Awhile back, my friend Jonathan (J.J.) and I were talking about his journey in the music industry, and the different challenges that can come up when you are a more independent artist in the field.
When his latest album, "Heartattack", came out on the radio, Spotify, and other such music platforms, I had an idea.
So without further ado, please welcome Jonathan Shafe!
Exclusive Interview with Cry Of The Voiceless Member, Jonathan Shafe
Q: So J.J., can you tell us how you got into music?
A: Well, music was cultivated in me from a young age. Both my parents were involved with it. My father played bass guitar in a band during his early adulthood, and my mother, well you could say music changed her life. From my birth until the present, music has shaped me and accompanied me through every path of life. I was sung to sleep. I was taught songs. I would wander through melodies long before I had any of the tools to capture them and pin them down. Guitar would be the first instrument I’d learn, inspired from four chords I learned in music class. It wouldn’t be till I was 13 that I’d write my first lyric though.
Q: What was the defining moment that sparked your interest?
A: I would have to say my parents instilled it in me, but even more so, I was given the capability to feel it when I was born. The true beginning though, of my personal journey creating music, began in turmoil. There was a time when I was frustrated and confused. I felt that there was no way to go on and I was crying out, when all [of] the sudden, words car[r]ying a melody came to me. They spoke to the moment and gave me hope to carry on. It was that moment which began a journey towards writing songs which would speak both to life and to the moment.
Q: Who mentored you in the early stages of producing and releasing your music?
A: Honestly, there weren’t many mentors in my life, [musically speaking]. It’s a shame because I would’ve greatly appreciated having someone to learn from. That being said, my school’s music director probably played the largest role in guiding my abilities, through choir, theory, musicals, and in providing the opportunity to produce my first album.
Q: I understand that you've collaborated with several friends, and even family. What helped you see their talent, and how did you decide to include them?
A: It is always a privilege to join hands with fellow talented individuals in the creative process. Some stories are meant to be told alone, but others welcome the company of others. I’m always on the lookout for such instances and such individuals who appreciate music or lyric as I do. Working with Blake Commisso on my first album started that journey and I’ve enjoyed it ever since. While in college, I was able to further interact with musicians and much of that can be seen on my new record.
Q: What was the biggest challenge with "Heartattack"? Any setbacks?
A: I did have issues with the formatting of the album that prolonged the release date, but the greatest challenge was also the best part of producing the mixtape.
Q: What was the best part about producing the mixtape?
A: Heartattack is a very personal release. It’s messy. It’s honest. It’s painful, all at the same time. Over the past couple years, I’ve learned much about the music industry and the path that must be taken in order to achieve my dreams. I’ve become a bit jaded and overly focused on the quality of the production, rather than the heart behind it. This record was a sobering journey of digging through the past and rediscovering my roots. It forced me to re-evaluate the way I view my music and the way I view myself. It has been challenging, but incredibly rewarding at the same time. It has given me a lot to think about.
Q: Some songs really show your emotional side. Care to explain how being honest with your audience gives your music a more sincere tone?
A: I think that so much in life teaches us to abhor honesty and an authentic version of ourselves, that we have lost any true sense of self and truth. Whether it be religion, work, romance, family, or friends these things can all have the potential to cultivate veils. The music industry is no exception. Think of all the top hits on the radio and tell me one that has an honest voice. It has been a personal journey for me as I’ve learned both the triumphs and failures that honesty can bring. I guess my music reflects that. The only true way to touch a soul is authentically and that’s what I’m trying to achieve in my music. However, I don’t think I’m anywhere near achieving this goal. Just as many other things in life, when you crest one hill of understanding, a greater hill to summit is revealed behind.
Q: Cry Of The Voiceless, lovingly known to fans as COTV, is slowly fading into the background. How do you feel about it?
A: Actually, I’m kind of excited. I’m trying something new. I’m taking a risk. It might blow up in my face, or it might be a success. Either way I’ll learn from it. You’ll never know if you don’t try. And the more I understand about the music industry and life, the more I realize that one rarely gets teleported to the top of a mountain. It’s a daily journey of sweat and determination that takes you across life’s terrain.
Q: Are there any new projects that we can help promote, or should be excited about?
A: Well, I am continuing to release a few music videos that go along with my latest record: "Heartattack", and you can find one of them below. Other than that though I can only give you one clue for the future ahead: @
Q: And lastly, how do you integrate your faith into the work place? Are there any helpful tips you can share for Christians in the music industry or in the work place?
A: As I’ve mentioned many times throughout this interview, life is a journey. And so is faith. I was taught in my growing up that faith was a destination, but I don’t think that is really accurate. I think faith is a road one chooses to walk. The path may be hard to see at times and it might take you places you don’t want to go. It’s a journey. Saying that, the way I integrate my personal faith is directly related to my music. I strive to write authentic music and therefore it directly relates to my faith. In addition, I think the best tool to influence a heart is personal story. In telling mine and inviting others along on the journey, I hope to encourage others in their own pursuit of the spiritual. Therefore, be authentic. Admit your faults. Cry. Laugh. Doubt. Love. Fall. Get back up again. And whatever you do, let it reflect these truths. The world knows religion, but does it know authentic love? Does it know the journey?
I don't know about you, dear readers, but I think J.J. has left us with a good challenge to consider.
Life really is a journey. It's even the theme of my blog, go figure!
Instead of trying to rush ahead to the final destination, let's just enjoy this journey for what it is.
Links to check out:
COTV on Spotify
COTV "Heartattack" Album
"Heartattack" Music Video