A man for all seasons
How Vancouver singer-songwriter Jordan Klassen found an unlikely influence for his spring-inspired EP, Kindness
Vancouver singer-songwriter Jordan Klassen’s sound has been compared to Sufjan Stevens and The Shins, and while those artists may have influenced his work, he names a more surprising inspiration for his newer material.
“It’s actually quite inspired by a lot of Disney animated movie soundtracks,” the 27-year-old says by phone while driving with his bandmates through North Dakota in between tour stops.
“I think the thing I like about (Disney music) is that everyone knows it and yet somehow it’s just very obscure. I think a lot of people are influenced by what they watched as children, but it’s almost forgotten. I find it really interesting to kind of blatantly pull that back up again and just draw from sounds that I think everyone recognizes but nobody really remembers.”
That influence shines through on Kindness, the four-song EP Klassen released at the beginning of this year. It’s Klassen’s third release, and he says that with the EP, he was aiming for a warmer sound inspired by spring.
“I think I’ve always found boundaries really interesting, and the boundaries I’ve given myself for writing my records so far have been seasonal,” he says.
His 2009 full-length, Tempest and Winter, was a winter album, and his 2010 EP St. Brigid was inspired by the thaw that follows winter.
With Kindness, Klassen wanted to write something that felt like spring.
“The new record and the new sound is a lot warmer,” he says. “I feel it’s a lot more positive and hopeful.”
That’s the Disney influence.
“(Disney music) really represents spring to me - especially movies like Bambi, which I remember watching as a kid. So, there’s a lot of quirky, symphonic stuff (on Kindness).”
Indeed, Klassen’s songs incorporate ukulele, horns and strings in addition to rock ‘n’ roll’s traditional guitar, bass and drums set-up. He tours with six musicians in his band to help flesh out his sound live.
ChippedHip.com called the first single Go to Me, the first single from Kindness, a “cinematic pop rocker” and Holeytonal dubbed it a “gracefully dramatic little masterpiece.”
Klassen says that the 10 months that have followed the release of Kindness have been the best and busiest of his career.
In February he was able to start doing music full-time, and at the beginning of November he was named one of the top three contenders in the Peak Performance Project, a contest held by Vancouver radio station 102.7 The Peak.
Even if he places third when the winner is announced next week, he still goes home with $50,000 in prize money.
“(It) has been awesome, actually, being able to survive doing what I really love to do,” he says of the past 11 months. “It’s also been busy because there are lots of cool opportunities that have happened.”
Klassen hopes to have his next release, a full-length titled Repentance, out early next year.
“I’m really proud of it and I think it’s my best work to date,” he says of the album. “It’s kind of an endeavour into pop music. I wanted to write pop songs and not just super melancholic, ambient songs. So, the songs are all packaged a little more neatly and I’m proud of how it turned out.”
Jordan Klassen and his band perform “Go to Me” at McGill University last month.