How a faith-based, cross-country move inspired an album with a funny name, some spaced-out artwork and my most personal songs yet
I can think of a million reasons not to release an album this year. Let’s just mention two: time and doubts. For starters, I wondered how I could make the time. Can you relate? I mean, there’s work, keeping up with our four kids, church responsibilities, personal worship time, a new job, new house, new yard, new neighborhood, new friends, a new pursuit of family history (I’ll have to tell you about it sometime) and of course spending time with Stephanie (happily married for 12 years). Not to mention, I kinda enjoy having fun outdoors, camping, hiking the north Phoenix foothills, playing racquetball and yes, sleeping occasionally.
There were also plenty of doubts that came to mind: “Will anyone pay attention? Will anyone from Texas still care? Is it really worth the blood, sweat, tears and money? What if no one likes it? Can I really capture the songs that are running through my head? Ultimately, does anyone really care about piano music from some dad in Arizona??”
It might be just how I am, but I wonder if all of the doubts and the seeming impossibility of finding time actually spurred me on and gave me the resolve to do this. Because here I am 13 months later with 11 tracks that came together just recently. But it turned out to be an interesting moment when they did. The first time that I listened to Kinetica from top to bottom in early October, I sat back and had a rare moment of clarity. I thought, “This record is something I’m proud of. It is something special and deeply personal. I am proud of creating this.” And so it is.
I don’t know if this comes as any surprise, but I don’t take any of this for granted. I don’t assume people are going to pay attention to a new album. After all of these years (Piano Pop came out in 2001), it still comes as a bit of a shock when you come up to me and say that you enjoyed listening. Some of you have known me for decades, and some are just getting to know me. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, I owe you thanks for supporting and encouraging me to overcome doubts and make time for something that I can hopefully look back on and be proud of.
Without further adieu, here’s more about the album:
1. What does “Kinetica” mean?
Kinetica is a play on the word “kinetic,” meaning motion. The album is about movement. Momentum. Motion. It is about all of the movement in our lives – continually moving forward at times when we want to stand still. It is about changing directions and following new directions. Sometimes we are the ones driving; sometimes it’s a higher power, but we are constantly moving. It is about anticipation.
2. What inspired the album?
This album is about all of the movement in my personal life over the past year when my family and I moved across the country without fully knowing why. In the summer of 2011 following a vacation trip to Arizona, we followed a very personal feeling that we needed to relocate there. We weren’t sure exactly why. We have family in the area that we would get to see more often, but we knew how difficult it would be to start over and find a new neighborhood, new home, new school, new community, new church family and new job. Yet we felt strongly that we needed to, and we did. It took a lot of stepping into the dark. And it’s been a challenging year at times. We left behind pretty much everything and everyone that we knew. It has been a faith-building experience, one that has made us better people and strengthened our family identity.
Another event that inspired the album was collaborating with my brother Neil to create PianoBragSongs.com in July. While transcribing simplified arrangements of pop songs for the site, I discovered a love of reinventing popular songs. It led me to experimenting with mash-ups on Kinetica that I never expected and have become some of my favorite arrangements yet.
Finally I owe some inspiration to a new friend and colleague Eric Torres who is a phenomenal graphic artist and a champion of creativity. He designed the album artwork and assured that it tells the right story about me and about the music.
3. How is Kinetica new and different?
The album tells a story and captures a year of my life. I also tried some things I’ve never done before, like mashing up pop and rock songs. Some of the original songs like Momentum and the title track are some of the most difficult that I have ever arranged. Also, I have hidden some riffs from popular songs. In the middle of Where Have You Been (which is a surprise in itself that I’m covering a Rihanna song) you will hear some Nikki Minaj. And there are two hidden riffs on I Will Wait — one by Maroon 5 and one that I won’t give away yet.
Preview and pre-order Kinetica here: www.jaredjohnson.com/music.html
So what other questions do you have about the album?