Jonny Parks Talks With TMI About His New Album “The Portia LP”
So Jonny, you started your music career at a very young age, what inspired you to try music at all?
What inspired me was the music I heard coming from my sister’s room and from my mother growing up. My mother would have a bunch of 60s soul on repeat and my sister always had on hip hop/R&B, which are actually two of my favorite genres.
How would you describe your musical style?
I would describe my musical style as my own lane of avant-garde. My music is a mix of R&B, Soul, Jazz, Blues with my own method to it.
What artists do you look up to right now?
I look up to the legends, of course. Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Michael Jackson. For more of my time, Amy Winehouse, Usher, Maxwell, John Mayer, D’Angelo are some of my influences.
What artist influences you the most and who you aspire to be like?
Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder is the master of music. Whatever sound he wants, he gets. I aspire to get that ability of music manipulation that Stevie has.
You just released your new single, “Smoke And Mirrors”. How did this song come about?
“Smoke and Mirrors” came about when I was in my height of listening to classic soul and Amy Winehouse. I thought about late 50s James Brown when I wrote it.
What’s the meaning of the song?
When I first wrote it, I actually didn’t know what it was about. It reminded me of a Beatles song… “I am the Walrus” for example. Any Beatles song that has no particular message in it or theme. Basically, the song is an unrequited love song where the person has fallen completely powerless to the woman he is singing to. The person in the song believes that the person he is singing to actually cares about him when in actuality, they don’t. It wasn’t until after I recorded it I thought, ” Oh! This song is about me!” I think every songwriter has been there multiple times.
How did the idea for the music video come about?
The idea of the video came about when my brother and I (who is also the director of the video named Steven Ferri) sat down and mapped out all the possible ideas to make the character in the song look stupidly helpless. We ultimately came to the conclusion that the found footage idea worked best. So we went into the woods of our university and filmed it to look like the character singing hired a bad camera man to film him singing his heart out and send it to the woman. The only problem is that the battery dies on the camcorder and he leaves the footage behind.
Your new album, “The Portia LP” is coming out soon. What was it like creating your new album?
It was the best experience I’ve had creatively. It was stressful at times because all I wanted to do was finish it, but of course things happen like work and school. Teaming up with amazing musicians is a blessing and I’m glad to have spent over a year on this project in the end.
What’s the process for you to write one of your songs?
I usually start out with the melody I come up with in my head. Sometimes I lose sleep because different melodies just pop into my head. I record the melody with my voice on my phone then try to find the chords that compliment that melody. Lyrics may take a while because I like to have somewhat of a story to my songs.
Are there any other projects in the works you can tell us about?
Well, I’m currently writing my next project which may go in a different direction, though it’ll still have that “Jonny Parks” sound. I’m also currently working on a remix to one of my songs that appears on “The Portia LP.”
What is your favorite thing to do in your career? And why? – recording, music video shoots, performing, etc.
I love recording and the creative collaboration behind producing your own music. However, nothing beats performing. I love improvising with my band and turning songs into something else while playing live. I’m also not thinking, “this is going to be on record so it has to be flawless,” while playing live either.
Whats your favorite song to perform live?
I love doing my own songs live. “Smoke and Mirrors” is a favorite of mine. I also like doing the covers. “Just Friends” by Amy Winehouse is one. “I’m Gonna Find Another You” by John Mayer is another favorite of mine.
What does it feel like to perform your own music live in front of your fans?
I like the idea that the fans may react better to a certain song as opposed to a different one. I like making changes within the songs itself when performing live. Seeing if my listeners recognize the changes are awesome.
Does your fanbase have a name?
I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about that. Maybe the “327ers” for my first album “Room 327?” I would have to sit and think about that.
How do you want your relationship to be with your fans?
I want to be as personable as possible. I want my fans to follow me on my journey. If they follow me on social media, I follow back.
What was the craziest fan encounter you have had?
I remember going to an art show of a friend of mine and someone else participating in the show came up to me and said, “I’ve seen you play live before in the city! You’re really good!” Nothing too crazy but it meant a lot to me because growing up I was always a shy introvert.
What social media platform do you use most to stay connected to your fans?
I use Instagram the most. @jonny_parks is my username. Follow and I’ll follow back!
Are you planning on going on tour anytime soon to support your new EP?
I have a few shows lined up now in Brooklyn. I always want to do more shows. My events can be found on my site jonnyparks.com.
What’s an average day for you look like?
That really depends on the day of the week. I usually start off with the gym. The mental effects as well as the physical effects of going to the gym are amazing. I then go to work or school. I’m at work or school till night then I go home to create musically or do something else productive that’ll advance my music. On my off days, I go to the studio or rehearse with my band. Pretty much an average college kid’s life.
What goals have you set out for yourself in your career and in your personal life?
My goal is to simply keep growing my fan base and to keep growing musically. My goal is to have the best album coming from an indie New York artist, whether it be with this upcoming album or with the next one.
How has this whole music career experience been?
I started not too long ago. I started doing shows in 2014 and also recorded my first acoustic album then. It has been great so far. I’ve met some awesome people that have been instrumental to my growing success. However, I do want more. I want to better myself and compete with my last project everytime to further gain recognition.
What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment in your career so far?
My biggest accomplishment so far has been performing at Amateur Night at the Apollo in NYC during the summer of 2016. The crowd is famously known for being the toughest crowd in America. The fact that I got cheers and did not get pulled off stage mid performance (which is what they do to acts that get booed) is amazing and let me know that I absolutely nothing can break me.
What do you hope to gain out of this career?
I hope to further gain recognition and be able to collaborate with the greats of today. I hope to make a better life and support those who have been there with me since day one and heard all my insecurities and doubts.
Whats the best thing thats come out of this career?
The best thing to come out of this career is the newfound confidence, esteem, and respect that I have for myself. When I was younger singing Usher songs to myself in my room, I never thought I’d be singing lyrics that I’d come up with myself in a recording studio. I’ve learned that I do have talent and that it’s up to me to continue and keep pushing the envelope even further.
Whats the biggest struggle?
The biggest struggle I would have to say is establishing the fan base. When you’re an indie artist, your first fans are your friends and your family. It’s dope to have friends and family be your central fan base, but growing outside of that and seeing people who you don’t know come to your shows just to see you play is not easy.
If your life was a movie, what would be the title?
Shyguy: The Story of Jonny Parks
Who would you want to play you?
I’ve been told numerous times that I look like Russell Wilson. Probably him although he doesn’t act, is older than me, and is physically bigger than I am.
Whats your favorite song at the moment?
My favorite song besides the songs on my album is “Nights” by Frank Ocean. It’s been my favorite for a while. I wrote about the significance that song has on my life in a long blog post on my site.
What 5 words describe you the best?
Creative, personable, musical, melodic, and mysterious.
Many artists have a saying that represents them, what saying would you say represents you the most?
A Stephen Hawking quote, “Quiet people have the loudest minds.”
Do you have any other cool talents other than singing?
I write short stories for fun. I think that’s a talent.
Do you have any last things you want to tell your supporters?
Thank you for sticking with me. And to the new supporters, you won’t be disappointed. I love music too much and I am too thankful to let anyone down that’s been there for me. Thank you, Thank you!
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with me.