- Tom H
J GRGRY | Don't Ever Give Up (new single and video)
Seattle-based indie musician J GRGRY (a.k.a. Joe Gregory) releases his inspiring, hook-laden, indie pop gem, "Don't Ever Give Up," along with its companion music video that symbolizes aspects of the song's underlying theme, while showcasing a "band of Joes" performing all the musical elements of the song.
"Don't Ever Give Up" is powerful, rock solid, indie pop that inspires confidence and hope. It's about determination, following your dreams and getting back on your feet after being knocked down. Joe's soaring, anthemic vocals carry "Don't Ever Give Up" to majestic sonic heights, with an upbeat, infectious melody and vibe that will have you singing along in no time. The song's message turned out to be an unplanned personal beam of encouragement and motivation for Joe shortly after he wrote the song. The single's press release notes that "Don't Ever Give Up" was written in J GRGRY's LA apartment in the wake of a soured partnership with his producer that forced him to financially restart and also as a brief illness set in.
"I banged out the entire song, lyrics, melodies, and rhythms in less than 30 minutes before I collapsed in bed for the rest of the day," Joe recalls. "I had to go to the hospital the next day [because] I had pneumonia in both lungs. This song was a beacon of light for me through some really hard days... I feel like it came to me from a future self that knew I needed these words and melodies somehow."
SoundThread Music Blog recently caught up with Joe Gregory to talk about "Don't Ever Give Up" and its accompanying music video, Joe's creative process, and forthcoming new music and performances.
[STMB]: Congratulations on the release of "Don't Ever Give Up"! Before your unexpected bout with pneumonia, what inspired the lyrical theme of "Don't Ever Give Up"? Is there any deeper meaning to the "ruby red birds" flying high that we hear in the lyrics?
[JG]: I'm so glad you keyed in on this aspect of the lyrics. The working title for the song was actually "Summer Tanager," which is a ruby red bird. It was meant to signify the inner child I reference in the second verse and the idea of feeling free and flying high. The correlation being that through the guidance of therapy, I was able to reconnect with and begin to nurture my inner child. I discovered joy and aspects of myself so strong and beautiful I felt like I was soaring through the sky, like a bird. I'm so glad I fought hard and found a great therapist and didn't give up on myself and my dreams. That's really the bottom line of the song. It's hard work, it's a fight, but don't give up on yourself or your dreams.
[STMB]: How does an infectious track like "Don't Ever Give Up" end up in its final form? What does the creative process look like when you're putting it all together musically?
[JG]: I usually demo songs with a drum beat I program and then build chords and melodies around that. In this case, I wrote the song all on piano and vocals in Logic. Normally I start on guitar so this was kind of an anomaly for me at the time. Anyways, I was lucky enough to track drums for this song at the old A&M studios, which is now Henson studios and we had a phenomenal session drummer, Gil Sharone, lay down that big energetic foundation. I added dozens and dozens of layers from there which were masterfully and artfully glued together by my Co Producer and mixing legend, Craig Bauer.
The single's accompanying music video, directed by Amy Billharz with production by Tim Semakula, depicts scenic outdoor shots in the Pacific Northwest, along with Joe himself creating a visually captivating full band performance of "Don't Ever Give Up."
[STMB]: The single's music video cleverly depicts you performing all musical parts of "Don't Ever Give Up." Was that influenced by having to record a music video in a world where we've all been self-isolating? The outdoor shots are impressive with the massive redwood trees and lush green forest shots.
[JG]: The timing of this in relation to COVID-19 is kinda wild. We actually filmed the forest scenes near the Hoh rainforest literally one day before Washington state shut down due to the pandemic.
The song was really supposed to be released in 2019 as a part of a full length, but horrendous situations with producers and shady people kept pushing it back farther and farther. We finally set this May release date back in January of this year after finally being liberated from the last of those nefarious characters.
I had the idea of me performing all the instruments in an isolated home type setting, because in the last few years I've weathered countless personal changes in my band and production teams due to alcohol, heroin, and misogynistic behavior in the more awful instances. Having to restructure and pivot almost every month for 3 years made me think of how strong I've been to get knocked down and keep getting back up. It made me think of being a kid, hiding in my room, diligently teaching myself to play music on whatever jacked up, borrowed instruments I could find and how that brought me such peace and joy, despite what was going on outside, despite what I saw as lacking in my life. My dreams kept me focused on positive things so I could continue to grow and progress.
The forest symbolizes confusion and heartache and in the video I'm guiding us out of that 'cause I've been there and I'm not going back. The strength of those epic redwoods and the light of the blue sky is showing us there's reason for confidence and hope.
[STMB]: Can you tell us about any upcoming single releases or your forthcoming album? Will your previous singles ("Dinosaurs", "Haunted Horses", "Imagination") be included on the album?
[JG]: The early versions of those songs were released as a supplement to tours I was on while I took the songs on the road and continued to work shop them. I took those versions down after touring and seeing how much work still needed to be done to finish them for my true vision. They are being finished now, along with 10 others, by myself and the aforementioned Craig Bauer at Hinge Studio in Pasadena, CA.
With tours being canceled, having to push the full length back to next June, and after receiving a few requests--and having a blast recording--I decided to do an acoustic version of my EP "Gold Teeth + Glass Eyes" and release that for fun this summer! We will be shooting the video for the next album single this summer and getting everything set for the big 2021 release, too! There were some hard decisions we fought through and we are still navigating some rough waters but 2020 is going to be a really fruitful and fulfilling year.
[STMB]: Are there any plans for upcoming virtual or in-person J GRGRY live performances?
[JG]: We are working on one really exciting thing, not sure it will work out but fingers crossed we might be a part of something really cool around the Seattle area that will feed to all sources. Other than that, if anyone wants to schedule something with me, reach out! I'm super active on Instagram (@jgrgrymusic). I'm definitely eager to continue sharing music and positive energy any way we can until live concerts in person are a thing again.
Thanks to Joe for all the insightful responses! I've been an instant fan from the moment I discovered his music last year. While we're awaiting new music from J GRGRY, check out his previous single, "Open Roads," and be sure to give a listen to his Gold Teeth + Glass Eyes EP. You won't be disappointed!
For more information on J GRGRY, visit his official website, follow on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube) and find J GRGRY's music on Spotify, Bandcamp, SoundCloud and iTunes.