Sound x 3 Records is pleased to announce the worldwide digital release of 'Old Soul New World' by California neo soul and indie pop writer and recording artist, John Klezmer aka “Klez” in fall 2017. 'Old Soul New World' is the explosive and aptly titled second EP of Klez, whose music lies somewhere in the nebulous middle of the soul spectrum. Take the purity and resonance of Hozier and pair it with the soulful grit of Son Little, and you get Klez. Old Soul New World is a refreshing throwback to the glory days of Motown. It is Klez unchained and ready to steal the anthems of summer. The EP was recorded in the Bay Area; mixed in Northern California and mastered by audio guru, Brian Lucey (The Black Keys, Artic Monkeys, and Cage the Elephant) at Magic Gardens Mastering in Los Angeles.
We spoke to Klez about his new single ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Fool’ and asked him to describe it.
It’s a self-empowering track. We’ve all been through those times in life where we’ve been tested by other people and life itself, and at one point we hit this point where we have to take this power back and not allow us to fall into the same issues continuously. To use it as an opportunity to recognise what has happened in the past but also to see how things can become so much better. A lot of it is self-empowerment; you’re no longer someone else’s fool. It’s allowing yourself to build as a person and individual.
Was there anything that inspired this song?
There have been multiple things that have happened in life continually, and after a while. Maybe as individuals we sometimes have to take a step back in our lives and say ‘OK, maybe I could be doing things differently’. Maybe in this case it was more just about me looking back on previous events and saying ‘I’m aware of what happened. I can’t change the past any more but it’s time for me to step forward and push forward in life, for no other reason than myself”.
Is there a video for it?
I’m in talks with a couple of different short film makers. I’m trying to come up with something that will do it justice, which is a tricky thing these days, as people have so many different approaches to making music videos. For a lot of people it’s very linear and you have multiple videos that are connected; other people go for a more artistic, abstract approach. I’m trying to find out what would do justice to the song, and really not only showcase the song itself, but I feel it’s important to have a music video that will stand alone as a work of art, even if there’s no music behind it!
It’s taken from your new EP ‘Old Soul New World’. What was behind the title of that?
I think it has a number of different meanings. First and foremost, I thought it was the easiest way to explain the music. A lot of times when people ask you about the music you make I feel like if you make it simple and clear for them to see it helps you audience know who you are. Part of it was that exactly. I grew up on a lot of soul and RNB music, so for me, so inspired by Motown and Stax records, it was a way of showing how greatly influenced I was by the old soul music, but trying to take my own modern approach for today’s world.
In another sense I was trying to do a play on words as for most of my life I’ve been considered an older soul. Everything I’ve done in my approach has always been older and more mature and different family members and friends have always labelled me an older soul. For me it’s trying to say that this music is a reflection of my attempts to survive in the modern world!
Was the Motown sound intentional? Are you a fan of Motown?
Definitely! I feel like when it comes to the song writing technique, [Motown] was undeniable successful. Whenever it came to song writing for me, I like to be inspired by the timeless quality of Motown. You can listen to songs by Marvin Gaye today and it’s still equally as popular, and it maintains that meaning. That’s always something I’ve tried to strive for as an artist, to be able to create music that maybe 30, 40, 50 years from now people will be able to listen to and it will still hold that music. To continue on the topic of soul music, Sam Cooke who wrote songs like ‘Change is Going to Come’, and now more than ever that message is very, very relevant. I always felt that was one of the most important sides of music I wanted to capture. To be able to find a way to write something that not old pertained to my life but would be relevant in the lives of others.
You’ve toured this summer – how was it?
The live music was great. One of the things I appreciate most about it is how you can watch as many different videos of an artist as the day will allow, but when it comes to live I feel it provides an opportunity to show more depth as an artist. You can show different approaches to songs; you can engage with the audience, and you can’t really predict how one show will go. This summer I did a small tour in Sweden which was amazing. The people out there were very receptive [and] very energetic. They understood the music. It was a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t my first time there, I’d been there before, [but] it was really just a beautiful moment being half way around the world for me and being able to connect with people I’ve never met before simply because of the music. I’m a huge advocate for live music and touring!
How would you describe your typical live show?
I think I’m going to run with a direct quote from someone who attended one of the shows in Sweden. I would say, energy-wise, it’s like a mix between the Rolling Stones and Motown, with a bit of Wilson Pickett. For myself I try to keep it as entertaining as possible; if that means jumping off stage, running around; whatever it takes! If I’m not out of breath and soaked in sweat by the end of it I feel like I didn’t do my job! It’s a high-energy performance with lots of running around, dancing [and] engaging with the audience. The melodies themselves remind me of how I’d want the old-school soul to sound. Pair that with my approach to musicianship and showmanship is a good way of putting it hopefully!
Finally what are your ambitions for the next six months?
Right now I’m really trying to be inspired by everything around me and push out as much music as possible. I’m going to wait just a couple of months to see how people react to the new EP and after that go full speed ahead, trying to release new music. In the next six months one of my goals is to release one more EP. I’ve recently relocated to the middle of San Francisco so there’s plenty of inspiration everywhere I go. I’m excited to see how that will reflect and show itself in my new music!
How are you finding San Francisco?
I’m loving it. I grew up in an agricultural farming community [but] moved around as a kid. I lived in a number of different places, so being in a city where there’s so much life and culture and different perspectives that come together, it’s beautiful! I really appreciate that for what it is: the ups, the downs; I don’t believe there’s anywhere that’s perfect, but I feel that if you accept things for what they are and appreciate all the little things about it, it’s undeniably enjoyable. I love it out here, and the weather, of course, is great!
You can find out more about Klez at Klezartist.com which includes links to their music on the biggest streaming sites.