Interview: John Foley

Published on 29 November 2021 at 14:45

1: What inspires you to create?

I’m a pretty sporadic writer, but I mostly get inspired by one-off phrases that sound like they could be great lyrics. Sometimes its dialogue from a TV show/movie, an interesting sentence in a book, or even another song. Other than those “song seeds” I’ll usually write in a therapeutic way if I’m especially in my feelings about something, and other times I’ll just set out to write a story.

2: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a creative profession?

You just have to start. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to not be such a perfectionist and to put out songs, videos, etc, even if they have some bumps or rough spots because nothing will ever be perfect, especially when you’re looking at your own art. You’ll never do anything if you wait for the perfect moment, and you’ll never improve if you’re afraid to fail. 

3: Do you feel open minded about what you listen to? Do you like going out of your comfort zone?

It sounds cliché but I really do listen to a little bit of everything. I definitely have my favorites that I’ll stick to and fall back on but I love listening to new things and getting inspiration from places I haven’t explored before. 

4: What outlets do you find out about music from? (Record stores, magazines, samplers, etc.)

I read Rolling Stone pretty religiously, but, similar to radio, I think they focus on what’s currently popular rather than what’s on the horizon. I still find out about new artists and releases I haven’t heard from them but big outlets like that rarely take risks on what isn’t already proven to be popular. Festivals are probably where I get exposed to most of my new music, especially South by Southwest in Austin, TX, and I’m really hoping it makes an in-person comeback in 2022. Since we haven’t been able to do many festivals in the last two years Spotify discover weekly and other algorithmic playlists have been awesome to find new stuff. 

5: What qualities do you think make a good musician?

I really like artists who are truly themselves and have a strong perspective and voice in their writing. Technical skill is great if you have it but I don’t really care that you can shred guitar or hit crazy high notes if you aren’t playing/singing with emotion or saying anything interesting. I think the difference between a musician and an artist is that ability to communicate your universal experiences in a uniquely personal way. 

6: How do you think the internet has impacted the music business?

It’s been a bit of a double edged sword but over all I think it’s been amazing for artists in general, especially independent artists. You no longer need a record deal to produce an album, a high dollar firm to market releases, or the resources to tour to meet new fans. With those barriers to entry gone there’s more music now and than ever before, and that can be a little scary as a smaller artist that you might get lost in all of it, but people will always find the music they love. I think we’ll see fewer “superstars” in the future and more regional or “mid level” bands/artists carving out smaller but more involved fanbases. 

7: Do you have any hobbies outside of music?

Outside of music, my biggest hobby is probably thrifting and styling. Part of the reason I love music and live performance is the outfits and costumes the performers wear. Brandi Carlile has a great quote about dressing for the stage from her book Broken Horses, “I still can’t bring myself to go on stage in ordinary clothes… it’s not about having fancy clothes and being rich; it’s about communicating to the crowd that you understand the evening is special for them.” But even outside of stage clothes I love exploring my own personal style and finding new ways to visually express myself. I’ve slowly (very slowly) been learning to sew and alter clothes as well which I think is such a special way to give new life to old garments and make them really personal. 

8: What motivates you to check out a new artist?

I listen for great lyrics in songs more than anything else, so creative turns of phrase and word play on top of a great story or message always get me really invested in a song or artist. Great vocals will and Interesting visuals will also definitely make me want to check out an artist more, but like I mentioned before, a strong perspective and great stories are really what I love to hear most from any musician. 

9: Who was the first band/artist that became your favorite band?

That would hands down be Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. I grew up with my dad playing their records through the whole house and was lucky to be taken to two of their shows when I was about 12 and 14. Tom Petty is by far my favorite songwriter and his lyrics matched with the stellar band that is The Heartbreakers is just a match made in heaven. Mike Campbell is my favorite guitarist because of how intuitively he plays--every riff down to the note perfectly matches the energy of each song and just sounds like its exactly what the song needs. He doesn’t have too many insane solos but he adds so much to the song with really tasteful licks and always interacts so well with the vocal melody. 

10: What was the inspiration for your song “Another Lover”?

Another Lover wasn’t written about a single person but rather just kind of sums up a lot of near-relationships I’ve been in. It’s definitely a dramatized version of reality, but the truth is still there in being blindsided by someone ending a relationship you were excited about and struggling to move on without closure. The song goes back and forth between being hung up on the person who left and trying to move on, but ultimately ends on pushing them out of your mind and putting yourself back out there.

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