Gary Jules' music could be classified as folk, acoustic, and a number of other definitions, but the best description of it would be with a single word: Good. His music has been featured on Grey's Anatomy and CSI, and his remake of the Tears For Fears song "Mad World" was a big hit on the soundtrack of the film Donnie Darko. In fact, his rendition of "Mad World" was the #1 Christmas single in the UK in 2004, the first time a Tears For Fears song had ever elevated that high on the charts in Britain.
His music is crisp, soulful, and refreshingly meaningful. His latest CD is a self-titled release that is available for purchase at CDBaby.com here. Make sure to watch his performance on the Carson Daly late night show on March 19th, and continue to check his website at GaryJules.com for his upcoming tour dates.
Q: Your song "Falling Awake," the first on your new album, debuted on two separate Billboard charts - the Pop 100 (at #99) and The Hot 100 Bubbling Under (at #6). Why do you think that this ballad has broken through the mire of modern music and truly connected with listeners?
GJ: "Falling Awake" had a really special placement in an episode of ‘Grey's Anatomy'. Alex Patsavas, the woman who picks the music for Grey's, chose my song to play for more than 4 minutes during a particularly dramatic dialogue-free moment in a particularly emotionally charged episode. You can't ask for a better situation... first of all, Grey's is the biggest show in the country, and has a HUGE and very loyal viewership. Secondly, because of the nature of the show, the millions of folks who watch it have already signed up to be "touched" if you will - they've already decided to make themselves vulnerable/available to the emotional dynamic of the story. Alex Patsavas is probably the best in the business, at least partially because she picks what will work for the story ... not what she should pick to make everybody happy. I was just very very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time. I am extremely grateful to Alex and the people she works with. They made "Falling Awake" happen.
Q: What sparked your initial fascination with music?
GJ: Breathing. he he.
Q: Your album is featured this week in the "What's Hot" on iTunes. Are you a fan of Apple's implementation of digital music?
GJ: I am a fan of whatever works for people. The music industry pre-internet was not really working for people, at least it wasn't facilitating the new ways that people were wanting to use music. I hear people crying all the time about how downloads have wrecked everything . . . record companies saying that it's ruining their sales numbers. I think selling shitty music is ruining the sales numbers, and that it's compounded by people being able to get the music they want (and ONLY what they want) from other avenues. It'll all work out. The "industry" will survive, and so will cool music. I only recently started selling my music by means of ACTUAL digital distribution, and it's been great for me business-wise. It was already great for me as a music fan. I also happen to be a huge fan of Apple ... I have three Macs, and ALL of the doohickeys. They can do no wrong in my book - and again, I'm super grateful for the opportunities that they have extended to me personally.
Q: A Zimbabwe proverb states that "If you can walk you can dance. If you can talk you can sing." Do you believe this principal leads to some of the sub-par contestants who audition on shows like "American Idol"?
GJ: There are seven billion ways to sing, and seven billion ways to dance - and unless you're trying to sell it, singing and dancing is only for the enjoyment of the participant. None is inherently better than another... BUT!! When it comes to buying music, certain people like certain voices and certain songs. More people tend to like some voices than others. For instance, Aretha Franklin touches a lot of people when she sings... regardless of color, creed, nationality, sex, orientation, or language. Same with Nusrat Fateh, Ali Khan, Christina Aguilera, and Elvis. Anyone can sing, and anyone can dance, but a lot of people liked to watch Elvis sing and dance. Xtina is one of the best singers alive, and Britney is one of the most famous... whatever.
Q: Nic Harcourt, host of KRCW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, recently called you an artist who "could quite easily be selling out 2000 or 3000 seat venues." As a performer, is it more satisfying to play to a large group or do you prefer a more intimate setting?
GJ: Ideally, I would love to sing for an audience of 3,000 (or 30,000) people who are so cool that it feels like 3 people. I like to try and connect on a very personal level, and I'd like nothing more than for 3,000 people to come together and have an extremely intimate experience all-together at my shows. It makes me very proud to hear someone like Nic Harcourt say that about me...
Q: Ludwig Van Beethoven once jokingly said about himself "Beethoven can write music, thank God, but he can do nothing else on earth." If you weren't captivating audiences with your musical gifts, where would we find you working?
GJ: I don't have the slightest idea. I'd like to be an English Lit. teacher. I know, that sounds pompous and probably a bit cliché... but hey, I could have said "Oh man, without music I'd be dead or in jail". Wait, that might be true too. He he.
Q: On the song "Ghosts" you sing:
"And besides, I've got nothing to lose from it
I find solace in all the extremes
In pleasure as well as in pain
I just wish he would let me explain to you
The man in the midst of a change"
Do you feel that artists must "suffer" in life before they can produce songs with a deeper resonance?
GJ: I think everyone suffers - no one gets a reprieve there. And to some extent, I think one could make a very good argument that a lot of art, particularly music, is born of suffering. I think the person who writes songs with a deeper resonance makes it their business to think about things like that.
Q: Your music is powerful, yet wonderfully unassuming. What artists have influenced your creative touch?
GJ: Wow, a whole bunch. The usual suspects: The Beatles, Neil Young, Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, my mom.
Q: Where can we catch more of your work in 2007?
GJ: I'll be on TV some in the next few months. I'm doing the Carson Daly show on my birthday, March 19th. The new record should be available in stores worldwide by the time summer (in the northern hemisphere) rolls around ... and then I'll be on tour, everywhere and anywhere.
Q: Gary, we end all interviews with word association. We say wombat and you say...