Virtuosity in the creative space is a long upheld ideal in our society. Though the role of the artist has changed significantly from the time of classic virtuosos like Mozart or Liszt, our infatuation with such lofty levels of creative actualization is tried and true. Achieving virtuosity is a combination of nature and nurture, as raw talent is only a skeleton without the famed 10,000 hours necessary to achieve expertise in a field. Hence the stories of these creative geniuses often begin in humble settings, where our future virtuoso is some form of a student with an insatiable desire to learn their chosen craft.
This is the story of 23-year old artist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Jordan Hawkins. Hailing from North Carolina, he grew up singing in church, shortly after picking up the guitar, honing his musicality amid the spiritual setting. Often dubbed the Neo-Jimi Hendrix, this comparison is well-deserved, as his years of self-instruction and later formal education at the Royal Danish Music Academy are exemplified by his striking mastery of his instruments.
Upon moving to California and graduating from Pomona College, Hawkins took the leap of faith into the City of Angels, with the hopes of an artist career rising over the horizon. Following the hustle of live gigs and consistent writing amongst the Los Angeles creative community, Hawkins was discovered by multi-faceted music company Since the 80s, home to the likes of EARTHGANG, Dreamville, Njomza, etc.
Embarking on the next phase of his career with dual single release "Daydreams/Sunset" written during the peak of pandemic, Hawkins muses of needing an antidote for quarantine-induced loneliness over a breezy, psychedelic R&B instrumental.
We had the chance to catch up with the young creative, chatting on an array of topics ranging from his Southern musical roots, life realizations during quarantine, and the albums accompanying him on a hypothetical stay on a deserted island.
Ones to Watch: When did you first realize you had a gift for music?
Jordan Hawkins: First time I sang a solo in church, when I was eleven or twelve, seeing how people genuinely reacted to me singing. My mom just told me to get up there and sing. And when people told me how it moved them, I realized I had a gift.
Growing up in the South, do your roots influence your style?
Most Definitely. I feel like specifically, gospel, blues, and honestly, the best R&B comes out the south. Anthony Hamilton came straight out of North Carolina. So many other greats came from the surrounding area.
Did you start singing or playing guitar first? Did the two niches always naturally coexist?
I began singing first, started playing guitar around seventh grade as well. At the point that I started writing songs, I began writing on piano first. But by the time I started playing guitar, that switched over to my primary instrument when writing songs.
You can only bring three records to deserted island, which records are you bringing?
Channel Orange, Continuum, & Voodoo. Voodoo, I appreciate how D'Angelo blended the super soulful vocals with great musicianship throughout that album. I’m a longtime fan of John Mayer, and I feel that Continuum was super influential in inspiring me to keep getting better at guitar. Channel Orange, it’s the stories for me. It’s a record I always go back to to see how impactful songwriting is.
You're from North Carolina originally, how did you end up pursuing music full time in Los Angeles?
I moved out to Los Angeles five years ago to go to school at Pomona College. Once there, studying economics, I discovered that music was my true passion and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Tell us about your time at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. How did your time there influence you musically?
I really honed in on production and mixing during my time out there. I had a personal teacher and made friends with students in the masters program that had been there for awhile. Through them I was able to learn and pick up a lot, which allowed me to come along much quicker.
What was the inspiration behind "Daydreams"?
I wrote this record at the top of quarantine when I was going through bouts of feeling isolated. There was a desire to feel a sense of connection with others, and from that Daydreams was born.
I also made this during quarantine. It was my frist time on acid and I was literally watching the sun set when the idea for this track came to be.
Is there a full length project on the way?
Tell us about your quarantine experience… any life realizations or new hobbies?
The biggest realization is recognizing the importance of having people around you that have your genuine best interest in mind. As for hobbies, I’ve been taking more trips to the beach. I’ve been playing a whole lot of spades with my roommates. And I definitely enjoy watching sunsets more now too.
Who are your Ones to Watch?
I’m really fortunate to have a lot of really talented friends who are also artists as well. A few that come to mind include Hello Yello, Santos Silva, Maryann Vasquez, Tempest, BK Habermehl, Mills, and Reggie Becton are a few that come to mind. Definitely go and check all of them out.
Check out "Daydreams" / "Sunset" below!