An Interview With Singer-Songwriter JONO DORR On His New Solo Track ‘Quiet Footsteps,’ Writing and Producing For Others and What’s Next!
Meet singer-songwriter, Jono Dorr! On June 25th, he released his newest single, “Quiet Footsteps.” As a songwriter and producer, Jono Dorr has helped launch and sustain the careers of prominent artists like Hayley Kiyoko, Kehlani, Gnash and The Neighborhood. He’s currently working with Hayley on her second album. Sourcing his influences ranging from Motown to Nirvana, Jono’s own songs evoke a soulful revival within the modern pop landscape.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jono played bass and guitar in various bands during his childhood mainly focusing on classic rock, blues and funk. While attending Alexander Hamilton High School’s music academy he began producing and songwriting with various singers and rappers thanks to a relatively new electronic music class. At UC Santa Cruz, he refined his recording technique with an electronic music minor as he attempted to solve the many mysteries of the mind with a philosophy major. He briefly considered becoming a lawyer to make his Jewish mother proud but he was confronted by his unyielding passion for making music and decided to follow his dreams instead. After an ultimatum from his parents to either make money from music or get a real job he got lucky and started composing for television while also building his talents for producing and songwriting.
Learn more about Jono Dorr in the following All Access interview:
Thank you for your time. So given these unusual Covid-19 times, what does a typical day look like for you? How have you adjusted to these times?
I was lucky enough to move to Santa Monica right before everything hit so most days I either go to the beach or a park, then just focus on music. Again, I feel like one of the lucky ones who is pretty unaffected by COVID. I also see a therapist on zoom so that’s been really helpful.
What has been the hardest/most challenging part about being quarantined? Is your city starting to open up more now?
The hardest part has been not seeing other humans as often. I think there’s been a general feeling of desperation and fear that permeates the city but that seems to be shifting now. They opened things up out of the blue one day and now maybe closing some things again. It’s pretty unclear what strategy, if any is being used to make policy decisions.
Since we are all desperately 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?
The best show I’ve seen in a while was James Blake at the Ace Hotel Theater. It was just him, a piano and a few loop pedal effects which made it really spontaneous and intimate. It felt really special.
Let’s talk about your brand new single, “Quiet Footsteps.” What was the inspiration for this track? How do you think it compares to anything else you have put out before? How different is it then the music that you work with from other artists?
“Quiet Footsteps” just came out really quickly without any thought or effort. I was in a very transitional time because both my romantic and professional relationships ended. It definitely reflects both the pain of change and an eagerness to transform. It’s one of my favorite songs because it just goes and doesn’t look back. Music with other artists is all about them, what they are going through, what they want to sound like. My music is all about me in those ways.
What more can listeners expect from you? Do you have plans to release an EP or entire full-length album of your own material soon? Do you find that you are enjoying working on your own music now compared to working with others?
Yes very soon! Yeah I really enjoy doing both. It’s really rewarding to help someone realize their vision and help them manifest their life into songs and it’s also very rewarding to take that inward/outward journey for yourself.
I am curious to know what it has been like for you launching and working with so many incredible musicians-musicians that have had/are having successful music careers? How did you first get into this line of work? What artist relationship stands out the most to you now? Is there anyone that you wish you had helped in the beginning of their career?
It’s hard to explain how it all happened. Mainly through mutual friends at first but then someone reaches out because they like what you do and if the session goes well then you keep making songs. It’s like blind dating for the artist to see who they have chemistry with then you can build a relationship from there. Hayley Kiyoko and I have gotten really close through many conversations and musical experiences so that definitely stands out the most. Post Malone would have been interesting because I consider him an old school country artist that happens to pick hip hop beats to sing on. I just like how he doesn’t care about genre constraints which would have been fun to do early on.
How do you think future music is going to be influenced by this incredible and absolutely necessary Black Lives Matter movement that the US and even the world is going through now? Is it inspiring you and your music today?
I think or I hope that it makes music more meaningful, more rebellious, less tied to genre or commercial constraints. I’m tired of hearing so many throw away/meaningless songs. I just hope it encourages people to really put their soul into their music. Music that you can be proud to play for your kids when you reminisce about the good ol’ days. My friend found this great quote by Pericles (ancient Athenian) that feels really applicable to how this climate will impact artists going forward: “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”
If you could get into the studio with any artist today and collaborate on a new song, who would it be and why?
James Blake would be epic because we both have a slight gospel vibe to what we do and his collaborations are always so creative and soulful. I remember when I was in college and my friend who was visiting played me “The Wilhelm Scream” right after it came out and I was like fuuuuuuuck!! Also Bon Iver because he just focuses on being honest, creative and ignoring what everyone else is doing. Rosalia too because she’s just insanely skilled and she can literally do anything. I love people who ignore genre and just do what they like. Post Malone is definitely in that category too and we could have some epic blues guitar jams between sessions. Also Kendrick because he’s a real life Jedi.