We had the good fortune of connecting with Jonathan Bareford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jonathan, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
To me, risks are crucial for an artist. Without them, you are not challenged to become better. I’ve always looked up to artists who took risks in their career or in their music so naturally I hold myself to that standard too. Which honestly can be exhausting and rewarding. With each song and music video I release, I try to improve and outdo myself which brings on a whole new set of risks and rewards. This usually consumes even more time and budget than the prior project. So for me, risks/rewards and time/budgets have only grown.
It’s tough because the more risks you take in music, the more it affects other aspects in your life. Because I have been challenging myself with music that has to have a particular sound and videos that require locations/travel in different parts of the world, I miss out on things in life that others get to experience. Moving out at a normal age, buying your first car, owning a pet, saving for a house, etc; are all things I’ve had a late start to since my financial/time priority has been warped around these risks. These risks really are a part of my brand but also part of my life. In good and bad ways. I believe I’m on the right path but no path is without obstacles.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
JONO is an instrumental post-rock solo project from where music meets visuals through nature. Each song is written to have a theme based on a specific place or landscape in nature that is then brought to life through music videos. I highlight the importance of visuals to instrumental music in an ambitious, cinematic way that has not been done before. Making sure to visit and capture the actual locations that inspire the music, JONO is more of an experience than anything else and one that even supports a cause for wilderness preservation through fundraising such as the recent partnership with Conservation Northwest. A project to get behind for the sake of instrumental rock and our environment.
Getting to where I am now definitely hasn’t been a smooth road. Music is a tough business as everyone knows, and the most important trait to have is persistence. If you have a vision, put the time and money in to get it right, don’t rush it. But that comes with patience and a strong will to push through the times where it may not seem worth it.
For a project like mine, it isn’t a necessarily a cheap passion to have. Financially, it has always taken a lot out of me to push myself and strive for best with these projects. When I started with JONO, I was a college student already in debt and working as a minimum wage intern. Funding $10k+ music videos wasn’t something I could easily budget and it required me to carry some more debt to bring my projects to fruition. As time went on, I learned how to produce my own videos and become more cost-effective and more organized. But with that came more ambitious ideas so it has always been a challenge when bringing a large idea to life when you are alone in funding it.
I do feel lucky to have such amazing team of people contribute to my ideas. From the people who have helped me have my music be heard, to the people that brought to life the visual representation with their love for adventure, and to the people that bring their musical talents to play these songs live with me. I wouldn’t be who I am without them and some of them have been helping me with projects since I’ve started which makes the challenges I encounter on set (such as a windstorm on an Icelandic glacier, squeezing all our gear on to a small helicopter to fly across an Alaskan glacier in bone chilling conditions, hiking miles through forests and down waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest to find the perfect spot to shoot, chasing the perfect sunset in the red canyons of Nevada, car issues in the middle of nowhere, and more) all worth it. When you start out, you may feel small, but networking and building a team that believes in the same thing you do is important and rewarding. To me, this is how I find fulfillment in the music industry.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well my first suggestion would definitely be to wait until things are safe to travel again! Once things are, in Orange County I would certainly suggest visiting the beautiful beaches around Laguna Beach such as 1000 Steps Beach. And if you’re looking for a good hiking spot, Griffith Observatory has some stunning views of Los Angeles that you can hike around. For food I love actually really enjoy Miguels Cocina in San Diego at Coronado Island. It’s a little bit of a trek but it has my favorite Mexican food and it’s definitely worth the trip to that beautiful area. If you want to stay closer to Los Angeles, a spot like Margot is fantastic. For drinks my go to spot would be Apotheke. Their health focused mixology is a one of a kind in Los Angeles. A close second would be Blue Collar in Fairfax.
And when you are in the city of angels, you have to go to a concert! I would recommend seeing a show at the Greek Theater. The music under the stars is something you’ll want to keep coming back for.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to thank everyone who has helped me with my most recent project. This idea of mine to travel the world to share instrumental music that is about environmental conservation sounds easy to get behind but it’s intense for everyone involved and those that help me bring this vision to life. I owe these people the world for their time, talents, passion, and some even for their endurance of some wild weather and adventures. Thank you to these people below and I’m sure there will be more names to call out as the team grows more soon!
Local Guide (Iceland)
Kodiak Helicopters (Alaska)
My friends and family
Dario Garcia, Paige Wilson