Raising the Bar - Jon Hart Interview

21 August 2015

James Fleury talks to multi-instrumentalist Jon Hart on the release of his debut album, playing Isle of Wight Festival back home, and why, at the age of 30, he’s writing the most fulfilling chapter of his career.

It’s been a busy year for one of the country’s emerging multi-instrumentalists, who has more than started to make a name for himself on the live circuit in the South East. The last 12 months have included nearly 70 gigs all over the country, national radio play, two appearances at last year’s London Acoustic Guitar Show, a headline show on the Isle of Wight, a series of videos and recording the album… all while becoming a father and moving into their family home.

But Jon Hart is in no mood to put on the brakes.

His debut album – titled ‘Reborn’ as an ode to past musical ventures - is a culmination of nearly three years’ of graft, a period that Hart describes as “deeply challenging, but without question the most fulfilling experience of my career.” In that time, he would play any venue across London and the South East where people would come and listen, and showcasing new material in a series of music videos. His following online is growing at an encouraging pace, and Hart has received a wealth of public support from fellow guitarists, including Jon Gomm, Thomas Leeb, Preston Reed, Chris Woods, Matt Stevens and session musician Steve Down.

“The central theme in Reborn is the idea of artistic re-birth, evaluating your worth and ethos as an artist, and understanding what it is you want to achieve as a creative individual”, says Hart. “With my old material, I could never emulate my recordings live and I started to feel more like an entertainer, which was disheartening. Over the last few years, I have been able to discover my identity as a musician by drawing on influences from percussive fingerstyle to acoustic pop.”

Following the reaction to his single ‘Stormy Weather Rolls’, which received airplay on Absolute Radio and led to Pete Donaldson labelling him “a terrifically accomplished musician”, Jon has been working in the studio alongside close friend and guitarist Chris Woods since the New Year, crafting a unique sound that combines virtuoso percussive guitar with intricate harmonics, soaring melodies and crunching harmonies.

© Foden Photography 2015.

There’s no surprise Hart’s proud of the record. Not only has it taken him over 10 years to create his first album – he celebrated his 30th birthday last year – but it is a true reflection of Hart’s talent as a writer, combining a range of styles and influences to create an idiosyncratic sound that embodies his artistry, reflecting on real world scenarios.

And Reborn offers plenty to choose from dependent on your tastes. The opening track ‘Sticks and Stones’ and ‘Wight’ ensures Jon shows off all the traditional traits of percussive guitar, but it’s the ballads ‘Windchime’ and ‘Poison Envy‘ where Hart’s music takes a distinctive turn, his classic harmonics fused with emotive melodies to create a bespoke vocal and guitar sound that sits in a middle ground somewhere between John Mayer and Imogen Heap. ‘Windchime’ features elements of soft rock in the bridge – the track is the album’s first promotional single, and will be released next month. There’s a dip into the loop pedal with the catchy ‘Have It’ – a sign of things to come from Hart – and producer Chris Woods steps in to feature on the explosive ‘Red Room’, which will no doubt capture the attention of guitar buffs around the country. The feature tracks are cutely knitted together by a string of interludes, Hart channelling Newton Faulkner in these short thoughtful offerings.

“I’m hoping that people will be able to relate to the ideas behind some of the tracks – ‘Poison Envy’ discusses the threat of social media, whilst ‘Wight’ (an ode to my hometown on the Isle of Wight) sketches the journey from growing up in a quaint island town, to moving to one of the world’s biggest cities. I’m so excited and nervous at the same time, because I know this is it – this is the music that I want to make, and share with as many people as I can.”

Jon will be releasing a series of dates early next year, where he will take to the road alongside some of his guitar friends, playing dates across the UK as part of a headline album tour.

Jon Hart’s debut album ‘Reborn’ is available to download from all major online stores, including iTunes now: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/reborn/id984569558

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About the Author

James Fleury is founder and CEO of Nouvague, a cutting edge music marketing agency based in the UK & Los Angeles, specialising in marketing services for classical music. 

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