INTERVIEW BY: MEG
Earlier this year, you released your debut single “I Can’t Say.” What made you choose this particular track to be your first single? Do you think it’s representative of your music?
I would say “I Can’t Say” represents my original style from high school and most of college. Combined with that, the theme of the album focuses on a fundamental change of identity that I never saw coming, so it seemed the perfect fit to open with, and became a sort of foreshadowing for what is coming later in the album journey. Over time, what I’ve written style wise has changed a lot since then. These days, it varies significantly as I don’t really stick to just one genre, I follow my musical interest and the feeling I think the song should have, so I’d say no it doesn’t represent the full spectrum of my musical style. It does represent a particular style I tend to come back to often though. I’ve written many of my songs in that sort of pop/rock ballad format.
More recently, you released another single, “More Time,” to follow it up. What is this particular track about, and how would you compare the lyrical themes of this one to those of “I Can’t Say”?
“More Time” is about getting back into a relationship with someone after things ended badly the first time, trying to get back to how you felt when everything started. It's hard to build trust after it's been broken, and I think we often feel like we just want a little more time and a few more actions to show us that things will be different this time around. This is the one song on the album that I didn’t write directly about my own experience, but as I’ve reflected more over the past few years, I notice that even when imagining what it’s like to be someone else there are ways that I tend to find commonalities in my own life and end up writing from that place. The themes of these two songs are pretty different. “I Can’t Say” is a more general song about choosing hope even when things are hard, believing that somehow things will get better; and “More Time” is a song about a specific type of interaction in a romantic relationship that’s trying to heal.
Each of these tracks showcase different sides to your sound, with “More Time” being a more pop rock-influenced track and “I Can’t Say” being more of an alt-rock ballad. How would you personally describe your sound in terms of the genre(s) and subgenre(s) you feel like your music falls into, and who are some of your primary musical influences in those styles of music?
I usually describe my overall genre as pop and rock, with some alternative mixed in at times, indie vibes, and some anthemic choruses (that comes a bit later on the album, connecting a bit more with my religious worship music upbringing). My primary influences are Peter Gabriel, The 1975, X Ambassadors, Coldplay, Hillsong United, and Lifehouse. There’s a bunch more in there with those, but these are the main ones I grew up listening to and drive a lot of my core sound.
These two songs are part of your forthcoming debut album, “When The Sky Began To Fall.” What else can people expect from the remaining tracks on the record? Are they similar to or different from these two singles?
There are 10 more tracks on the album, and they vary quite a lot. The next one is similar to “More Time,” but with a cross-world genre blending twist I’m really excited about and think is the highlight of the song. After that comes a more rock tune inspired by Toto and Steve Winwood, before I fall into another ballad. Then it takes a real left turn into some alternative, then a moody Sufjan Stevens/Coldplay/Hillsong meditative style, ending on a more solemn note with just piano and vocals. So there’s a lot of change, which I think represents my internal journey these past 10 years pretty well.
What exactly is this record about lyrically, and what topics are discussed in the lyrics? Is there a central concept or topic that the album is based around, and if so - what is it, and how do some of the lyrics display it?
I don’t want to lay out the album concept in specific details just yet, as I’m hoping people will discover what’s happening on the way, but in general terms my best attempt to share with people my understanding of my journey up until this point growing into my own identity and standing strong in that without needing other people to validate or agree, with a heavy focus on the loss of my faith and working through unhealthy relating patterns. The opening track sets the scene for the change that’s about to happen lyrically (“I can’t say which way the wind will blow or if the stars will come out tomorrow…”), and the other songs’ lyrics express specific individual points along the journey that were critical in my growth.
With the release cycle for this album, you’re releasing each track individually as a single leading up to the full album’s release. What made you decide to go down that route? Do you feel like, with the increase of bands and artists putting a lot of focus on singles, that will become the primary release format in the music industry in the near future?
I decided to do this because of a few reasons: First, an album is perceived as one piece of content, which has a limited interest life. 12 songs released as singles means 12 pieces of content, so it feels like more content is coming out more regularly. Second, when you submit to Spotify you can pitch your music to editorial playlists, but if you do an album you can only pick one song. I wanted each song to have a chance at editorial playlists. Third, it gives people a chance to come along a journey as the album is released, not just a single experience at one point in time. You can build a lot of momentum this way as an artist. Lastly, it meant I could do videos for every song, and not have to finish them all at once but spread the visual creative aspect out over a longer time, which gives me more space to think through what I want each video to represent and add depth that I couldn’t if it was rushed.
What do you have planned in support of your upcoming debut LP, and what can people expect next?
I’m running my own marketing campaigns on social media to connect with more listeners, a whole merch line planned, and plan to start playing live shows at the end of 2021 in the middle of the album release. And of course the next 11 videos, which continue the storyline from the first track, “I Can’t Say.”
FOLLOW LJR ON SOCIAL MEDIA HERE:
LJR'S LATEST SINGLE, "MORE TIME," IS AVAILABLE NOW. LISTEN TO IT HERE: