An Interview with Jaron Davis
As many of us sat on the edge of our seats a few Sundays ago, watching the Grammy’s and wondering who would reign in Album of the Year, very few of us expected Beck to take home the win for his new album Morning Phase—especially as he was going up against artists such as Beyoncé, Sam Smith, and Ed Sheeran. The forty-four year old singer/song writer has been around since the early 90’s, but this is really the first time in his career that he’s received this extent of notoriety for his work.
What’s equally interesting is that Capitol Records, the label that Beck calls home, campaigned before the award ceremony in order to promote his whopping four nominations on Mashable.com, Twitter, and Facebook, pooling from the Youtube community to find musicians to cover his songs. Of these musicians is one Jaron Davis, a local artist from Edwardsville, IL, and a Greenville College alum.
Jaron grew up with an instinctive draw towards music—whether it be picking out melodies on the piano, strumming a guitar, or messing around with his bass or a set of drums, he was always exploring his musical potential. Once realizing that music was something he wanted to pursue during his junior year at GC, he threw himself into music classes (such as Ear Training, Pop Theory, Rock Ensemble etc.), participated in the GC choir, recorded every chance he got, and eventually accomplished a music minor. During his time at Greenville, his musical taste greatly benefitted from the influence of such a diverse and creative campus of people, and this is the place he fell in love with the musical stylings of Radiohead, Muse, Ryan Adams, and the like. These days, he has a small studio in his basement where he records his new projects, including covers for his Youtube channel.
Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to talk with Jaron to hear about his opinions on Beck’s new album and his hobby of covering songs to gain some insight.
The Papyrus: What do you think of Beck’s new album as a whole? Have you always been a Beck fan?
Jaron: I really enjoyed Beck’s new album, Morning Phase. I loved the subtle soundscape throughout the album, and how it plays with one’s emotions in a quiet, determined way. I’ve been somewhat of a Beck fan throughout the years, enjoying his tunes on the radio in the 90’s and any other various tunes I’ve heard since then. I’ve had the desire to really listen to his catalogue for some time now, but I’m only now making my way through it. And I’m loving it.
The Papyrus: What led you to cover “Waking Light?”
Jaron: I was actually asked by somebody from Capitol records to make an a cappella cover of a song from Morning Phase as a part of an online YouTube campaign to support the then-GRAMMY-nominated album. They asked me after seeing my “Game of Thrones Theme” a cappella, and they suggested that “Waking Light” would be a good song to cover.
The Papyrus: What’s your favorite aspect of covering songs? What got you into that hobby specifically in the first place?
Jaron: My favorite aspect of covering songs is hearing the finished product. When I’ve worked really hard to figure out the song, record and mix the parts, and shoot and edit the videos, it’s always fantastic and somewhat of a relief to see it all come together. Other than that, I also love the recording process specifically. I got into making a cappella videos on a whim. I saw a YouTube video of someone doing an a cappella cover of Brian Wilson’s “Heroes and Villains” in 2012, and I briefly thought to myself, “Hey, I should do a YouTube cover of a song from SMiLE as well. Or along the same lines, perhaps I should do an a cappella video game cover.” Then in late 2013, I decided to cover a song from Zelda 2 to see what would happen. After an overwhelmingly positive response, I kept making videos from week to week, and haven’t stopped yet.
The Papyrus: Any encouragement to those who want to cover songs but don’t know where to start?
Jaron: My encouragement is to start where you can and make something that plays to your strengths–something you enjoy doing. There’s no shame in being an amateur at anything, because you’ll only get better at what you do the more you do it. And people will enjoy seeing your growth, especially if you respond to their positive criticism. Do everything you can to make music, make videos, and get your music out there on the internet for others to listen to, in whatever format works best. As you make music, work on making your presentation unique, carving out a niche that is uniquely you.
Be sure to check out Jaron’s work on his Youtube channel, JaronDavisMusic, and spread the word!