10 Questions with Jonny Evans
-written by Nat Richmond
How were you first introduced to Music?
Some of my favorite memories as a child are jamming out with my Dad in his truck riding to his house in Warren, PA. We used to always vibe out, most notably to Luther Vandross (Til' My Baby Comes Home by Luther especially - that's my favorite song by Luther), and a Quincy Jones cassette tape called "Q's Juke Joint." My Mom has great taste in music as well, and from a young age, I was always good at remembering lyrics.
Do you play any instruments? If not, are there any you'd like to learn?
I don't, but I've been taking guitar lessons with Steve Maynard since the shutdown during the pandemic. I know some theory and I can play a bit, though my confidence still stinks (lol). Matty B actually told me one day that I should take guitar lessons and that always stuck with me. I have a couple guitars, a couple of keyboards, and I have a trumpet I would love to learn to play as well.
What artists have inspired you?
Depends what time of my life! So so many... Like I said I was really into Luther and that Quincy Jones project. I listened to a lot of Will Smith as a kid. I had two cassette tapes and they were the Space Jam Sound Track and Jock Jams Vol. 1, lol. Both!! My first CD that I bought was Usher - 8701, I wasn't of age to buy with a parental advisory, and the first CDs that I bought on the street were Nelly - Country Grammar and Eminem - Slim Shady LP. When everybody was into Biggie or Pac, I liked Nas the most. "One Mic" was a major inspirational song for me as an emcee. Nas was definitely a major inspiration for me. I always really loved the Motown era. I love the old 90s hip hop vibes, all throughout from the early 90s to the later part of the decade. In the 2000's, I listened to more Kanye West than any other artist by an astronomical margin, although I listened to a lot of different artists. He was always my favorite when it came to production, and musically, he's still up there as one of my favorites. I also really liked Twista, and used to practice his songs to become good at rapping fast. I was always an Eminem fan. It all really depends on how old I was, what I was doing in that time of my life. My playlists were always different. 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' probably stayed in my Sony portable CD player for 6+ consecutive months. Around 2010, I got really into Mac Miller. He actually inspired the song "My Home" by my band The LEC that gained some local notoriety and got us into the music scene here. I really loved/love Mac because he just seemed like a regular kid from just a couple hours away and he went so far with it. It's really a shame that he went out so quickly because he was growing so much and it was just amazing to follow. The Best Day Ever Bonus track was a huge inspiration for me. I really could go on and on about musical inspirations. There's so many. These days I really like dance vibes. I love anything by Griz. I've never been just into hip hop either. I love a lot of different music, from disco, to heavier stuff, to 90s alternative. I love Alanis Morissette. I've had the pleasure of meeting so many insanely talented musicians, so many in and around our city of Erie, that are all 1st hand major inspirations in my life. A lot of them, I'm able to call friends, and I'm very grateful for that. I don't want to leave anyone out so I won't name names but I'm blessed to be able to interact with some on a daily basis. And I thank all of the people here who've provided me with any opportunity and worked with me throughout the years. Erie! Support your local artists! It's truly incredible what's right in our backyard and you might not even know it ;).
What's your favorite song out of your entire catalogue? How did you create it?
Wow... My favorite that I've done? It's tough to pick one. I may not have released it yet. There really are so many that mean a great deal to me, but for now, I'll say "Inspire". I will say it's my favorite for a few reasons. 1. It encompasses the sole reason of why I choose to create. That's to inspire others. 2. It came together so naturally for me. Sometimes when I write, the lyrics just flow out of me. This was one of those times and when that happens, you just know it's right. 3. I collaborated on the song with James Fiorella (Blomquist) of Jamestown. He's the epitome of a hip hop head and has been involved for a long time and just is hip hop personified to me. He's an incredible DJ, producer, and an even better person. He put the instrumental together for this and it fit so well with what I was trying to do. It was meant to be. 4. The reason why I collaborated with James was because of Dave McDonald. Dave was a larger-than-life presence of a human being and musician who supported all creators near and far and if you go to shows, you probably saw him at one sometime, definitely in the front row. Dave was a huge mentor for myself, my band mates and so many others. Unfortunately, Dave has passed on from Earth, but one of the last things he told me while he was here, was to collaborate with James. We made it happen, for the song "Inspire" and also for another song, called "Dave", that we dedicated to the man who brought us together. 5. Lastly - I waited to do the video for this until my guy Howard Glover (Three gloves Productions) was available to do it. I knew he would really vibe with the song and would bring out the best in it. I consider Howie a great friend, collaborator, mentor, and all around creative inspiration, and I'm really proud of what came of the song and the video, much in part thanks to him.
Are there any artists that you wish you could collaborate with?
I always wanted to do a song with Nate Dogg. But unfortunately he left this Earth too soon. For now, I'll say anybody that I promised to collaborate with and haven't found the time to yet! There's a few of them. Life always gets in the way!
How do you feel like you impact the Music culture here in Erie?
Lately I feel like an underachiever as an artist, but a lot of the reason I haven't been creating so much is because I'm trying to create opportunity for others. I book all of the music at the Kings Rook Club here in Erie as well as Calamari's patio during the summer. I'm currently focused on keeping bands and artists on the stages at the Rook and just bringing people together in music in general. So far, it's had it's ups and downs but it's been a great experience that I wouldn't trade for anything.
What are your future goals?
I really really need to finish my album that I've been working on forever and get my music out to the masses. I've been my own worst enemy not putting out the music that I've finished. It's something I think about all the time. I will get it done. I just really want to create opportunity for others, help build back an incredible music venue to showcase artists locally and from all over the country, and continue to push myself as an artist.
How do you overcome creative blockages?
Just sit down and focus. Anytime I have a "creative blockage", it's usually because I have too much on my mind and my plate. I can't sit down and focus. When I really know what I want to write about, and am fully focused, I create my best work. I like to seek out instrumentals from local producers and zone out to them and see what comes to mind. Just listening to instrumentals and really fully focusing helps me to get creative. Finding the time, or rather making the time, is the battle.
How has Music positively impacted you?
Music has undoubtedly made me a better person. I feel like music is a universal language and has the ability to bring people together and change people's lives for the better. Part of what always kept me going is people years back who told me a song I wrote or some lyrics I wrote help them get through the day, or helped them get through a tough time in their life. I realized that I, including all of us, have the ability to impact people in a positive way each day. Music is the most impactful way to positively affect others that I've recognized throughout the years. Other people's music does the same to me. When I'm in a funk, all it takes is one song to give me goosebumps and change my entire outlook on whatever it is I'm dealing with. I wrote a song called "My Music" that is performed by my band The LEC about this exact impact. In the chorus I wrote: "My Music My baby cures all my pain She stays with me whenever I feel insane My music Always right by my side She keep her arms open wide..."
Any final thoughts?
I just love the talent that we have here in Erie. It really is a beautiful thing that tends to be overlooked. I hope that those that don't see it take a second to look at what's around. To everybody in Erie who creates and performs, thank you for sharing your talents with everybody and thank you for pushing the culture forward. I hope that we all continue to share our talents and grow for many many years.