The Jordan Okrend Experience is more than one thing. First, there is the signature sound, vintage pop imbued with an infectious funky jazz edge. There is also something else. Soulful music with socially conscious lyrics, that has all been but lost in today’s current pop climate.
The Asheville NC based singer/songwriter released his first two EP’s, Unpredictable and Rising Up, between 2010 and 2012 while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston and has been performing extensively throughout the East Coast ever since. His 2015 EP World Keeps Turnin was a clear indication that Okrend had thrown his hat into the ring of other soul revival upstarts such as Allen Stone and Michael Kiwanuka. The EP blended the old school with the contemporary while echoing the conscious elements of his musical heroes-Lennon, Hendrix and Marley. Since settling in Asheville NC in 2016, Okrend has continued with his impressive musical journey. He was a winner in Asheville's Brown Bag Songwriting Competition and was also named as one of the top acts to see at MONDO, NYC .
Okrend's new album, Dance By The Riverside is a buoyant meditation of the stresses of the modern world, with a distinctively funk and retro soul vibe. It may bring to mind classic soul artists like Stevie Wonder, but has a sound that firmly belongs in these times. With lyrics that reference “social media” as in the single Dance by The Riverside, the phenomenon of “ghosting” as in the hooky electric guitar driven Stranded, the call for “Unity” in the bonus live acoustic track written in response to the 2016 election, these songs resonate.
Recorded at Sound Temple Studios in Asheville, NC with engineer Robert George, there is a certain uncontrived timeless quality in the material that resulted from Jordan's spontaneous approach to playing and recording. Four of the eight tracks on the album are marked by their use of horns that echo over catchy hooks including the single, Dance By The Riverside. The single also made into an Official Video was filmed by the French Broad River in Asheville, NC and captures the joy, freedom and positive vibes of Jordan's music. "The emphasis is on speaking to the human experience”, Okrend asserts. "I hope this album inspires and uplifts all who hear it.”
Notable Openers :
Crystal garden ft. Boyd Tinsley of Dave Matthews Band
Asheville Music Hall
Jimmy Herring Band
Isis Music Hall
What inspires you to make music?
I think life itself inspires me to make music. I’ve always had the creative spirit in me and from a young age I began to write music and put my observations of the world into songs. Music to me is my essence and I think the world around me inspires me to write. By writing music, I can channel my emotional energy, my inner contemplations and also just have fun with it. Each moment and experience is an inspiration so the best way to capture that is with creating music.
Tell us about this project?
Go My Way is a song that talks about seeing possibilities and positivity in a world that seems the contrary. The world today seems especially challenging, crazy, and full of limitations. With this song I wanted to portray the power of the human spirit in going beyond the darkness of the world and experiencing the true vitality life has to offer. With this music video, I take the viewer on a journey through the subway and streets of NYC to show something can go your way in a crazy world.
Who were your musical inspirations growing up?
Growing up I was exposed to all different kinds of music. My dad listened to a lot of classic rock like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Van Morrison, Bob Marley. The Beatles became a huge inspiration for me and as a songwriter. In my teenage years, I took a trip to Memphis and it changed my life. I was exposed to soul music in a new way. I began to fall in love with artists like Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding etc. Soul music really inspired me as a musician and I definitely like to channel the soul when I’m singing and performing. I also grew up hearing a lot of Jazz and modern acoustic pop acts like Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, and Jason Mraz. I’ve had so many influences that it all kind of blends together for me and helped to create my own musical style.