INTERVIEW: Jonathan Freeland

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

Thank y’all for taking the time to chat with me! So far it’s been really great – a bit crazy jumping into the new year prepping for a release right off the bat, but I’m really happy with the reception it’s been getting.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “I Left My Heart In Powder Springs”?

For sure. This was a hard one to put into words – literally. It took me a few months of back and forth with how I wanted to approach the subject lyrically, but I think I was able to sum it all up pretty well. In essence, it’s all about that “can’t wait to get out of this nowhere town” to realizing that the grass isn’t always as green as you might expect. As someone who has been in the arts and freelanced for most of my life, the ups and downs in a place like New York City tend to feel more drastic, and when I was writing the bulk of this song, I was definitely in a low. I’ve been here for just over 6 years and still occasionally struggle with feeling like I haven’t found a true home which is where the push and pull of the track lies through the first 2 verses until the switch over to present tense in the final verse where the realization that “home is where you make it” hits through. Cliché? Maybe…but absolutely an authentic look at the experience from my viewpoint.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I wouldn’t say one particular event but definitely a series of recurring ones. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I have always been the guy that tries to do it all and do it really well. Having that mentality seems admirable, but it can be extremely exhausting, and I found that it led me to being insanely overworked, and in some cases, feeling undervalued. Realizing that I had brought some of the craziness on myself was a definite driver of this song by ignoring what I had been told growing up and feeling like I knew it all. Really just musing on the idea of what life could be like if I left a little space for myself, my relationships and just the simplicity of what I had always associated with my hometown, Powder Springs, is what set the song into motion.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

It was really interesting! I try to have a hand in the creative process every step of the way without being overbearing on my collaborators, so I outlined a short shot list, got together with my DP Trystan Cruise, and PA Meghan Palmer, and we shot the entire thing in 2 locations in Long Island City and Bushwick over the course of 3 hours. I then took the footage back and edited it all in the next 48 hours. I absolutely despise looking at my own face for that long, so don’t expect to hear of me editing another music video of mine ever again, but I’m really happy with how it came out, and really think it works as a great visual extension of the song.

How was the recording and writing process?

I recently started working with a team of 2 other writers that I am thrilled with. With my first EP release, I tried to write as much of every song as possible because I had it in my head that if I couldn’t, I wasn’t really a songwriter. Thankfully I’ve since gotten to a place to realize that I will never be able to write my best work if I don’t allow myself to delegate and work with people that are amazing at what they do. With this track, my co-writer Aaron Mattson approached me with the musical idea right around the time I had come up with the concept, vocal melody and lyrical hook, and it married perfectly. Aaron is based in Nashville, so we tossed ideas back and forth until it was where we wanted it to be and I took it to my live guitarist, Neal Rosenthal, to track the steel and lead guitar tracks in his home studio and eventually to a suite in Pirate Studios in Greenpoint to track the vocals. Everything was then sent to my other writing partner and producer, Aaron Isaacson in Princeton, IL where he worked his magic, and boom, here we are.

What role does Georgia play in your music?

The part that I tried to run from for so long – the country element. When I was growing up, I went to see more country music than any other genre, but I only played in rock bands. Thankfully the music scene in GA was really friendly to both, so I was able to see almost any band I wanted when they came through Atlanta regardless of the genre. I also had the opportunity to attend a performing arts magnet program at my highschool, CCCEPA, that allowed me to develop the discipline needed to sustain a career in the arts from a young age, and I have no doubt that I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for the experiences I had during those years.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

100%. I have 3 new tracks that I’m writing with Mattson at the moment with the first on it’s way to the studio to track vocals.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

We’re definitely looking at an early spring release date. If I told you the title, I’d give everything away…but this one is a really fun one. I’d say to think of it as a close friend to “I Left My Heart…” but on a much more positive note. Lots of wordplay and a concept that gets thrown around in country music a lot, but with a bit of a different twist.

Any plans to hit the road?

Honestly, I’m really focused on making the best songs I can and getting them to as many ears as possible, so I can’t say it’s in the immediate plans. I will be playing periodically in NYC and Brooklyn, but no real plans to tour – yet.

What else is happening next in Jonathan Freeland’s world?

Aside from writing new songs, I’m working to make more time to create more. For the first time since I can remember, I’m not trying to develop a new business idea or revenue stream which has been really freeing up the necessary creative energy to write the songs I want to. Having stabilized my work-life balance a good bit since writing this track, I’m just really excited to be able to set up shoots with friends, jump into Photoshop and create visuals, and help produce other artists’ work without it having to be part of a “job.”


RJ Frometa
Author: 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.

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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