Montreal singer-songwriter JORDANN talks how music is the glue that seems to hold him together – a therapeutic impact he hopes his music has on listeners.
With a strong foundation rooted in classical instruments and musical theory, music has always played an impactful role in Jordan Hébert’s life. On the exterior, the mellow sound, slow-burning instrumentals and atmospheric mood of his most popular songs like “Ashore,” “Dehors” and his latest “I Revel in You” have gained popularity for the chill vibes. However, for JORDANN, it means a lot more. “It’s my therapy,” Jordan admits. “I have 23 years of experience in seeking the things that take a load off my back.”
What’s your background in music?
I was seven when I started taking classical violin lessons. At first, they were private then I took them at the Pensionnat de Musique Vincent d’Indy in Montréal. If I ever am disciplined today, it’s got to be from violin practice and music theory. I went bored of classical studies after 7 or 8 years. It was mainly technical contests and study sessions were getting bolder. I was in Catholic private high school and I didn’t have much time to give violin a serious go anymore. Having started on the violin early, you get the idea that learning how to play other instruments would be easier after practicing violin.
So you branched out to a few more instruments after that?
At 15, I bought a guitar as a failed attempt to bring a girl back, but hey, I got to learn a few chords. As I wanted to play entertainment, I started taking singing and guitar lessons, practiced piano, bass guitar and drums. Oh and the ocarina too. Having worked on these for a while, I recorded a cover of Half Moon Run’s “Full Circle” in my basement. I recorded violin, guitars, vocals, floor toms and a midi lo-fi synth on my iPad. The sound quality was bad, but I got a kick out of doing it. So I did another cover. And another one. And 41 more.
Your first official release was 4-track EP last year Corsaire. Where did you find the inspiration that led to the original tracks?
After having done so many covers, I wanted to create something under my own name. All the titles in Corsaire had different purposes.
“Corsaire” itself was a song to remind a friend to stick his head out of the water. I wrote “SP33DST1CK” because I really wanted to play a bit of math rock and see how it would land. A bit of my inspiration comes from the band Foals, particularly the first two albums which presented a lot of that style. “Dehors” is the one that matters to me the most. I wrote it for my twin brother for personal reasons.
“Elles” had a particularly strong meaning behind it as well.
It has its own story too. I was a volunteer act in Studio de la Relève’s ”Paroles & Musique” program. High school students would write lyrics as an assignment and about 10 volunteer bands would write music on the lyrics to integrate the works of the younger. ”Elles” was written about rape culture by a 15 year old girl of Polyvalente Sainte-Thérèse. It’s a sensitive subject to talk about openly in a song, but the student was happy with the result and the song seemed to land on its feet.
What was the goal you wanted to achieve with the project?
All in all, it’s a collection of different ideas I had in my mind. After having done reprises of a lot of existing work, I guess you wanna try out different things. It was exploratory, per se.
How would you say you’ve grown as an artist since?
Every time I worked on a new cover, I wanted to try a different way to do it. Producing, recording and mixing the 43 covers and 4 original track EP lead me to experiment. I did grow and in the way that I wanted to. That is being able to produce exactly what the idea up there says. Listening to more and more music expands the possibilities as well. My Spotify knows me better than I do now.
How has this manifested within your music?
I have many inspirations. Whether it’s in prog or math rock, house or indie pop, I feel like I can represent them easily. Having an easy reach to my inspirations makes the drawing easier to finish.
Obviously you’re from Montreal and your lyrics are often written and sung in both English and French. How do you decide which language to write in?
It’s a linear thing. I started in French because I felt like I could express myself in an easier way using my first language. Then I felt like English was better suited for the type of music I wanted to produce. It’s going to be English from now on. It takes a bit more time to write now but it seems like it fits the production.
What do you want listeners who are hearing your music for the first time to think or feel?
“Shit I could study to that, or drive down the west coast.” When you listen to a song you really like for the first time, you get to know yourself a bit better. Going “Ooooh. Okay I like that. Now I know I do and I also know how it makes me feel and what it makes me want to do.” It’s easy to get scattered in life and I find music to be the thing holding me all together. I want to have that impact on people who listen to my works.
What about yourself? What drives you to make music?
As an intrinsic factor of motivation, I make music because I love it undeniably. It’s my therapy. I have 23 years of experience in seeking the happenings that take a load of my back. As far as I can tell, nothing does quite the trick like a good indie-pop band practice. Also, being able to express an idea in endless musical possibilities triggers my creativity and if I don’t create, I’m nothing.
What can you tell me about the creative process behind “I Revel in You?”
It actually started as something completely different. I spent countless hours trying to make it work lyrically. Couldn’t wrap my mind around it. After having recorded all the vocals, I deleted them. I always tell myself that if the song is made to be, I shouldn’t consider changing anything. I undertook on a different path and it went for the best. The first subject was rather auto-destructive. I decided to write positive lyrics instead. Musically, it went by in the blink of an eye. I knew what I wanted to produce and the ideas just seemed to lay in front of me. After producing most of the track, I turned in at Men I Trust’s Dragos Chiriac to mix and master the track. He also produced synths just like he did for “Ashore.”
Your music is very mellow, chill and warm. Would you say this reflects you as a person?
I want these aspects to have a positive impact on my person. I shape them in the way I want to be, not the way I am. Again, it’s a therapy.
Catch JORDANN next at Montréal’s Santa Teresa Fest on May 19.