I’m really fucking tired of people focusing on my age”
SCHULTZ AND FOREVER got our attention last year with his Odd Stories EP. Three songs of bedroom folk supplemented by his DEVENDRA BAHNHART-esque, nasal voice, the EP is a story told in a twilight infused frosty forest. The term “prodigy” is apt here, considering Jonathan Schultz is still in high school. His most recent EP, Céline, released in February, was recorded in Paris, and features the meandering melodies that could have been inspired by that gray and stunning city. One of the most talked about shows at the year’s SPOT Festival in Århus, Denmark, SCHULTZ AND FOREVER live is more rock and roll. His set there featured some NEIL YOUNG-worthy feedback moments. While at the SPOT Festival, NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION took some time to ask SCHULTZ AND FOREVER about inspiration, being young, After the Goldrush and NICK DRAKE.
What is your musical history?
I started recording in my room while I started to write music. It came kind of hand in hand to record it, while I was writing.
When did you start playing the guitar?
That was when I was ten. I was in this punk band. We would play long, ten-minute songs; it was just mental and smash the room. After school, I could play three chords or something.
What’s your favorite punk band?
I think that would be SUICIDE. Not just punk band, I think that is my favorite band of all, they have this sound that it’s from the eighties and it could be today.
You live out in the country. Tell me about finding material to write about.
Yeah the suburbs. With the first EP I was really inspired by the silence that is out there. When it comes to musical inspiration the track Falling was really inspired by the silence, especially at night. The silence in the suburbs.
Tell me about solitude versus crowds.
I can’t write songs when I’m with people, I have to be isolated basically it’s when I can concentrate and be myself. Being alone is where I need to be to write songs.
SCHULTZ AND FOREVER:”I can’t write songs when I’m with people”
Tell me about the inspirational journey to Paris.
It wasn’t really an inspirational journey, that’s something a lot of journalists seem to write. I was just asked if I wanted to record it could have been in Denmark or anywhere else but the guys had a studio in Paris and so I chose it. It was inspirational in a way, some songs were written in Paris.
Tell me about people taking your seriously because you are young.
I’m really fucking tired of people focusing on my age and I’m going to school and I’m a student and I live in my parents. It comes up often. And I think it’s really stupid and it removes the focus from what is important and the music. Of course, it’s something that people seem to be attracted by and it could be good for records sales.
Tell me about the rest of your band. Your guitarist is attending music conservatory?
Yeah, he was actually admitted but they didn’t let him start because he was too young, he was sixteen. The drummer is a jazz drummer. I met him through friends. My guitar player someone I go to class with, we are going to graduate this summer. The keyboard player, he’s actually studying to be a conductor, he plays classical piano. The bassist is a jazz bassist; he plays in an avant-garde free jazz thing.
Who is someone, anyone, who has significantly influenced your life?
NICK DRAKE did, that’s just because he made good records but especially the lyrics on Pink Moon. I started to hear it when I was nine or ten years old. At my family gatherings my cousins would just put headphones on and play NEIL YOUNG’s After the Goldrush and NICK DRAKE, I got educated really quickly into music.
Would you rather die peacefully among friends at age 50, or painful and alone at age 80?
I would definitely die early, at fifty years old. That’s what I feel like now. But I don’t want to be really old and just sit and not be able to do anything. That’s kind of like dying.
What is your songwriting process like?
At the moment I’m not able to write songs, I’m having this period where I can’t write songs, I think it’s because of my school or something. I bring the songs, a finished song, and share it with the band and they put their things on it. It’s a very fluid process; we don’t argue what to do because they do it so perfectly.
The way that you sing is pretty distinct. How did you hit upon this style?
It just happened, I can’t really tell you. When I started singing at the age of ten, I was just screaming and playing guitar. I was listening to a lot of twenties jazz and that’s when my voice started to change and it just came hand in hand.
What bands are you into now?
I’m really into this Canadian band, DIRTY BEACHES. He’s got this ELVIS thing going on, it’s definitely more lo-fi and distorted, but there are some harmonies in there that are distorted by big, loud guitars.
When is the full record coming out?
Nobody knows. I think I’m going to start writing song and focusing more in July and August after I graduate, recording in September and November.
What do you need for songwriting? Peace and quiet? No distractions?
Yeah, no distractions, and I also need to not listen to music for a period of time. Just totally get away from music, then when I pick up the guitar it sounds much better, then I don’t get too influenced by what I’ve heard. That’s the way I do it, not listen to music.
What do hope and passion mean to you?
It means something definitely. It means a lot to have something to hope for. I hope to be able to play shows in New York, I don’t’ care when, just before I die, that is something I’ve always wanted to do, play in the US. I always respect Danish bands that play there. My passion is, of course, writing music.