Written by: Frank Iacono
Jordan White, an American rock musician and singer-songwriter, was born in Cranford, New Jersey and raised in Nazareth, Pennsylvania where he learned to play guitar and classical piano. White’s smooth energetic vocals pay homage to the eloquent confessional singer-songwriter movement of the 1970’s blended with a vibe from the alternative rock explosion brought on by likes of bands such as Nirvana and Counting Crows.
In February 2010, Jordan White’s original song “September” recorded with KineticBlu, was selected by Sony Music/Red Distribution for inclusion on a national release of hot new musical acts. The song put the PA-based band into the spotlight with over 1.5 million hits on Myspace. In August 2010, White himself was nominated for three 2010 Lehigh Valley Music Awards for Best Songwriter, Best Lyricist, and Best Band Website, being chosen amongst 3,000 other fan and industry nominees. White performed at the awards ceremony on December 5, 2010 in which was well received.
In May of 2012, White released his EP, entitled “Four Songs” which includes new songs,” “Maybe, Amy,” “Bloodshot,” “Before I Go Out” and “No Promises”. White’s songs contain moments of pop and the flavor of southern rock paired with plenty of clean guitar licks and riffs which unravel among piano and the singer’s clear and distinctive sound.
During his career, White has shared the stage and opened for national acts such as Third Eye Blind, Vertical Horizon, Bowling For Soup, Sharon Little, Ryan Star, and American Idol runner-up contestants Katharine McPhee and Crystal Bowersox.
In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing the singer, songwriter and guitarist to ask him a few questions about his musical influences, his favorite performers, his passion for music, his career and his latest EP release.
CS: How old were you when you first developed an interest in playing music? And, what was the first instrument you learned to play?
I was probably around two years old when I began singing. I would sing randomly anywhere, anytime, or so I’m told. Often in grocery stores while my mom was pushing me around in the shopping cart. The first instrument I learned was the keyboard. During 2nd grade for my birthday, my parents bought me one of those little Casio keyboards and I sort of self taught myself how to play it. At least as far as I could go at that age. It wasn’t until I was around 12 years old that I got my first guitar and actually took lessons, then I also began taking piano lessons too.
CS: What are your favorite Groups, Performers and Albums?
I can actually tell you what my top 5 favorite albums ever are, in no particular order:
- R.E.M. – Automatic For The People
- Jackson Browne – The Pretender
- Counting Crows – This Desert Life
- Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion II
- The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness
The musicians in that list all are very important to me, both emotionally and in an inspirational sense. They all put on fantastic live shows, sometimes so over the top, it can put you in a bit of a “fog” for a day or two after until that high slowly dissipates. I can tell you the greatest show I have ever seen was the Counting Crows playing in eastern Pennsylvania maybe 6 years ago. It was the last show of their long U.S. tour and they just gave it everything they had.
CS: What famous musicians do you admire and how have they influenced you personally and professionally?
I really admire someone like Jackson Browne because he’s always managed to keep it about the music. When Jackson Browne comes around touring, it’s not this huge circus; it’s clear the people there are there for the music. I saw him perform live just recently, solo, on the guitar and piano. He played all his hits and all the more obscure fan favorites. It was as intimate as if he was sitting around playing songs in your living room. Browne is one of the most profound lyricists of his generation and his singing flows out effortlessly.
CS: How would you describe your music genre (i.e., funk, rock, classic rock, alternative, hard rock, etc.)?
I describe our sound as if a 1970’s confessional singer-songwriter blended with a more grandiose alternative band from the 1990’s. I think the 1970’s and the 1990’s were the best decades for music, even now in 2012. Of course I wasn’t around in the 1970’s but I had my father’s records to draw me into that period. As far as my music, it’s very lyrically oriented. I spend a lot of time on the lyrics because what I’m saying is just as important to me as what you’re hearing.
CS: How do you market your songs, albums, merchandise, and appearances (i.e., website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, iTunes, LinkedIn, or advertising such as print and online marketing)?
You just keep plugging along until good things happen. We live in a very different time now than we did in say, 1996; the music industry has changed so dramatically. The problem with the transition between 1996 and now is that the music industry failed to recognize the changes as they were happening and therefore had no way to capitalize on it. Four years ago, it was all about MySpace if you were in a band. I know. I was a featured artist on their website which millions and millions of people saw. And then, just a few years later, MySpace is basically on life support. I can’t tell you the last time I heard someone mention anything about it to me. Facebook just rushed in and took over, using MySpace as the template for what you DON’T want to do, and so far it’s worked.
There are still traditional ways to promote your music too. Hanging fliers, selling tickets and CD’s out of the back of your car, and the whole word of mouth thing. So both of these can still apply to music marketing even in the year 2012. Know who your fans are, and where they are.
CS: On your website, tell us what your fans can do or learn about you and your music?
Well we’ve compiled a list of “frequently asked questions” or FAQ that anyone can check out; some of the questions are trivial and some of them are heavier. The website is updated daily so anytime you log on you’ll have the most current information available. I also can be contacted via e-mail which is Comments@jordanwhitemusic.com and if I have the time I will answer personally.
CS: What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on to date?
I’ve done some amazing things. As far as the most exciting, I guess it depends on your point of view. I’ve sang for thousands of people with confetti falling through the air in Ocean City, Maryland on New Year’s Eve which was just insane, and I’ve also played intimate acoustic performances for smaller groups of people where I just fell “in the groove”. If I had to pick one singular thing, it would probably be the recent recording sessions of the new “Four Songs” EP. I waited many years to finally be in a position to make a record I really wanted to make. And I hope just as much that other people like it too. “Four Songs” is now available on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby.com.
CS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?
I really really dig Ritchie Valens. Sure his career only lasted a few months but he had such potential. There was even the 1987 Bio-opic film about his life, La Bamba which was my favorite movie when I was a little kid. One day my dad came home from work with the official “La Bamba” soundtrack (performed by Los Lobos) and I was hooked. I played it over and over until people finally told me to shut up. I think Valen’s song “Donna” is one of the greatest pop songs ever written.
CS: What aspect of making music excites and discourages you the most?
Nothing discourages me about making music! I do it for the release of energy and to get the things stuck inside of my head out on paper where it seems easier to file, and put in the proper places, sometimes.
CS: What are the names of other bands that you’ve played in?
I’ve been involved in quite a few bands. To name a few of them: Three Sided Letters, Jaded Son, The Fuzzy Bunny Slippers, Black & White Letters, KineticBlu. And of course I’ve done lots of solo work. View photos of Friends and Fans.
CS: How would you describe the local music scene in Pennsylvania? And, how has it helped you develop as an artist?
Well it’s probably not the easiest place to be a musician. There’s a big cover band scene especially around the Philadelphia area, and of course the resort towns a long the Jersey shore. I was in one of the bigger cover bands for awhile and it’s fairly controversial. There’s lots of people who hate them and lots of people who go out to see them play. There’s some musicians who refuse to play anyone else’s songs, and then there’s those who ONLY play other people’s songs. I think a mixture of both is a good idea, and at our shows we play a good amount of cover songs mixed in with our originals. I’ve had many good opportunities playing music in Pennsylvania, and the state has produced a lot of great bands that went onto sell millions of records, but so has New Jersey, where I’m originally from.
CS: Describe the last time you wrote a song highlighting how it came about and describe how it turned out?
I recently wrote a song called “Whiskey on the Way” – the title came from a random conversation about literally well, picking up some whiskey on the way to a gig. The song sort of revolved around the notion of taking things day to day after some kind of traumatic event and sometimes things get so hectic you just have to “get it on the way” – whatever it may be.
CS: Is there a specific message you want your songs to convey to your fans?
The songs are largely introspective, they are very much about the self. I just try to describe the world around me, and the people and things inside of it. Because we may see different things, but we all see some of the same things. And there’s always a new way of writing about it.
CS: What’s the most unusual place you’ve ever played or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording (i.e., please describe where, what happened and how you handled it)?
CS: Do you ever get nervous before a performance or a competition? If so, how do you deal with that extra adrenaline?
Do I ever get nervous? Sure, sometimes. It all depends on the environment and maybe even my mood prior to the show. Sometimes I’ll get a few butterflies right before I start playing at a place I’ve never played at before. Sometimes I don’t. If people are listening and engaged, that calms me down. To be honest, I like to have a beer or two before I start a gig. I’m not sitting there pounding whiskey or anything, but I like to sip on a Miller Lite or something. I also find it funny because sometimes I’ll get nervous playing for a smaller crowd than an enormous one. I’m not sure why that is, maybe it’s some kind of psychological deflection.
CS: In 2006, you advanced to the third round of American Idol: Season 5 so tell us about that experience and why you’ve since publicly criticized the selection techniques used by producers of the show?
Sure. First, the problem is American Idol is misleading. You think that you show up to some room and get to sing for Simon, Randy & Paula (who were the judges at the time) but in reality they put contestants through months of “rounds” before you get to the point, singing in front of other people who are supposed to be producers. Also, the selection techniques of who got to go through was a little bizarre. I personally heard the producers pass on some of the greatest singers I had ever heard, mostly women, for whatever reason. Then they go and let what we called at the time the “bad people” through to see Simon, Randy & Paula, with full knowledge that they would be rejected and humiliated because it was clear to anyone within 100 yards of this person that they couldn’t sing. All for the ratings, I guess. You also had to sign a contract that said you had no legal recourse and be subjected to public humiliation in the event you were one of those “bad people” on the TV show. My friend who made it through a few rounds as well was in the group with Sanjaya, and he told me that the producers made him tease his hair all wild like it was that one season. So just remember, it’s not what it seems.
CS: Can you talk about your philanthropic activities citing a recent performance in which you shared the stage with American Idol: Season 9 runner-up Crystal Bowersox, indie rockers Hawthorne Heights and singer Carmen Magro at the Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA benefiting juvenile diabetes?
Over the years, I’ve played at plenty of fund-raising events. I remember back in the winter of 2010 I played a benefit to support victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Wyclef Jean ran that one with the American Red Cross. Then later that summer, I performed at the “Songs For The Spill” event which raised funds for the BP oil disaster. There was also a show for juvenile diabetes with a couple of the American Idol winners and runner-ups in 2011.
CS: Tell us how your original song “September” was released nationally through Sony Music/BMG/Red Distribution on iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, and Amazon among 20 other major online MP3 retailers?
Well, “September” had racked up quite a few plays on MySpace; I’m talking like 2 million. Because of that, MySpace made me the “featured artist” for a day or two on the site. Now this was back in 2008 when MySpace was one of the most popular websites in the world, and a subsidiary of Sony Music came across the song and asked me if I’d like it included on a compilation CD. A few weeks later, the paper came across my desk and I signed them, and the rest is history.
CS: In April 2012, you finished recording your new EP entitled “Four Songs” with producer Scott Tice and released it on July 4, 2012, so how proud are you of the tracks “Maybe Amy”, “Bloodshot”, “Before I Go Out”, and “No Promises” from an artistic perspective?
I’m proud of the new EP “Four Songs“, it was the record I’d been waiting to make for a long time. Musically, they are a very diverse group of songs, and a lot of talented musicians worked on the project.
CS: Tell us about the meaning behind the last track on the EP called “No Promises” and describe the writing and recording process?
“No Promises” is a bitter piano ballad about someone who just tosses you aside, someone who let you down, someone you can’t trust. Specifically, I wrote it about getting back together with an ex. As we know, if a relationship ended a first time, there’s a good chance it will end a second time. So that’s why I called it “No Promises” because in that type of situation there really aren’t any. The song recalls specific memories when I realized the relationship was deteriorating and it was out of my hands. The final verse ends with “You gave me no promises / and you kept them all.”
To read some of the song “meanings” & interpretations, please go here.
CS: What types of guitars, pianos, and other musical equipment do you use?
I am sponsored by Martin Guitar so currently I’ve been performing with a Martin OMC3 from their Performing Artist series, which is an absolutely beautiful instrument with a wonderful bright sound, and I also have Gibson acoustic I practice on. I play a modified Fender Telecaster Deluxe for electric guitar; I play a full size 88-key Yamaha P-60 grand stage piano and a Casio CTK-7000 keyboard/synthesizer/workstatio For live sound equipment, we use Shure microphones, Behringer amplifiers and Yamaha speakers and monitors. I also use a Shure wireless inner-ear monitor which is very useful for the larger shows. For live shows, you can’t go wrong with Shure products.
CS: During your musical career have you been nominated and won any awards?
I’ve been nominated several years in a row for best songwriter and best male vocalist in the Lehigh Valley Music Awards although I have not yet won. This year, I’ve been nominated in 3 categories: Best Lyricist, Best Singer-Songwriter and Best Folk Band/Soloist. To cast your vote through 10/15, please go here. I’ve also been nominated for the Bucks/Montgomery Music Awards; there’s a lot of talented musicians in the area. Our band KineticBlu did win Alternative Addiction.com’s “Next Big Thing” award where around 40,000 people cast votes for their favorite band online. We were up against a bunch of other bands and we came out on top. For more information, please read my Press page.
CS: If you weren’t a musician what would you be doing?
I think I’d be a flower delivery guy. Everywhere you go, people would be happy to see you!
CS: What do you think our world would be like if music was never invented? And, why?
Well, the first time a caveman banged two rocks together in a particular pattern, they didn’t know it, but they made music. Because music is really just organized sound. Though if the world had never seen actual music, such as classical or rock n’ roll, well it would be a very bleak place. We’d be a lot worse off than we are now with the state of things.
CS: What advice do you have for kids wanting form a band and get into the music business?
Do what you’re best at. If you’re a better guitar player than a singer, then play guitar and find a singer. And vice-versa. Also there’s a lot more than just playing music when you’re in a band with big dreams. There’s business and a lot that goes on behind the scenes that needs to be taken care of. You really can’t just show up at gigs and expect that to work out for you all the time. You need to form connections with experienced people in the business and learn from them, and you will grow.
Song List on Four Songs EP (2012)
About Frank Iacono
Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.
Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.