By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Compared to artists like Arlo Parks and Jordan Rakei, British songwriter Jono McCleery recently dropped the official music video for his single “Call Me,” a “melancholic love song” about the search for inner strength amidst the challenge of separation.
While some of the songs on his upcoming self-produced album ‘Here I Am And There You Are’ via Ninety Day Records were 18 years in the making, it only took him four days to record. Determined to break free from his usual formula, he sought to create without commercial micromanagement and returned to his roots.
Considered a concert commodity as part of the “One Taste Collective,” McCleery has toured with acts such as Little Dragon, Jamie Woon, Nick Mulvey and Kate Tempest.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with McCleeery about ‘Here I Am And There You Are’ and more.
Music Bugle – How would you describe your newest music?
Jono McCleery – As the music I was always supposed to make – natural and searching.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your LP?
Jono McCleery – Long. It features songs which I have had up to 18 years waiting for the circumstances to be right, funding it by myself, knowing the right musicians to play it with and recording it within four days was the most intense recording experience of my life and then waiting the next two years before finding the best way to release the material and the process continues. We are still “putting together” the promotion for the LP. It requires a great deal of patience and perseverance to stick to your vision and keep going.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Jono McCleery – “We’re here on Earth to fart around and don’t let anybody tell you different,” by Kurt Vonnegut.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Jono McCleery – Tremendously – both personally and work-wise, but a lot of people have got it worse than me, so I can’t complain. I’m still lucky enough to be healthy and to be able to put out new music and perform online in this day in age.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs was the hardest to write?
Jono McCleery – There’s a few of them on the new album – “Promise of Spring,” “By Your Side” and “Trouble in Me,” where I had the original ideas for a long time, but it took many years for me to develop them and to feel comfortable taking the songs in different directions without losing the original ideas.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Jono McCleery – Edu Lobo ‘Limita das Aguas’ and ‘Cantiga De Longe.’
Music Bugle – What made you want to put out “Call Me” as a single and did the video come out the way you hoped?
Jono McCleery – I think “Call Me” is more visceral and less technical than some of the other songs on the album. It relates a simple sentiment that people can relate to, especially during these isolated times. The video is by Giovanni Di Legami and the footage is taken from his new film “Idem.” I didn’t know what to expect, but I really respect his work, so I trusted he would come up with something special and I think it really is.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest memory while touring?
Jono McCleery – There are too many to choose from. Touring is mostly boring – waiting and traveling, but the highs are immeasurable. Meeting positive people living in the moment is something I could never tire of.
Music Bugle – Are you working on any new music at the moment?
Jono McCleery – I always have ideas bubbling away. Maybe I’ll make another lockdown EP soon. Wink, wink.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape?
Jono McCleery – My tuinhuis in Rotterdam. A small wooden house with a garden where we can grow things, escape the modern world and reset.
*Photo credit – Marcela Nagel*