We had the good fortune of connecting with Jordan West and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jordan, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
The past year has really put that question in the spotlight for many artists and entrepreneurs. Even in normal times, I have had moments of wondering if the path I’m taking is worth getting to where I want to go (or where that even is, exactly). But in 2020 things got pretty bleak. I didn’t touch my drums for several months during lockdown because I was so rattled and upset about a year’s worth of touring with a crew I really loved being ripped out from under my feet. But then it got deeper than that. If music was something I truly loved, why was I unable to play just for the love of playing? It kind of made me realize how lost I had become over years of pushing through and grinding, constantly posturing to appear successful and only ever searching for the next gig, the next connection, etc. There were a few moments where I really didn’t know if I even wanted to make music anymore. But then I went back to my hometown in Indiana and started playing every week with my brother. Being able to just jam and play with no plans or agenda brought me back to feeling the love I’ve always had for playing and writing. I think that if you still can feel that when you play, you should keep going. There are times to change courses and switch paths. Maybe your dream was to be a solo artist but most of your successes come from writing for other artists, so you do that to make the money you use for your own projects. Maybe you had always dreamed of being a studio player but you’re getting lots of tour work and need to do both. Maybe you want/need more stability so you get a day gig you love and play music just to play it. There are so many ways to do things. I don’t think anyone should ever feel bad for the fact that their dreams change and evolve as they do. Breaks are inevitable and probably necessary, but if you still love it, I think you should keep going in whatever way makes sense for you.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Drums were my first serious instrument and I studied primarily jazz, soul, and rock music. Playing drums live is still my absolute favorite thing to do and when things were up and running I was the touring drummer for Grace Potter. I also sing and write, and play a little guitar and keys. The drumming while singing lead thing is probably what sets me apart. I also like to incorporate technology like looping and samples in musical ways. I started a project with my brother that utilizes looping with lots of live playing and we’re shooting some live studio videos for that in the next couple weeks. I’m pretty excited for that. Also to get back on the road whenever that’s a thing again. How I got to where I am today was really just consistently trying to get somewhere in any way possible. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it definitely was worth it. I’ve tried a lot of different things. Being a jazz drummer, starting bands, being a touring drummer, working for Roland and BOSS as a demonstrator and artist relations person, production, songwriting…..I think the more you can do or try the more opportunities you’ll find. I got my gig with Grace because of a connection I made working on my own music. I’d say don’t be afraid to try stuff and get involved in multiple areas of the industry you’re in. If you are true to your art things will eventually work out as long as you put in the time. Also, I’ve learned to not take things so seriously. Art should be expressive, fun, and compelling. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Just get out there.
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?
I would hit the west side first because as someone from the Midwest, I really love being near the ocean. My favorite spot is Playa Del Rey because it’s pretty chill compared to Santa Monica or Venice. I love Señor G’s, great Mexican food in a hole-in-the-wall spot 2 blocks from the beach and bike path. Even though Venice gets crazy, I’d take them to Menotti’s for coffee – best iced Spanish latte in the world and it’s owned by fellow drummer Derek Taylor. For an evening hang I’d choose the Dresden in Los Feliz – such a cool classic place with music all the time – or Black Rabbit Rose in Hollywood. If we hit the valley I would go to 10 speed coffee and Peddlers Fork – a beautiful setting, great food, amazing vanilla lattes. My parents are obsessed with studio tours so I’d probably throw one of those in there, and driving through the hills is always fun, especially with people who have never been to LA. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to give Grace Potter a shoutout for taking me on tour with her for the first two months of 2020. Not only was that my first bus tour which was a major dream come true, but it was musicially so fulfilling, and everyone in the camp is amazing. Those memories helped get me through the dumpster fire that was last year and give me something to look forward to when things start up again.
Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2HzgAM4KNx2Qr5pol3vLHU?si=ceYx0OKpQT69rL7axmBfIA
Ed Diaz, Emily Butler