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INTERVIEW: Jon Samson

Hi Jon, welcome to VENTS! How have you been? 

Hello Vents! Great! Thanks for having me back for an interview!

Q: Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Predicament”? Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

As a music therapist, I have worked with so many children over the last 15 years who have expressed concerns about global issues ranging from climate change to war and everything in between. This is what ultimately led me to write Predicament. That said, the seed was actually planted back in 2010. I was in Canada conducting workshops for the Girl Scouts/ Girl Guides 100th year anniversary camp. Between sessions I would drive around BC listening to Sounds True audio programs by Caroline Myss because her teachings inspire me. While discussing climate change, she said “there’s a difference between a problem and a predicament. You can solve a problem, but you manage a predicament”. This was a serious Ah Ha moment for me. As a Virgo, its hard for me to not try to “fix” whatever doesn’t work. But a predicament is something else. It’s a problem if your phone runs out of batteries. You charge it, problem solved. But something like climate change is not a problem we can simply fix. It’s something we will have to manage for the rest of our lives, and then hand that responsibility down to new generations. 

We are living in a time where the problems and predicaments we face threaten both our planet and collective psyche. Back in 2016, I produced an Emotion Song for Sesame Street about feeling different things at the same time. Shortly after completing production for the song, America had, shall we say, a political shakeup. I was so taken aback by how divided and broken things felt in general. People were devastated and polarized, and this is not something that can be hidden from children, no matter how much we’d like to insulate them from the woes of the world. So instead of promoting the song and jumping into the spotlight, I felt I needed to pull back from pursuing attention for my recorded work and focused exclusively on supporting my individual clients in my music therapy practice while carefully reflecting and assessing what it was I truly want to offer through my music. It wasn’t until “Predicament” that I fully understood the message my music conveys. How do we really recognize what’s going on in this broken world and maintain a childlike sense of hope simultaneously? This might sound like an utter tangent, but one of the reasons so many people grieved the loss of Robin Williams is because of what he represented. He didn’t just play Peter Pan in the movie Hook. Robin Williams was a symbol for the part of us that is an Eternal Child. The sense of humor and magic he invoked was a rare gift to humanity, and with his departure came the deeper realization that we are in some dark times, and we need to acknowledge what’s going on and muster the hope and passion required to move forward with making this world a better place. 

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes! I actually just released a video for “Predicament”, check it out here: https://youtu.be/io3vpQlbgtc

The single comes off your new album Ageless: Songs For The Child Archetype – what’s the story behind the title?

Actually, the project was originally called “A Bigger Kids Album” which would have been my 4th consecutive CD with “Kids Album” in the title. I was so sure of the title, I referenced it in Predicament by singing: “kids, you’re getting bigger now, and I’m not going to lie to you… this world is a little bit broken”.

The more the songs evolved, I realized I was no longer just insinuating deeper messages under the guise of kids music like in my previous albums. This time I got down to the root of the human condition so I changed the title to “An Ageless Kids Album” to imply age was not a factor. But something still wasn’t sitting right. It wasn’t until I began working with the fabulous Stephanie of Mayers Consulting who suggested I drop the “kids album” tag entirely and added: “Songs For The Child Archetype”. 

While of course it’s my intention to educate, entertain and inspire children, my deepest mission in life is to help people of all ages connect to their inner eternal child, the part of them that has an unyielding sense of hope and trust in this world. There is too much of a gap between childhood and adulthood. One day a child will be watching family friendly cartoon shows or reading books about magic, and then seamlessly transition into playing video games with guns and knives, not to mention being exposed directly to school shootings and other unthinkable tragedies. 

How was the recording and writing process?

Oh boy! My recording process is all over the place! I typically start recording a song before actually completing the entire composition and explore as many creative ideas as my imagination will allow. Then it can take several months, and in some cases, years, to finalize my arrangements through subtractive editing. My goal for the future is to produce songs with much simpler arrangements but still carry all the energy I want to convey. It’s still a learning process … 

What role does Brooklyn play in your music?

I love Brookyn with all my heart and soul. New York, but particularly Brooklyn has been so good to me over the years. Although I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, I consider Brooklyn to be my true home. It’s such a melting pot of diversity, so many kinds of people with so many similarities and differences. I explore this theme more fully in track 11: Bye, Polar Bear. 

How does your background as a music therapist influence your music as a whole?

Well firstly, let’s quickly get on the same page about therapy in general. Many people still believe something needs to be “wrong” to make therapy necessary, but that’s not the whole picture. Therapy is about reflection, personal growth and development. It’s about discovering our blind spots and road blocks and working through them. As a music therapist, my primary job is to facilitate the self esteem and creative expression in my clients, and so it’s my hope this translates into my music, so it’s not just me making songs to show off my own talent, but to inspire others to dive deep within themselves and create their own masterpieces. 

How did you get to balance the children music with your much matured content?

We cannot underestimate a child’s capacity to understand what’s really going on in the world, at least to certain degrees. Either way, children are exposed to songs with mature content all the time, and even if they don’t have a full understanding of the nuances and symbolism, they can still enjoy the melodies and harmonies and rhythms and creative flow. 

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

There’s no better inspiration than life experience. As an artist, it’s my job to build a bridge between what I’ve gone through personally and share it in a way where it’s no longer about me, it’s something people can relate to in their own way.

What else is happening next in Jon Samson’s world?

I’m writing a book titled: “Everyone’s A Narcissist But Me: A Music Therapist’s Perspective On The Human Condition. Doesn’t that sound fun? 

Ageless is out now on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music and anywhere parents are searching for inspiring music. More at cocreativemusic.com

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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