Interview: New York multi-instrumentalist JSHELL showcase his diverse audio-visual rock album ‘In My Head’
After originally introducing himself to the world with his vibrant debut single ‘Haunted’ earlier this year, New York City-based multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and Tater Mansion Tunes recording artist JSHELL now looks to showcase the release of his diverse audio-visual album ‘In My Head’ with the explosive new offering ‘Delusions’.
JSHELL’s new album ‘In My Head’ also features special guest appearances from some of the best musicians in the business, including the incomparable Steve Hackett (former lead guitarist of Genesis and a pioneer of progressive rock in his own right), Katie Jacoby (violinist extraordinaire and co-leader of the orchestra for The Who), Jake Cinninger (guitar virtuoso of jam band titans Umphrey’s McGee) and Scott Metzger (another guitar virtuoso of jam band titans Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and Wolf!).
‘In My Head’ also features mastering by Grammy Award-winning Randy Merrill of Sterling Sound (Paul McCartney, Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, Muse, Adele, Lady Gaga, Harry Styles).
In this new interview, we talk about his music inspirations, curiosities and future plans. Check it out bellow:
What can you say about this new release, the visual album? This was a very exciting, demanding and rewarding project. It felt like I was building not one but two houses from the ground up. I had to keep reminding myself to put one foot in front of the other in order to achieve my goals and I was able to do that. The album is 15 Rock and Roll tracks with each track having a video.
How was the recording process of the album? The recording process itself required me to do a lot of hard work but it was very fun to do. I play all the drums, bass guitar and keyboards as well as most of the rhythm guitar, some lead guitar and doing lead and background vocals. There have been many artists who have done this such as Prince, Paul McCartney, Lenny Kravitz and Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters just to name a few, and I wanted to see if I could pull it off. I had to make sure all the instruments worked in harmony with each other so that it sounds like a full band and I think it does.
Can you shortly describe each of the tracks that are on the album? The album opens with “Crawl” which is just me and I believe represents who I am as an artist, which is combining a catchy melodic tune with prog rock elements that take it to another level. “You See Me” brings in a little bit of a Billy Joel-vibe and features Matt “The Mattch” Daus on lead guitar which he absolutely shreds. “Big Apple Boogie” is one of two instrumentals on the album and is basically stands for what life is like living in New York City. “Chain of Events” goes down the prog rock rabbit hole a little more and features guitar shredding from Jake Cinninger of Umphrey’s McGee, an amazing and popular “jam band” in the USA. “Haunted” features amazing vocals by Karen Abrams and Sofie Jane as well as guitar shredding by Fernando Chirinos and sounds like it should be played in a haunted house. “Under The Gun” is a straight-ahead rocker featuring the uber-talented Scott Metzger on lead guitar (he plays in a different popular USA jam band called JRAD). “You Do You” is the track that features Steve Hackett and because Genesis is my favorite band, I tried to make it sound like something they would have approved of. “Don’t Ask Why” is the heaviest rocker on the album that once again features Jake Cinninger and should be played loud. “Delusions” is the single I’m currently promoting which is just me with additional vocals by Sofie Jane and it rocks (there’s a pattern here…). “Thursday” is a song I wrote in memory of my father and features my brother D$Clip duetting with me on vocals as well as guitar acrobatics by Scott Metzger. “That’s The Key” is my attempt at a reggae/ska/gospel thing and features the amazing Katie Jacoby, who is the lead violinist with The Who, on electric violin. “In My Head” is the title track that features my lifelong friend Marisa Wildwood on co-lead vocals as well as a flute solo that evokes Jethro Tull. “Meant To Be” is the centerpiece of the entire album; it’s almost 9 minutes long and is “meant to be” a prog rock epic that again features Katie Jacoby absolutely killing it on electric and acoustic violin. “My Last Request” is just me and is my saying a possible goodbye to the music industry. The album closer is the other instrumental “Big Apple Boogie (Reprise)” which ends on a cliffhanger and represents the energy my music brings to the table.
If you had to pick one song, which one would you pick? I would probably pick Meant To Be. Like I said, it is the centerpiece of the album and is the longest song. It has everything in there that defines me as a musician.
What’s your favourite band? It’s a tie between Genesis, The Beatles, The Who, Rush, Queen, Journey, Billy Joel and Phish.
Who or what inspires you to write songs? Living in New York City is probably my biggest inspiration. Every day is what you would call “sensory overload” that keeps my brain working and coming up with lots of musical ideas. You can say that the entire album is loosely based on the energy I feel when I am walking around the city.
Whom would you like to feature with? Like your dream collaboration? Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl and Fiona Apple would be at the top of the list. I happen to like all types of music, including pop, hip hop and R&B, so I would also be honored to collaborate with anyone from Taylor Swift to Lizzo to Beyonce.
How is the independent and underground scene in your country? I believe the independent and underground scene is thriving and only getting better. I live right near Irving Plaza, a popular venue in New York City that specializes in independent and underground artists playing shows. They have so many sold-out shows where the line goes for many blocks and the shows are for artists that I have never heard of. Music is alive and kicking in the USA.
What are your plans for the future? Right now I am focused on promoting my album In My Head in as many avenues as possible. I am hoping to do a physical release of the album toward the end of the year that may include bonus tracks that are not on the digital release. To that end, I have already begun to record new songs and I hope that eventually that will become a new album. I may do shows as well if I can put the right band together. But I look forward to sharing my music with anyone who wants to rock out!