Music Interview: Jann Klose – Pilot Light, Or Prince Of Storytelling

December 16, 2020

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By BRUCE DENNILL

Award-winning artist Jann Klose’s new single and music video Pilot Light has passed 1,000,000 views on YouTube. The video was shot during lockdown after the passing of Jann’s manager Gary Salzman from Covid-19 related illness. Jann asked his current NYC band members to tape themselves at home playing along to the track. A music video was quickly produced, edited and released and has since gone viral on YouTube. Jann tours year round in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia and has opened for and collaborated with a wide range of artists including Pat Benatar, John Oates of Hall and Oates, Suzanne Vega, The Yardbirds and founder Jim McCarty, Rosanne Cash, Paula Cole, Brett Dennen, Shekhinah, Amanda Black, Carrie Newcomer, Ann Hampton Callaway and sister Liz Callaway, The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn, Gary Lucas, Jeffrey Gaines, Elliott Murphy, Rusted Root, Pete Seeger and Les Paul.

 

 

“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?

Probably Prince! At least that’s when I started to think about it seriously. A very high bar, I know, but watching him perform, listening to the production, the writing, instrumentations, arrangements, the playing and the singing on his records and live performances gave me an enormous jolt! I was doing the splits in my bedroom as a teen and then on whatever dance floor I could get my feet on. I never wanted to be Prince, but he inspired me in terms of what was possible and that appeared to be limitless.

 

Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?

It has… When I started making records myself, I drew on many other influences and sounds, especially the California sound of the mid- to late-Sixties Laurel Canyon and so on. In the last decade, I got more into the indie rock and pop-folk scene and that combination of electronic sounds and the organic sweetness of acoustic instruments. I’m always in search of warmth and comfort in sound and try to think of it like a blanket that surrounds me.

 

Name one song you wish you’d written or one you’d like to be known as the definitive interpreter of. What makes that song so important?

Tough question, there are so many… Maybe A Kind Of Magic by Queen. Great song and killer vocals by Freddie Mercury. I love the confidence of the performance, the imaginary setting and ambiguity of the lyrics!

 

In production and arrangement terms, what are facets of your music and the music you love most by others that you feel are crucially important in terms of creating the mood you’re after or supporting the message of your song?

Space. I love the idea of room around a vocal and a lyric. And foundation is important. The track should be able to stand on its own and sound interesting as an instrumental.

 

Which aspects of your music do you prioritise? For you, would you rather have that your lyrics, your melodies, or your vocals or instrumental work are the are the most memorable parts of your songs?

Probably the overall storytelling aspect of the song. I think that should be the most memorable. I do think that the aspects you mention above all play a role in creating an environment for the storytelling to take centre stage.

 

What’s your favourite piece of gear?

My Martin guitar – I currently play at GPC-18E model. I also really enjoy my new AKG condenser microphone.

 

What are your most recent releases? What are the story behind them – the genesis of the songs, the people involved, the muse behind their creation?

My last two releases, Love You The Most and Pilot Light, are sort of a two-act play on a relationship gone from boom to bust! The first is a duet, and also co-written with, Alicia Madison at a BMI songwriters camp in Cape Town during the Music Exchange conference and eventually included in the soundtrack to the Amazon movie Married Young. The second, Pilot Light, took on an entirely different meaning and approach after the passing of my manager Gary Salzman to Covid19-related illness in April. Initial footage of a music video were shelved and we filmed it with my New York band members self-taping themselves at home during lockdown playing along to the recording. David Schoenwetter produced both tracks here in NYC, and that created a real consistency that I love. The videos have now surpassed 2.2 million views collectively on YouTube.

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