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The 99% Episode #20 with JP Saxe

The Toronto singer-songwriter JP Saxe has been gifted by moving listeners with merely shifting raw and organic emotions. You could identify his music quickly by his soulful vocals wisely overlayed on piano chords and guitar tones. He made an impression in the scene with his R&B debut single “Changed” communicating a journey of relationships and past personalities. Without fear of achievement, JP Saxe has racked up over 250k views on Youtube combined. It’s obvious he has no sign of quitting, and we find out what’s next for the inventive artist in our latest 99% Podcast interview.

Listen To JP Saxe 99 Percent Podcast Interview Below:

Steereo:

Welcome back to the 99% podcast people. We are here with the extraordinarily talented JP Saxe. Welcome to today’s episode.

JP Saxe:

Thank you for having me, I’m excited about it!

Steereo:

I’ve been listening to a few things, what would you say your genre of music is? If you were to pick a lane, what would that lane be?

JP Saxe:

Lyric-driven pop music is usually my go to. Depending on how sassy I feel like being, I might go with something ridiculous such as describing it as purple or magenta. Just because describing genres of music is a difficult thing to do given the current landscape of people making music. It’s so broad that it can be difficult to describe. If we’re going to keep it simple, lyric driven pop music.

Steereo:

For sure. I think it is one of the hardest things to answer, for me as an artist because when you say pop music, which is derived from popular music, people think about Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. So if you don’t have that big production sound, people may judge you on your sound. So when people ask me, I say honest pop because they ask what that is and then you have a window to talk about your own music and why it’s specific to you. So I like that; lyrical driven pop music.

JP Saxe:

I also like the genre of sitting at a piano trying not to lie to myself. I think that’s a nice genre title.

Steereo:

Don’t we all! I’m going to steal that line. So let’s bring it all the way back. Where are you originally from, and what was the music scene like there?

JP Saxe:

I’m from Toronto and the music scene there is pretty spectacular. I’m surrounded by really really talented people, and really loving, community-oriented musicians. One of the special parts of that city is that it is made up of a lot of people who really want to see each other win, and really want to collaborate. I think that was a huge part of my growth as a young musician in Toronto; getting to play with so many different bands as a pianist, and having those people be in my band. All the venues in Toronto accommodate that, so it was a really exciting time.

Steereo:

Do you think L.A. lives up to that same strong community? Does it live up to your expectations?

JP Saxe:

It’s different, man. At least in my experience, Toronto was the perfect place to build and grow as a musician, figuring out what I wanted to do. Then Los Angeles was the place that really facilitated me getting in the right rooms to do that and reach more people with it. Toronto was a place for growth and Los Angeles was the place to expand into an audience. Finding the people that were going to hear it.

Steereo:

What was it like for you, first breaking into the music industry, and what advice would you have for someone who is about to do it?

JP Saxe:

It depends what they’re trying to do. I would have different advice depending on if your goal is to be an artist or a songwriter or a producer or in a band as an instrumentalist. I’ll speak to being an artist, because that is what I am out here trying to do, ultimately. I think the most important thing that I’ve noticed in making my career move forward in the way that I have is just knowing how to be myself in my music. That took writing a lot of songs, and not trying to make them the most brilliant work of art. Just trying to write a lot. I learned how to look at my music and say that feels a little bit more like me and that feels a little bit less like me. And that feels a little bit more like me because of this. It’s not just about being a singer or about being a good songwriter or being really good at an instrument, it’s knowing how to combine all those things into something that says something about yourself in a way you want to say something about yourself. That takes a lot of trial and error, not being afraid of getting it wrong. You don’t have to show it to anyone until it feels like you.

Steereo:

That is amazing advice. I think from a self-reflective point of view, every artist needs that. I definitely went through that for a period of time, to figure out what it was in terms of the message I wanted to say. I think similarly to you, it’s a process. When you talk about sitting down at a piano and being honest, that’s what it ultimately comes down to. How honest can you get with yourself? That’s what an audience buys into.

JP Saxe:

I don’t think it’s something that we can necessarily figure out. It’s just something you just do until you show it to yourself. It’s not something you’ll think your way into. Right now, the most important part of my growth is not being afraid to write a bad song. It won’t make you a bad song writer. It makes you a songwriter.

Steereo:

It’s classic when you write a song in the studio and you’re so pumped about it, you go to listen to it the next day with fresh ears and you’re like, “Really? This is what we thought was brilliant yesterday?” Talking about songwriting, what are some of your inspirations, while actually making or writing your song?

JP Saxe:

One of my most important inspirations for writing is the poetry community in Los Angeles. I really love poetry and I think surrounding myself with a lot of friends who are poets, and having them in my head as my first critic is a very valuable asset to me. Just because I know some of the first people hearing my music aren’t going to be hearing it like songs, they’re going to be hearing it for the words. So they’re super inspiring to me. I think it’s really important for artists generally to be inspired by people outside of your own craft. I think when you’re taking inspiration from different mediums of art, it feels more personal translated into your own voice because it is from a different world.

Watch The Music Video for “The Few Things” by JP Saxe

Steereo:

From an independent point of view, a lot of people take an independent route within the music industry. From your point of view, from what you’ve seen, what are the benefits and the drawbacks of being an independent artist in today’s society versus being a major label artist?

JP Saxe:

I would say the benefits and the drawbacks are, in many ways, the same thing. As an artist working independently, you have a lot of autonomy and you have a lot less resources. Whatever you want to do, you get to do it the way you want to do it but you have less force behind it. Force behind an idea isn’t necessarily an asset if it’s the wrong idea. If you’re on a major label, you have a little bit less autonomy over how you’re being pushed forward, which is fine if you’re being pushed forward the way you want to be pushed forward. Then it’s a great decision to be a part of that infrastructure. If you’re being pushed in a way, and there’s a lot of money and a lot of resources being moved toward somewhere that you don’t want to move, then that’s not a place you want to be in.

Steereo:

As a part of Steereo, we’ve been playing your music for a while now.

JP Saxe:

And I really appreciate it! It’s so cool, so thank you.

Steereo:

What’s your take on music technology today? Are you in love with it? Are you savvy with it? Does it break your heart as an artist to have to be involved with it?

JP Saxe:

Honestly, man, however people are going to find my music is okay with me. If you’re finding a song that moves you and connects with your life, and that song happens to be my song, that is so cool to me that I couldn’t care less how it happens. I’m not going to be the person to come up with the innovative, new way to discover the music, that’s not my world, that’s Steereo’s world. But honestly, if people are finding it and connecting to it, that’s my priority. I was to be able to meet people through this music and I want people to meet the music, and then meet me through that. I want to be able to have that real connection so I couldn’t care less how it happens as long as it happens in an honest way.

Steereo:

I think a lot of people’s frustration with technology and social media comes from the pressure on the numbers of the following and streams because it leads to people discrediting your art when you only have x number of followers. I don’t think that’s directly related to the talent that the person has. It ultimately just shows how good or bad they are at marketing. That’s hard as well. Not only as an artist do you have to create the material, but you have to be your own brand. Your own social media expert and your own PR company. With a platform like Steereo, that’s not a thing. People won’t write you off, they’ll just love your new song. And then they’ll want to follow you. Therefore, we don’t base anything on your social numbers or your marketing, or whether you’re Instagram famous or not. It’s just having a really good song so we can put it into as many rideshares as we physically can, and then let the audience decide.

JP Saxe:

It’s awesome to let songs stand on their own merit, but I’m also not mad at the way people consume their music, or the way people find their audiences. Throughout the history of music, there has always been some sort of barrier that you needed to make it through to get people to hear your music. Forty years ago it was a few people at the heads of companies that decided whether your music was valuable enough for people to hear it or not. Now it’s democratized to the point where it sucks sometimes if you don’t have 100,000 followers. However, you have more agency to try and build that you had trying to convince the one person at the head of the company that you were worth signing. I’ll take this scenario any day because that’s one I feel like I can control.

Steereo:

I love your attitude. So if someone jumps into the back of an Uber or Lyft and they hear you for the first time. What is JP Saxe trying to make them feel?

JP Saxe:

All of the songs that I put out are things I genuinely feel or felt. I’m a writer, I can speak English. In most cases, it was things that I was trying not to feel, but I felt anyway. Writing these songs was my way of dealing with the feelings and expressing them. So if you hear my song in the back of a car and you feel anything at all, I’m psyched about it. If you want to call your ex-girlfriend, I’m happy about it. If you want to text someone you love and tell them that you love them in a way that you don’t always show them, that makes me happy too. If you want to make it your wedding song, all of these things are real and have happened to me which has just been wild. I’m trying to tell a true story and it’s the only thing I’m interested in doing in my music. If you’re having an experience with it that makes you feel anything that your life is, a little bit deeper than that makes me happy.

Steereo:

Tell the audience about the new and exciting things that are coming up for JP Saxe this year.

JP Saxe:

I’m about to go on tour in the fall; there are dates that are going to be announced on my socias. I’d love to keep in touch. @jpsaxe I’ll be posting tour dates. I have a duet version of A Few Things coming out this Friday, Aug. 10. I have a lot of new music coming out starting in September. It’s going to be a fun year.

Steereo:

The family here at Steereo is excited about all that.

JP Saxe:

Thank you so much I really appreciate your support in my music. It’s so cool to be part of what you’re building.

Steereo:

Thank you so much for being part of the 99% podcast today. We look forward to your new music very soon!

JP Saxe:

Thank you so much!

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Kai McDaniel is a Los Angeles-based writer, lover of entertainment, art, and film.