After all its trials and turbulations, 2020 has proven to be an explosive year for Candian singer Jonathan Percy Starker Saxe, better known as JP Saxe. Together with girlfriend Julia Michaels, Saxe received a Grammy nomination for hit song ‘If The World Was Ending’ and in combination with a support slot on Lennon Stella’s tour JP Saxe is slowly becoming a household name.
‘If The World Was Ending’, a song that despite being released in October 2019, has taken the world by storm throughout the ongoing pandemic, led JP to receive his first Grammy nomination in November 2020 for the category of “Song of the Year”. When recalling what the feeling of this huge recognition was like, he mentioned how it was still “a little outside of my ability to comprehend that it has happened,”, and about when in the process of creating art, the possibility of winning Grammys isn’t part of the thought process or even fathomable.
He described how “it was maybe a little more within the realm of possibility for Julia” because Michaels has received 3 Grammy nominations to date but how this acknowledgement has been “surreal”, especially for a song that means so much to so many.
Moreover, due to the impacts of COVID-19, the arts industry has been halted from experiencing the beauty of live performances since March 2020. For a career in which performing is one of the main aspects, this has been extremely exasperating for so many artists. Saxe expressed that the magical feeling of being on stage feels like a little bit of a different colour each night, saying, “that’s what I miss most about performing is just the spontaneity of it, the mystery of it, how it can be a little bit different every night.” His shows tend to have a surprise element to them as he likes “to let things play out a little bit in the unknown” varying setlists each night influenced by his mood. He described how future shows could go one of two ways, revealing “I’ll either just be locked in, super proper and about making everything precise or I’ll be so deprived of performing that I’m just really overdoing everything, talking way too much and having random conversations with fans in between songs – we shall see.”
Saxe was due to hit the road and come to Europe with his ‘Hold It Together’ tour, which has since indefinitely been postponed. The uncertainty surrounding the matter has meant that his album may be out before any form of touring can take place. Despite many artists incorporating their debut EP into their first album, JP hasn’t, as he teased that he’s written too many songs that he likes, going on to explain “that’s a good thing because I guess the show is just going to have to be kinda long as I want to play the EP and the album.”
Despite JP’s well-known track record within his fanbase, named the Hometeam, of him teasing songs throughout his Instagram live streams, he indicated that “only two of them are currently out which means there will be around 13 new songs” on his debut album.
It just felt like a really nice metaphor for how it gets better in ways you don’t expect.
This album is going to be a collection of songs that he’s written over the last three to four years, therefore acting like a monologue of the journey he’s been on in terms of love, heartbreak, the highs, the lows and all of the in-
taking on more of a tone like his ‘A Little Bit Yours’ era. The beautiful, healthy kind of love only reflects the last year and a half of his life, meaning it will be a combination and honest representation of his growth. In regards to previous eras, JP expressed it as “fun to be singing a song that was so devastating while being in love because it just felt like a really nice metaphor for how it gets better in ways you don’t expect,” labelling the album as the “most in-depth representation of the way I write and the music I love that I’ve ever done”.
The tracklist of any album is important, especially when reflecting a process you’ve experienced over an extended period of time. A huge focus for JP is how the album weaves together and the emotional transformation listeners are taken on from track to track. “It feels like coursing out a 15-course meal, what taste do you want to have in your mouth when you try the next thing?”.
With love being one of the themes of his upcoming album, JP pondered about what the feeling of love is like and if he could describe it in a couple of words, eventually expressing how he believes “the majority of art is probably just a failed attempt at summarising what it feels like to love a person or loose love with a person or the struggles of love with a person.” He went on to say that the album could be argued to be, “thousands of words attempting to describe the feeling of love,” as love is the biggest feeling of humankind.
Over the past year, JP has significantly grown as both an artist and as a person, with the release of his debut EP ‘Hold It Together’ in February 2020, his time spent supporting Lennon Stella on tour, his experience of falling in the healthy kind of love, and the list goes on. When talking about advice he’d offer to his 16-year-old self, reflecting on the journey of growth he’s undertaken, his initial response is, “Don’t worry too much about acne.” However, he was reserved and hesitant to give too much advice to his younger self, explaining, “I think one of my greatest skills was I always looked at things a little more like an adventure than a struggle,”, he felt that his life has only become what it is now due to his experiences, that some may view as different and unfavourable, such as sleeping in his car when he moved to Los Angeles initially and having so much of his early music not believed in enough to be released, but he viewed them as exciting ventures keeping that drive in him alight.
Nevertheless, he recognised that he had “blessings and privileges” which allowed him to have that mentality, explaining that, “worst-case scenario, I could move back to Toronto and have a really loving family who would have my back.” After careful contemplation about the growth he’s been on, his overall message was about his incentive being songs and people, describing them as his “favourite things in the world”. In closing, he stated an important message, almost about bringing it back to the simple, most meaningful things in life and of where he finds the most happiness, describing how “that’s where my joy comes from, so as long as I had those things around me, I was making songs and I was with people I loved, everything else seemed fine.”
Written by: Issy Todd // Photo credit: Nirav Patel