TheBeatStillJK ~ Outside the Box

Jonathan Kelley - TheBeatStillJK

Jonathan Kelley – TheBeatStillJK

I met Jonathan Kelley (JK) aka TheBeatStilJK when he reached out to me on Twitter. The better I got to know him, the more I fell in love with his dedication and talent.

Last year, JK won the All Star Music Awards in Brooklyn for Producer of the Year. This year, he’s up for Nashville’s Southern Entertainment Awards Producer of the Year.  I voted to nominate JK and I’ve got my fingers crossed for him to win!

Right now, JK mostly works on independent projects. He’s producing all the tracks for an album called United Beats of the Streets in Birmingham UK. The album features the hottest underground UK artists. They just finished shooting a commercial.

He’s also working on a unique project called Anthology, a series of poems over JK’s instrumentals. He hired talented poets from all over the United States. The first release is mid-September.

Jonathan Kelley originally comes from Oakland, CA. He’s always had a passion for music. JK started playing violin when he was eight years old and played in orchestras throughout high school.

TheBeatStillJK logo


TheBeatSillJK started producing music about six years ago, when JK left a comfortable corporate job at Bank of America, took all his savings and moved to Atlanta to pursue his dream. JK used his savings to support himself while he interned for two years to learn the ropes of the music industry.

When I asked JK what he looks for in an artist, JK admitted “I tend to be more on the picky side. Creativity and determination are the biggest factors.”

He really looks for someone who has the drive and hunger to be successful. A lot of hard work and time goes into good music and you have to pay your dues.


JK likes to work with artists that are creative. When he first starts working with an artist, he may send over a beat that is outside the artist’s comfort zone to see their reaction. Will the artist say “it doesn’t fit my style” or will the artist try to step outside the box and come up with something creative?

Then, JK looks at the talent. He can coach the talent.

Jonathan Kelley - TheBeatStillJK plays chess

Musically, JK’s influences are quite an eclectic mix, “almost like a gumbo,” from Phil Collins to Quincy Jones to Michael Jackson to Marvin Gaye.

He tries to model himself after Quincy Jones. “The production on Michael Jackson’s Thriller is still arguably one of the best albums ever made.” JK tries to pattern himself after Quincy Jones’ arrangements with trumpets and the blending of different sounds at different times. He studies Quincy Jones’ music as inspiration for new ideas and creative ways to be a better producer.

On the production side, JK is really a huge fan of Timbaland, a creative genius who pushes the envelope. He’s also a huge fan of Dr. Dre, whose sound and clarity are something JK strives to achieve.

To JK, picking a producer is like “picking a college or figuring out what you want your first car to be.” There has to be chemistry. “Great chemistry turns into great music.” He feels chemistry is missing from a lot of today’s music, because today’s music is about what’s hot at this time. “What’s hot may not coincide with what you’re doing as an artist.

The best thing to do is to develop a relationship with the producer. “Often, it’s best to build relationships, then approach the music.” Ask yourself: Do I even like this person? Do I connect with this person? Do we have anything in common? Can we relate? “Music is about people that have a common bond, a theme that links them together.”

Once you’ve established a connection, ask “Does their sound really bring out the best in what I’m doing?” A good producer has to be knowledgeable enough to know the best way to record and structure your songs. The best producer may be the one that pushes you to record several times, to bring out your best.

Jonathan Kelley - TheBeatStillJK

“Be creative and don’t be afraid to push the envelope. Don’t be afraid to be the first person to try something new.”  JK kicks himself when he sees a mainstream artist taking advantage of a concept he thought of a few years ago and didn’t take advantage of it.

A lot of artists don’t take advantage of the opportunities presented on the internet. For example, JK recently found a website that listed over 60 online radio shows with links to submit music.

Network! Attend the events going on across the country, where you can network with other artists, managers and producers.

Artist’s social media should focus on goals. “If you’re going to release a new project, then your conversation on social media should be involving that project, building up that hype.” JK sees more producers pushing songs, sometimes more than the artists. Use the tools to your advantage, but be careful not to post too many of your own opinions or negative comments that can hurt you.

Such great advice!

To watch my entire interview with TheBeatStillJK on YouTube:


The Amused Now Featured Artist Series

Cynthia Kahn

Twitter: @Amused_Now