San Diego-based musician Jonny Dee labels his music “psychedelic hip-hop,” as he blends influences from the 60s and 70s (David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Prince) to create his sound. He also likes to rap about self-love, romance and reflection, instead of money, women and drugs. He fuses all of these elements with rock, pop, funk and soul.
His debut album, The Human Experience, released in spring of 2018 features many of these genres with a rock sound as the main focus. The early demos from this album were recorded at his apartment, and then later re-recorded and mixed by sound engineer Sean Powers. With his recent music video and single for “You,” Dee is hopeful in his future true love that he knows is out there waiting on him, and he’s ready and looking for it.
The video features Teodora Marcella as the “significant other” that Dee is looking for, and she’s imagining him by her side, while Dee sings about the love he hopes to have with “her.” The video is a hopeful antidote for those waiting on their true love to eventually love them body and soul.
I love your vision with the rap music you create, along with your influences. What creative influence drives your words about self-love, romance and introspection?
I think a lot what drives my ideas of self-love & romance is a lack of both in our culture. It’s “not cool” to love yourself, or express love through romance these days. It feels like we’re taught to want to change ourselves, rather than embrace ourselves; lust and sex are much more popular in our culture than romance and love. I’ve learned through experience that once you learn to love yourself, it’s easier to love others & the planet around us. I think the ugliness in the world around me inspired those ideas.
Where did your desire to create these lyrics and type of music stem from?
It’s kinda cliché and boring, but love (laughs). I wanted to make a song about love for all of the people who aren’t in love, without excluding those who are. I think everyone gets the feeling every once in a while that everyone’s in love or in a relationship except them. We all get lonely, I wanted to make a song to give us all some hope. To let everyone know that there is someone or something out there for them and not to worry (smiles).
Your debut album, The Human Experience, blended different genres; what’s your writing and recording process like?
Some songs start on guitar, some piano, some bass; sometimes I’ll just have a little melody in my head, and I’ll start with that. My writing process is very “feel” oriented. I just write what feels right. I normally record as I write too. I like to record all of my instruments while the ideas for their sounds are still fresh in my head.
You label your music “psychedelic hip-hop.” What does this mean to you?
It’s just the best description I could come up with (laughs). My music incorporates a lot of different genres. Soul, funk, hip-hop, pop, psychedelia, & rock can all be heard in my songs. I like to blend all of the sounds I listen to, ha!
The vision behind your music video for “You” is beautiful. Was it your or the director’s idea behind the theme of it, or both?
Well, thank you, it was definitely both. The main themes of the video were my ideas. The producer, Miles and I, worked together to come up with the specific scenes to display the story I had in my head. We had a great time putting it all together and even more fun shooting it. We’re both really happy with the way it came out too, so thank you again.
Who was your first concert, and do you have a favorite?
First concert was TCL when I was way too young to understand what was going on (laughs). My favorite so far would be Khruangbin. They sound amazing live.
What was your first album on cassette, CD and/or vinyl?
My first album I remember buying was N’Sync’s No Strings Attached. I had it on cassette (laughs). I also had a Nintendo Cassette player, that I thought was the coolest thing ever.
Which five artists and/or albums would you not want to live without?
Five artists that I couldn’t live without would be : Prince, Kevin Parker (Tame Impala), Miguel, David Bowie, Outkast.
Who has been the most influential reflecting on music in your life?
Hmm…Depends on the day (laughs). I’d say Prince. I wouldn’t be playing instruments if it wasn’t for the Purple One.
Do you have a guilty music or entertainment pleasure?
I don’t really feel guilty listening to it, but I jam to some really pop-y stuff sometimes. Some She & Him, a little Taylor Swift, some old Blink-182 or Green Day. But I don’t feel guilty listening to it (laughs). I love that pop-y stuff.