www.ambiente.us  SEPTEMBER | SEPTIEMBRE 2009

Jason Antone is taking his act
To the Limit!

by JC Alvarez

Pop music appears to be poised for a comeback!  Music popularity is of course
cyclical.  If you don’t believe me take a look at some of the highlights at this year’s MTV
Video Music Awards ;Kanye West’s oft-putting interruption aside: Britney Spears took
home another Moonman Award, Beyoncé turned it out with a winning performance of
her hit “Single Ladies” and another pop-princess emerged, or rather
smeared her way
across the stage.  Yes, I’m referring to Lady GaGa -- who single handedly took home
the award for “Best New Artist” for her outstanding contribution to the
pop music scene
this year.  In her acceptance speech she took a pause to thank her audience:  “This is
for the gays!”

Perhaps it’s a good thing then, that pop music is so readily being embraced by the
mainstream market.  If there are any artists out there over the last several years that
have been prompting the movement it’s gay artist, or “gay friendly” acts like Beyoncé,
Britney, Christina, Lady GaGa and of course the ever present Queen of Pop, Madonna.  
The closet door keeping gay artists out of the mainstream seems to have blown wide
open!  Look at the success of this year’s
American Idol contender Adam Lambert, who
proved quite the phenomenon
and took his openly gay-self and image all the way to the Idol finals and even sported
his own
Rolling Stone cover, before crowning the new winner of the competition (and
what was
that guy’s name anyway?).  

It’s clearly obvious to me that America is ready to embrace the next great pop star,
straight or gay and Jason Antone appears ready to ride that tidal wave to it’s limit!

“From a young age, George Michael stood out to me. He was a man who was writing
and singing these amazing pop songs about his life, struggles, joys.  I felt it was so
revealing.  How could he say all these things?  I kind of grew up on it and emulated it a
bit.”  Perhaps taking a page from his idol George Michael, it inspired Jason Antone to
approach his work honestly and diligently and mostly from his heart.  He’d had some
notable success with the release of several popular singles early in his career, but has
now turned his attention to promoting his first full-length album
Start To Move and it’s
first single “To the Limit”.  “When I write or record music, I want it to be honest and ‘real’
while considering that it is a vehicle for the listener's emotions to be expressed.  
Recording this album, I projected an image of happiness and fun in my life, kind of
calling it out.  And I think I am on my way to that.”

Start To Move is a collection and light and accessible pop/dance tunes.  With a
production and sound that is reminiscent of late 80’s Euro-pop -- or how some of us
who were around remember it the second
British Invasion.  I’m not surprised when
Antone admits that one of his inspirations during the 80’s was the pop-band
Which I think is worthy of noting also produced some of the greatest dance music of the
80’s; so Antone’s album did find me tapping my feet along to
a sound that felt familiar and yet it was still fresh, vibrant and exciting.  The title track
kicks the album into over-drive, while the album’s first single, the hard-driving “To the
Limit” delivers a one-two punch full of defiance and personality which is often lost to
pop-music.  Antone’s personality is clearly present throughout this project.  

What also undeniably set the tone for Start To Move is Antone’s
cover of
Tears For Fears über-popular 80’s hit “Everybody Wants\
to Rule the World”.

Jason admits, “my producer on the album, Willie Ray Lewis, is responsible for the
sound and the cover [“Everybody Wants to Rule the World”].  He came to me with a
rough production and asked me to give it a try to see if it works.”  Well, it does!  The
cover is more upbeat and fits in quite well with the rest of the albums 13 tracks, and
Antone’s fans would agree.  “We get a great response live from it.  When Willie and I
recorded the album, we both went back and forth and made a conscious effort to not
repeat sounds on the album, exploring all kinds of electronic options.”

The electronic/pop-synth sound makes for an overall great dance album that doesn’t
compromise on allowing Jason’s own vocal ability to shine through, especially on
some of the album’s slower tempo tracks including “Free” and “Making It Count”.  I have
my particular favorite, the upbeat “Ooh Ooh Ooh” (the next single and video).  “I love all
my children equally,” Jason tells me.  “There is such joy in not having to shuffle songs
for an hour.  I wanted to provide that.  Putting the album together was a great
experience. Since I started with releasing singles, this group of songs
had to be special
and tell a story along the way.”

And it does.  
Start To Move is a positively driven and accessible album that will certainly
encourage the suffering music industry to renewed vigor and force it to take notice of the
new upstarts taking over the market.  It’s a wonderful thing

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that independent artist, like Jason Antone who aren’t slaves to the commercial label
system can still produce popular music that is easily digested by a hungry audience
waiting and thirsting for the next great thing.  It’s pop worth visiting!  “I say that
opportunity is abundant. Focusing on what you really want from your career/art will open
the doors that need to be open. Keep your eyes on the prize.”

And that is exactly what Antone has done especially in regards to this current project
and how he has approached his creative process.  In truth he’s taken another similarly
inspirational page from one of his other idols: “I also admire Madonna for the evolution
of her life as an artist first, celebrity totally secondary.  Yeah the fame is great, but the art
keeps you there.”  Jason abides by the faith and commitment to his art, his music.  He
began playing instruments very early on, the piano -- coming from a musical family, it
was important that he keep up with the tradition.  Along with the piano, he is also a
skilled violinist and saxophonist (take that Madonna)!  And was surrounded always by
music, having grown up in Chicago with a grandfather who had his own band.  It wasn’t
until much later that Jason would pursue Vocal Studies at Depaul University.

With a solid focus and ambition to realize his dreams, Jason set out to put together the
music that would be featured on
Start To Move never losing site of his goal.  “I aspire to
do more,
be more constantly, looking for ways to contribute to the world and those that
identify with me and look to me.  I feel that my contribution [to the world] will be one of
love and making it better when I leave it than when I entered it.”  And if fame and
notoriety roll his way: “Artistry and celebrity are two separate entities.  You can guide
your art, your creation, your expression.  The "fame" is a byproduct. If you attach yourself
to that, it is not real. I find that part very disposable.  At the end of the day, I want more
than that.”

If you check out Jason Antone on-line, follow him on any of the countless social
networking sites, you’ll find that he’s had no trouble establishing his fan base.  He’s got
an eager crowd of followers that are excited about his music and his ability to
mesmerize on stage.  They offer their support to him and an adulation that he
welcomes but doesn’t let got to his head; he’s quite charming, handsome and poised,
but mostly what you get is how driven he is to be a great artist.  “I have always identified
with the pop stars. That's funny, actually...as a performer, I think that the show has to be
interesting, dynamic, layered and visually display something to dissect and debate.  
Using the eyes with the music makes the experience more sensational.”  And in Jason’
s case, the “eyes” definitely have it -- just take a look at
Start To Move and the album’s
cover art!

Jason has also not given up on the art of making music videos, using the medium to
not only promote his music but introduce his own stylistic sensibility.  “I think videos are
as valuable as you make them.  It's a tool to make visual artistic representation of your
music.”  It has certainly help to bridge the space between him as a performer and his
audience.  “You can see how an artist moves, acts, etc. in a way that you don't get from
the song alone.  Like a glimpse of what a live performance would be like.”

When I sat with Jason for this interview, he was in New York City working on the video
for this next single, my aforementioned favorite track “Ooh Ooh Ooh”.  And he was
excited!  “I love the video process as much as songwriting and really get into it!  I've
been fortunate enough to work with great directors.  Jeremy Kotin directed "To The
Limit" and had the idea for the ‘feel’ to the whole thing.  I told him about relating it to me,
and we melded the concept and characters together.”  Certainly Antone is on the cusp
of those similarly minded artist like Lady GaGa who are looking to revitalizing the dying
art.  “I aspire to have the videos stand on their own, so if you can't hear the sound, you
are still visually stimulated and get a story out of it anyway.  It's like two for one.”

I ask him about the MTV Video Music Awards.  The VMAs had just happened, or as they
have been popularly dubbed “The Kanye Show”.  Jason’s non-plus reaction: “EGO
stands for Everybody's Got One.  We all have acted inappropriately at times, but not
many in such a public way.  It was like a drunk karaoke party and the wrong guy grabbed
the mike.  I'm sure all parties involved sold a lot of records the next day.”  I tend to agree
with him.
I ask him about his favorite VMA moments; mine being Madonna’s 1991 performance of
“Vogue”.  “That was amazing!  All Marie Antionette!”  Among his other favorites: Janet
Jackson 1993, Alanis Morisette 1996 doing “Your House”, *NSYNC & Britney Spears
1999, and (of course) Madonna 2003.  All great pop performances, from the next great
pop act who has all the willingness to share his art with the world and an audience that
will be ready to welcome him.  “Life is constant change.  I remind myself of that when I
see obstacles in front of me.”

And what has he got in mind for the close of 2009 and beyond?  “I am going to continue
the evolution of
Start To Move.”  An invitation to the party if I ever heard of one!

Jason Antone’s debut album
Start To Move is currently available through most digital
download stores including iTunes and Amazon.  For more information on Jason
including upcoming tour info and videos goto:

CLICK HERE for more JC Alvarez

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