Hey, guys! Today on the blog, I’m sharing an interview with Los Angeles-based country music singer Jason Hawk Harris. If you’re a big fan of country or folksy music, then I think you will really love Jason’s sound.
In our interview, Jason shares which country music legends inspire his music, how he incorporates classic literature into his songwriting, and how he hopes his fans will connect with his music.
And if you’re going to be in Michigan this week, Jason will be playing a few shows in several Michigan cities! Check out his Michigan concert dates below the interview.
Good Life Detroit (GLD): Your background is in classical music from the 20th and 21st centuries. How has classical music influenced your transition to country music?
Jason Hawk Harris (JHH): The short answer is that I’m just not sure yet. I don’t think I can ever write my country music in a vacuum, though. No matter what, my classical background is always going to inform the music I write. I’m open to the different ways it can happen.
One tangible thing I can point to, however, is the use of extended techniques on bowed strings and unique instrumentation (xylophone, prepared piano). I’m a big fan of some of the stranger music that came out of the 20th century.
GLD: How have legendary artists like Elvis, Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, and Patsy Cline had an influence on you as an artist?
JHH: Elvis was on repeat at my house so I owe my parents for that one. My Grandpa was largely responsible for my introduction to a lot of classic country. I think if anything, that music made a huge impression on me because of how young I was.
I rebelled against the inclinations that impression created as a teenager, but as an adult, I’ve embraced it. I love the outright sadness of classic country music. It’s a sadness that’s content with itself; that says it’s okay to be sad. I love that.
GLD: I grew up in Middle Tennessee so Country Music City is a very strong symbol from my childhood. From my experience with country music, country songs tend to tell a story – many different types of stories. What kind of stories do you tell in your songs?
JHH: I don’t like to limit myself when it comes to the kind of stories I like to tell. I’m open to everything, but I
do like a good story. What I’ve released so far is very personal because these songs were written in a time in my life when I just had to get some of this music out.
In a way, it’s more therapy than anything. I look forward to the next record because it will allow me to dig into some stories where I’m not the main character.
GLD: I listened to your song “Phantom Limb” and it is a very powerful song. I really love the depth and emotion you put into your song. I can tell it is a personal story. Can you tell me a little bit about the song?
JHH: I wrote the song the week my mom died. It was a sudden death, and I was in the midst of the most intense part of the grief process. “Phantom Limb” is what came out. It is the most unfiltered song I’ve written.
I usually let emotions stew a while so I can remember them properly, but at that time, I just needed some sort of catharsis. I wrote it through the tears and the snot and the screaming. People have responded to it in a very encouraging way. I wasn’t excited about sharing it at first because it’s so personal, but I’m glad I did.
GLD: Many people look to music for comfort and peace during troubling times. Do you find healing in music? If so, how do you think music can be healing for a person?
JHH: I do. I think music can heal, but I like that it can devastate as well as it can mend. Music is not a tame monster. That’s one of my favorite things about it.
GLD: I read one of your interviews from an article on 50thandthird.com you consider the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez an essential book to read. I studied Márquez’s work when I was in graduate school. He is one of my favorite writers! What do you like about his work?
JHH: Magic Realism is such an audacious genre of literature. I love the idea of inserting the spiritual world into the physical and letting things happen. What strikes me about Márquez is his reticence. He doesn’t coddle the reader by explaining some of the more wild moments in 100 Years. Like, for example, Jose Buendia living for a few hundred years tied sitting up to a tree. He just lets that happen and forces the reader to live with the metaphysical chaos. It’s unsettling and exhilarating.
GLD: Do any novels have an influence on your music or songwriting?
JHH: I’m a big fan of the novels of Charles Williams, Haruki Murakami, and Márquez. I’ve worked for a while on trying to incorporate ideas related to magic realism into my songs. It’s not easy.
My best success in doing that is probably on songs like “The Smoke and the Stars” and “I’m Afraid”. I think the plain-spoken language of Steinbeck and Hemmingway have also had an effect on my writing from a lyrical standpoint. I like when complicated things are stated simply.
GLD: How do you hope to connect with your fans and new fans?
JHH: If I write music and no one hears it, I’ve only done have the job, as far as I’m concerned. I’m a big believer that a song isn’t sealed and completed until you’ve shared it with someone else. I hope it makes an
impact, but it’s okay with me if it doesn’t.
In a more practical sense, I’m a loquacious guy. I like talking to people and learning about them. So anytime I have a chance to do that, I do.
GLD: Lastly, what can fans expect from you in 2018?
JHH: My debut LP will be out in August, so we’re gearing up for that. Also, lots of shows.
GLD: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!! Best of luck to you.
JHH: You too! Glad to do it! Thanks for reaching out.
Jason Hawk Harris Tour Dates:
Feb 20th @ The Ark in Ann Arbor, MI
Feb 21st @ 20 Front St in Lake Orion, MI
Feb 22nd @ Robin Theater in Lansing, MI
Feb 23rd @ Seven Steps Up in Spring Lake, MI
Feb 24th @ The Livery in Benton Harbor, MI
Other Interviews Featured on the Blog with Music Artists:
Detroit-based Singer Apropos
Country Music Legend Emmylou Harris
Toronto-based Indie Rock Band The Beaches