Jon Bellion has been on a steady rise thanks to his creative unique sound, that has molded him into an artist that has many paying attention. The Long Island producer, singer and songwriter for years has been working his way up to this critical point in his career.
Bellion’s has seen success most notably from his first three free mixtape/albums: Translations Through Speakers, The Separation, and The Definition. He is also known for his work on Eminem’s hit record ‘Monster’, featuring Rihanna. Bellion this year though, has caught the mainstream spotlight once again by this time signing the vocals for Zedd’s hit summer song ‘Beautiful Now’. And now, Bellion partnered up with longtime Lady Gaga producer and friend DJ White Shadow for his “Destination Tour”, partnering up with the luxurious W Hotels nationwide.
The ‘Beautiful Now’ singer is also set to release his first full length studio album, Beautiful Mind, later this year, which has the bar set high from his first three projects. “It was definitely a labor of love for the last three years.” said Bellion. “I think the next step is just naturally growing, I think I’ve given the fans enough to trust me for them to spend their hard earned money on something that I’ve worked on.” Bellion’s thoughts were focused on his fans, as this will be his first project that is going for sale. “I’ll always cater to the fans and I’m never going to over-charge for tickets, that’s always going to be a constant thing in mind. But I think now the next step is going to iTunes and the radio, or having it in stores. It’s a sense of legitimacy that comes from that.”
Paul Blair better known as “DJ White Shadow” was recently named Music Director for North America as part of W’s new Global Music Collective. His roles include handpicking music talent. “As a human being you want to keep developing things that you enjoy and things that you do.” White Shadow on his role of picking music talent, told us “I started out when I was 19 years old. I used to make techno, I used to travel to Europe to put records out, then it was about making music for somebody else and reaching a larger audience and I feel like I’ve done that. Now what I really enjoy is helping out people be the best they can possibly be. Right now at this specific junction in my life I am really excited to help other people out.”
The relationship between White Shadow and Bellion is both professional and personal. The big brother always looking out for what’s best for his younger sibling was present during the interview. “For Jon, where he’s at the point of his career maybe he doesn’t have the ability to walk into a situation that I just have sitting.” White Shadow explained “The first day I met Jon I said, ‘I have to fucking sign this kid.’ The day that I met him I literally knew he was going to be giant one day.”
DJ White Shadow is best known for his work as a producer for Lady Gaga’s albums Born This Way and Artpop. White Shadow added , “Everybody wants to be a superstar,” when talking about the work needed to make it in the music industry. “Everyone wants to be famous. This is hard work. Hard work to the point where you stress your body, brain, and your relationships out. You can tell if you’ve been around long enough if a person is going to be able to make it or not. Being an artist is not going up on stage and putting a microphone in your hand. It’s about creating so much more.”
The business partnership between DJ White Shadow and Bellion on behalf of the W Hotels includes touring and exclusive experiences to fans. “I knew if I send him here, he wasn’t going to get drunk in the lobby and pour champagne everywhere.” DJ White Shadow’s trust in Bellion’s character extends beyond his musical talent. “I know he has the ability to become a stronger business person and a better performer, and whatever I can contribute to helping him do that.”
A testimony to the traditional way of creating music, DJ White Shadow sites technology as constantly evolving. “That’s what exciting to me, finding people that want to work hard.” said DJ White Shadow. “You’re able to have enough equipment to record a full blown record in your bedroom. When I was first making records I had a Roland 808 Juno that I took out every credit card out that I could to buy it. There’s a lot of things that are exciting. Finding people that work hard, finding music that sounds great and people that really know what it takes to be an artist and helping support those people.”
In a few short years, Bellion has set himself up in a big way to breakout when his first studio album drops. Chicago was his second to last stop on his North American tour. Bellion sees the process he’s made and the journey his currently on as a “blessing”. “Last tour it was 13 guys in an 11 passenger van playing anywhere from 800 people sold out in New York to a bar in the middle of North Carolina with 200-250 kids. This year, every venue quadrupled and completely sold out with oversells and bumped up rooms. To see the progression that fast, it’s incredible.” Bellion also explained the resources DJ White Shadow offered that made this tour more memorable. “Then out of no where, we were all prepared to tough it out, being in the band. I get a call from one of my best friends in the industry (points to DJ White Shadow), and it’s like ‘I’m music directing for the W hotels, we can get you a tour bus.’ To see the growth and to able to carter to thousand of more fans and being healthy (is amazing). Last year it was grueling with my health, touring in a small van. To see my career grow getting to work with companies like the W Hotels… It’s been amazing. This tour has been so much fun, last year was grueling, this year I’ve been having a lot of fun.”
Bellion performs with his band, that is made up of his friends from college. Bellion also uses his close friends for social media content and when creating videos. “We made a promise to each other when we were jamming in college six to seven years ago that we would stick together if one person were to make it, we would all keep jamming. Their my best friends and it feels like I’m at summer camp with them right now.” He also cites the people he surrounds himself with as a major influence to his success. Traveling and performing across the country has made many surreal moments for Bellion and his band of musically talented friends. “These are God fearing cats that love their craft and decided to actually make music in the craft of making music.” Bellion added. “It’s an incredible thing to see my best friends that I met in college and (who I were) jamming with when we didn’t know what the hell was going on for us. Just recently a show in New York (it) sold out 60 days in advance. That’s three thousands people. We all look at each other and it keeps us in check because we tell each other, ‘Remember when I couldn’t afford lunch at school and you had to swipe your dinner card for me?’ These are the same guys. It’s a blessing!”
White Shadow also shared how his first studio session with Bellion went. “If you’re light minded and you have success in your blinders, that’s what you’re moving towards. It’s a beautiful thing to see light minded people like you and racing with you and help support you. It’s incredible, that’s what I saw at my first session.”
Bellion delivers a unique hybrid of smoothing electronic sounds with his singing and rap productions. His multitalented approach has Bellion’s input into his songwriting and live performances, to directing his music videos. He also posts videos on YouTube showing fans the “Behind The Scenes” of his music “The soup of what the internet is today created an avalanche of content because technology made it so accessible.” Bellion explains his involvement with all aspect of his music. “What kids want is to gravitate toward something that’s real, I’m just a person who is putting their heart and soul into everything. I think the second my touch comes off everything is the second nobody is going to give a shit about me. My touch will always still on my music.”
White Shadow also weighed in on the topic of the importance artists must have with their content. “There’s a lot of artist out there that do none of there music. None of their content, nothing. Those people can’t sell out a “House of Blues” because people who do listen to music have no connection with that artist whatsoever. Who wants to pay to see that?” White Shadow was not shy for words about the music direction that seems to be very present in today’s music. “That’s some Milli Vanili shit.” White Shadow explained. “There’s a lot of really good DJ’s that have never made a song in their life and have seven albums out. It’s a weird time in music, but to see someone like Jon doing what he’s doing, it’s refreshing and awesome to me but also it should be refreshing and awesome for everybody who actually is an artist and musician.” White Shadow also added what he believes is one of the things that works in the music industry. “If you’re not honest and open and legitimate about what you’re doing, you’re going to get called out, that’s the best thing that has happened recently. If somebody unplugs your shit when you’re signing a record and your record keeps going, the whole world is going to know about it. Everything has to be open and honest, carefully crafted in order to be great.”
Bellion is continuing to rise up the ranks of emerging new artists, due to his contributions to other artists. That will soon be in the past according to Bellion, “My commercial success has been a blessing.” With his well deserved success, Bellion is someone who will definitely make a name for himself in the future for his unique and captivating music. “Starving artist do die hungry and my artistry, I put everything into that.”
To finish our interview Bellion shared an update of his forthcoming album, Beautiful Mind. Bellion stated “I’m like ninety percent done with it.” A goal for Bellion is to constantly change and grow as an artist. “I’ve improved my craft from that last (project). That’s always been my goal. Every (project) that I dropped, I want to be greater, lyrically more precise to get my point across. I think this next album is just the next step in my growth. Anybody can take it how ever they want to take it but I know for myself I’ve checked boxes from my last (project) that makes this album much better.”