many far flung places as we do.  

PW: How has having had your music featured in placements for the likes of HBO and MTV helped? 

J: It has helped I'm sure, although the placements that have helped the most in terms of fan growth have been placements in smaller, lifestyle shows. We had a number of songs in this show 'Departures' and every time we are on the road a few people tell us that's how they heard about us.  Also, we seem to have a decent following in Germany, and I swear it's mostly from this one snowboard video that we had a song in.

PW: What are your plans for 2016? 

J: We plan on visiting the US more for some shows, and doing more festivals and performances in Canada. Perhaps we’ll head overseas as well and I'm sure at some point we will start writing again.

PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition as a band? 

J: Our ultimate ambition is to keep getting our music out there and to keep growing, writing and performing in the honest way we always have.

Check out the video for “Come Again” below and for more information, visit the bands’ website, Twitter and Facebook. You can also purchase their music, including new album Riverside, on iTunes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOHNrVVc_ow&feature=youtu.be&h=500

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