Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Feature

Jarrod Lawson: Something like a phenomenon… Maybe!

Jarrod Lawson @bluesandsoul.com
Jarrod Lawson @bluesandsoul.com Jarrod Lawson @bluesandsoul.com Jarrod Lawson @bluesandsoul.com Jarrod Lawson @bluesandsoul.com

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Errr, NO…it’s Jarrod Lawson! OK, not Superman as such, but potentially a musical super ‘hero’ none-the-less…and like Superman, came out of nowhere, a little place in the US called, Kryptonia, lol. OK, OK, I was trying to keep the Superman thang going…he was actually born in sunny, laid-back and cool, Redwood, California. Then at around 8 years of age he moved to Portland… BUT, he has lived on a farm - yep, just like Superman!

AND, as you will deduce from this interview, Lawson possesses a will, inner strength and determination as an artist who above all stays true to his art, that it can be compared artistically to and goes waaaaay beyond those with mere mortal capabilities and more akin to those of superstar proportions. Like a star, I’m talking about an artist who comes around like a comet, who we wait an age for, travelling at high speed through the musical universe, burning bright - simply put, he’s out of this world!

It was in June 2014 I noticed Jarrod Lawson’s name appear in the UK Soul Chart, his eponymous release though staunch stalwarts of soul, Dome Records, had more than a hint of gothic artwork on the CD with both font and cover, a serious looking Lawson adoring with leather wrist bands and short leather necklace to match, with hands together in a praying pose “please buy my album” Lol…who knew this release would in turn have us worshipping a deftly resplendent soul/jazz filled vibe, which was evident from the off.

In August our very own Ralph Tee tipped this same 39 year old vocalist / pianist / multi-instrumentalist, who’s “jazzy style” reminded him of UK emperor of cool and soul maestro Omar, as a candidate for the Soul album of the year, as did other B&S contributors Bigger and myself… Funny Ralph should mention Omar back then, as the singer and his ethos was amongst topics of conversation when yours truly, Lee Tyler, Editor of this fine mag, sat down for a breezy chat at the Heights Resturant & Bar, St Georges Hotel in central London with the man of the hour, a one time piano tuner who was determined to start this interview off on the right note, as he set his independently soul filled stall out. “One of my main philosophies about my music and my message is to get it out to as many ears as possible and I could go with a major and get it out to masses, you know? But there’s a sacrifice there that I may have to make, right. And I’m not going to make that sacrifice, I’m certainly not going to sacrifice who I am and I’m not going to sacrifice my creative control over my art - those are 2 things that are non-negotiable for me.” Adding, “I’m not interested in becoming another Justin Timberlake. I wanna be taken seriously as an artist, as a song writer. I appreciate that about artists like Omar, I greatly appreciate him and other artists like Prince who have said FU (short for no thanks!) to the industry.”

This mutual appreciation between label and artist has certainly helped tight knit team Lawson lay a decent foundation to go on to one day dominate their scene on these shores, as we continue with happenings in 2014, early October saw the small matter of a European album debut at world famous prestigious venue, Ronnie Scott’s, no less - a debut of a once self-funded / self-released album in the US - naturally both shows were sold out, as news of this supreme talent had spread far and wide. “It was that surreal feeling, we are doing our European debut at one of THE most prestigious jazz clubs on the planet of Earth! (laughs) I was like, how is this happening? I obviously have to credit my team to some degree; Dwayne (Telesford ~ Lawsons’s manager at the time), Peter (Label owner, Dome Records) and Ina Dittke who has been my booking agent for sometime - they all had a lot to do with making a lot of these things happen for me…but, I also want to believe that the music stands on its own and had something to do with it as well.”

The second show at Ronnie Scott’s was streamed live on the internet, a rare occurrence, this was only the second time this has happened at that venue, after jazz legend Wynton Marsalis live streamed his show in June the year before. Lawson mentions the impact of this event on him personally. “I got a tons of Tweets and hits about that, people telling me they had live streamed the show back in the States and everybody I know back at home of course watched it, my parents and my aunt and uncle…my whole extended family got together in a house and watched it - it’s crazy, crazy - SO cool. It was a huge honour just to be there at all, for our debut.”

2015 started as 2014 had finished, this time with Album Of The Year runners-up spot at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards.

A momentum building 4 track session was recorded at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studio’s for the self same eclectic DJ, this would go on to be released, again on Dome, under the banner “Jarrod Lawson at the BBC”.

Album’s “Jarrod Lawson” and “Jarrod Lawson At The BBC” are both out on Dome Records.

jarrodlawsonmusic.com

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You can read more from our exclusive interview with Jarrod Lawson in our latest print issue... our unmissable Jarrod Lawson interview includes the artist's idols, influences and his thoughts on awards.

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Words LEE TYLER

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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