We had the good fortune of connecting with Jonah Wei-Haas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jonah, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
“Quality Over Quantity.” To me, this advice is still true in many ways in the traditional sense, however I’ve found that an approach of ‘quality through quantity’ has been hugely beneficial in growth when first starting out. This is true especially as it relates to songwriting or music production — as a beginner, you will learn so much more from creating and finishing many pieces of work rather than treating your music as ‘precious’ and spending years finishing it. Through shifting how I think about the creating process, it has made finishing work much easier. I have found that this approach can be really helpful to learn a craft or skill very quickly. I also think that it’s important to clarify that this doesn’t apply to every aspect, but rather more specifically when starting out; at the beginning of the journey.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I would say that I make art that is true to me and true to that particular moment. I also feel that my true strengths as a musician are as a collaborator and performer— often helping to bring someone else musical vision to life. I was trained classically and studied jazz all through college, however I also have a deep passion for electronic and more produced music. I’ve never considered myself a Jazz musician, but I do think that Jazz music influences all of the music that I make to some degree. For example, on my YouTube channel, I have a series where I create solo piano arrangements of electronic or dubstep tracks, often through a classical or jazz lens. However getting to a professional level has not been easy at all. Of course there are challenges at every step of the way — and I’ve learned that in order to be successful you will have more losses than wins, but it’s through the losses that you really grow and have a chance to learn. One of the most simple and important lessons I’ve learned is to be a good person. It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do or how well you play your instrument if people think of you as a jerk or someone who won’t respect them. I feel like I have so much more to say and do, but I really just want to be known as a guy who loves music, technology, and keyboards.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This list may be a little different now than a few years ago, but a majority of the places would definitely be in nature. Some of my favorite spots in southern California are just outside — from hikes at Griffith Park to the beaches. We’d have to hit Desano (IMHO best pizza spot in LA) and Salazar (one of my favorite mexican spots in Frogtown). The most exciting thing about this city is that there is usually something exciting happening at any given moment. When shows were happening we would definitely be attending some live music. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There have been so many people in my life that have helped me along the way it would be truly difficult to just choose one. However, I remember reading “Effortless Mastery” in high school and that book changed my whole musical life and trajectory. So I guess, shoutout to Kenny Werner for an incredible method and message in your music and work.
Miranda McDonald Dan LaDue