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Interview: JW Sargent

JW Sargent is an experienced musician, based out of Philadelphia, PA. Having played in various bands in the past, Sargent is making his solo debut with the EP In Retrograde, in which he wrote and produced every song. I recently caught up with Sargent to talk about this new venture.

1.Does being based in Philadelphia influence your sound at all? If so, how?

Just like a lot of cities, Philadelphia has a really eclectic music scene. There are tons of creative people supporting other creative people and I think that’s what makes this scene work. But I think one of the really cool characteristics of a lot of Philly bands and artists is the honesty that comes across in their music. I was actually at a friend’s show this past weekend and I was struck by how authentic and honest the music was, and how powerful that is to listen to. It feels like that’s something that is really fostered in the Philly scene so I guess living in Philly has pushed me to be true to myself and write my own brand of authentic music.

2.What was your experience like writing and recording your debut EP In Retrograde?

Writing In Retrograde was a huge learning experience for me. When I started writing for this project, I really had no idea what it was going to be. I didn’t know what I wanted it to sound like or how it was going to take shape. Also, this was the first time that I wrote something like this without having other people to help shape the sound or validate my ideas so things evolved a lot on their own throughout the writing process. But more than anything else, I put myself and my ideas out there in a way that I hadn’t done before and learned a lot about myself in the process.


3.This is your first time venturing out as a solo artist. What were the challenges and aspects you embraced in making the change from a bandmember to solo musician?

One of the biggest challenges of writing as a solo artist for me was trusting my own voice and my own ideas. When I write with other people and I’m on the fence about an idea, there is someone there to weigh in on whether that idea is cool or not. In writing this EP, for a while I felt like I was constantly in my head trying to figure out if what I was playing was cool, or as cool as it could be.

4.Your single “Constant” is a very personal song about you and your then long distance girlfriend and the journey it took you on. The music video is also quite moving. What was the experience like shooting the video?

The video was a lot of fun to shoot. Jesse DeFlorio, who directed and shot the video, has been a good friend of mine since college and is really talented. He’s based in LA now and on tour most of the year so it was great hanging with him in Philly for a couple days. We shot all over Philadelphia which was really cool considering that this whole project really took shape once I moved to Philly. It also felt very fitting to have Jennifer in the video since she was the inspiration for the song. The only negative piece was that we shot in February and it was way too cold to be walking all over the city.


5.You are quoted as saying “Sometimes you have to make your perfect time and perfect situation.” How do you apply this to not only your personal life but to your music career? 

I think the whole project has been a product of that idea in a way. Is there ever really a perfect time to do anything? What are the odds of a completely perfect scenario presenting itself at exactly the time that you want it? In the past, I have tried to wait for this idea of a perfect opportunity and that typically ends up with me procrastinating my way out of doing anything at all. A lot of this project is based in me trying to get over all of the things that have held me back in the past and I think at a certain point you just have to be willing to go for it. Whether that’s going for a job that you really want, telling someone how you feel, or releasing some songs that you wrote, your willingness to put yourself out there and chase after what you want is really important.

6.What was it like working with Justin Nace and Evan Chapman?

Justin and Evan are both super talented drummers and great dudes. I’ve known both of them for a long time and have played with them separately in a few different bands throughout the years. Fortunately for me, they also both live in Philadelphia when they aren’t on tour so it worked out really well. But they are both are great musicians and really cool people so it was awesome to have them on the EP.

7.What has been your favorite album of 2016 thus far?

That’s a tough question! I don’t know that I can narrow it down to just one but I would say for sure that The 1975 I Like it When you Sleep is in really close to the top as well as Bon Iver’s 22 A Million. They’ve been on repeat for me for a while; I love how creative both artists are while still making their music accessible to everyone.

8.How are you preparing for the release of the album on November 18th?

I’ve just been trying to spread the word as much as possible and getting people pumped for the rest of the EP. There are two songs on Spotify/iTunes etc. and a video on YouTube so if you haven’t yet, check it out and get psyched!

9.What is up next for you?

I have a number of things in the works at this point. I have some more videos on the way as well as some songs that I’ve rearranged that will hopefully be coming out soon. I’m also working on putting a live set together so that will be happening at some point in the future. I’ve also been working on some new songs so lots of stuff to look forward to.

 10.Any message to your fans?

I just want to say thank you to anyone who has listened to my music so far. I’ve worked really hard to write honest songs 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. Also there’s a lot still to come to make sure to follow me on all of my socials, Spotify/iTunes and Youtube. All links are available at www.jwsargent.com

My thanks to JW Sargent for the interview. You can check out his music video for “Constant” here:


About Rachel Freitas

retro music enthusiast. Dreamer. Kind of odd. Writer

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