We had the good fortune of connecting with Jonathan Harvey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jonathan, how do you think about risk?
You know, me and risk have had a complicated relationship. After highschool, and after spending a few years away from my parents trying to survive on my own, risk started to seemed like it was showing up in a bad way, and mostly because I had taken quite a few punches in the gut. On my own there was no one there to help me see the upside to taking risks. There was a bad job market here, having to sell one of my favorite instruments to pay rent there, bad burns in friendships, et cetera. It took a long time down that path and ending up in a very risk averse place to realize I was spending a lot of time in my thoughts looking at all the risks involved, and that my life as an artist was getting more and more homogenized. No ups — because I avoided downs, no breakthroughs — because I wasn’t moving in any direction, and no new creations –well, at the time I figured I wasn’t creating anything new simply because I didn’t have enough inspiration, yet when I searched and searched for inspiration I couldn’t figure out why nothing ever seemed to speak to me. It caused a very long ‘dry spell,’ adding to the fears that I always struggled with — that music and artistry were a wasteful enterprise for me. In the end, it took trusting the words of a close friend that supported and encouraged me to see risk for what it was in my life, and to have a better relationship with risk in my life and with my art. Now I think of it like an advisor, because every time I think about risk, I think of it more like a fear of death. I am a mortal human, so death is a guarantee. If I let this fear dictate my every move, telling me don’t say this, don’t publish your art, don’t try something new, then I am living under the false belief that if I can avoid these things that I will extend my life somehow, that maybe, just maybe, I can live an extra year, or at least avoid the pain of rejection, or criticism about my projects. For me, risk, and death for that matter, will always be there, so I have had to learn to surrender my beliefs that they are avoidable and begin spending my time better by hunting for the most rewarding opportunities.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am currently looking forward to where interactive art can take us as a society, so I’m currently exploring the technological side of it to see what I can come up with long term, whether it’s a musical instrument app using AR or VR, or just something fun and experimental, like a way to interact with others in some abstract form. AR and VR for video games to me are just the way some have found a more entertaining use for it, but I see a lot of potential for healing for those who feel like a part of some digital diaspora, and my hope is to find a way as an artist to contribute to that conversation. My music and art usually revolves around the idea of losing connection with the self, intimacy with others, and how I personally see the outside world, so it’s a big goal of mine to see what a healthy relationship with the outside world looks like as it continues to become more digitized, as I’m able to connect with people from more and more diverse backgrounds. I haven’t made my mind up if I’m an introvert or an extrovert, but I grew up battling a lot of social (and regular)anxiety, and music and the arts are the only thing that make me forget about all those things so if I can provide someone else the opportunity to have that same experience, I feel like I’ve done my job as an artist.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Two things I can think of right away would be to go to an open mic night at the Lexington on 3rd, and then I’d probably take them on a drive up the 1 on a Sunday, take a right at the Getty Villa, and go for a walk/hike somewhere up the 27, in Topanga State park. When it’s cooler it sometimes has mist or fog, and it just looks amazing when you get to the top and look out at the ocean.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
When I was dealing with a lot of fear of rejection and failure as an artist, I spent a lot of time trying to find online communities where the main focus was some form of collaboration. I was traveling, so I wasn’t able to go to open mic nights, join songwriting guilds, or really participate long term in a community. I found a few discord groups for digital music production where you could get feedback and participate in weekly composition challenges, but nothing really clicked with me, as it still felt like there was an unspoken pressure to be the best in some way, to get some prize, or admiration. For me, the one thing I really love about art is to able to see clearly through someone else’s eyes, and all I was seeing was either competition or compromise. So, my shoutout is to hitrecord.org. Someone casually recommended I check them out a few years ago, and despite my initial skepticism, after spending a few weeks on it I regained some optimism and a sense of freedom about my path as an artist. I’d come up with something, and just give it up to see what the community could do with it. It’s a place to collaborate on any kind of digital medium, whether it’s digital art, music, writing, videography, or anything else you can share digitally. I always felt free to participate in anything I wanted, and it is not designed as a platform for individual celebrity or criticism. For an online crowdsourced production house, I can’t say it’s a perfect platform, but it’s the best I’ve seen of it’s kind, and the community it depends on is very welcoming and collaborative. For anyone that needs some time to take the pressure off of creating for anyone else(or for yourself), it’s a nice place to do it just for fun.