Jez Dior
Starts Again

Jez Dior captured our attention back in 2012, and we’ve been tracking his career ever since. This often emotional lyricist has an overwhelmingly unique style, fueled by whisky, love, and lorn-laced messages.

Through the years, we’ve had the pleasure of personally connecting with this young man, exchanging emails, IMs, and texts, keeping up with what’s going on with each other. On the heels of his upcoming single, “Clean Me Up,” we noticed a distinct shift in his songwriting. With previous releases titled, “Who Drank My Whiskey,” and “Old No. 7,” we could only assume that there’s something behind it all.

Having a personal relationship with Jez helped get our foot in the door to talk about what’s going on in his life. Without interview questions, or a pre-planned approach, we talked. In a simple 20-minute conversation, we dug deep, getting an insight into his artistry.

TMN: Let’s talk about the release that just came out today, “Starts Again”

JD: It’s a song that we’ve been sitting on for a little bit of time, and we weren’t quite sure if we were going to put it on the album or not. It’s been a little bit since we last released “Kings,” so I just said “Fuck it, let’s put it out.” I hate making everyone, and I love putting out new material.

It’s a song that’s basically about the ups and downs of relationships, and the constant circle you’re in if it’s an emotional one. I definitely have been. It’s based off of that and everything you go through when you’re in love, or whatever type of relationship you’re in.

TMN: The album that you talked about is “Clean Me Up.” right?

JD: “Clean Me Up” is the first single. We were actually going to name it that, but I have a documentary coming out that’s titled that. So, it’s the first single off the upcoming album, which is untitled for now.

TMN: Personally knowing your past and having written about your music for the past couple of years, I know a lot of it has been somewhat centered around emotional pain and…nothing against it because I’m a whiskey fan myself, but a lot of imbibing…to phrase it politely. So what’s the play on this title? What can listeners pull from this upcoming album?

JD: Basically, music is my way of dealing with issues and writing music is my way of coping with issues. Everybody goes through shit, but my way of coping with it is writing music. Another way of coping with things for a long time was drinking. It’s something that I’m trying to change, actually. I’ve been trying to not drink for a lot of reasons.

Being truthful in my music, being telling and personal is where a lot of that stuff has come from. Obviously, my drink of choice is whiskey, and going through that…that would always be there when I couldn’t talk to other people about it.

I’ve been trying to change that and not really drink. It’s going well.

TMN: That’s good, we’re happy to hear that. So, what brought this on? Was there some kind of life change that happened? How did you switch from “Who Drank My Whiskey” to “Clean Me Up?”

JD: It’s a cool transition for me, to be able to go from one to the other. I feel like my fans will get a story out of it. Basically, it all stems from a lot of loss. My dad left me when I was 12 years old, and he was the biggest influence of my life as far as the reason why I started making music and playing soccer, my two biggest passions.

My mom and him got divorced, and he moved back to London. I haven’t seen him in eight years. That’s something that I’ve never really dealt with the right way.

On top of that, my mom has six brothers. Since my dad left, we’ve lost three of them, and before that we lost two of them. So, I’ve lost five Uncles.

TMN: Oh, damn. I’m really sorry for all your losses.

JD: With our family being so close, not really knowing my dad’s side of the family, and him being gone…it’s just a lot of loss. It’s definitely come out in my music.

TMN: Definitely not easy to deal with. Again, really sorry to hear about that.

JD: It’s life.

TMN: In knowing your music and your lyrics, I have to imagine that there’s some romantic aspect to this as well. Do you care to dive into this or would you rather keep it very surface level?

JD: That’s something I’m very personal about. I don’t really go into it, as far as the public eye is concerned. I’m in love though.

TMN: I can definitely respect that and your privacy. It is evident that it’s there though. I’m not trying to pry, but speaking in general.

JD: Yeah. Absolutely.

TMN: Let’s talk about translating all these emotions into the industry you’re in. Mainstream Hip Hop is shallow, at best. It’s far from having any kind of real message or emotion tied to it. I mean, there are some people that do great things. Aside from that, the major players have the same shit we’ve been hearing for decades: sex, money, girls, cars, partying. Growing up, you had to have some inspirations. In an industry that’s often considered shallow, who would that be?

JD: I 100% agree with you. One guy that we can all agree on, especially with me being born in 1992, was Tupac. The guy though that made me fall in love with Hip Hop was Eminem. He definitely wasn’t like the rest. He was a breath of fresh air. Now you do have Macklemore, who caters to a certain demographic. But Em was what I had when I was growing up. It was the feeling of a guy who is really relating to kids who were my age, no matter what color. It was a universal struggle that he represented. That’s when I fell in love with Hip Hop.

Before that, I was listening to rock mainly…stuff that I grew up with from my father. I fell in love with Eminem later when my cousin gave me a copy of The Eminem Show. I’ve never stopped loving him.

TMN: I’d like to touch on something you just said. Especially in your latest releases, the grunge influence is definitely apparent. However, with you being born in ’92, you’re well beyond that range that was brought up on Nirvana. So, where did that influence come into play with your artistry?

JD: Danny, who is my producer, he’s a little bit older than me. Also, my dad listened to everything from The Stones to Nirvana and everything that was going on at that time. He was very eclectic in his choices of sub-genres in rock music. I grew up on all that stuff. My dad had five billion CDs laying around the house and this huge boombox that he brought everywhere. We would just listen to shit all the time and that type of music was appealing to my ears.

TMN: It’s always great for us to hear artist with influences like that. We hear people who are influenced by Paul Simon who are now doing amazing indie rock. It’s funny because there’s groups of people who didn’t grow up in a time where these people were popular, but you can still hear so much of that influence. It’s great tribute to artists of the past, and it keeps re-educating younger listeners where some of this comes from.

JD: Definitely. For me, I feel like there’s no that many modern day rockstars. There was people who were completely unobtainable. You couldn’t meet them, you couldn’t be near them…they were rockstars. Back then, rockstars were gods. You have that same sort of pandemonium these days, but it’s mainly with bands like One Direction and Jusin Bieber. I have respect for them, but when you think of guys like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Kurt Cobain, or any of these bands back then – they were completely unobtainable.

Now, you have twitter and facebook. With everyone having to keep these up, you know what everyone is doing now. It’s a different world.

TMN: It is. If you think about it though…think about Elvis, the Beatles or the Stones…there’s no one at that “rock star status” that is going against the grain. Bieber is pop. They’re stuff that parents are ok with their kids listening to. Elvis was considered evil! There’s no one out there like that.

JD: You’re very right about that. The famous quote…”The Beatles are bigger than Jesus.” I can’t think of anyone like that, who pushes boundaries, except for Kanye West. You know what everyone thinks of him, with how outspoken he is. There’s something that’s missing though, for sure. It’s hard to imagine anyone taking that roll these days, you know?

TMN: Definitely. Music today is so overwhelming. There are so many people making music, that it’s difficult to have true “Rock Star”. There’s so much to choose from. What do you think about when you go into the studio? Does it bother you that it’s a diluted market, or do you just say, “fuck it?”

JD: You really can’t help it these days. You have to think of a way to a way to brand yourself and stick out. Granted, there’s great artists like Chance the Rapper or Rory, who everyone’s in love with right now, who have come from that. There’s also the six billion other kids who are doing it as well, which is great. Music is great.

You always think about that, but when I go into making music I think of what I did that day, or what’s on my mind at the time, or what’s bothering me. I think it comes off more personal and genuine.

TMN: One quote that comes to mind when thinking about your artistry, and one that I hold near and dear to my heart is from Hemingway. “Write drunk, edit sober.” I can feel some of that whiskey-fueled pain in your tracks, so how is that going to change for you in looking towards this next body of work.

JD: To be honest, there’s a good amount of songs on there that were written while intoxicated. You’ll get a mixture. We were actually joking about it, because…we’ll have a few drinks sometimes… but we were joking about how Eminem got worse when he got sober. But, my engineer was like, “Holy shit, dude. When you’re not drinking, you are 1,000 times better.” So, we’ll see. We’ll see if people respect what I do when I’m sober as well.

TMN: We’re excited to check it out. So, from a personal level – everyone has had to deal with personal tragedies. You’ve been dealing with some issues with alcohol, as many people are, so if you had one message for people who are going through the same thing, what would you say?

JD: Listen to your family and friends. There were countless times where people tried talking to me in a respectful manner about the fact that I’m drinking so much or maybe I’m drinking for the wrong reasons. If I had listened to the people around me, if I wasn’t so stubborn, I wouldn’t have gotten into the shit that I did. That made me realize that you can stop before something really bad happens to you. So, listen to those people who care about you.

TMN: Alright, Jez. I think we covered pretty much everything. Thank you so much for your time.

JD: Thanks man. That was a great interview.

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