From my very first listen to "Dinosaurs", the powerful new single from Los Angeles-based indie artist J GRGRY, I realized I'd just listened to one of the most perfect, beautifully composed songs I think I've ever heard. You can seriously 'feel' the energy and emotion in the song's soaring vocals that are bathed in a glistening, yet melancholic musical soundscape. Ah... but then, there's the chorus. If you haven't already been hooked by this point, well there's no escaping that now.
J GRGRY is the alter ego of indie/dark pop musician Joe Gregory, and "Dinosaurs" is the latest single from his forthcoming album, Imagination. Produced and mixed by Chad Shlosser and Michael Johnson, the single features Joe on vocals, guitars, synth and bass, along with musicians Owen Barry (Dorothy, Griz) on guitar, Kyle Hamood (Shuggie Otis) on piano, and Gil Sharone (Marilyn Manson, Team Sleep) on drums. Having moved from Seattle to Los Angeles last year, the recording process for the new album played out as a journey through a number of locations on the West Coast. This included tracking drums on 23 songs at Henson Studios in Hollywood, pianos at The Woodshed in Malibu, and the rest (vocals, guitar, synth) between Palm Springs and Topanga Canyon.
Drenched in gorgeous, gentle guitar riffs and elegant synths, "Dinosaurs" represents a significant and very personal single release for this emerging indie artist. Beyond the radiant musical atmosphere of this inspirational indie pop ballad, lies its underlying and poignant lyrical theme. Joe reveals, "It's a song about me finally coming out, accepting myself as a gay man, and choosing a path of positivity and light despite religious and political detractors."
SoundThread Music Blog recently caught up with Joe Gregory to talk about "Dinosaurs", the eclectic, creative J GRGRY alter ego, musical inspirations, and the forthcoming album.
[STMB]: Congratulations on the release of "Dinosaurs"! Can you tell us about the origin of the song and what it means to you?
[JG]: I wrote Dinosaurs within two weeks of moving from Seattle to California, in late 2017. I was working on songs in a little upstairs bedroom in an apartment we were renting in Ventura, CA. Drum machine, acoustic guitar, keyboard and vocal mic. I had quit drinking 4 years (now 5) earlier and found great help in therapy to understand how to manage my life better with severe depression. This led me to a place where I could find true love for myself.
I remember vividly looking out the window in that little bedroom in Ventura, feeling the warmth of the sun, able to hear the ocean a short distance away, and thinking to myself, "I'm not gonna listen anymore to the birds chirp down the street, no." I can remember my whole body trembling the first time I sang it, overwhelmed with confidence and self understanding. It was a simple statement to myself, to not allow political or religious ideologies, founded in bigotry and hate, to tear me down. The rest of the song came out like water from a faucet. It was one of the first 3 songs I wrote of around 40 in the first couple months of moving to CA and it is clear to me, this song unlocked something in myself I had been searching for a long time.
[STMB]: J GRGRY the band - Is it your solo project or a proper band with dedicated members?
[JG]:Initially, I set out to make J GRGRY a full band concept because of my desire for this family type setting that I always pictured. The more and more I started connecting with myself and accepting who I really am these past few years, it became clear that I need to see my songwriting visions through from A to Z on my own. At that point, I bring in the best of the best on drums, guitar, and pianos to support my angular playing spirit that the songs were created from. I have to say, Gil Sharone, who did drums on all 23 songs on the record we did last year was an absolute monster of joy and everyone should look into his drumming. I think he'll be on the road with BUSH this year but he's on a lot of records and anytime you can catch him, he's one of the absolute best behind the kit.
[STMB]: Your stage presence is accentuated by an eclectic, creative style that incorporates makeup, painted nails and the 'one leg pants.' How did you create your look?
[JG]: My stage look came out of my early days as a teenage songwriter. Once I had taught myself a few chords and started trying to find melodies as a songwriter I would feel this great energy and excitement and while my resources were limited, there was make up in the house and I could take off my shirt like Bowie and I hung Xmas lights in my room and the next thing you knew, 15 year old Joe Gregory was laying the groundwork for what would be happening today! Wild to think about how connected I was to my future self, back then.
[STMB]: Are there any particular musicians or songwriters that have significantly influenced you musically or personally?
[JG]: I owe a lot to Seattle for my musical influences for sure. Growing up there in the 90's it was such an exciting place to learn about music and be surrounded by all the culture that was developing around grunge. Soundgarden and Sunny Day Real Estate were probably my two biggest influences from Seattle as a baby musician (bass guitar was my first rock instrument so I was obsessed with Nate Mendel and Ben Shepard from those bands) but as I started listening to early Outkast and Dre records I started going back to all the samples from the 60's and 70's and fell in love with the music of Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder and the music that was really driving the subtext of the great hip hop of the 90's. I probably listen to The Dude, by Quincy Jones 6 or 7 times a week, to this day!
[STMB]: Are the singles "Imagination" and "Dinosaurs" representative of the music on your forthcoming album?
[JG]: "Imagination" and "Dinosaurs" are definitely a good glimpse of the new record. There are big pop moments, ala Peter Gabriel and Fleetwood Mac, driving energetic rock moments, in the vein of The Police and Duran Duran, mixed with the revelations of a songwriter who found themselves, and thus the words, to share that joy with the world.
Thanks to Joe for all the insightful responses!
J GRGRY "IMAGINATION" (Official Music Video)
Regarding the 23 recorded songs we noted earlier, Joe explains that he will be releasing the first half of them with digital music distributor eONE throughout the year as a few singles, starting with "Dinosaurs", and leading up to the full album release. J GRGRY will also be hitting the road on release day (March 8), starting in Reno for a West Coast tour to promote "Dinosaurs", including Joe's first show in Seattle since he moved, and since playing Key Arena with The Killers and Portugal. The Man.
Joe adds that he hopes to be on the road as much as possible. He remarks, "I am so passionate about all of these songs and have already felt such a genuine connection with my fans over the new music that I am clawing at the walls to get out there and sing these songs with everyone on tour. I just want to live on the road for the foreseeable future, if I can make that happen!"