Sitting in the corner of the Holloway House watching Jonny West perform was like watching an intimate concert in my living room, the audience– my friends and family and West like a familiar friend. The orange light in the room washed the stage over like a warm fireplace, him the flame. West has a way of making listeners feel at home, soothing them with his full and dulcet voice, while simultaneously challenging them with his passionate lyrics.
With fresh knowledge from his journey on American Idol and a greater understanding of his goals as a musician, Jonny’s laying the foundation for himself as an artist in Los Angeles. This year, he is preparing to release a series of new music, visuals, and a tour. I sat down with the artist, discovering how his incredibly mellow demeanor fuses with his evident ambition to create the person he is today.
Holyfield. I want to talk about that video, because I know that’s a big thing coming up for you. Tell me about the inspiration behind it. Why the name? Where’d it come from?
This is the first song that me and my producer made in 2022, it was January 2. And I was like, I don’t want to make music today. Let’s just hang out, let’s listen to music, show each other music. And I was like, Oh, just give me a beat actually- we’ll see what happens. And then that’s just kind of what came out. So then, yeah, just thought of Evander Holyfield. And I thought he doesn’t get enough love. And then I was like, well, what does that mean to me? It reminded me of love and a relationship and fighting for a relationship. And the chorus is: “If you want Holyfield and hold me near, and swing for all the fences that they put us in.” So, I just kind of liked that whole imagery. And yeah, I was like, Holyfield. That’s cool. So there it is.
Would you say it’s different from your other work?
Everything is always different from the last thing purely because I don’t feel like I have to be stuck to a sound. So at the level I’m at, which is one of the perks, is that I don’t feel like I have pressure from fans or people that are like, “I like this specific sound from you.” So I feel like that just kind of allows me to make whatever I want. And then on top of that, I just feel like I really love music. I just have a deep respect for it. I grew up pretty sheltered away from all different kinds of music. I didn’t really even know music until I turned 14– I’d steal my brother’s iPod and listen to whatever he had on it. So I feel like I was lucky in that sense, though, because everything I found was at an age where I could be like, I found this for me. I soak up everything as much as I can like a sponge, and then that’s just kind of what comes out.
So, you just made a new music video! Tell me about the process. What was the best part about creating?
I just said I want to be in a big rain room. I wanted to be in a big building with rain on me. And then my videographer suggested choreography. I’m not a dancer at all. But it’s one of those songs where it feels like I want to move. So that’s the first time I did a dance number. But this was the first video that we didn’t really want to do like a narrative and a storyline just because of the vibe of the song– I want it to feel open and fun. That’s how I feel when I listen to it. I feel like I’m driving down the coast or dancing in the rain. So I was like, let’s do both of those things for the video.
Do you have anything you want your viewers to take away from your new work?
I feel like more than anything I just want them to listen to it. There are a lot of times when I’m moved to show my friends a new artist that I found. And if somebody did that for me, I feel like that’s all I can ask for.
Without revealing too much, can you tell me about your new music coming up?
Yeah, so the project is called Motel California, and the title is based on Hotel California by the Eagles. The project follows this story that unfolded in my life. A while ago, my friend Skylar and I were just hanging out, we were talking about the Eagles. He said Motel California instead of Hotel California. And then I was like, that’s actually a cool title. I wrote it down. I could use that and make this whole project around it. So yeah, that’s as much as I think I should probably say!
Let’s talk about performing. Do you have any pre or post-show rituals or routines?
Pre-show, I leave. I like to go on little walks by myself. I just want to take the time to be grateful. My guitar player does it too. It’s funny– one time we were both out on separate walks and we saw each other across the street.
If you have any goals, I’m curious about them! Where do you see yourself in the next couple of years?
Whatever I feel passionate about, I want to go do that. I have such a desire to always be making something new, and creating something– I design all our merch that we drop and everything like that. I want to just always be in a space where I’m allowed the opportunity to be like, you know, I don’t really want to make music right now I want to go film the show, or I want to make clothes or do whatever it is. So I think hopefully music can kind of open other outlets in that way. But you know, that movie money is different. So, if that director calls….that’d be dope, too!
Photos: Bryan Ramos Story: Maddie Dinowitz
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