2015 Artist Survey: J Fernandez

Fernandez on Music Streaming, Ben Carson, Star Wars, Lame Breakup Excuses, and Childhood Memories

Jan 25, 2016 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Arcade Fire's Will Butler, Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, Mew, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.

Here are some answers from J Fernandez, whose debut album, Many Levels of Laughter, is out now via Joyful Noise.

Top 8 Albums of 2015

This was really hard. I don't listen to a ton of new music, so here's eight:

1. Dungen: Allas Sak
2. Jib Kidder: Teaspoon to the Ocean
3. Marker Starling: Rosy Maze
4. Jimmy Whispers: Summer in Pain
5. EZTV: Calling Out
6. The Lentils: Brattleboro Is Flooding
7. Floating Points: Elaenia
8. Jim O'Rourke: Simple Songs

Also been listening to but not released in 2015:

The Roches: The Roches
Karen Dalton: In My Own Time
The Advisory Circle: From Out Here

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

The highlight was probably getting to play shows in a bunch of places I've never visited before. Barcelona, Utrecht, Paris, London, etc. The low point was probably waking up at 3 a.m. in a hotel room infested with bedbugs just outside of Cleveland.

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

Probably just continue to tour and record.

With the launch of TIDAL and Apple Music in 2015, there are more streaming music options, but the same issues of adequate artist compensation persist. What are your current thoughts on streaming and which service would you most like to have your music on?

I have music on a few streaming services. I think it's all right for music discovery. But smaller artists aren't making much money from this.

What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?

I think that's more of a label question. I'm not incredibly sales-focused, I'm just happy anyone buys our records.

Mainstream pop music is increasingly embraced by indie rock musicians and listeners, as well as serious music critics. At this point, do you draw any distinctions between Top 40 pop and indie rock/pop? Are you comfortable with this shift?

I don't think we should draw a line anywhere with music. There's a ton of stuff I listen to now that I would've never been open to when I was younger. 

What are your thoughts on how the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is shaping up?

My favorite part so far has definitely been Ben Carson's portrait of himself with Jesus

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift's 1989 (and then Father John Misty covered Adams covering Swift). If you were to cover another artist's album in its entirety, which would you pick and why?

Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland. It's probably already happened a few times. But my technical abilities are so limited I imagine it might come out completely different. Could be interesting, but it could also be garbage.

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?

Never been fired. I am a solid employee.

What's your earliest music-related childhood memory?

I remember walking out of a piano recital when I was about 11 years old because I couldn't remember the last two movements of a piece of music. My dad found me hiding outside.

What outrageous request would you most like to put in your tour rider as a joke?

Buckfast Tonic Wine.

What's the most disastrous date you've ever been on?

Never been on a bad date. I am a solid date.

Which Star Wars character are you most like?

That Storm Trooper who hits his head on the door frame.

Following the terrorist attack at the Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris do you think that security at music venues should be improved and do you now worry about something similar happening at one of your shows?

No. I don't really worry about security at any shows. These things can happen at any location and we can't secure every place.

What's the lamest breakup excuse you've ever given or been given?

"I've never loved you."

If Mark Kozelek starts a fresh beef in a forest and nobody is around to write a 600-word thinkpiece about it, does he still make a sound?

I don't pay attention to those conflicts. Artists don't have to like other artists. Sometimes they're more vocal about it. I don't really care to hear about it. 

If the world was ending in 24 hours, what would you do in those 24 hours?

Invite my closest friends to dinner, then go out to a karaoke bar.

Which part of America or which specific state do you find it most challenging to tour in and why?

I'm touring out on the West Coast for the first time. Seems like a lot of long drives out that way and we'll probably spend a lot on fuel.

In 2015, what do the words "indie rock" mean?

Not sure it means anything really. I first heard about it from a Sebadoh 7" called Gimme Indie Rock.

If you could drop a copy of one album in the inbox of every citizen of the world, what album would it be (besides one of your own)?

Neil Young: On the Beach.

How prepared are you for the apocalypse, zombie or otherwise?

I have a few good hiding spots in mind.

If your house were on fire, what would you grab as you were running out? 

My laptop and the external hard drive that contains a bunch of ideas and recordings.

What's the biggest goal for your life that you have yet to achieve?

I'd like to have a pet dog named Rolo McFlurry. 

www.facebook.com/jfernandezsongs/

www.soundcloud.com/justinfernandez

 



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