Interviews

J.J.Leone // Enjoy life….this is not a dress rehearsal.

Q1: If you had the opportunity to get an inspiring message across to a lot of people, what would your message be? 

A1: My inspiring message would be that you can do anything you want to do, as long as you have the belief. I think too many people are too scared of failure and so never follow and pursue what they really love. After all, it’s better to know you’ve lost, than to never know you’ve won!

Q2: How did you get started with your music? And if you weren’t an artist/musician what would you want to be doing?

A2: I got started with music when I was about 12 years old, I had a little nylon string acoustic guitar from Walmart and I didn’t have a clue how to play it! But I always around music growing up, it always used to fill my house and my older brother is a musician too, so he would always be playing music in and around the house. I remember so clearly the first time I heard Jimi Hendrix play the guitar, and that’s what inspired me to pick it up! I’ve never had a lesson though, I wish I did now, but I learned everything from ear, things just grew from there! If I wasn’t a musician, I’d still probably be doing what I was doing before – working at McDonald’s, going out on the weekends with my friends, trying to figure out what I really want to do for the rest of my life…I’m just a regular guy behind a guitar and a mic.

Q3: What or who keeps you motivated and inspires you?

A3: Other musicians really inspire me. From my biggest inspirations such as Stevie Wonder, Prince and Cody Chesnutt to independent, unknown artists who I meet on the circuit. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be music related to getting me inspired when I see someone following/ achieving their dreams whether it be with their own business, sport, whatever. Keep believing in your dreaming.

Q4: What is the most memorable experience of your life/career so far? And what have you learned from it?

A4: There are so many, one of them would have to be my tour in Barcelona when I was 15, I think because it was the first time I really got to take my music to another country. Unfortunately, I got tonsillitis on the first day but the whole tour was brilliant. My bass player almost died out there though when we locked him out on the balcony for the majority of the night and he decided it would be a good idea to jump from our balcony (six levels up!) to next door’s and ask them to let him in. I learned never again to lock people in places they don’t want to be.

Q5: Would you go back and change anything in your journey so far? (If no, why)

A5: This is a question I think about a lot. I signed a bad record deal when I was 18 that impacted a good few years of my life. But when I ask myself if I would change that experience, I always seem to arrive at no because I learned the traps and pitfalls and experienced the highs and lows.

Q6: In the next two years what do you ASPIRE to have done?

A6: In the next couple of years, I really just aspire to get my music out to connect with more people. The reaction I’ve had to ‘Loving Someone’ has been incredible and I’ve had some really personal messages sent to me about how it’s helped various people in their own life. That to me is amazing, I’ve never met them, they don’t know me and I don’t know them, but I’ve helped them. If I can keep doing that somehow, the world’s a bit of a warmer place.

Q7: How much of your life and background have influenced you to become a songwriter/musician?

A7: Massively. I wasn’t particularly clever academically in school, but anything arty I’ve been pretty good at. I’m always in a lot of situations where it’s difficult for me to put my feelings across in the way I want them to come out, but if I take the time to write a song and put those feelings in it, it usually comes out much better so initially it was a way of communication. My brother is my idol though man…he has influenced me so much and I’m just trying to replicate what he’s done.

Q8: What lyrics mean the most to you and why (ones you have written and or ones you didn’t write) 

A8: I think definitely as far as my new album ‘The Rebuild’ goes, ‘Loving Someone’ is the most honest piece of songwriting on the record. It’s got a lot of things that I needed to get off my chest and it was actually written for someone, to try and show them why I am the way I am and maybe why people perceive me as they do. It’s got a lot of messages to my family in it and people that I love, with things in it that I don’t usually say to them face-to-face. It will always be a very personal song to me so those lyrics probably mean the most to me. ‘Lost’ is up there as well because you know, that’s just me trying to figure out this whole life thing.

Q9: If you could collaborate with anyone who would to it be and why?

A9: Unfortunately, most of the people who I would love to collaborate with are no longer with us! In the current market, I love guys like Passenger, I think because his lyrics are really quite close to the heart so that would be cool. Other than that Rahsaan Patterson, D’Angelo, Frank Ocean would be a dream.

Q10: What is most inspiring message you have internalized in life so far?

A10: It’s not about the size of your pencil, but the way you write your name! I’ve seen people come from nothing, and go to something amazing. Belief is such a powerful thing.

Q11: What is your motto in life/what do you live by?

A11: Probably the same as my answer above! I’ve always thought that life isn’t just about paying tax’s and dying, and the evenings where you get a great night’s sleep aren’t going to fascinate the grandkids.

Q12: What is currently on your playlist?

A12: Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonded’ is something I’m really digging at the moment! I’m still listening to Cody Chesnutt’s ‘Headphone Masterpiece’ and ‘Living on a Hundred’ too, I’m eagerly awaiting his new album so rest assured, that will be on the playlist soon.

Q13: If you could have a song to be the soundtrack to your life what would it be and why?

A13: Richie Haven’s ‘Freedom’ probably! ‘Sometimes I feel like a motherless child a long way from my home, singing freedom!’ I spend a lot of time on my own doing shows/ recording/ writing and just trying to make sense of it all, and I guess that all anybody wants is to feel their own bit of freedom and to do what they really want to do, so that would probably be the soundtrack to my life! Plus, it’s just a jam isn’t it?!

Q14: What are your biggest dreams? and what are your biggest fears?

A14: My biggest dreams are stadium tours, plenty of albums and lots of music for years to come! My biggest fears are never pursuing those dreams. There’s a saying that ‘life is what happens when you’re making plans’, and I don’t really like things happening that are out of my control (though I’m trying to realise that the answer is in the statement!) but if there is a circumstance in my life that prevents me from chasing my dream, then yeah…that would suck.

Q15: What is next for you/your plans for the next year?

A15: I just released the album on the 6th March, I’m then heading off to do some more shows and in between that, writing more songs getting ready for the next record! The plan for this year is definitely to release another album, keep the momentum going and really hope things kick off for me in 2018.

Q16: What would your advice to be to those out there who want to live out there dreams?

A16: Just do it! My mum has a sign hanging from a cupboard that says: ‘Enjoy life….this is not a dress rehearsal!’…I like that.

Q17: Lastly, for those who don’t know where can people follow your career?

A17: You can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @iamjjleone and you can also check out my website at www.jjleone.com – I’d love to have you along with me for the ride.

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