For our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One, we interviewed professional skateboarder turned singer-songwriter Jordan Lovelis about his forthcoming Midnight Dreams EP. During our discussion, Lovelis describes recording his new collection of songs with producer Kelly Winrich (Delta Spirit), opening shows for Matt Costa, growing up with a father in a Beatles cover band, and more!
NoiseTrade: With your Midnight Dream EP coming out September 26, what can you tell us about this new collection of songs and the story behind the infectiously catchy first single “Black & White”?
Jordan Lovelis: Midnight Dream is a collection of six songs recorded in the fall of 2017 in New York with Kelly Winrich from Delta Spirit. I showed him about 15 demos and then we choose six to work with. I flew to Brooklyn and we knocked them out in a week. They are all very personal but I think “Black & White” is probably the most honest song. It’s about my relationship to religion and where I’m currently at with it all. I grew up in a pretty conservative home with certain expectations. I remember being at a party with a friend and I asked her if she believed in God. She said, “I want to, but I’m plagued with doubt.” I resonated deeply with that and basically built a song around that sentiment. This was probably around the time I read the book Blue Like Jazz too. Existential crisis in full effect.
NT: Listening through the EP, I was really drawn to the horn lines and dreamy guitar wash of “All I’d Ever Need” so much. Were there any specific songs or bands that inspired your songwriting on that specific track?
Lovelis: The horns are by Mike Irwin from The Walkmen. He was really great to work with and the pedal steel is Jon Graboff who played in The Cardinals with Ryan Adams. My producer Kelly is really well connected, so it was pretty surreal to have these players on my songs. So to answer your question, lots of inspiration: Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes, and I’ve been really into Whitney and the way they use a lot of horns.
NT: How did the opportunity come about to have Midnight Dream produced by Kelly Winrich of Delta Spirit and what was it like working with another musician in the producer’s chair?
Lovelis: Kelly rules. My brothers were in a band that toured with Delta Spirit. I’d see Kelly around and always admired his piano playing. I just called him and sent him some demos. He was down and it was really great to work with him. I’d consider myself a songwriter, less of a musician, and he’s a fantastic musician. So it was a great balance. I also have a rotating mix of musicians that play live with me, so it was great to be in the studio with somebody that can play pretty much everything. There was some friction at times because I’d get glued to how a demo sounded and Kelly would challenge me to think bigger. For example, “Hey Diane” was originally a mellow acoustic song and Kelly was like “No way man, we gotta make this sound like a Phil Spector song.” I was skeptical, but in the end, I’m super happy with Kelly’s work.
NT: Earlier this year you played a few West Coast shows supporting Matt Costa. Being so early in your career, what did you pick up from touring with a seasoned veteran like Costa?
Lovelis: Opening for Matt was a dream come true. I had only played like five shows before that. We were playing sold out shows at The Casbah and Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco. It was insane. I would think we played a good show and then I’d watch Matt and how seasoned him and his band were. It’s definitely something to aspire to. I look up to him a lot. I’m so thankful he asked me to do that. It was such a great experience.
NT: Finally, I read that your dad played in a Beatles cover band while you were growing up, is that correct? How did that experience color your music discovery experience and did it direct you one way or the other towards or away from The Beatles?
Lovelis: Oh yeah, he’s obsessed with The Beatles. He played John Lennon and he’d come out in the white suit and play “Imagine.” It was the best. Me and my brothers are massive Beatles fans. I’ve loved them from an early age. The chord changes and the melodies are so fascinating. At pretty much every family function, my dad brings guitars and we play Beatles songs all night. I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a musical family and it’s definitely the foundation of becoming a songwriter. So, thanks Dad!