J GRGRY is indeed a relatable performer. The Seattle-born artist’s music and art really transcend any boundaries. One of the most interesting thing in talking to J GRGRY is that I so much felt to continue and repeat it again. You’ll see why in the interview below. The other quite important – and often overlooked – is that J GRGRY has a great production, understanding the meaning of quality mastering (note to indie artists: there is something to learn here!). Fasten your seatbelt (or loosen it – it’s totally up to you): deep thoughts are coming!
Listen to the Don’t Ever Give Up while you are reading the interview. (This is a great delivery!)
Music Authentic: I like starting with this question: How did you sleep last night?
J GRGRY: I sleep with earplugs and was trying a new pair last night… Turned into a fiasco involving waking up neighbors and having to perform minor ear extraction of silicone… Not the best night’s sleep, but, I did some good yoga today and walked our dog a little extra, so hopefully I’ll make up for it tonight!
Music Authentic: Where do you usually gain strength during these changing and challenging times?
J GRGRY: I am so fortunate to have a loving and patient partner. He and our ever-loving boxer dog, Vox, are a huge source of strength to me. I find a lot of strength in creating music and processing heavy thoughts and emotions through writing out what’s in my heart and singing new songs. Music, love, exercise in nature and eating mindfully are all foundational for my strength, especially in these uncertain and trying times.
Music Authentic: A lot of people are afraid of the future. Without going down a rabbit hole, how do you think your life will be in a few years from now on?
J GRGRY: I am so optimistic about the future. I’m incredibly optimistic about music. I have so much excitement around releasing music independently and touring with my family and living minimally on the coast in between tours. I have more hope for a peaceful, independent existence, than I’ve ever had before. I’m so grateful people are finally rising up to speak about and change, systemic racial injustice. The fact that white people, like myself, are finally understanding: racism is a white people problem, and it’s up to white people to fix it, is really exciting. We’ve never been here before and I believe lasting changes, as a product of this part of the Civil rights movement in America, are going to make the world a better place to be a part of in the next few years.
Music Authentic: Do you consider yourself an artist or a musician?
J GRGRY: I’ve struggled with this over the years. Ultimately, a musical mind is also an artistic mind. There’s negative connotations associated with being an “artist” because it’s often presented in contexts where the character is aloof or distant, but really, if you’re a good musician, you’re looking at songwriting and performance as a way to connect people to emotions, to words, to vibrations that can help them qualify what they’re feeling and understand it and it’s definitely an art, when organized and delivered correctly.
Music Authentic: Would you rather live in the Earth in 20 years or be the part of the first Mars colony?
J GRGRY: Good question! I am thrilled by efficiency so I would love to be a part of a more advanced society. I dream of a more scientific based, technologically advanced, world… I always joke with my husband that aliens fly by earth and must laugh that we haven’t figured simple things like teleporting out, yet!
Music Authentic: Have you ever felt promoting your music become almost like a door-to-door selling?
J GRGRY: It can be exhausting to be your own hype person and always be on high alert for someone who might be able to help sustain your career. Everyone from Kanye, to Lizzo, to Tom Petty got passed on and kicked to the curb before they were sustainable. How could you be a record executive, hear the song ‘Jesus Walks’ or ‘Good As Hell’ or ‘Running Down a Dream’ and tell those artists to kick rocks… even if it’s not your thing, it’s quantifiable. All that to say. As artists, from Kanye, to a self released, completely independent artist like me, you face rejection every single day. That’s tiring in the way a door to door sales person likely tires from rejection but unlike that sales person, I LOVE my music and I love making it so much, that no amount of rejection is enough to make it feel cheap when I try and share it with people.
Music Authentic: Some argue concept albums are over, others insist storytelling is still important. What’s your take?
J GRGRY: Music is very subjective and people experience it in a lot of different ways. I used to love the album experience when I was a teenager, studying every component of songs and how the themes tied together in albums like, OK Computer (Radiohead) or What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye) or The Fragile (NIN) . I had tons of leisure time which made that an option in the first place. I have drifted away from listening to concept albums due to the fact that writing music all day leaves little time to actually sit with a record and give it the proper attention. My ears are fried most evenings 🙂 I’m super high on releasing singles at the moment and have a few scheduled for release this year. I’m certain down the line I’ll want to spend a summer in Italy making a concept record or something… Even if it’s just for me and my family.
(Below the photos, more interesting thoughts are coming in the interview about the USA, superheroes, neglect and positive vibes!)
Music Authentic: If you had a chance to play a superhero character in a movie or a series, whom would you choose?
J GRGRY: I haven’t seen the movie yet, although, I might do that this week now that I’m about to talk about it, but Aquaman appeals to me because I had an action figure of his as a kid that I loved. I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was little because I love marine life and orca whales so much. I aspire to take courses and advance in that field just for my own interests outside of music, one day. For the superhero record though, I love X-men cartoons and movies, too. I’m a sucker for the underdog story and those cartoons stuck with me as a queer kid who felt powerless in my environment. Cartoons and superheroes are still a huge part of my viewing consumption.
Music Authentic: Nowadays, the frames of so-called „traditional” values are falling apart in families, relationships, business… What characteristics should be valid to them?
J GRGRY: “Traditional” values are rooted in white supremacy and misogyny. Valuable characteristics in families, relationships and business include, true and transparent equality. Honoring Black, Indiginous, People of Color. Listening to women and following their lead. Caring for our homeless and differently abled communities with open, loving hearts. Honoring the LGBTQIA+ community and lifting the world up based on peace, love and a scientific approach to health and nature. Every family in the world should value these things because we are all human and WHEN ONE OF US IS HURTING, WE ARE ALL HURTING. We are all in this life together.
Music Authentic: Are you striving or thriving these days?
J GRGRY: I am thriving, as I strive.
Music Authentic: What things would be the greatest achievements for you through your art?
J GRGRY: Of course providing my family’s basic needs by writing and performing music is an incredible achievement. Any month or year that is possible I am filled with intense gratitude for that achievement. Beyond sustaining our existence with art, I truly hope to bring social change and create a positive, loving community through my music. It may sound basic but music really opened my eyes as a young kid who didn’t understand my white privilege, who was searching for a safe space to be open about my queerness and who didn’t understand why people were teaching hate in the churches, schools and athletic communities I grew up in. If I can help create a safe space in the world for people to flourish and find strength, by making music they relate to and connect with, I will have achieved my greatest goals.
Music Authentic: Which artist do you recommend to listen to from the past or the contemporary era and why?
J GRGRY: The Supremes. I think the tone of Diana Ross’ voice and the absolutely brilliant songwriting and arrangements of their music is worth loving and listening to, every day. Quincy Jones, too. You can go all day in a bunch of different ways with Quincy and you’ll never go wrong.
Music Authentic: If you were the Prime Minister, what would be the most crucial to begin a change with?
J GRGRY: In America, we need to start over. I would consider it crucial to redraft our constitution first and foremost. It would be drafted by BIPOC with strong female and non binary leadership. The wealth gap in America is inhumane and with what we’ve seen in our current “leadership” and the horrendous police state we find ourselves in, it is clear we are broken. Our racism, misogyny, bigotry and lack of respect for science are on display for the world to see. We need to reimagine our society without police as we know them, with a focus on uplifting those, who need the most lifting up.
Music Authentic: Any important project you are working on these days? What makes it precious for you?
J GRGRY: I’m constantly writing and producing. It is my life’s passion and I’m inherently inspired by the quest of finding beautiful arrangements of words and instruments and voices. I’m working on a couple co-writing projects and gearing up to release a multitude of J GRGRY singles that I’m extremely excited about. They have been backed up due to our inability to tour and have a normal release schedule so we decided to just start releasing them. We should have a song out every month for the rest of the year, starting with my next single CHINA CREEK, out August 14 on Spotify, Apple and all that.
Music Authentic: Whose story had a great effect on your life?
J GRGRY: David Bowie
Music Authentic: Have you ever used your stage as a platform to help out others?
J GRGRY: I hope that me being open about my sexuality gives light to young people who need positive queer role models. I hope my life illuminates that you don’t have to abuse alcohol and women to be a successful musician. In more tangible ways I donated all of my EP release funds to the incredible LEGAL VOICE in Seattle and, I think it’s safe to say this because I will have announced it by the time this interview comes out but, I will be performing at Nectar Lounge in Seattle, August 13th and we will be donating proceeds from that live stream event to the amazing organization G.L.I.T.S. I am always looking for ways I can uplift communities in need and use whatever platform and privilege I have, to help others. Lifting others up is one of life’s great joys. Small or large, it feels so good to make other people feel good.
Music Authentic: What are the hardest challenges in society these days?
J GRGRY: Racism. Sexism. Homophobia. Transphobia. Homelessness. Wealth disparity. The world needs so much healing.
Music Authentic: How do you like spending your pastime the most?
J GRGRY: My favorite thing in the world is touring with my husband and our dog and our band family. I’m so grateful we get to live a life filled with music and community and art. When we aren’t able to tour I love hiking and running on the beach with our dog and just being on, in, or near the water in general. I’m happy if we are together and there’s water close by.
Music Authentic: You are a very positive and hardworking, gifted person. What is the message you would encourage others with?
J GRGRY: Don’t Ever Give Up. As someone who has struggled deeply with alcoholism and major depression, I know how hard and painful life can be at times. If you can find a deep breath and the thought that this hard time will pass, it does get better. Love and joy like you’ve never known are waiting, right around the corner, just for you. You can make it there!!