Growing up as one of six kids in a musical family, you would assume Will Jordan was encouraged to have a career in music. This was not the case for the Grammy
Raised in a rough area of Tacoma, singing gave Jordan his own private space where he could communicate the emotions he couldn’t vocalize. It wasn’t until after high school that he started to share his talent’s outside the church. Jordan’s first break came when he wrote a song and uploaded it to Myspace.com. It was the first time he saw himself as a singer. Prior to that he had been creating his own beats and bringing them to friends and was mostly known as a rapper. After graduating he took a job as a studio engineer.
He spent the next few years producing and writing on other artist’s projects. And he spent more time working on his “voice.” When Jordan was informed about impending fatherhood he decided to give himself a three-month deadline in order to either hit it in the music business or walk away. It was then that A&R executive Tommy Rotem sent him some positive feedback. Rotem signed him to Beluga Heights (Warner Brothers) as a songwriter and gave him the opportunity to work with other producers on high profile projects. The most successful of these was “Fly” by Nicki Minaj featuring Rihanna. “Fly” went platinum, won an American Music Award and was nominated for a Grammy. Suddenly, producers he used to pitch music to were now coming to him. He was being sought after by big names like Atlantic, RCA, Def Jam and Columbia to sign as an artist. Like many stories in the music business, it didn’t quite follow the happily ever after theme. He never found a deal that quite lived up to the picture in his mind. Instead he took the independent route by self-producing and releasing. Just like it took Jordan his whole life to find his voice, it has taken him a bit longer to find a larger audience hear it.
Jordan’s current release, “Be Good,” is a joint effort with him and award-winning producer Eric “E” Jones. Jones is a hip-hop/R&B music producer from New Brunswick, New Jersey and is 1/7 of 9th Wonder’s production team, The Soul Council. Jones approached Jordan to take a departure from his hip-hop and pop roots and develop a project that would be more driven by current events.
“Be Good” is a soulful sounding journey into the feelings felt during the writing and recording. Jordan takes his background in creating beats and combines it with his
love of pop to create a painful but pretty sounding release. The release is a cohesive story that will be told and visualized through each song.
“This project for me was a way to get the emotions out, to be real, be honest. The songs just wrote themselves,” said Jordan.
All eight songs are written by Jordan and produced by E. Jones and include featured artists Amber Navran (DEEP) and Farnell Newton on selected tracks.
“I want people to walk away from my music feeling like they know me, they can identify with me and be inspired. I try to create music that will inspire others to want to create.” Jordan said.
Learn more about Will Jordan Here: WEBSITE
Learn more about Will Jordan in the following All Access interview:
Thank you for your time. Given these unusual Covid-19 times, what does a typical day look like for you? How have you adjusted to these times? What has changed about your life?
I’ve definitely spent a lot more time on zoom than I ever imagine I would. I’m blessed honestly, because I can do my job and pursue my passion from the comfort of my own home. My heart goes out to the people that have to choose between keeping their livelihood or keeping their sanity.
What has been the hardest/most challenging part about being quarantined? Is your city starting to open up more now? What has that been like for you watching that unfold?
I think the most challenging thing has been watching people losing loved ones left and right and not being able to do anything but pray and wish them well. I’m afraid of going numb and getting used to this. Not being able to be there for people when they need me is hard.
How have you been able to use social media during these unprecedented times? Are you finding that you use it even more now to stay connected to fans and other musicians? Have you changed the way that you utilize it these days?
Yeah, my screen time reports on my phone are out of control. Definitely doing a lot more posting and sharing and reaching out. I can’t even imagine how difficult this would be without social media. Everything is changing so fast and every day there is a new normal so I’m just trying to keep up but not burn myself out.
What has it been like having to reschedule all your shows this year? Are there shows getting scheduled for 2021 that you already looking forward to or you waiting to start making future tour plans?
It’s pretty rough. I had to cancel quite a few shows and I’m at a place in my career where the amount of shows I have in a month can change my life. As hard as it is, I know it could be so much worse. If worst comes to worst, I can always grab a buck and busk downtown, but there are a lot of people out there who are being let go with no backup plan so I have to be grateful. I think we’re working on shows for 2021, but as far as I know, pretty much everything I’m going to be doing will be livestream vibes.
Since we are all really missing live music, can you recall a favorite show of yours from the past? What do you think ultimately makes for a great show for you? What has been a favorite show of yours by another artist?
I love going to shows as much as I love playing shows so I’d have to say my favorite live show was when Jay Z and Kanye came to my hometown and played the Tacoma Dome for the Watch the Throne tour. I remember telling my best friend that one day we’d be on that same stage. My favorite show to play was the next year at the Tacoma Dome when I ended up performing on that same stage!
I’m curious what finally made you want to branch out and record your own material? Has this been something that you have been wanting to do for awhile? Who do you think encouraged you the most to take this leap?
I’d always considered myself an artist first and I think getting my start as a songwriter humbled me in a lot of ways and taught me how to serve and challenged my ego. When you’re there to write songs, nobody is trying to hear what records you’ve been working on for yourself. They don’t want to hear your cool new ideas or about your dreams, they want to hear hit records and if you can’t provide that, you can be replaced. Everything shifted for me about a year into my songwriting career because I was offered an artist deal and realized that people in positions of power saw potential in me and gave me a huge boost of confidence. From that point on I focused on artist development because I knew I was good enough, but I wasn’t as good as I was meant to be.
What collaboration with an artist has really stood out to you the most? Who did you learn the most from and made for a truly memorable experience for you? Is there anyone you would still like to write for?
I think one of my favorite moments happened during a session with a producer named Teal, and an artist named Mikey Mike, and a guitarist named Kevin Hissink. I was struggling with writer’s block and someone gave me some really great advice that I’ve been using ever since. They said the stage is where you go to make perfection, but the studio is where you go to make mistakes. I was so hard on myself and critical of myself that I would try to edit all of my ideas and perfect them before I even let them out of my head, but now I just let everything out, pick my favorite parts, and save the leftovers for later!
What was it like putting your EP, “Be Good” together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? Were there any unexpected challenges?
Yes. All of my hopes, plans, and dreams for this year fell apart and then life swept the shattered pieces into a pillowcase and beat me with it, but the wounds eventually head and gave me some pretty cool scars. I lost some people but I found myself so I’m grateful. These are amazing questions by the way- this feels like therapy!
How would you say that the EP’s first single “Back To Me” prepares listeners for the rest of the collection? What was the inspiration for this song? How did you go about choosing it to be the first song released from the EP?
I think we went with “Back to Me” because from the first line of the song, there’s a lot of confidence and conviction. We (E. Jones and I) didn’t want this to be another Rnb love song compilation. We wanted people to be able to see themselves in the music so the songs needed to be real and feel real. It’s funny because I’m saying all of that but when I was recording that, “Listen here baby, you done already said too much” line I had no idea what the hook was about or what the rest of the song was going to be, but I meant those words. I am definitely more like the good guy in the song that’s about to lose his girlfriend than the guy who tells his girl he’ll be patiently waiting for her to come back to him, but while I was singing it, it felt real. It also didn’t hurt that our radio promo people (Hey Nes and Marvin!) told us that a song like “Back to Me” only comes along once in a lifetime so I wasn’t going to argue with that!
How do you think future music is going to be influenced by this incredible and absolutely necessary Black Lives Matter movement that the US has been going through? How exactly is it inspiring you and your music?
One of the things I’ve learned from the movement is the different forms of protests. Yes, it is still important to educate yourself and to be informed and to show up when you can but I didn’t realize until recently that I’m allowed to be a storyteller, that I’m allowed to rest, that I’m allowed to still create while grieving while being upset. This year was the first time I felt protected or like someone was going to have my back if things fell apart.
If you could get into the studio with any artist today and collaborate on a new song for you, who would it be and why?
That’s such a hard question for me because there’s the rapper side of me that wants to work with Swizz Beats, the songwriter side of me that wants to work with Beyoncé, the engineering side of me that wants to work with Brandy and the singer side of me that wants to Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Steve Hodge (or Pharrell) but if I had to choose just one, I’d want to sit in the studio with Jay Z and Young Guru and learn. I want to be one of the greatest of all time it’s hard to find people that manage to accomplish great status and keep their sanity. Just from his dry sense of humor and the stories I heard, I think I would learn a lot and I’d be able to pass that on to the kids that look up to me.
What musicians have continued to inspire you and your career over the years?
So many. Goodness, gracious. Michael, Prince, Stevie, Jay, Ye, Beyoncé, Jazmine Sullivan, Hazel Scott, Yoko Kanno, The Neptunes, Rod Temperton, Musiq, Janelle Monae, Kurt Kobain, Mikes Davis, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Parker, Kendrick, Drake, Cole, Sade, Anita Baker, El Debarge, I will go on forever if you let me. The Clark Sisters, The Winans, Commissioned, Kirk Franklin, George Clinton. I told you I won’t stop. Nas, AZ, Kool G Rap, big pun, Dwele, Bilal, Wu Tang, OutKast, Big L, Devin tha Dude. I’m just gonna move to the next question.
What would your dream music video look like right now?
My dream music video would look like a classic 90s movie like “House Party” and the music would just be the soundtrack. Or it would be an anime series or something like Daft Punk’s “Interstella 5555”. I’d finally be able to get this story out of my head. Any of those things would honestly be a dream come true. It’s funny because there are people who do things kinds of projects whenever they want and for me, it seems so far away, but when I get there, I’m going to appreciate every minute of it and make sure that the next kid out of Tacoma doesn’t have it anywhere as near as hard as I did.
If you could go back in time and tell your younger musician self something about this industry or how your career was going to progress, what would you say?
I would say, “I know you’re probably mad at me, all the plans that you had with me, I turned them all into tragedy. You threw your life in the trash for me, left your mom and your dad for me. But this ain’t what it’s gon’ be like, no more sleeping under these streetlights, we’ll have everything we like, just please don’t leave, hold on to me.”
Thank you so much for your time, I really enjoyed these questions!