Catch up with singer-songwriter Armond Jason and listen to "Monster" and watch the video for his single "I Know", both off his upcoming album The Gold Album: Signature, to be released in April.
What got you interested in music?
Armond: It's just been something since I was a kid, randomly I've always liked singing and stuff. Actually, one day I was at Kings Dominion in Virginia and a guy was doing a drawing and he was, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" and I said, "a singer" [laughs]. That was like the first thing that came to mind and I've always loved music and I picked up how to play stuff by ear on piano when I was a kid, so it's always just been one of those things.
Do you remember the first song you wrote?
I am not entirely sure, to be honest. I started making original songs back in high school but I was in a band so it was more of a collaborative effort but in the meantime I had wrote stuff on my own... I have it on my computer, I'm sure, somewhere - 'cause I have thousands [laughs] of songs that I've written and instrumentals that I've composed - but it's really hard to tell. I can't really think of it!
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
In general, I've grown up listening to all different types of music from Motown and everything. But, when people ask, the three musicians I take something from is not necessarily the sound of their music, but one is Jay Z, two is Linkin Park, and three is Prince. For Jay Z, the reason why I like what he does is the fact that, not only is he considered one of the best rappers that ever lived, but it's his business sense; the thing is, I wanted to know more about the business, I went to Full Sail University to try to pick up stuff, I watched interviews, and I've thrown shows, managed artists for a bit in Richmond - which was annoying [laughs] - but that was all things from him. With Linkin Park, that has to do more directly with how I write because I've always liked the fact that they took rock and rap and they combined it so, when I make my music and the sound sounds completely different from everything that's out there, there's little things here and there that sounds familiar just because I draw from certain types of artists or certain categories of music and I mold it into my own style. And then Prince, he's more of a comparison that I get just because I play guitar and keyboard and all that stuff; and some people say I kind of look like him [laughs]. I'd say those three, in general, tend to be what influences me for all sides of things.
Is there a new artist you've been listening to that you'd recommend everyone take a listen to?
I don't know [laughs], besides myself! [Laughs] Actually, an interesting thing, my cousin who is married, apparently Chance the Rapper is his nephew. I thought that was interesting that that would pop up, because he shared a thing from the Grammy's on his Facebook and he was like, "yeah, shout out to my family," and I was like, "oh, what the hell?" [laughs]. Definitely go check out Chance the Rapper's stuff, shout out to that.
Which words would you use to describe your own sound?
I would describe my sound as 'me' [laughs], but if I were to give it a category, alternative pop. If I had to break down what it was, the instrumentals kind of have that mix between an EDM and a hip hop sound to it, 'cause I use electronic music. But my voice, it sounds more rock-ish than R&B, so they are already so apart: I don't fall into an R&B category, but I do rap too, so I say alternative because I can bend my music to how I want it, which is what I've been doing for years [laughs]. The main thing is the core of the writing and making sure that the music is right, because I've always had this theory that, as long as it sounds good, people will definitely be into it and they'll like it, at the end of the day.
What were your inspirations behind your single "Monster"?
It was a situation that happened years ago, actually and, being that I got better at writing and composing - the sound of it, when I created the instrumental, it sounds like something that you'd hear in a monster movie [laughs], like with werewolves or Dracula - I was like, alright, I have that particular sound because of the instrumentation that I used, so let me speak on this incident. Long story short, I dated this girl that I hung out with with a group of people, we all had the same mutual friends, and when things weren't going so well, everybody took her side, of course - which is understandable, because the dudes are always wrong apparently [laughs] - and that's pretty much what happened. People that I used to hang out with all the time, I ended up not hanging out with them anymore, but out of it, three of my closest friends to this day stuck by my side - which is cool - but essentially it led to me writing "Monster". Interesting experience but I learned, don't date a girl that has a bunch of mutual friends [laughs].
Is that single indicative of what we can expect to hear on your upcoming album and could you tell us more about The Gold Album: Signature?
Well, hmm, that single is its own entity. One thing about my album is, when you hear the songs, they all have their own particular sound to them. When people are like, "can we expect more like what it is?" as for craftsmanship, yes but sound, not quite. There are some things I do that tie in each and every song, 'cause the instrumentals all sound different. Because you know, you listen to a trap album or an EDM album and most of the instrumentals - and a lot of stuff nowadays - sound exactly the same, but I wanted to make everything different than how people have been doing it. A big influence I like is how Prince made his stuff; I liked how Michael Jackson had every song that was different, I felt like that was something that needed to be done to keep having people feel refreshed as they listened to the album. So that's pretty much what it is. I have another song, just to gauge what I mean, and music video that's out right now that's also going to be on the album called "I Know". You can listen to those two and you can definitely be like, alright, I see what you mean by how certain things tie together because of the vocals and so forth, but the instrumental is completely different.
Is there a song off the album you're most excited to share?
Besides all of them [laughs] there are actually two. One I just finished and will end up being premiered, it's called "I'm The Man"; I just wrote it. And I'm working on another one that I'm putting on the album which is called "Never Gave Up" which I need to finish this week. I might actually write another new one, as well, because I had a bunch of songs, but then I was like, now that I have a bit more time to make stuff before the album actually drops in April, let me see what else I can put that might be better than some of the other ones that are on there. But definitely those two that I just did, "I'm The Man" and "Never Gave Up", those are straight fire [laughs].
In one sentence, how would you sum up The Gold Album: Signature?
I could probably use one word [laughs]. Immaculate.
It's going to be great and I think people are going to really enjoy it.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
The biggest thing is that, hopefully, they relate; whether it to be the situation - not so much for my sake - but so they understand how to get through it. A lot of the tracks on there are ego-boosting, they help boost your self esteem because, "Monster" for instance, it's like, "alright, consider me a monster, but I'll embrace it then," and that's part of what it is. When you accept certain things as being what they are, it makes it easier to move on and learn from your mistakes. That's essentially what I want people to understand.
Is there anything you want to add?
I would definitely say check out my music video for "I Know", it's actually doing fairly well. And all the information for my social media can be found through my website, which is www.armondjason.com. There's links to my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter; the music video's on there; I'll be selling the songs through there, too - and possibly on iTunes, down the line. For now, everything is through my website, so that's the best connection.