picture via Relevant Magazine
VMP: Tell us a little about yourself, where did you grow up? What did your parents do? How’d you get into music?
JG: I grew up in Houston until I was 12, then my family moved to Wheaton, IL. My dad is a minister and my mom is a minister’s wife. I went on a church trip the summer of ‘97 and heard a dude on acoustic leading a bunch of kids in a sing a long. There was a tinge of star light in it. I came home and did nothing but play guitar that Summer.
VMP: Hue is your debut album - did it come about in a quick whirlwind of inspiration or was it something that was years in the making?
JG: It was about a year in the making. I had been working at See Music writing jingles and diddys for commercials. In my off time, often before anyone got to the studio and after everyone had left, I wrote these songs. I set out to write songs that could make me a buck or two in sync/licensing. I unsuccessfully wrote those songs, and successfully wrote these songs.
VMP: What did it feel like saying “it’s finished” at the end of making your first album?
JG: It felt really good.
VMP: Your wife Valerie, were you married during the making of the album? What was/is her role in your music career and what’s it been like working with your spouse?
JG: Yes, we were already married. She sings and plays with me at shows and is featured on many of the songs. She’s my sounding board. She helps me finish songs. I really can’t imagine being creative without her. Often she’s the only one with the chutzpah to tell me when a song isn’t where it could be.
picture viaJon Guerra Music
VMP: It seems from some of the things I’ve seen written by you about your music that you are a fan of literature/poetry - anything specific that you read that inspired Hue?
JG: I was really stunned by hearing the recording of Yeats reciting his poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” It’s online somewhere. Absolutely stunning. I wouldn’t say it necessarily inspired the record, so much as it typified it. It just felt exactly right.
VMP: Is music your full-time profession at this point or do you have a side job to help support the dream?
JG: Music is my full-time profession and has been, one way or another, for a few years now. I was mainly writing music for commercials for a couple years, and writing songs on the side. Now I mainly write songs and do music at my church. I thrive when my life is routinized, and doing music for my friends and family at church helps me achieve that.
VMP: Are you a vinyl collector? If so what’s the first record you remember buying for yourself?
JG: I am a bit of a collector - though I’m afraid I’m denigrating the term by calling myself one. I’m more of a vinyl treasure hunter. Valerie and I love going to antique stores when we travel and I’m always looking for that hidden vinyl gem. The first record I bought was If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears by The Mamas and The Papas - still love that record.
VMP: What’s your take on the resurgence of vinyl?
JG: I think it’s a natural response to the digitalization of the universe. Anyone with any semblance of an aesthetic sensibility wants something tactile…and traditional, I guess. Vinyl connects us, however artificially or superficially, with a tradition that’s all but gone. It’s also telling that there’s a crew of us who still prefer the artist to make our playlists for us.
VMP: You get to curate a 2-day music festival called Jaguerra Fest, who do you have come play, dead or alive?
JG: Beatles, Beach Boys, young Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, Arvo Part. Then King David from the Bible to close the thing.
VMP: What’s the next album we should consider for VMP?
JG: There’s a singer/songwriter in Chicago who utterly floors me. His name is Matt Crews. Outrageous voice and outrageous songs. I would do anything for a record of his tunes.