Music Clout Winner ~ J Thomas Edward

J Thomas Edward

J Thomas Edward

We are super-excited to announce the winner of our first Music Clout featured artist contest: Contemporary Americana recording artist J Thomas Edward. We selected Thomas because we love his music, his edgy sound and his hit single Wounded in Love.

Of course, one of the first questions I asked J Thomas Edward was to tell me more about that amazing song. Thomas explained: “Wounded in Love is the opening track on the album Athens. It’s a song that’s really close to my heart; it’s really personal. I don’t like talking about the meaning very much. It’s a love song, but it’s also more of a spiritual song to me.”

Then, he added: “What’s unusual about that song is how quickly it came to me. I spend lots of time writing lyrics, and that song was done in a couple of hours, which is not usual for me. I’m really glad you like it.”

I do love the song, and I love it when your creative juices flow and everything comes together. It’s magical.

J Thomas Edward also plans to release two new albums this year under the name Kain and Able in April 2015, a collaborative project with singer-songwriter Matthew O’Keefe: “The Kain and Able project came about after I had taken some time off, and I went through this marathon writing time. For months, I wrote song after song after song. When I thought it was time to record some of these songs, I knew that I didn’t want to do it the way I had done previous records. I wanted to get one person to collaborate with on the arrangements. I ended up running into Matthew by chance, and we started working together.

What does Thomas look for when he collaborates with another artist? “I look for someone who is not cut from the same cloth that I am. I like someone who is from a totally different musical perspective, which can be really frustrating, but you can get better results. I write songs in sketches, like a painter before starting a painting. I don’t always have a preconceived notion about how they should sound. Matthew’s from a different planet. It’s frustrating, but it really works.”

J Thomas Edward and Matthew O'Keefe

J Thomas Edward and Matthew O’Keefe

I listened to the pre-released singles from Kain and Able, and I really like the song That’s How It Goes. J Thomas Edward told me the story behind that song: “I originally recorded that song for my first record Carnival, but I didn’t like the way it came out. I knew it could be better. I was frustrated with it, so I dropped it. A few years later, I was working on the Athens record with producer John Keane. When it came time to record, I still wasn’t satisfied with it. We didn’t even record a demo. When Matthew and I work together, we start the sessions out with some random jam. When I started playing it one day, it was there, exactly how I wanted it to be. Matthew had never heard it, and I hadn’t played it in years. What you hear on the record is almost identical to the way we played it the first time we played it together.”

I also love the video for the song Get Off from Kain and Able. The song has a great groove; I couldn’t sit still when I listened to it. The video is also terrific. J Thomas Edward explained how this project came together: “Get Off was produced and directed by Fredy Polania. He heard the song through a friend of mine in his car and wanted to make a video for it. I wanted to do a performance video, which we recorded at the Power Station, where we recorded the two Kain and Able records. I won’t do the lip synch thing. We played the song to the tempo, but what you’re seeing in the video is us playing live. We had to do a lot of takes, and Fredy got really frustrated with us. I think that’s why the groove it there. The only thing that I regret is that no one thought to turn on a couple of good microphones and record the session, because the band was on fire that day. It was a lot of fun. Everyone had a really good time with it.”

Who can we credit as J Thomas Edward’s major music influences? “That’s one of those questions I don’t quite know how to answer. If you look at my playlist, I have Duke Ellington, Eyrka Badu, Waylon Jennings, Jay-Z, Jack White, Beck, The Rolling Stones, Justin Timberlake, Jet and Carlos Varela. There are certain artists that have had a profound effect on me, like Lou Reed, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Mark Knofpler. Frank Zappa has also had a profound effect on me. If you listen closely to some of my recordings, you can hear a little Zappa attitude. I guess to some degree, maybe everything I’ve ever heard has influenced me in some way.”

J Thomas Edward performing BWJ Thomas Edward is taking a unique approach to social media: “We are doing some different things for each type of social media.” Thomas plans to offer music that can only be heard or downloaded from a single platform, like only make certain songs available on Twitter or only on Facebook, so fans have a reason to come back and participate.

What advice does J Thomas Edward have for other indie musicians? “The first thing an artist needs to ask themselves is, ‘What am I doing this for?’ If your ultimate goal is to become rich and famous, you should maybe go do something else. If you’re a musician, it’s about the music, about being an artist. There are way too many people doing this because they want to get well known. For the people who know they’re an artist, they can’t run away from it.” He laughed and added, “It will find you if you try.”

Thomas believes artists should listen to their own intuition. When you get told ‘No,’ and you will get told ‘No’ over and over and over again, you have to remember that the recording industry doesn’t have the best record in choosing who will go over well and who won’t. Elton John was refused by most labels. Jay-Z was refused by everybody, so he ended up starting his own label. Of course, the most famous example is the A&R rep from Decca records who told The Beatles that they had no future in show business. When you get a door slammed in your face, don’t take that as anything other than a reason to kick down the next door you come to.”

This year, J Thomas Edward has some pretty big projects to complete: “I’m going to get the song Carnival, which is about the Carnival celebrations, re-recorded in multiple languages, in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. The idea is to get is ready for release February 2016. That’s a challenge, because I don’t speak any of those languages besides English and a little bit of Spanish. We’re going to do more videos. I’m recording demos right now for a new album. I hope to do some more touring in the summer.”

J Thomas Edward promised that he and Matthew O’Keefe would record me my very own acoustic version of Wounded in Love. Can’t wait!

Amused Now Music Clout Contest Winners

J Thomas Edward - singing BWJ Thomas Edward

Cynthia Kahn, Founder of Amused Now