Posted On 15 Nov 2016
On November 18th, the alternative indie singer-songwriter JW Sargent released his debut EP, “In Retrograde.”
The EP is Sargent’s first venture as a solo artist after time spent in several notable bands in the music scene. In Retrograde features four songs and appearances by prominent musicians such as Justin Nace (PVRIS) and Evan Chapman (Lydia). The EP was mastered and co-recorded by Paul Leavitt (All Time Low, The Dangerous Summer) and mixed by Justin Chapman (Dr. Dog).
Here is what JW Sargent had to say about the release:
“In Retrograde is the illusion of moving backward when, in reality, you are making progress. That concept was something that I felt and dealt with a lot, not only in the context of making this record, but also in my life in general. Not only are the songs inspired by that feeling, but the album itself is a product of it. Making this record has been an incredible journey for me as an artist and has pushed to try new things in the name of growth and self reliance. It feels great to finally share these years of work with the world and hopefully these ideas resonate with others as they have with me.” – JW Sargent
JW Sargent is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Philadelphia, PA. Sargent considers this solo project the next frontier in his musical progression, after years of playing in regionally renowned bands (Oh, the Story!). For his debut EP, In Retrograde,JW wrote, recorded, and produced all of the songs, making the project the ultimate test in self-reliance. JW Sargent states, “This is the first project where I wrote completely on my own. There’s something kind of terrifying about putting yourself out there, but it’s also very liberating. This is the music that I want to make. My main goal when I started working on this project was to make honest songs that I wanted to hear. These songs are an attempt to understand and process issues that I’ve dealt with and hardships that I’ve faced.” With influences ranging from Bon Iver to The Japanese House and Copeland, Sargent’s music combines indie and alternative styles. Throughout In Retrograde, Sargent aims to expose the light from darkness, and find resolution at the end of the journey.
Learn more about JW in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that we are well into the fall of 2016, what are some words you would use to describe this year? What have been some of the highlights for you and your music?
Thank you! A word that I would use to describe this year is exciting. I have been super busy and making a lot of moves musically and also personally. I have been working on this project for a long time but this year it has really taken shape and become something more cohesive. Its an incredible feeling to watch something that you started and care so much about form and get ready to be released into the world so its been a really exciting year so far.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
My parents introduced me to music really early on and I fell in love with it right away. I’ve seen the pictures of me as a baby holding a plastic toy guitar or pretending that a snow shovel was a guitar but started playing on an actual guitar when I was seven. I definitely recall sitting on my bed with a junior sized classical acoustic guitar trying to figure it out before my first lesson.
How would you describe your sound to someone that has never heard it before?
Always a tough question but I typically describe it as guitar driven alternative music with some electronic elements.
Can you talk about your newest single, “Run”? What was the inspiration for it? How does this track prepare listeners for your forthcoming album?
Run is a song that, musically, came together very organically. I started writing pieces that fit together very quickly and had the song structure mapped out within an hour or two. As the song developed, I was dealing with a bunch of stuff personally and life was really crazy. There were points during that period where I was like man, it would be really nice to just get away from all of this. My girlfriend and I would say to each other “Do you want to just run away?” and the lyrics for the song took shape out of that idea and desire for a simpler life.
Next month, you are going to release your debut EP “In Retrograde.” What was it like putting this collection together as a solo artist compared to your experience working with bands? I understand that it was liberating writing the songs on it by yourself. How so exactly?
Writing songs as a solo artist is really liberating but also kind of scary at points because I felt like, for the first time, I was really putting myself out there. A lot of times when you write in the context of a band, the songs are formed out of a combination of ideas. And when that’s the case, a lot of times you have to make compromises on what you want the song to be or how you hear it in your head. That isn’t a bad thing at all but a lot of times it really changes where the song goes and what it ends up sounding like. This was the first time where I didn’t have that counterpoint and really just had to go with my gut and make songs that I thought were cool.
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you all and your music? Who would you still love to work with in the future?
There are a ton of artists that I love and really respect as songwriters. The new Bon Iver record is pretty incredible; I think Justin Vernon is super creative and I think his musical progression over the last few years shows how much he pushes himself as an artist. I was also super inspired by The Japanese House in writing for my project—I love the vocal production and the combination of guitar and synth elements.
When you aren’t performing, working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you all unwind from it all?
Typically, I spend my time hanging with friends, going to shows and that sort of thing. I also run and bike a lot which are good ways to unwind after a long day.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
I don’t know that there is a single takeaway from my music since the songs are written about a number of different things but, for me, one of the most important messages is that there is light in the darkness – that there is always a positive outcome from negative situations. I truly believe that things happen the way that they’re supposed to, even if that reason is unclear at points. There is always something in your life that gets you through the dark times — whether it be a person, an idea, or a goal, there is always a reason to make it to the other side.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I just want to say thank you to anyone who has listened to my music so far. These songs mean a lot to me and have helped me make sense of a number of situations in my life so if I can help make that happen for someone else, or even just give them a cool song to listen to, that would be incredible.