We had the good fortune of connecting with Jack DeMeo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jack, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Because in a way I didn’t have a choice. Making stuff, for me, is a natural reflex. If I don’t write for a while, or make music, I start feeling weird. Like some people have to work out or do yoga or meditate and start feeling out of balance when they don’t. That’s what it’s like for me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love songs. That’s the basis of everything. I’ve always been a songwriter, and have fronted bands since I was a kid. As an instrumentalist, it’s my job to help bring a song to life. Anything I play – or don’t play – must be in support of the melody and lyric. I like storytellers. So whether I’m writing myself, or adding guitar parts to someone else’s tune, I’m always trying to help develop the story.
My journey as a working artist has not been easy. There have, and continue to be, many ups and downs. I think the most important thing I’ve learned as a singer songwriter is to be honest. That’s something no one can take away from you. And honesty is undeniable in music. I can hear it in someone’s voice, in the melody, in the lyric. That is the quality that draws me to an artist, and what I believe I have going for me in my work.
Staying inspired is also a huge part of keeping this thing going. I have so many incredibly talented peers who get me excited about music. I am constantly listening to new stuff that gets me hyped – “How did they make that sound? I wanna do that!” And a lot of the time I go back to the stuff that inspired me in the first place: Neil Young, Dylan, Jackson Browne, Eliott Smith… It’s important to remember, while I’m always reaching for the next thing, what got me here. A deep love of songs and how they move the spirit.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Korean BBQ, a burrito truck, probably drive down by the ocean… Pizza Buona in Echo Park is my favorite pizza in LA. I guess I like food a lot. Elysian Park is always a nice peaceful time. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Peter Blanchette. He is a guitarist, composer, arranger and conductor, and known around the world as the invent of the 11-string archguitar. He was also my guitar teacher and mentor when I was in high school. Peter altered the way I listen to and perform music in a profound way. He taught me to find the music behind the notes – how to sing through my instrument. I can distinctly remember the first time he played his archguitar for me at our first lesson. He had a microphone set up about a foot from the soundhole. I put on the headphones and listened. I think he was playing an old Irish folk tune. I had never heard anything so beautiful. Keep in mind, at this time in my life I was trying to learn how to play fast, notey jazz solos on electric guitar (which certainly has its place). But hearing Peter make such emotive and moving sounds, on an acoustic instrument, with such a simple piece of music, totally blew my mind. I was like, “this is the guy. I want to learn how to do this. I’m coming back next week.”