GRAMMY U San Francisco Member KLEZ In Action
Photo: Courtesy of Raphael Diaz
Photo: Courtesy of Raphael Diaz
Photo: Courtesy of Raphael Diaz
By: Stephanie Ruiz / GRAMMY U Member
John Klezmer, also known as KLEZ, is an indie soul/ R&B artist from the Bay Area. As a lyricist and composer, his emotional drive and passion for every aspect of music shines through his eclectic performances as a solo artist. Although double-majoring in Recording Arts and Music Industry at California State University, Chico takes full-time dedication, it has not slowed him down as a signed artist with Sound x3. He has been featured on primetime television, hosts the “Old Soul New World” podcast on KCSC Radio (available on iTunes), and is actively involved with SOTA Productions and GRAMMY U.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career so far.
I spent years writing music in my free time, but it wasn't until my brother (a former member of the Board of Directors at KCSC, Chico State's college radio station) encouraged me to compete in several singer/songwriter competitions that things began to rapidly change. After winning in back-to-back competitions, I came to know Roger Gisborne (producer, songwriter, and owner of Sx3 Music). I went on to work with Roger and was signed to his label, learning more about the music industry through first-hand experiences. In the past year alone, I have performed in and around major cities in California at venues such as The Mint in Los Angeles (where I performed for a room full of music supervisors), The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, The Satellite in Silverlake, The Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego (booked by Chico State Alumni and former GRAMMY U Ambassador James Gibbs), and a number of different performances with Sofar Sounds in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. In May I released a debut EP titled Here Right Now, and the eponymous single "Here Right Now" was placed in a promo for the season finale of ABC's hit show Castle. "Here Right Now" has also been featured on a number of blogs, including that of UK-based blogger/tastemaker alexrainbirdMusic (which includes a YouTube Channel with over 160,000 subscribers, and numerous Spotify playlists with thousands of followers). My song "Holidays Are Here Again" was recently added to a holiday playlist that has already reached over 452,000 views. Looking forward, I am finishing up a second EP which is due for release in early 2017.
When did you decide to pursue a professional performing career?
I've known that I wanted to be a professional performer since I was very young, but it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I decided to fully pursue that career. It also helps that I have been going to Chico State specifically for the Recording and Music Industry programs, and they have taught me a lot of valuable lessons that made the decision easier to make. It always helps to know as much about any given career as possible.
How have you been involved in the music program at Chico State?
When I enrolled in the music production group School of the Arts (SOTA), Anita Rivas, a Music Industry instructor and lawyer who oversaw the group, suggested that everyone get involved with GRAMMY U. She expressed that anyone who wanted to be part of the industry would greatly benefit from being a GRAMMY U member and observing the way the music industry evolves. To take it a step further, I became invested in the debate on artist's rights, and was part of the class that live-streamed a conversation with Blake Morgan about the #irespectmusic campaign. I later took part in a performance that focused on artist's rights, and I've taken a stand with KCSC Radio to support this cause and spread it across social media. Most recently, I joined Professor Rivas, who is heavily involved in Advocacy work for The Recording Academy, to meet with Congressman Doug LaMalfa to discuss recent artist's rights legislation. As a senior in the music programs, I have also helped spread knowledge to younger musicians and students who have yet to learn about the many issues being taken on in the music industry.
What experiences and opportunities has GRAMMY U been able to offer you and your career?
GRAMMY U has always made sure to keep me informed about current issues regarding artist's rights and campaign's such as #irespectmusic. GRAMMY U has also offered me a number of great opportunities to attend soundchecks for famous artists, which have allowed me to get a closer look at how some GRAMMY-nominated artists go about their business in the industry. I have also been able to make new connections with other GRAMMY U members, which will undoubtedly prove to be useful within the music industry. You can never get enough insight from established organizations and individuals in the industry, and I am grateful that GRAMMY U has facilitated such phenomenal opportunities.
You just released your holiday song/ music video, "Holidays Are Here Again." What made you want to release an original holiday song?
I believe that holiday music brings people together and spreads overall joy and unity. Who wouldn't want that? I also viewed writing a holiday song as a great challenge for my songwriting. My goal was to create a holiday song that brought about the same vibe as the old classics, while delivering a modern production that would catch the ears of younger audiences. I worked tirelessly with producer/songwriter Roger Gisborne, receiving additional production from Dylan Kelly to make sure that everything about the song felt equal parts festive and genuine. A piano arrangement by GRAMMY U member Corey Walles brought it together to deliver the final product. Whether or not I will ever write another holiday song, I have been pleased with the fact that people of all ages and backgrounds have been able to enjoy the song. To all those who have taken a listen to the song "Holidays Are Here Again,” I hope that you are filled with the same joy that I felt while making it, and I wish only joy and happiness for you and yours this holiday season.
What’s next for KLEZ?
My second EP will be released in early 2017, and will be sure to bring about the nostalgia and production of the old soul classics. In the meantime, I can be found performing around San Francisco and Los Angeles.