S1: Welcome to the KPBS summer music series.
S2: Your Stereo Loud is blazing. The space to round you is Love Lei and Mary Gould. Sounds great. We live a long life seeking our futures.
S1: Jelani Aria’s songs have a rich sonic palette and sound otherworldly. His lyrics explore the complexity of our times , but his music somehow always lets the sunshiny.
S2: Prince of the pride tie in as a mighty sound behind the. Curtain.
S3: And we are etchings. A porn star. And we’re caused by spear. Michael.
S1: Michael. Hey , says Gonzalez’s music draws inspiration from nature. So much more. That’s next.
S3: Those who weep for. Leaders know the true unknown for a long. He too. Oh , great. Yeah.
S1: Welcome to the KPBS summer music series. San Diego’s own Music Discovery podcast that features encore presentations of our best in-studio performances and interviews , celebrating our diverse music scene and beyond. I’m your host , Kirkconnel. In this episode , we begin with a young artist whose unique brand of pop music is catching lots of attention. Jelani Ari’s songs have a rich sonic palette and sound otherworldly as the lyrics look inward and explore the complexity of our times. And somehow , along with its introspection and emotional honesty , his music always lets the sunshine in. Midday Edition’s Maureen CAVANAUGH spoke with Jelani. But first , we begin with the single from his album I’ve Got Some Living To Do. This is Jelani.
S2: The spaces around you is Love Light and Marigold Sounds great We live a long life seeking our futures Our souls are yellow light in the hand of the sun come gray And you’re the talk of the town Prince of the tribe Tie in over my key sound Highness , will you come down ? Get in a hold of you is like clutching a cloud with none new surround And you come around these bearer of lights , waving beams for a crown , bringing life to the biomes where beacons are brown , sending pockets of solace in equal amount. Your friends from college seasons. There wasn’t even a home around my place. I’m feeling a rush of me in the heat of the sun in my ankle. My head feels so tall without you. Lay it all. Watch all of you. Eight ball as a maple lunge in your stereo Loud , slow your cheese blazing the space around you with love light in memory world sounds a lot like speaking of futures and the world still hollow.
S4: That was the song Marigold by Jelani Aria off his new album , I’ve Got Some Living To Do. And Jelani , let me welcome you. Thank you for joining us.
S5: Thank you so much for having me.
S4: I know a lot of people say that to you because I’ve been reading on YouTube. A lot of people give you crazy compliments.
S5: It is like the feeling that I can’t put like words to. And it’s just crazy how many people connect with the songs because initially I just make them for myself , not really thinking if people are going to resonate and just the fact that they comment and really share how the song makes them feels. I couldn’t ask for more.
S4: Tell us about the song that we heard , Marigold.
S5: And my name , Julian Aryeh means mighty lion. So Juliani means mighty in Swahili and then I means lion in Hebrew. So I try to weave like Marigold little lines with my name and then also bringing in like imagery of the sun and just like weaving all three of those things together and making a song called Marigold. And I feel like it’s my soul song. It’s who I’d like to be kind of behind the walls of , like , my skin and who I think I am , like , on a soul level. But yet Marigold is just. I feel like me.
S5: I was in high school football and I just really wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I was getting hurt a lot and music just felt like something new and Childish Gambino because the Internet album made its way to me somehow. And I was intrigued by the way an artist can create a whole world around the album. And he made like a screenplay and like a short film with it , and I just want to give that to people as well. So I think Childish Gambino and just having like another world to live in is what kind of brought me to music.
S4: You did do the whole number on that whole experience of having to give up playing football and being injured and not wanting to go on and wanting to change your direction. Tell us about the song Jet Fuel.
S5: Jet Fuel was more of a reflection on my high school experience and leaving the sport of football that I was playing for my whole kind of just high school career , I guess. My dad was my coach from age six to my freshman year. He was super slated on the fact that I was going to play football in college , and the song was just kind of after I told him I no longer wanted to play. And the feeling was that I had jet fuel was kind of just a conversation between me and my dad and telling him , like , music is what I really want to do. What feels right.
S2: Miles Long. So it seemed. Passing the pylons of fucking dream.
S5: Cars in the stands.
S2: No one screams , leaving the field with some low esteem. Every game ends the same with too many shots to the fucking brain. Partly why I tend to space and carry this burden on my face. Hey , Dad , I don’t wanna play because it makes me heartless and hopeless. It’s shit I could do , said said , but it’s not even close. Last. So it’s like. So when’s the last time I scored ? Used to call me the jet plane. A little boy from the. I had to leave the school. And the school should aberrations in full. Just know that I had to go. It’s good to learn this. Fuel fatigue.
S4: And that was the song Jet Fuel by Jelani Ari.
S5: Yet Phil came about around , say , early 2019 and I call it where we go to because where we go was I wrote that after the night I told my dad and no one wanted to play football. I want to pursue music. I don’t.
S2: Know where I can. Go.
UU: Go. I don’t like it to know. My driving laws , my own , my dreams of cities.
S2: Oh , I don’t know where we go. Very far from home. My car. I don’t know where we. Very far from. My God.
S5: And so when I wrote my song Where We Go , the reception of that was so I guess just unexpected. And he was shocked by the fact that so many other people connected with it that now , like him , my mom were kind of my biggest fans were like advocates and they’re like , Are you responding to bands ? Are you doing this ? Are you doing that ? And like , they’re I’m reminding them of myself sometimes. So I really appreciate them just coming around and just appreciating what I have to do and what I have to offer the world.
S5: Super good. Super good. I hope so.
S4: That minute to minute , right ? Yeah.
S5: I mean , at the time it didn’t feel wrong or anything , but I’d say I was away from my culture or like my ethnicity and my family , cause a lot of them are in the Philippines or in Ohio or like up north in California. So it was weird not really having that family present , but I was always able to just like hang out , talk to everyone and make friends easily. And I think I got really lucky living in the suburbs. It was it was really hard to find like a scene once I got into music of just like minded people. And I think that’s why I took to the Internet , because I wanted a community with people of a like mind. And it was it was kind of hard to find that where I live.
S4: Talk to us more , if you would , about the whole idea of connecting with people on the Internet to make your music , to form your ideas , to form a music collective. How how influential has that been to your growth as an artist ? Hmm.
S5: I think the Internet has. I owe the Internet so much for , I guess , just my success and learning or just learning in general. But I formed my group , my music collective raised by the Internet on Reddit , on on future Frank Ocean and a Rockhampton subreddit. And I was just like , Eh , does anyone want to make a group full of beautiful just music and art ? And we don’t have to have a certain genre and the guys that responded to that are my crew. But it’s crazy because like maybe 30 years ago you wouldn’t be able to just click on something and have people respond to you and create this community. So I think the Internet , it’s a jumpstart for having that opportunity and having that community of people. And that’s what I think I appreciate the most is how fast , like how willing people are to just get to know each other and talk about their like what they love to do.
S4: Jelani , your music is very colorful. Your music videos , of course , reflect that and reflect a certain attitude and a certain fashion sense. And I’m wondering , where do you get that ? Where do you get that fashion sense , that presence.
S5: From like a young age ? My dad always made it apparent that just clothes are super important and the way you look is like a reflection of how you feel. And so every time I dress , I just want something that feels right. But I’d say I pull a lot from the eras that I listen to. So a lot of like sixties and seventies and 1980s and kind of just blending those areas and styles together. So I wear a lot of like flared pants , a lot of like boots , Doc Martins and then tight fitting shirts because it just feels right. And that’s kind of my headspace at the moment. But yeah , I give all credit to my dad for just making clothes , something of importance and like matching and just finding the right shoes and sneakers and stuff. But yeah , fashion is super important , and just the way a silhouette looks on your body , I think is super important for my image or someone else’s image.
S4: So let’s move now to your new album. How did you come up with the title ? I’ve Got Some Living to Do.
S5: I came up with the title , I’ve Got Some Livin To Do. I was driving back from L.A. back to SD and I was listening to Velvet Underground thinking what I was going to talk about in the next album , let us have our time. And I was like , Dang , I’ve got some livin to do. And then just a light bulb kind of going off of my head and I was like , That’s the title for this album , and it just feels so about it was very young , very casual , and just like being 21 years old and figuring out life and especially coming out of a pandemic just because in the. Do have got and live in the do I got some traveling to do I got to see the people that I love. I want to get out of the country for the first time and I feel like it just it makes people think and reflect on their life and what they want for themselves in the future.
S4: Let’s go out with the title track from Jelani Ray’s new album , I’ve Got Some Livin to Do. And Jelani , before we leave , I want to thank you so much for being a part of the KPBS summer music series , sitting down , talking to us , giving us some insight into your work and your music. And thank you so much. Good luck in the future.
S5: Much for having me. Much of.
UU: Is he compensating for ? I don’t see myself. He is the. So Steve. Is.
S3: Is. So.
UU: So. That was. Oh. So you.
S3: See there’s snow. Skiing.
S2: Skiing. In.
UU: In. Well , I grew. So me. I can. Some. How many ? Sees another full step on my fingers. Not soon enough. Yes.
S2: Yes. Murphy. To school. The.
UU: The. They cut corners. Oh , I’m not sure if of.
S1: Coming up next , Jesus Gonzalez’s music channels nature and the human experience to make a powerful , yet peaceful musical energy.
UU: It is a sense. So.
S2: I realize. So.
S1: So. Nature may very well be the origin of music. Birds singing , wind whistling , water flowing. All of these sounds create a relaxing symphony that can give us a grand perspective beyond what we see on our tiny screens and relief from the stressful sounds of traffic , blaring TVs and crowds. And during our stressful day to day lives , music and nature are some of the few things that can help us feel normal. Singer songwriter Jesus Gonzalez draws inspiration from nature and so much more. He sat down with KPBS Alison Saint John. But first , we begin with this song. Never been so happy. Oh.
S3: Oh , oh , oh.
UU: Oh , oh. How pouring out of all this long over. It was like the whole world workflow was smile came some.
S3: Ha ha ha ha ha. Oh , dear.
UU: Oh , no. So. La la la.
S3: La la la la la la. Oh , dear.
S2: I’ve never been so happy. Jesus Gonzalez , thank you so much for joining us on Mid-day Edition.
S6: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.
S6: I love poetry. I read a lot of Rumi and these I think there are a lot of lessons that we can take from nature and just our human experience in general. A lot of a lot of my vocals are inspired by blues , sometimes African music , a lot of classical Indian music , but there’s also overtone singing , which originated in Mongolia , I believe. Those are very inspiring elements in my music.
UU: Look , look , look , look. Oh.
S2: It seems like nature is definitely one of your big influences.
S6: I you know , it’s interesting. I’m not religious anymore , but I was and reading a lot of stories about angel singing and stuff in the Bible when I was little , really mystified me. And so that was a huge inspiration as well. But nature definitely came through and and sparked something deeper in me.
S6: I mean , there’s there’s there are rivers , there are insects. The way the wind blows through trees. And it goes much deeper than their sound. It’s more it’s more of a feeling.
S2: We’re going to listen to your song. Harmony Grove , tell us a bit about what inspired this song.
S6: So Harmony Grove was inspired by a hike I took in the forest.
S2: And this , of course , is elfin forest right here in San Diego County. Right ? Indeed.
S6: And it was just the perfect day. There was it was kind of a rainy , hazy day. And some looked so beautiful behind the haze. And I was just so moved by the whole entire experience. And I had to write a song about it.
S2: That was Harmony Grove by Jesus Gonzalez. So now a lot of your songs are inspired by some of your favorite places in San Diego. Tell us about your song , Kingdom of God , and then we’ll listen to it.
S6: So I went to Mount Laguna , which is about maybe 40 minutes away from where I live. It’s this beautiful forest. I went there one day many years ago and just sat with the forests and quietude. And. Came to this really beautiful realization that if the Kingdom of God was anywhere , it’s here in this very moment. And so. That. That’s what inspired the song. Mount Laguna sitting in that Laguna , I went out there , recorded the song , recorded the guitar during the daytime and the vocals at nighttime so that I could get the frogs and the birds to sing together in one song.
S3: Can you ? Don’t.
UU: Cool. Then.
S3: I’m so. Sometimes.
S2: That was Kingdom of God by his boss , Gonzalez.
S6: So watching these live is kind of fun because you get to see things just happen spontaneously because I improvise a lot of what I do.
S6: I decided to just pick it up on my own. My mom offered me a guitar lessons , vocal lessons. But as a kid , I didn’t really want any of those things.
S6: And I was a little kid at the time , so it felt natural for me to just play with music and just play with the unknown aspect of it all.
S2: It seems to me that your music is particularly helpful at a time like this where there is so much stress surrounding the pandemic. Are you hoping that in some ways you’ll be able to help people get through , make it through this time ? Absolutely.
S6: I think music is a strong medicine , especially for times like these. And I’m hoping that I am contributing in some way to the big to the bigger picture and helping people relax and relieve a little stress , maybe not take themselves too seriously.
S2: He says.
S6: This thing that we call life is very miraculous , and I hope that my music and my life touches upon that for myself and others.
S2: We’ve been speaking with Hazel Gonzalez , who is a local San Diego musician. Hazel , thank you so much for being with us.
S6: Thank you so much for having.
S3: We all read cheese. A porn star. And we’re caused by spear. Carmichael. Those who weep for. You know the true enough for another. He too. Rate. Not when you are me. I. Because when you tell me that you love me. I’ll always. And.
S1: Thanks for listening to the KPBS summer music series. John Decker is Interim Associate General Manager of Content. Lisa Jane Morissette , operations manager. And Megan Burke is senior producer. To catch a new episode every two weeks. Subscribe wherever you get podcasts and for performance videos and more great artists. Visit KPBS Saugus Summer Music Series. I’m Kurt CONAN.