“My roots are stronger than they’ve ever been,
I think it’s time I branched out.”
JON QUEST tells a Cuento. As an L.A. bred artist with a passion for music as a motivating force, there’s a distinct quality about what he does with his music that anyone who can place just a few things into perspective will appreciate: Los Angeles is one of the entertainment capitals of the world, music is a major part of that ‘capital’, and Jon plays an active part in these worlds by creating his own, original content, posting it up for free online for virtually anyone who wants to hear something other than the mainstream. This is no easy task, but considering that his music is also in the mix with industry giants, not to mention artists from across the country and all over the world, I had to stop, reflect, and ask Jon a few questions for The L.A. Storyteller:
1. What is one of your earliest musical memories?
Basically anytime I was helping around the house with cleaning, handiwork, yard work or cooking, music was there. My parents both had very extensive music collections on cassettes, including CDs and Vinyl, and so I grew up listening to Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Parliament Funkadelic, the Isleys, Earth Wind and Fire, and other stuff like what I remember from riding in the car with my folks.
2. What is it about Los Angeles that makes it a special place to be for music?
As a teenager, I remember when I first started noticing that a lot of things I saw on TV were filmed or based right in the city, and feeling a kind of pride in that. My parents would also tell me about where certain events took place and other memories of the city and I loved soaking up the history too.
Now, I see Los Angeles as just a hub, filled with all kinds of chill people who work on our own time; the weather is always great and that helps with productivity and the mood.
But at first I actually resented L.A. for being such a hub, leading to all kinds of people moving out here and raising the prices of everything around me and my folks. It actually got to the point to where I couldn’t find a job out here after high school, leading me to move away for about six years until I got major homesickness. I used that feeling to get myself back here and now I’m loving L.A. and my work in it again.
3. When and how did you begin rapping?
I was actually working on becoming a musician before I began rapping. Somewhere in middle school I really fell into alternative music and when I got to high school that evolved into a love for punk rock, which led to me being a part of a few different bands in my teens. Eventually I had been in a punk band called “Nobody Good” for about three years when I ran into some old childhood friends of mine. Catching up with them I learned that they had started experimenting with music too, though with rap and hip hop; I started hanging with them, listening to B.I.G. and Nas, and sooner than later started trying to rhyme like them. All of it led me to evolve into the artist I am today.
4. How do you construct a rhyme?
My rhymes have become very personal. I used to sit down and actually structure verses out, and sometimes I still do, but nowadays I feel like I have so much to say and when it starts to come out I do my best to give it room to freely flesh out. The feeling I get from an instrumental is crucial to me; the vibe of the beat really helps me find myself and the direction of what I have to say. I also write rhymes without beats and even freestyle with friends once in a while. I just try to stay busy and on top of everything so that when inspiration strikes, it finds me working and ready to listen and communicate what the muse is telling me.
5. What does rapping ‘do’ for you; as in, how does it affect your emotions?
With some of my best verses, I feel like it wasn’t something I did alone, but like they came from some unknown place for me to be like a vessel or tool of the universe for translation. I’ve learned a lot about myself with music and the people in it, and now I just want to make music that supports others with the same. Music is a tool for getting to know yourself, and I believe that getting to know yourself is the number one way to finding happiness. You have to know yourself and love yourself before you ever have a chance at getting to know someone else or loving them, and to me that’s what my music is about, or what it does for me.
6. How long did “The Girl Tape” take you to complete?
About a solid year. Around this time last summer, my (roommate/Producer) Ashley (Brown), started making these instrumentals using some sampling techniques he was exploring at the time. One day he came into my room and said he wanted to drop a project called ‘In My Feelings,’ and if I wanted to be on a few songs. We worked in that direction for a solid two months or more, but then Drake dropped ‘Scorpion’ with the song, “In My Feelings”, which went viral with the dance and everything and which also killed our vibe for that title; we had to pivot then and essentially kind of simplify everything.
We picked the strongest songs that sounded well together and focused on them. We talked them out, I wrote a few versions of a couple songs on the list and tossed them out, and once we finally began to “hear” the tape and realized the meat of it was about relationships, we came up with the name ‘ t h e g i r l t a p e ‘. The rest was fairly simple: I reached out to a few graphic designers for visuals and sought out someone to mix and master the songs. That’s where Sal Diandria gets into the mix. I was sold that he was the guy to help complete ‘ t h e g i r l t a p e ‘. I re-recorded all my verses at his in-home studio. The rest is history. We released it this past September on Bandcamp.
7. What can listeners expect next from Jon Q now that The Girl Tape is out?
I’ve always been a fan of dropping songs on SoundCloud, so we have a few we’re planning on releasing there. Our next project, entitled ‘ W H I T E B R O N C O, ‘ is what we’re trying to release on all streaming platforms sometime early next year. But I’m always down to talk and feature with someone else on the grind as well. The hustle continues.
8. What words of wisdom would you share with a young aspiring artist today?
If you’re young and reading this for some reason, I just want to tell you to be yourself. Get to know yourself. Learn about your bad habits and learn from your mistakes. Stay humble, don’t worry about what others have and what you don’t. Just do the right thing and try to keep that Positive Mental Attitude because that shit is crucial. Find what you love and chase it with a passion. Let whatever you love consume you, drown yourself in it, and find yourself.
To listen to Jon Quest’s latest release, The Girl Tape, find it for FREE on Bandcamp HERE.