Hi thank you for having me! I’ve been really good actually. My immediate instinct is to talk about how my life is an anxiety-ridden mess (which it is) but I’ve been feeling super happy and nervous and excited that music is finally leaving my dropbox folder and entering the world like a lil newborn sound baby.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Old Me”?
I always describe “Old Me” as a conversation between JBACH and Jonathan. The JBACH part of me opens the song and is super confident, he couldn’t care less what people don’t like about him and he uses humor to joke about things that might actually be weighing on his mind. The Jonathan part of me just wants to make everyone happy and is afraid of disappointing anyone, even though a lot of times the feeling that he’s disappointing people is all in his head anyways.
Before I started making music or anything of that sort, I was on a fast track to becoming a doctor and living a life my parents had always wanted for me. Even though I had their support, when I decided to leave all that behind and move to LA after being on The Voice, my biggest fear was disappointing them. Even though they sent me off with their blessing, that’s all I could think about. During the brief period of doubt on my journey to becoming an artist, I remember my mom being surprised by all this change and saying something about how I never used to be like this, and my dad asking if this was really “me.” That’s what really actually inspired this song, because I think when I explained to them that this was who I was always working towards being, they got it. And we’re way closer now because of it.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
The story behind “Old Me” is super crazy to me. I wrote this song with ZERO intention of ever releasing it. I had my first one-on-one session with my buddy Grant Sayler, and I had just came back from a trip home and was feeling really frustrated with myself and my art and my inability to just be myself in a song. Music has always been a character that I put on, and a lot of times it’s a fun way for me to be someone who’s confident and sexy and crazy or whatever the song I’m writing may entail. This session though I just wanted to be me and sing about my fears and conflicting feelings and talk about what it was like coming to LA as such a different version of myself and becoming a person that I think is really cool.
This song just altogether took me out of my comfort zone and I was scared to show it to anyone or do anything with it until I showed my friend and Scottish kween Natalie Clark. She like, begged me to release it and that planted the seed in my mind that my struggle and feelings might actually be something people can connect to?
Any plans to release a video for the single?
A lyric video is on the way! My friend Steph Saias is making it, she’s only shown me about 2.3 seconds of it at this point in time but it already looks so dope. She’s basically modeling the video off of an Instagram post that I posted to announce the song. It had all my handwriting and little drawings of like sushi, bees, and a coffee, it took me FOREVER to make it but, Steph doesn’t really draw so I had to draw everything she wanted to animate on a sticky note and text it to her so she could trace it on her computer. We’re very professional artsy people here.
How was the recording and writing process?
I hated this song after the first session. I think just was very scared to like it, honestly. I knew it was cool but I just kept telling myself that I couldn’t pull it off. The actual writing process was very honest; Grant was an amazing person to bring out a very vulnerable part of me that I don’t usually like to talk about but helped me keep it fun and upbeat. I wanted this song to feel like a win for self progression, not like a sad goodbye to who you used to be, and every session we had made me feel like I was really telling my story, even to the point of mentioning how my mom facetimes me all the time and I sometimes don’t want to pick up… Sorry mom, I love you though. She just got bangs, they look great.
What role does being Chaldean play in your music?
It feels really cool to walk into a session and teach someone about a culture that they have never heard of before. I feel like a Chaldean Ambassador almost, there are so few Chaldeans in entertainment, but the community gets so excited when they see one of their own succeeding. When I was on The Voice, they put me on the COVER of the Chaldean News, it was amazing. Everyone was so excited and proud of me, and I think they were just genuinely happy to see someone like them in the spotlight. It’s tough because our community is so small and close knit that it’s really uncommon for people to move far away, especially to pursue something like music. A lot of time the older generation came to the US with nothing, so getting an education or starting a business is all that they know. It’s amazing honestly how many stories you hear about Chaldean people fleeing Iraq and making a life for themselves in America, like ask any Chaldean person and I promise you they’ll describe their parents and grandparents as the hardest working people they know. I just want to show other Chaldeans that it’s ok to leave the nest sometimes and pursue what you’re passionate about, the same way our family members did.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
When I tell you my parents raised me to be a doctor, I’m not kidding. I started working in hospitals when I was 16, looking over Anticoagulation Audits in the inpatient pharmacy. I was raised to hustle and work hard and make things happen, because again, that’s the only life that my parents were accustomed to. So when switched gears into music I went ALL OUT. I was researching how to write songs, music theory, watching interviews of famous songwriters, it was almost like I was back in school. I ended up meeting friends who were constantly pushing me to better my art and work and write more, and here I am 100 songs later and still just as hectic and stressed out, but so happy and excited that the things that weigh on my mind are the things that I’m passionate about.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?
I definitely do. My favorite way to write is one-on-one, like just the producer and me. Or the producer and I? If my 6th grade English teacher is reading this, I’m sorry Mrs. Wasil. But being able to bounce an idea off of someone when I need to while also being able to be silent and in my own head other times is so perfect for me. When there are more people in a room, I end up giving a lot of myself to entertain the room and I always find that the song feels less like mine. Which is also amazing in its own way, a lot of times a session ends up being for someone else’s story, and the writer in me loves being a part of that. But for my own project, a lot of these songs were written in very intimate settings and I think you can tell when you hear it.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
Yes! My FAVORITE SONG OF ALL TIME comes out this June and I’m so excited for it to be out in the world. “Old Me” is kind of like, an intro to JBACH. This next single is like me in my prime, acting like an idiot and pretending to be Julia Michaels — my two greatest skills.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
“Taste” comes out on June 28th 🙂
Any plans to hit the road?
I would love to do an actual tour at some point, but I do have a show set up on July 17th at Black Rabbit Rose in Los Angeles! This is my first show since I opened for the Chainsmokers in 2017 so I’m very nervous and excited but also happy but also scared but also hungry? Is that an emotion?
What else is happening next in JBACH’s world?
I’m just gearing up for the “Taste” music video shoot, finishing my third single for the summer, and trying my absolute hardest not to spend all my money on clothes at Zara. No guarantees.