Ontario is home to some of the most gifted R&B voices of our time. Tamia, Deborah Cox and Glenn Lewis are a few that hail from the province. While the region has produced great exports, Drake is a forerunner, carrying the Great White North on his back over the past decade. The crossover star’s massive success has cleared the way for his OVO Sound roster PARTYNEXTDOOR and dvsn, as well as other Canadian tenants including The Weeknd, Tory Lanez and Jessie Reyez. The major territories may be the birthplace for an array of amazing artists but talent is also bred on the outskirts, where life is a bit calmer.
While the city is synonymous with an intensely mysterious and brash sound, Jon Vinyl brings a softer, more grounded perspective. Vinyl’s earliest musical memories date back to his childhood when his mother would play R&B songs as their cleaning soundtrack on Sundays.
Vinyl currently resides in Pickering, where he spent his formative years, cultivating his growing interest in music. He watched music videos on BET like most teenagers, drawing inspiration from Usher and Chris Brown. He began creating music out of his home studio at 15 years old. It wasn’t until shortly after pursuing musical theater in high school that he embarked on a quest to become a singer.
“The feeling of singing a song and hitting a note, it felt really good,” Vinyl tells Rated R&B over the phone. He also felt inspired by his circle of friends who were making promising milestones in the music culture.
Like most artists, an alias is quite necessary. In honor of the vintage records that shaped his overall artistry, his brother and manager Jamil Hamilton came up with Jon Vinyl. The stage name is quite suitable, as he’s cleverly able to imbue the old feel those records behold into his fresh and sophisticated sound.
When it came to making music a full-time career for Vinyl, it first seemed a bit out of reach. “I knew I wanted to do it but I wasn’t sure because it didn’t sound realistic,” he shares. Now, at age 22, he’s decided that a long-standing career in music will be one of his life accomplishments.
As things began to fall into place, it was his first record “Nostalgia” that set him up for rising stardom. Currently his most-streamed song, he once felt uncomfortable releasing music prior to that. As many are instructed to follow their instincts, Vinyl has yet to be steered wrong.
What’s fitting is that the title of his debut single is the genuine nature of his sound. Warm. Comforting. Familiar. His old school influences are subtly diffused in many of his tracks, from the somberly poetic “Life” to the heartfelt slow jam “Storm.” Without directly mirroring those important factors, his music possesses a depth embodied by the same artists he’s looked up to.
The singer released “Moments” at the top of the year, which exudes more of an upbeat sound than the majority of his previous work. As he’s currently working on new music, he divulges that the new tunes have a similar feel and energy as the mentioned track.
Earlier this month, Vinyl’s 2019 smash “Addicted” received an acoustic flair to gain new momentum. To celebrate the unplugged rendition, Rated R&B got a chance to speak with Jon Vinyl about his burgeoning journey as an artist.
To be fairly young, your music has a mature essence. Where do you draw that particular inspiration from for your music and overall sound?
I think it’s just from back to when I was younger, listening to a lot of stuff my mom would play like old Mariah Carey records. She used to play Stevie Wonder, Boyz II Men, and all these great legends who are really strong in the R&B field. I think a little of that stems from listening to those records.
How long have you been singing and songwriting before you released the debut single “Nostalgia” in 2017?
I was working for about five years and just trying to figure the whole music thing out. There’s no real blueprint of how to write a record. I mean, you can read books and stuff, but it’s all about just actually doing it and figuring out what works for you. I had to figure that out and my voice and getting familiar with it. It took like five years before I finally released something.
What made you finally take that plunge and release “Nostalgia” as your first introduction to the world?
I felt like it was a great song and it was the first one I made in a while that made me really feel something immediately after recording it. I listened to it a million times after and I was really sure, so we just let it go and it did alright. It kind of launched our whole music career so it was a good call. I’m happy we did it.
Since 2017, you’ve been releasing singles and standalone songs here and there and last year in 2019, you released your debut EP Dangerous. How did it feel to finally release an official project?
I was really happy. That being the first one, it was a cool experience to see how people react to a body of work. It’s also a learning curve too, you know what you need to do differently and you know what you did well. It was mainly a learning process, just testing the waters to see where we’d be at if we dropped a full-length project.
If you know me you know how important aromatherapy is to my creative process. This candle was designed for your home, office, or anywhere you listen to my music. Available now @ https://t.co/bMVDsE2QWM or LINK IN BIO. pic.twitter.com/VIC7zYJ6MJ
— JON VINYL (@jonvinyl) October 11, 2019
You shared on Twitter that aromatherapy is important to your creative process. So much so, that you even released a limited edition candle as merchandise along with the Dangerous EP. Talk about what your creative process is and how aromatherapy plays a role.
Aromatherapy man, wow. It’s the best. I think, as an artist, when you go into the studio, people don’t realize that it takes a lot out of you because you are creating a vibe and that vibe is essentially how people are going to feel when they listen to it, right? So what you put in is what you get out of it. So going into the studio, you just have to be in the right headspace. You can’t really be mad and walk into the studio as an R&B singer because I don’t know what you’re going to create at that point (laughs). I just always have to be in a good headspace and I think aromatherapy really helps with that because it just provides good feels and it smells nice and it’s always a good vibe when I light a candle or have incense going.
When writing, is there a moment where you’ve gotten stuck and what do you do to get yourself out of that place?
Literally, all the time (laughs). I’m always stuck– all the time. It’s just a tough process to write and really put what you want to say in the most accurate way within a time frame. I think the best thing is not forcing on what you’re trying to write and just having fun with it, that’s what I learned a lot. As soon as I start to overthink, it becomes worse and worse so if I just let it freely flow out of me, I’m a lot better. I’ll usually take a break and come back to it with a different perspective and just calm my nerves.
In regards to what you already released, it comes off that it’s all about the music for you; there are no gimmicks, no attempts to go viral. Why do you think people gravitate to your music without those elements?
I don’t know, maybe they get a genuine feel for me and they can tell that I actually care about music. I know how it makes people feel. I’ve seen the magical moments at live performances when artists play in front of them and people are crying. Back in the Michael Jackson’s days when people were fainting! It clearly means a lot to people and it does to me as well and I think people can tell who’s really about the music and who’s just trying to go viral.
Stream Jon Vinyl’s “Addicted (Acoustic)” below. Follow him on Twitter @JonVinyl.