Jared Lee is an American singer-song writer whose single “It’s Over (Goodbye)” is getting tons of radio play and has also been featured on American Idol along with the song, “Beautiful World”. Jared is definitely the big up and comer on the popular music scene. We were lucky enough to be able to have a chat with him and talk about how he got his start, his inspirations, and his upcoming EP coming out on October 4th.
XO Magazine: How did you get your start? Like when did you start singing and what made you choose a career in music?
Jared Lee: Myfamily was kind of a musical family. Not professionally but the type of family to be singing in the car and encouraged at an early age to play instruments, so I did a lot of that in school and I found myself involved in a lot of different singing groups and acapella groups and jazz bands. I got the opportunity to play the saxophone and take piano lessons and all that stuff so I was always very drawn to music and very drawn to performing from an early age. Over time, I could write my own songs and so I started doing that and really fell in love with that process of creating something that was my own. And then working with a lot of different really talented writers and producers over time, kind of all over the world, I began to develop my own style. That was really rewarding. Now, I’m just really excited to get out there and share that with people and perform the songs that I’ve been working on for so long.
XO: So what influences you when you write your music?
JL: It’s a variety of things. I think the strongest influence is personal experience because depending on how you’re feeling, you can be very inspired to write certain songs about certain subjects. For a lot of this EP that’s coming out in October, I was dealing with a break up and dealing with trying to lay the foundation for a career and things like that so a lot of that was on my mind. A lot of that is what came out in the songs. But outside of personal experiences, it’s getting to travelling a lot to so many different cities and meeting different people. Sometimes even just a conversation with a friend about something that hits you or strikes a chord can be a great piece of inspiration to take you into the song writing process so it’s a combination of those things for me.
XO: How would you describe your sound?
JL: I would describe my sound as soulful pop music. I’m very drawn to melodies so a lot of choruses in my music, I hope people can sing along to and remember. A lot of my growing up, I listened to a lot of R&B music and soul music so I think vocally I bring a piece of that into the performances and songs. But I like pop music and on this EP there are some elements of rock, nothing too over the top but there’s a lot of live guitar. We combined a lot of live instruments with programming and created some fusion or hybrid.
XO: So tell me more about this EP. Are there any songs in particular that have a special meaning for you?
JL: I know probably a lot of artists will say this but I really have special feelings for each one. There are six songs on the EP. This is my first release of music ever, outside of when I put out the first single a few months ago and it was on American Idol and lots of people started to hear it so I guess I put that out earlier. Every song has a real special meaning for me and I could take it very much in depth, back to the place where I was emotionally when I wrote it with each one. Some are a little more uplifting than others and some are darker. The last song that I wrote for the EP which is the last song on the EP is called “What It Beats For” and that was just a song about love and the kind of love you can’t live without. It’s more of a hopeful song and something that I’m kind of looking forward to feeling, you know? Down the road.
XO: I know some of your songs have played on American Idol and your single’s been on the radio, so I was wondering what was going through your mind when you heard yourself on the radio or the tv for the first time?
JL: Let’s see, with Idol, I didn’t really know it was definitely happening until the day before. I guess what happens is for TV, they kind of queue everything up but until it goes official, they can’t give you the official word so with that, I think was I actually out in the studio. I’m in LA and it aired in New York three hours earlier so I just remember my phone started ringing off the hook, literally. I was getting hundreds of text messages so I knew it actually played and that was cool. You know, it’s cool. I think we’ve probably recorded that song five or six months before that but it was really cool to think about the evolution of the song and I remember writing it, the first day we kind of started working on it. To see it up there on Idol was just such a major platform. It was incredible because you don’t really realise the amount of people a show like that reaches. For me, the day after on my phone and online, I’d get messages from people in Israel and Asian and all over the world. That was an amazing feeling.
With the radio, I believe was in either Corpus Christi, Texas or Fort Wayne, Indiana. But I remember we were listening to it in the car and hearing the beginning come on and at first I was trying to play it cool because there were more people in the car but you know, a minute in you get very excited. You don’t really know how many people are listening and that’s kind of the cool thing about TV and radio versus a live performance which is for me, the ultimate because you kind of get to see the gratification but with TV and radio, you really have no idea who’s listening or who’s watching, you can only imagine. But that’s kind of a cool feeling as well.
XO: Who would you say are your favourite musicians? Do they inspire you in any way?
JL: Absolutely. Growing up, I listened to a lot of Brian McKnight, Boys 2 Men. I was really just taken by what they do with their voices. I listened to Sting a lot. I was just really impressed with the melodies and the song writing and the vocal acrobatics. Even now, a lot of the contemporary singers like Alicia Keys, Pink, John Mayer, Gavin Degraw. I really like expressive voices. I could just keep going down the list but that’s what I’m really drawn to. When I can kind of feel the honesty and emotion or inspiration in someone’s voice, that really hits me. Yes, it’s very inspiring.
XO: So this is the last question, what’s next for you? Any tours lined up or showcases?
JL: Well basically right now, I’m out now promoting the single on the radio. So I’ve been visiting a lot of the radio stations around the country. Kind of introducing myself and performing at the various places. This EP comes out October 4th, so I’m very excited about that. We’re going to be doing a lot of promotion for that and then we’re doing a show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles which is an amazing venue here in Los Angeles, it has a lot of history. We have a tour in the process right now and booking some fall show dates and we’re shooting a video in October. Tomorrow night, I’m opening for Train [in Las Vegas] which will be really cool. So I’m very excited to open for them cause I am a fan *laughs* It will be a good opportunity to not only perform but to watch them. So that’s kind of the short term plan and I’ll be in New York all next week doing some more press and TV stuff and just trying to introduce myself and the song to everybody to and share with them what I’ve been working on for so long.
You can catch Jared tonight opening for Train at their Mandalay Bay show! Be on the look out for his debut EP coming soon!
- Nancy Liu for XO Magazine