In 2008 I moved to LA to play backup bass for a Pop singer. That job didn’t work out, but I ended staying in LA for four years. I returned to North Vancouver because my mother had been diagnosed with cancer (she's better now). I wrote most of the songs on my album Goon about my time spent in LA. It was a reflection that included, like the most popular of love clichés, a tough break up.
In my haste returning to Vancouver, I had left all my instruments in a storage locker in LA. My sister had moved out and left her piano at my parent’s house, an instrument I had yet to explore. The first song I wrote on that piano was 'Just A Dream.’ It was also one of my first attempts at singing. I have yet come to terms with my singing voice, but at the time I was left with no other option.
I recorded the demo, and then did a few more. Afterwards I sent the demos to JR White [Girls], someone who had produced one of my favorite records of the past few years (and was also signed to True Panther, the label I'm currently on). Soon after, he asked me to come down to San Francisco to record an album. After a series of visa issues and border complications, I finally met him and spent the next few months jumping from San Francisco to Los Angeles, recording in studios and bedrooms with friends.
After all that was said and done, I got offered to have a few more of my songs produced by Patrick Carney [The Black Keys] in Nashville, John Collins [The New Pornographers] back home in Vancouver, and Ariel Rechstaid in Los Angeles. I owe the sound of the record to the great effort of everyone involved, the producers and musicians doing and playing things I couldn't and treating the production with the same reverence I treat my songwriting.
The writing will always be the most important to me; the production, playing and singing I am still figuring out. I still play a bit of guitar, but I'm mostly sticking to the piano these days.
TJJR. October 2014.
GOON is the debut album from Tobias Jesso Jr. A songwriter first and foremost, the album is a collection of timeless songs, all written on piano in Tobias’ living room in North Vancouver and recorded with added production and instrumentation in a range of studios in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Nashville and Vancouver.
Tobias shared his first recording in 2013 with ‘Just A Dream’, which subtlety caught the ears of several taste-maker musicians, blogs and his first fans through YouTube, CD-r's handed out to touring bands and old-fashioned word of mouth. His next track ‘True Love’ followed in July 2014 to further acclaim and was named Best New Track by Pitchfork.
Tobias worked with a number of producers to realize his specific vision for the arrangement and performance of his songs. Jr White (Girls), Pat Carney (Black Keys), Jonathan Rado (Foxygen), John Collins (New Pornographers) and Ariel Rechstaid all came to the project in a similar way – drawn in by the strength of Jesso’s songwriting, they strove to find the right way to honor the songs’ honest emotional pulse, without overpowering their rawness.
The resulting full band recordings that appear on GOON are a stunningly honest document of a modern songwriter influenced by the iconic piano-men whose stories in song defined past generations. Bearing comparison to these greats with an evocative, timeless quality, Tobias Jesso Jr may be the classic songwriter for our time.