As we start to wind down the year that was 2018, it’s fitting that one of our final reviews would happen to feature with the very first feature interview subject on the site - Jonie. With the cyclical (and occasionally monotonous) nature of music, there’s something warm and reaffirming when you cross paths, “link up,” or return to a past interaction.
Admittedly, writing and interviewing people on a perpetual scale does sometimes fog up the experience and abilities of one attempting to keep in touch with every single interviewee, but to have someone circle back around, this time for something new, that’s a positive affirmation that won’t soon be forgotten.
Jonie returns to Now/It’s with the newest single off his upcoming EP, Passion Too, “Say Whatever.”
Something of a call-to-arms if the call-to-arms’ primary initiative was meta-cognitive ambivalence (because everyone knows what that is, right?). In less lofty, philosophical terms, “Say Whatever” is a sneakily hedonistic anthem to losing all pretense. To just “say whatever” is to open one’s self up to an endless array of outcomes, some good, some bad, but all in all, outcomes of experience.
While 2018 has been nothing short of a success for Jonie, 2019 looks to be squaring up for a considerable jump in terms of sonic quality.
To try and push against a general “pop” narrative for a moment, “Say Whatever” is oddly reminiscent of the late 90s Ed Banger movement in Paris, or the indietheque movement in Montreal around the same time. Think of house and discoteque artists like DJ Mehdi (recommended listening: “Signatune” or “Pocket Piano”) and Sebastien Tellier (in this particular instance, “La Ritournelle”), who included just enough organic instrumentation in their stems to allow songs to gestate not only to the listener but also the producer. Both songs have been repurposed into orchestral arrangements and the like.
Who’s to say Jonie won’t or can’t do the same with “Say Whatever?” Definitely not him. If “Say Whatever”’s 80s purple-wave meets Chaz Bundick’s b-sides, then Passion Too could be set to take on any and all comers in Nashville’s ever-burgeoning pop scene. If Kacey Musgraves’ recent CMA Award for Album of the Year is the floodgates opening up for “cosmic country,” why can’t Jonie open the door for “cosmic disco” in Nashville? He might have done exactly that with “Say Whatever.”