Jordan Beckett creates music under the moniker, Bootstraps, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Oregon), which has had an impact on the music he creates today. As Bootstraps, Beckett has previously released two studio albums, Bootstraps and Homage, including one EP, To Each His Own. Bootstraps’ music is dreamy, ethereal and lush, providing a beautiful, descriptive canvas with his music, which has been compared to Bon Iver, Ray LaMontagne and Band of Horses, to name a few.
Also influenced by Lucinda Williams’ writing and music style, Bootstraps’ music career took off when he wrote music for the film, Take Me Home, which won Best Music In A Film at the Nashville Film Festival in 2011. Since then, his music has been featured in Parenthood and Suits, and other film and television placements. His rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” was featured in Grey’s Anatomy, Supergirl and in an ad for the Venice Film Festival. Additionally, his version of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” was featured in the film Power Rangers, Lethal Weapon on Fox, and Hawaii 5-O on CBS, and his cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere” appeared on Supergirl.
Bootstraps has released his third album, Demo Love, out today via HyperExtension, which focuses mainly on the dichotomy of the word “demo,” and he chatted with us about his use of this word and what specifically drew him to it, his love of Lucinda Williams’ music, influences surrounding him growing up in the Pacific Northwest and some of his fun favorites with music, film, books and television.
I love your new album, Demo Love, and the themes used in the creation of it. What’s your writing and recording process like?
Jordan Beckett: Appreciate that!
I try to write everyday and demo out guitar and vocal versions of songs. If the raw demo holds up I’ll start producing around it. Nowadays, anyone with GarageBand can produce and record great sounding full, dynamic tracks. So, the bare song is the real beast. I think songwriting is closely related to stand-up comedy in that, you riff and work something until it becomes funny. What’s funny from one comic to another varies, their joke writing process, style and delivery may be different but the net result should be some kind of visceral response from the listener. The same is true in songwriting.
I love that you were intrigued by the dichotomy of the word “demo.” What drew you specifically to this word, and what ultimately led you to focus on this theme?
Jordan: A year ago, I found a book called “Both Sides Of Sunset”, a beautiful L.A. photo book depicting the great disparity in this city between luxury and poverty — the two sides co-existing. That concept and the parallels personally gave me something to explore— to demonstrate and demolish something. Also holding onto “Demo Love” as a musician is being unwilling to change, clinging to the past and beauty in something rough and unpolished.
You’re heavily influenced by Lucinda Williams’ writing style; what about Williams’ writing draws you in?
Jordan: She exposes her humanity in a raw, disarming way. To me, she’s like Meryl Streep in that, you don’t watch her and think, “Wow, this is good acting.” Nothing is sold, forced or gimmick-y. You never sense her ‘working’, it just is; and the human-ness gets under your skin and pulls you into a world. When nothing reads as false, reductive or sentimental you hit another stratosphere that supersedes performing or lyricism I think. The work speaks louder than the person making it and that (for me) is the ultimate benchmark.
Your music is also heavily influenced by growing up in the Pacific Northwest. What are your earliest memories of being drawn to music?
Jordan: I played some songs for the director Gus Van Sant early on and he was supportive and encouraging. The best of the Northwest spirit inspires creative freedom and nurtures self-expression. The worst of it is a Portlandia sketch. I remember Gus seeing some originality in me, looking back, he could’ve easily critiqued everything because it was rough and I was super green. But I left that experience feeling stronger and more self-sufficient. I love Gus for that.
Is a tour to promote Demo Love in the works? What’s next for the remainder of 2019?
Jordan: We’re working on a big music video we’re gonna release in the next few weeks. Not sure about touring…
Who was your first concert and who has been your favorite so far?
Jordan: I was leveled by the Aretha Franklin Amazing Grace documentary concert. It’s a pure, heavy dose of everything good about life and music — I cried my eyes out.
What was your first album on cassette, CD and/or vinyl?
Jordan: I got really obsessed with “Walking In Memphis” by Marc Cohn in elementary school. The Little Mermaid soundtrack got a lot of love as well. Me and my sister could murder a “Part Of Your World” duet.
Which five albums and/or artists would you not want to live without?
Harvest – Neil Young
Wrecking Ball – Emmylou Harris
Blond – Frank Ocean
Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen
Amazing Grace – Aretha Franklin
Do you have a guilty music and/or entertainment pleasure?
Jordan: For all his foibles, Guy Fieri has a grilled tuna burger recipe that (I’m not ashamed to say) took me to Flavor Town.
What are you currently listening to, watching, and/or reading that has you pretty intrigued?
Devotions – Mary Oliver (Book)
The White Album – Joan Didion (Book)
Succession (HBO series)
The Last Black Man In San Francisco (Film)