An Interview With The Explosive California New Soul/Retro Pop Artist, KLEZ!
Posted On 17 Oct 2017
Get to know the California new soul and retro pop artist, Klez!
He takes the purity and resonance of Hozier and pairs it with the soulful grit of Son Little. Entitled ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Fool’, his track is a refreshing throwback to the glory days of Motown, but with a unique modern indie pop interpretation. The single has already had the seal of approval from audio guru Brian Lucey (The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys) who worked on Klez’s forthcoming album.
Listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/soundx3music/aint-nobodys-fool
Sound x 3 Records is pleased to announce the worldwide digital release of ‘Old Soul New World’ by John Klezmer aka “Klez” this fall. ‘Old Soul New World’ is the explosive and aptly titled second EP of Klez, whose music lies somewhere in the nebulous middle of the soul spectrum. The EP was recorded in the Bay Area; mixed in Northern California and mastered by audio guru, Brian Lucey at Magic Gardens Mastering in Los Angeles.
With the support of fans at home and abroad, Klez took to the road in April, 2017 on a Scandinavian tour where he performed in clubs, universities and radio stations. Following the tour, Klez was offered a several spots at Sweden’s “Live At Heart” festival in August, 2017 which is one of Scandinavia’s biggest showcase festivals, akin to SXSW in the USA. Upon returning to California, Klez was welcomed back to headline the “Keep Chico Creative” festival in Chico, California, which attracts thousands of people every year.
Klez’s debut EP, Here Right Now, was released in May 2016. The title track from the EP was featured in a promo for the finale of the ABC prime time show, “Castle,” in May 2016. The waves from the release of this EP quickly led Klez to well-known venues throughout Los Angeles. Over this last year, Klez has gained momentum in the San Francisco Bay Area music scene. His consistent dynamic performances have earned him headlining spots at respected venues across the city, including. Klez is set for an upcoming explosive European tour.
Over his career, Klez has performed with artists, such as Con Brio, Joey Dosik, The Main Squeeze, and Gene Evaro Jr. Klez was raised playing multiple instruments and listening closely to his family’s music collection, which included the likes of Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder. While Klez was still in college at Chico State, he was discovered by Los Angeles based label, Sound x 3 Records, in the music industry program’s bi-annual singer songwriter competition, Chico Unplugged.
Connect with Klez Here:
Learn more about Klez in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood?
A: Thank for the opportunity to talk about life and music! This interview figuratively finds me in a place of transition, and quite literally finds me in a new home in the city, that I am thrilled to be living in. I’m currently listening to “Airegin” by Wes Montgomery, as it is what I consider to be a perfect song for motivation in the morning. I also believe that it pairs well with the natural city sounds of San Francisco that are naturally inhabiting my place of residence. I have found that engulfing myself in positive music always puts my mind at ease and immediately uplifts my mood. Often times, I find that the source of this positive energy isn’t necessarily tied to one specific genre either; rather, it is related to the positive message that many of these songs posses.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
A: I would have to say that I have wanted to be a musician, as long as I’ve been able to make music, which dates back to childhood. I can’t be certain which musical memory of mine is the oldest, but I vividly remember receiving an old nylon string guitar from my aunt when I was a child. I would spend what seemed like countless hours fidgeting around until I would ultimately teach myself to play something familiar from my memory bank.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your hometown has affected who you are as a musician and the art that you create?
A: I came from the city of Brentwood. The one in Northern California. While growing up, the city was really more of a farming community with plenty of beautiful orchards and views of the hills and mountain range, but opportunities were limited. I found myself grateful to have a family that supported me and encouraged me to go out and explore city life in nearby San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. It was really in those larger cities that I witnessed live music, art and culture that would catch my interest and inspire to create more as a musician. That being said, Brentwood was a safe and reliable environment to have grown up in, and I am grateful for many of the people that I grew up around.
Musically, did you approach this year any differently then you did last year? How has 2017 been treating you and your career?
A: The musical approach in 2017 has been very different than that of 2016. I firmly believe that in order to make progress as a musician, it is essential to constantly look for new sources of inspiration, challenges to overcome, and opportunities to act upon. I have spent the majority of 2017 pushing myself to be a more straightforward and to-the-point musician and performer. I made this dynamic shift in songwriting and performing, as I felt that it was needed in order to move forward from the years previous. I also made sure to revisit the record collection that I grew up on and question how my approach to music really compared, and how I could make a positive change. At this point in time, it seems to be paying off, as I’ve now had two successful tours in Europe, a number of celebrated shows in California, and many fantastic connections that have been made with other bands and artists. I look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store, and which opportunities and obstacles I will seek to engage in.
I’d love to know more about what it was like getting discovered by the Los Angeles based label Sound x 3 Records while you were still in college at Chico State?
A: Getting discovered by Sound x 3 Records, while I was still in college at Chico State, was really a surreal experience. I had often thought about my entrance into the music industry, but I was both surprised and overjoyed when it came together as soon as it did. I am really fortunate and grateful for the artist development that I received, as it greatly helped to prepare me for the music industry outside the college walls and textbooks. Not to mention the many wonderful mentors and connections that have been met and befriended along the way.
Let’s talk about your newest single “Ain’t Nobody’s Fool.” Where did the inspiration for this track come from? How do you think it prepares listeners for the rest of you “Old Soul New World” album to be released later this fall?
A: My newest single “Ain’t Nobody’s Fool” is greatly inspired by the older R&B/Soul singers that I grew up listening to. I greatly respect the timeless quality of Soul music, and I wanted to make my own attempt to create something that was equal parts inspiration from the past and progress towards tomorrow. This song displays the overall production approach, theme, and tonality of the rest of “Old Soul New World”, so if you enjoy this single, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy the rest.
How do you think this new collection of music is different or similar to anything else that you have released? What has changed about your music style since your debut EP “Here Right Now” was put out?
A: When comparing my old material with the new music, there are a few noticeable differences. The production approach on the “Here Right Now” was very modern with serious concepts and themes that were meant to reflect many of the issues in the modern world. The new music on “Old Soul New World” takes a step back in time and reflects an older production style with more uplifting and old-fashioned songwriting and storytelling.
How was your Scandinavian tour earlier this year? What were some of your favorite venues and/or crowds along the way? What was it like performing at the “Live At Heart” festival last month in Sweden? And then the “Keep Chico Creative” festival in Chico, CA? For you personally, which do you prefer-festival gigs or one night shows?
A: The Scandinavian tour earlier this year was truly a breath of fresh air. It was a new experience for the rest of the band and I, and it was incredible to be engulfed in amazing culture, music, food, and natural beauty. Some of my favorite venues during the first tour were PSB, Öbaren, (both in Stockholm) and Carib Kreol in Malmö. Performing at “Live At Heart” was incredible. The festival was filled with so many talented musicians, respectful and engaging crowds, and picture perfect scenery. “Keep Chico Creative” festival was electrifying. There’s something to be said for those moments when you can jump off stage and jump together with a crowd of people. As simple as that may sound, if you’ve ever experienced it before, then you know how unifying and empowering it feels. With regard to preference of festival gigs or one night shows, I have come to realize the significance of both. I love the concept behind festival gigs, because it creates an opportunity for a complete stranger to hear your music and connect with you, when they might not have otherwise. Festivals truly are great for widespread exposure and testing your level of musicianship and showmanship. One night shows are also unique as the vibe is often more intimate than that of festival gigs and there’s the added element of playing with a small lineup of bands. When there are only a few bands playing a one night show, then the experience can be greatly influenced given the choice of lineup. All in all, both one night shows and festival gigs are equally enjoyable, they just present different opportunities and experiences.
With the summer being just about over, what is something fun that you tried for the first time?
A: Upon returning from Europe, I spent a month living out of a carry-on bag and moved from house to house and couch to couch while I figured out my work and living situation. Luckily, I always knew the people that I was staying with, but it was still a very interesting experience and a first. I think that the big takeaway was that minimalism can be very freeing and beautiful.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these hard times?
A: Being a musician in these tumultuous times I get the most joy out of sharing music with others. That might sound basic, but if you think about it, live music provides an opportunity for people to come together, share in a cultural exchange, make new friends, dance, and leave with joyous memories that might last a lifetime. Recorded music can be shared with those who may not have the financial means to make it to a live performance, but equally need and desire an escape from the world around them. Knowing that my music provides people with an escape, both in public and in the privacy of their own space makes me a happy person. As a musician, I really can’t ask for much more than that. I also believe that the music of these times will greatly parallel the songs of the generation that had to endure the Vietnam War. Those songs undoubtedly helped many to get through hardships, and I’m sure that many of the songs that are coming out today will do the same, as well as mark a very difficult and pivotal point in American history. A change is coming and you can hear it in the air.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
A: I always find inspiration with the classics. Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, are essentials, but there is so much great music and powerful messages out there, that it is hard to lack inspiration from a multitude of places and sources. It’s difficult to name specific people that I would specifically love to work with, but I will say that I would love to work with anyone who has the same musical vision. When positive and like-minded people work together, I believe that it can truly help to make the world a better place, and I’d love to see that trend continue in my own life and career.
What do you hope fans take away from your music? Do you think that your music has a singular overall message at all?
A:Though as a writer I often have a theme or goal in mind, I often find that there doesn’t need to always be one right answer, and that seems to be particularly true when discussing artistic interpretation. I hope that when supporters are listening to my music, that they will use it to help them in whatever way they need it to. If I had to identify an overall message in my music, then I suppose I would say truth and transparency. Whether my songs pertain to the world, myself, or any number of people or things, they are always open and honest.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about becoming a musician one day?
A: Always hold on to the joy that music brings into your life. Patience and perseverance are vital if you want to see yourself succeed. Everything takes time. Everyone makes mistakes, so learn from yours and other peoples as well, and you’ll find yourself making steady progress. Create your own definition of success and set realistic goals to achieve it. Always create more goals and always push forward. No one owes you anything. Respect is best earned through hard work, and if you don’t have to work hard to get where you want to be, then chances are that you won’t appreciate your success. Don’t burn bridges, build new ones. Always be considerate of others and hold yourself to the highest of standards. Lastly, enjoy the ride. No one is promised tomorrow, so take advantage of all of life’s moments and enjoy.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your forthcoming music?
A: If you made it to this point, then thank you for reading. Time is precious and I am grateful for yours. I hope that you enjoy “Old Soul New World”, which is out October 13th, and I look forward to what the future has in store. Preach peace, spread love, share music. That’s all. Many thanks.