INTERVIEW: Jordan B. Wright
Photo of JBW by Jack Jackson
Design of Fireheart Logo by Bradley Reinhardt
Hi Jordan, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thanks! I have been busy recording and writing new music which I find very rewarding.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Fireheart”?
Definitely, I recorded Fireheart at EMAC studios in London with engineer Rob Nation and producer Moe Berg (Pursuit of Happiness) along with a song called Stars which will be released in the fall.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Last summer I was going through a difficult time and decided to put that energy into writing a song about relationships. Fireheartencapsulates the fire sign Sagittarius, played by the centaur, who wants to meet goals faster than four legs can take them consequently shooting arrows ahead with ambitious enthusiasm. The song is about giving it your all while waves crash over you compelling your downfall as Chimera strives forward through the storm. It is about waiting for hard times to pass, forgiving the people you love, owning your part in things with hopes to eventually become Braveheart who leaves all discord behind.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
I really want the video to represent the visuals in the song well and am in the midst of brainstorming ideas and trying to decide whether to create this on my own through stop motion animation or team up with some of my talented friends. I have worked with Dani Gagnon who directed Shake This and Midnight Sun, and I am open to exploring other options. My friend Byram Wong also makes videos and I would love to work with him.
Why naming your album after this track in particular?
I asked my graphic designer Bradley Reinhardt to create a design using Chimera, the greek mythical fire breathing hybrid, offspring of Typhon and Echidna, to represent Fireheart who struggles while Chimera pushes forward. As a fire sign I really identify with these characters and believe the image illustrates the themes of the album well. Bradley nailed it on his first attempt and I have been using that image ever since. To me Chimera who consists of lion, snake, and goat can make up the different sides of people’s personalities as well as the enigma of each individual song which pieces together to make an album.
Chimera is a powerful character who has the ability to work together to fight off danger, however, at times the lion head is working in one direction while the snake is looking behind and has no control over which direction Chimera’s goat legs may lead to. It is about how we sometimes work against ourselves or against each other even when we may have the same goals. It is about learning from our mistakes and knowing when to trust and when to let go.
How was the recording and writing process?
I have been writing music since I could reach the piano keys. Writing songs is not something I try to do; it is something I feel the need to do. I wrote Fireheart in an afternoon last summer on my couch with an electric guitar. I found it a therapeutic process of working through my feelings and what I wanted at that time. As a hopeless romantic the dream of growing old with someone makes me smile. Whenever I see old couples walking down the beach holding hands it makes me smile thinking of all the beautiful memories they share along with the difficult times they must have worked through together. In these moderns times, with statistics of relationships lasting eight years on average, I laugh to myself when I realize that perhaps the old couple I am romanticizing about just met last week at a retirement home, a knitting club, or perhaps a speed dating night? After a good laugh the optimist in me returns to the dream that these old folks have children, grandchildren, and more wonderful memories to come.
I knew when I wrote the song that it had potential. I could hear something larger than a simple electric guitar. I heard pounding drums, building dynamics, and a string section. I tried the song out with my band live and it was as if Nicholas Shao read my mind as he created a drum part which began to match my vision of the song. In the rehearsal studio my band mates Monica Julie and Jennifer Bryanstarted creating harmonies to go on top of my simple guitar chords. At the same time I introduced Stars to them and we started working out parts. I showed Renee Cross a riff I came up with on keys and she began to mould it. We recorded the two songs live in the rehearsal space and then I brought in Moe Berg.
Moe is a brilliant producer and incredible to work with. He has always believed in me, gives me confidence which inspires me, and was able to bring my single to the next level. He shortened one of the longer verses, removed the ska/reggae section I had written in the middle which took away from the flow of the song, and helped me build the dynamics of the song.
You brought some special guests to help you out with this record – did you handpick them or how did they all come on board?
I first met Moe Berg when I was touring with The Cliks and Moe came in to produce Snakehouse. I’ll never forget how easy he was to work with, how much I loved his sense of humor, and his easy going nature so of course I jumped at the chance to work with him again when he showed interest in producing my album.
Rob Nation is a friend of Moe’s and he has a studio in London called EMAC studios. The studio is world class and Rob has an incredible reputation as a talented engineer. This power duo made most sense to me as I realized that the talent was high and they are comfortable working together so we chose to drive to London to record the album there.
My friend Tara McLeod lives in London so I asked if she would grace us with her talented swells and melodic guitar lines. We played together in a previous band and became fast friends as she is a killer guitar player, easy to work with, and hilarious to have around.
Lindsay Clark and I have played together in another band and she was an obvious choice when my usual keyboard player Renee Cross could not make it in from Guelph to record with us.
Nicholas Shao and I used to teach music lessons and rock band camp at the Classical Music Conservatory together and I have always enjoyed his percussive drum techniques and his “we’re gonna win the Horseshoe!” attitude. My usual drummer Adam Warner was busy with another gig so I brought Nick in. Now I feel lucky to have two drummers to call upon shows and recording as they are both equally talented and bring different styles of drumming to the music.
Erica Schiopu I met through Dani Gagnon when I played bass in their band Kink. Erica is a young talented player who you will want to watch out for as she is starting to make a name for herself as a solo artist.
Andrea Stewart aka Bobbi Redd was brought in by Moe Berg to do backup vocals. She’s got an incredible voice and Moe and I wrote the harmonies together.
What have they brought up to the table?
Moe Berg and Rob Nation worked together with my musicians Tara McCleod, Lindsay Clark, Erica Schiopu, Nick Shao, and I to create something truly powerful. Tara has brought “the swells”, Lindsay “the chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla”, Erica “chug chug”, Nick “won the drums” with his percussive style moulded by Moe Bergs talented ears and fine tuned with Rob “on the knobs” making the magic happen.
What aspect of relationships are you getting to explore on this record?
I don’t want to give away all my secrets, but you will soon hear more from me, the meaning behind my single Stars and the other songs on Fireheart which all deal with relationships, how we walk in the world, and how our biggest challenges are also our greatest gifts.
Any plans to hit the road?
The plan is to finish writing the album, polish it, go into pre production with Moe, go back to EMAC to finish recording the album in the fall, release the fall in January, and tour the album next summer. Touring can be quite expensive unless it is carefully planned out to ensure a following is there to receive you, and we are hopeful for some grants to help us along the way.
What else is happening next in Jordan B. Wright’s world?
I am dreaming of a tour to all the places we love, meeting more talented musicians, finishing the album, and a life of growing old with the people I love.
Fans: cross your fingers for us that we will receive some grants this year and drop me an email if you want us to visit your hometown. We will come to the places where the demand is biggest!
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