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Interview With Joe Con

We got a chance to chat with Joe Con about newest release I Choose You and more which is set to release November 11th!

What got you into music? The heartbeat is the first sound we all hear. Rhythm is an innate part of each of us, of life itself. I heard music since before I was born, before I could speak. I’d have to say what got me into music is that music got into me, WAS into me, before I even was…

I always identified with musicians from the earliest age, particularly John Lennon, with whom I’ve always felt an almost cosmic connection. And even though I didn’t outwardly start to write, sing and play til later on, the identity was something I always sensed in myself.

It was really just a matter of time, I guess.

 

Your sound is the perfect blend of hip hop and rock, what are some of your influences?Thanks, I try. Yeah it’s the product and culmination of my upbringing, musically and otherwise. Equal parts big city and small town. Equal parts Beatles and Beastie Boys, Willie Nelson and Wu Tang Clan. Leonard Cohen and Mos Def. I try to learn something I can take with me from every single artist and piece of art I encounter. That way I’m always receptive and ready to learn. I think Dylan and Tom Waits are tow I’d point to for their continual evolution of artistic identity. He not busy being born is busy dying…

 

How did your gig with Snoop Dogg happen?  A buddy of mine, a good guy named Dave Ortiz, someone who used to book shows back when me and DJ Cav3 were a hip hop duo, had the hookup on shows in Orange County. He hooked it up for us. We even heard there was some possibility we might get picked up to open for Snoop for the next few shows but that didn’t happen. The show was sick though. We did our thing and the people loved it.

Tell us a bit more about The Real Thing! Is this still an active project? The Real Thing is just one of many incarnations of Joe Con. I christened the group “The Real Thing” as a sort of ironic juxtaposition to my name, Joe Con. Like here’s the frontman, he’s the con artist, but these guys can really play, they’re the real thing! That sort of deal. But the band went through so many lineup changes that it was sometimes tough to say who was really in The Real Thing. With love and appreciation to all the guys (and gal) with whom I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to play, I am somewhat of a musical chameleon, and I have yet to find a lineup that can really play the full gambit of my material, from singer-songwriter to blues, rock and hip hop. Plus it’s tough to keep a band together these days, with the industry such as it is. You’ve got to have three drummers, four bassists, two keyboard players and ten guitarists available somewhere because everyone plays with so many groups out of sheer love of playing and also to try and pay the bills. So, after The Summertime Blues tour earlier this year (love you Ian and Nic!!), I was ready to move in a new direction. I left LA for a while and came back to Kentucky where I’m currently working on a new album and a live EP with a local group called 90 Proof. So at least for now The Real Thing is on sabbatical. Who knows what the band will be called next time we come to town.

Congratulations on your new EP, I Choose You EP, which is set to release November 11th! Is there a story or message behind this EP? Thanks, I’m pretty excited. It feels like it’s really been a long time coming. Actually there is a message in the idea of “I Choose You.” It’s basically saying yes to your life. Remember the Trainspotting monologue (they made it into a poster the cool kids my age had at the time)? Choose life. That kind of thing. Basically it’s about me saying yes to my life, the life I’ve chosen, or has chosen me, the life I’ve helped to create, and coming to terms with all that entails, for better and worse. For me as an artist and as a person, my 20’s were a lot about discovering identity, which involved tons of growth and also a great deal of pain. Now, as I enter my 30’s, I’m so much more comfortable in my own skin, I know who I am and who I’m not, and I’m really much happier. So the project itself, and particularly the title track, are about celebrating what makes you YOU. Life is a gift. Live yours and don’t apologize for it.

What is your favorite track off I Choose You? That’s a tough one because choosing between songs is like choosing between your kids. You love them all and they’re all special. And they’re all different. I like “Nothing Without You” and “I Choose You” because they are so funky, and danceable, and they make you want to move. I like “Dream” and “Matter of Time” for their writing, and what they mean to my evolution as an artist trying to navigate the jungle that is this life and the music industry. They both really about overcoming adversity and staying faithful to the path, never giving up. I like “Breaking My Heart” because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done. Jimmy wrote this killer melody for the third line of the verses, which I never would have thought up in a million years. It totally makes the song. That leaves “Said & Done.” This one definitely holds a special place for me. It’s about renaissance, reinvention, rebirth, newness, all that good stuff. Spring. It’s just so life affirming. No matter what, it ain’t over til it’s over. And even then, it ain’t. It ain’t, it ain’t, it ain’t…

What was the writing processes like for this release? The writing process was basically the same as it always is for me. I write almost exclusively on the acoustic guitar, alone. The creation of the song, the lyrics, central melody, my guitar and often harmonicas, as well as the rough arrangement, is what I bring into the studio. In this case, when Jimmy and I decided to start cutting tracks for a project together, I played him a number of songs. From those, we picked which ones we liked best. He definitely helped with arrangement, chord structure and melody. Of course he also produced the record, so his contribution is absolutely essential to the whole thing. He’s so talented, and just great to work with. We became close friends throughout the process. He taught me a lot and I’m very grateful to him. I hope the records does really well so it will validate all his belief in me! The one exception to that general process was “Nothing Without You” which ended up being the lead track on the EP. For that one, Jimmy, me and DJ Teenwolf (formerly of Ninjasonik, shout out to Telli and Jah Jah) basically built the track from scratch and wrote the song in the studio one day. The verses and ultimately the hook both evolved out of freestyles I kicked during the session. That was a lot of fun. It’s always awesome to come up with something out of nothing.

Did you collaborate with anyone to create I Choose You? As I mentioned, Jimmy Harry would definitely be the main contributor and collaborator for this project. I also have to thank Tryan George for his excellent photography and videography. He shot and directed the video for “Said & Done”, which incidentally premiered today on PopDose. You should watch it right now. Tell me what you think.

Are you going to be hitting the road in support of this release? As of now I’m hibernating in the studio for all winter, stacking tracks and getting all my ducks in a row. But I’m already planning some stuff for next spring and summer, and hope to put a new and improved lineup and setlist together for my first SXSW in Austin next March. Keep your fingers crossed for me, I hear it’s kind of a big deal. While we’re on the subject, I’m kind of without management or representation of almost any kind (legal is strong, so snakes beware), 
so I’m hoping that I WILL in fact be touring in support of this release, and coming to a town near you in the near future. Yeah, so somebody awesome, book me some shows, get me on tour, give me a publishing deal, distribution deal, hell a shoe deal would be nice too. Sunglasses is really my thing though. Wayfarers. Ray Ban should really hit me up.

Where can we find your music? www.joeconmusic.com and all the usual suspects. Also very soon basically everywhere you can think of online. All you really gotta do is google search for us…

 

About Joe Con:

About Stephen Vicino

Stephen Vicino is the founder of MusicExistence.com. He created this site to give talented musicians a voice and a way to be discovered.

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