Interview: Jonny Craig of Slaves
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:17:47
Jonny Craig Videos
"I want people to get lost in my voice," declares Jonny Craig of Slaves.
Fans have been falling into his voice since seminal offerings from Emarosa and Dance Gavin Dance and rightfully so. Craig possesses one of the most unique sets of pipes in heavy music, and it also happens to be one of the most powerful. Slaves' debut Through Art We Are All Equals is everything that listeners love about him and more though. It's immensely heavy at points, but it's also invasively captivating at others. It's a wonderful and wild enigma...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Jonny Craig talks Through Art We Are All Equals and so much more.
Did you approach Through Art We Are All Equals with an overarching vision or vibe?
I think that comes from the way we ordered the tracks on the CD. I didn’t write it specifically for that purpose, but we heard the songs come out in that order. All of the songs have different meanings. There are a couple of songs that go together back-to-back, but it’s not a themed album. It’s not all about my recovery or anything like that, but it’s everything that was happening in the moment. One CD turned into eleven songs. There are a couple of things I wanted to get out via the songs. There were a few topics I had been wanting to get in music for as long as I’ve been playing. It was all there.
How do you feel like your writing or approach has changed?
I put everything into the songs. It’s definitely a step up from anything I’ve done in my past. That’s what I’m trying to. This is what I would be if I was still in bands. This is where I would’ve taken things. This is the direction I would’ve gone. This is the person I would be if I hadn’t gotten sidetracked.
It’s immersive both lyrically and musically.
It has a lot of life in it, if that makes sense. There’s a lot of life in there.
What’s the story behind “The Upgrade PT II”?
Well, it’s the sequel to “The Upgrade PT I”, which was on the solo album. Obviously, the song starts off nicely, but it’s a big “fuck you” at the end of it to my ex-fiancé or whatever the hell you want to call her. It’s real shit, man. It’s pretty self-explanatory. I wanted to get the point across. The best way to do that is to make a really well-rounded song and turn it into something evil.
Did you always know “Starving for FRIENDS” would end the album? Is it particularly important to you?
That song is really important to me because it’s me saying, “I’m sorry” to a lot of people. It was what we wanted. It worked out that way in the tracklisting.
In general, is it important for you to tell stories and paint pictures with the songs?
I think so. Oftentimes, it’s just how things come out. I’m tapping into the moment.
Do you tend to read a lot?
I read all the time. I spend a lot of my time reading and thinking to myself. If I’m able to get into a mode of recording, it’s because I had so much time to myself. Right now, I’ve been reading Game of Thrones. I’ve been reading it forever and ever. I’m reading other fantasy. It’s nerdy shit like that [Laughs]. It’s a bit embarrassing, but it is what it is. It’s what I like to do. I love that shit!
What artists shaped you the most?
I listened to a lot of soul music and R&B. I still come back to that a lot when I want to relax and fucking get lost in the voice. That’s what I want to do.
If you were to compare the album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That’s a great question. I don’t know though [Laughs]. I’d have to say something like The Lord of the Rings. It’s got to have a nice epic ending.
What was your vision for the album cover?
The album artwork is by the same guy who did Emarosa’s artwork. I had him floating in the background from when he did Emarosa. I wanted the same kind of visual concept as the self-titled Emarosa CD. This is where I would be for my fans. I wanted everything to line up.
Have you heard Slaves yet?