Get to Know Jon Waltz [Interview]

Ian Hansen

After taking a gap year in 2021, Jon Waltz came into 2022 with a bang, releasing his collaboration with Verzache, “Trainwreck,” which accompanied his EP, My Golden Horse. The Memphis native has a unique style that combines harmonies and raps in a way that isn’t heard elsewhere. Learn more about Jon Waltz below:

What does it mean to finally have My Golden Horse out now? What does the project mean to you?

It’s always kind of weird when I release stuff. I usually sit on it for a good amount of time. I feel like I always have my personal favorites, but then, it’s about what everyone else likes too. It’s always interesting to see what I got right and what I didn’t get right.

How did the collaboration with Verzache happen and take me through the process of working with him?

A lot of my career has been working with people in Toronto for some reason. There is this artist named Young Lungs, who is friends with me and Verzache. Verzache and I had known each other for a minute, but we finally chopped it up and immediately wanted to cook up.

What’s your favorite track on the EP?

“Wheelie.” That’s one of those songs where I can still drive in the car, shamelessly play it, and wild out.

Coming up in Memphis, how did you take bits and pieces of the music scene there and find your own sound?

I think with Memphis, musically, one thing that strings it all together is the unorthodox approach to pitch and melody. There is an analog and gritty undertone type of feeling. I always make sure the bass is right and get the vocals to hit and have a little crunch. 

Over time, how did you develop your sound to where it is now?

It was a lot of studio sessions and practice. Getting better at writing and finding new ways to play voice as an instrument. 

You did take a break from releasing music in 2021. What would you say you learned from that year and how much does it mean to have music out now?

I think I learned a lot about the business side of music. I learned a lot last year. I have management but no label deal. Learning to navigate through the industry was big for me. I had to learn how to talk to people who worked in those label buildings.

Now you have the EP. What is next for you, and what kind of goals do you have for this year?

As close to world domination as I can get to. I want to drop a million songs this year and pull a Lil Wayne.

Five years from now, where do you see yourself and your brand?

I want to be one of those artists that can put out music they don’t hate performing 15 years later and still knocks the right way. I want to be signing artists at that point, especially from the south. I feel like there is a lot of culturally relevant music there that is overlooked.

Who would you say influenced your sound coming up?

Future, OutKast, Young Thug, and a lot of people. It’s their approach to stuff that really changed my perspective and how I view music. King Krule is a big one. Tupac in terms of energy. Three Six Mafia, Justin Timberlake, FKA Twigs. I can keep going.

How does having an accounting degree help you in the music world?

I don’t apply most of that stuff. I know how to do my own taxes which is cool. It taught me how to talk to people who work at record labels, but not from the artist standpoint, but as a human. 

How long have you been making music? Were you making music in college?

Yes. I was doing it all throughout college. It took me awhile to find the confidence to realize I could sustain a living from it. It was hard to navigate.

Where did you go to school?

University of Memphis.

In college, when did you decide you could pursue music for a living?

I feel like it was a combination of seeing a lot of my peers really doing it on a crazy level. I saw this dude, Tunji Ige, who helped produce “Location” by Khalid. I saw Allan Kingdom go on stage with Kanye. Seeing BROCKHAMPTON blow up in 2017 was all reaffirming for me. I saw all of these people grow their following, and it all happened super organically. 

What would your advice be to young creatives pursuing music?

Community. Find artists you like and make stuff you relate to. Make friends with people, and don’t focus on the macro. Keep checking goals off and next thing you’ll know you’ll be good.

What do you do to escape music a little bit?

I like fashion a lot. I watch a lot of TV. I love watching basketball. I also want to learn how to build a car.

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