Catch up with pop soul singer-songwriter Jaron Strom and watch the video for lead single, "Truth", off his forthcoming self-titled EP.
What first got you interested in music and songwriting?
Jaron Strom: I grew up watching my parents sing; they sang in church and they grew up together, singing professionally and stuff, so that always had me thinking about it, but I never thought I had the ability or the gift and I never really tried. Sometime during college I started singing on my own and bought a guitar and messing around and learning some chords and writing some stuff and I just realized, I maybe had something there. So, I wrote a couple songs, sang it for some friends and family - I wrote about life and things that mean something to me - and everybody around me was just like, man, this is raw and good, you should definitely pursue music and diving into that. For me, it was just testing the waters, like stress relief and being able to release my emotions into something. That snowballed into writing more songs and doing covers on social media, singing in open mic nights and writing with people in recording studios, and that's kind of built up until now: cleaning up original music and releasing it to the world to my best ability.
Do you remember the first song you wrote that you were happy with?
I'm trying to think back to the first handful of songs I wrote... The first one I wrote completely, all the way through and did a recording in the studio with but never released or anything, it was called "One Day", I think, and it was just talking about making it one day and being able to sing for the world and being famous but not being stuck on that: being a person who's going to change the world and do more with their gift than just get famous and get into trouble [laughs]. It was kind of like that song "Unbreakable Smile" by Tori Kelly, but that's an awesome depiction of my mentality towards music and everything.
Which musicians would you say you have been influenced by?
At a young age, my parents would put me to sleep with Motown music, always. I didn't know what it was when I was a kid, I just knew the sound was absolutely beautiful and the voices and the rhythm and the simplicity of it just put me to sleep every night, so my first inspirations were Motown records such as Ray Charles, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Bill Withers - anything in that whole range - as well as Elvis and Michael Jackson; that kind of stuff started as my inspiration which, obviously, led into later years and more current music. In the last ten years, I would say people like Bruno Mars, Jason Mraz, Justin Timberlake, James Morrison, Tori Kelly, Jessie J; some of these people, their voices are so original and unique and they write about life and things around them - for the most part out of those that I named - and that just inspired me. Artists can make it and globally impact the world with their art, but also still keep it real and write about real stuff and not sell out so I think that's really cool.
How would you describe your own music to someone who had never heard you before?
I would say my own music is bridging the gap between pop and soul. Having that pop, simple sound but having that, not R&B, but a Motown, soulful vibe brought back into it so that it's catchy and it's new and it's radio, but it's also about life and simple, good things like love or life or just being inspirational to others around you. It's a pop and soul combintation and simplistic and about real things in my life or other people around me. I'm trying to bring humility into music. I'm not saying I won't write a few songs that just come out of my head and aren't about my life because it's always fun to imagine things and write relatable things for other people. That's my vibe, just creating more timeless music that still goes in the Top 40 list.
What were your inspirations behind your single, "Truth"?
"Truth" was basically inspired and written around a friend of mine who was, at the moment, going through a divorce. This was a friend of mine that I went to college with and we majored in the same thing up there - which is Design - and she was a really great person and she got married and her husband kind of kept her from hanging out with a lot of her good friends from college so, for five years, she's just been in this manipulative relationship where the grass is not greener on the other side and she's having to hide her emotions and pretend that everything's great on the outside to everybody and just finally, here in the end, she's breaking loose and telling her truth and breaking free from the things she's been bound to and getting out of that situation. That's pretty much the song and I thought it was cool that I could write a catchy, simplistic song that people would enjoy and relate to but that also is inspired by somebody that means a lot to me in my life. That's what I meant by merging real things in life with Top 40 radio and relatable subjects.
Is that single indicative of what we can expect to hear on your forthcoming EP?
Yeah! So, the EP is going to be a little broad range of love and a slow sexy vibe in a song and a pretty emotional vibe - like in "Truth" about not a very good relationship - and then it's going to have a couple Summer, upbeat, fun, Pharrell type vibe songs that are just about feel good and doing what makes you feel good in life and enjoying yourself, and then another one is like a throwback, Motown vibe and being in high school and being not so much the cool kid but wanting to go for the popular girl - her not noticing you but you're going to go for it anyway - so it's just a range of those type of things. Another one that may be on there is going to be inspired by my grandmother who lost her husband 10 or 15 years ago and it was kind of unexpected and just watching her emotionally go through that pain of an older person losing a loved one and how that dramatically affects somebody's heart - and the physical aspect, as well - so it's just going to be a broad range of heartbreak and losing somebody and love and fun, so it's real life emotions that I've experienced and that I know other people do all the time. That's the vibe of the EP and keeping it acoustic and live instruments, but also having synthetic instruments in there too to move it to radio and just combining everything.
Is there a track from this record you're most excited to share?
I know that the next one we may release as the second single is called "Freedom" and it's also written about somebody I truly care about - a girl that I'm dating right now - and it's a really, really great song. It's really catchy, it's kind of soulful and slow and sexy but still cute, and I think it's just a really catchy song that's simplisitic - it's just guitar and vocals and a few other sounds - and I think that it's really relatable and it's going to be a great song for the world to hear. It's just a wake up slow, very chill vibe. I'm looking forward to releasing that one with the music video. I mean, I look forward to everybody hearing the other ones too; they're really good songs.
What do you hope that your fans and listeners are able to take away from your music?
From this record in particular, I hope people can take away just the everyday life experiences: waking up slow next to somebody and enjoying that or just doing what makes you feel good in life; if you want to hit snooze on the alarm or jump the fence instead of going around it or play the same song on the way to work ten times because you like it and not caring if somebody on Spotify or Facebook sees that you're listening to one song over and over. Just doing, literally, what makes you feel good and just enjoying it. I want my music to inspire people in that type of way and be clean, but still a little bit sexy - combining the cute and sexy. In general, as a whole over time, I want my music to build into a timeless music where I'm not selling out, music that creates a good vibe or emotion or inspires, because my overall goal is to make a change in the world.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
Just to look out for the next single, which is "Freedom", and it'll have a music video and a premiere for the song, which leads into the music video. Be on the lookout for that as well as checking out jaronstrommusic.com for updates and stuff like that and just being on the lookout for new stuff; you can join the email list on my website, as well, on the homepage to keep up to date. My music's here to inspire people and make people feel good and help change the world, so that's pretty much it.