Never Done Changing
Amidst Nashville’s ever-growing community, pop singer/producer Chris Jobe is consistently moving forward.
While leaning against a wall to keep myself from giving into the urge to nap, I find myself in awe of Chris Jobe’s never ending energy. About an hour after his performance on March 30th, he continues to make the rounds, enthusiastically greeting and thanking everyone still in the venue.
Even as we sit down in the stairwell of the High Watt to begin our interview, he never stops moving. It seems natural for him to constantly be in motion — so natural that when I ask Chris to pose for a photo afterwards and he sits completely still, it’s jarring.
While some people would see this constant energy as someone easily distracted, it becomes clear that he is a talented multi-tasker. We are interrupted several times by passing friends and fans, and when they’ve moved on, he goes right back to speaking where he left off, even when I’ve already forgotten the question.
The 24 year old singer/songwriter/producer never thought he’d end up in Nashville. After applying to multiple schools in New York and Los Angeles and being daunted by the cost, he received a scholarship from Belmont University and, after learning about their music program, decided to give it a shot. He’s now been in Nashville for six years, happy with the community and the way he’s been able to grow as an artist.
It’s clear that change and growth have been a constant for him over the years — and he doesn’t expect that to end anytime soon.
“What sort of music do you create?”
“Originally, it was going to be sarcastically happy pop stuff, and then it ended up being like more indie pop-type R&B.”
“How long have you been writing and performing?”
“I was 12 years old when I wrote my first song. My parents had just gotten a divorce and I was taking a poetry class…” he pauses, laughing. “I was a very deep twelve year old, all I listened to was Yellow by Coldplay, and lots of David Bowie and Jimmy Hendrix. That was my thing.”
He then tells me about his first-ever performance as an 18 year old new to Nashville. It was at the Hard Rock Cafe, and was “terrible.”
“Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong — and it was an ugly Christmas Sweater party, so I was wearing my ugliest sweater that you can imagine. I still hadn’t grown into my face yet, and I looked like a young, tall baby in a grandma’s Christmas sweater — and not doing well either.”
“Stuff like this is never going to be perfect, so performing is really just a matter of being there for people, being a conduit.”
If the energy in the crowds that regularly show up at his shows are any indication, Chris Jobe has left that rough start far behind him. It’s taken a lot of work that continues to this day.
“Honestly, I’m quite a perfectionist, and performing is not made for perfectionists. Leading up to a show, I always get so anxious. I try to go in there and capture the vibe of every song — but it’s weird to me because I feel like no matter what I do as a performer, it’s always different.”
He states that his favorite part of performing is “stage banter” along with witnessing the crowd’s reactions from stage. He wants to be connected with the fans as much as he is with the music — but no matter what other people think, he’s going to follow his own instincts.
“Stage,” the song he always opens his live sets with, “is kind of about my parents doubting me growing up. I think it’s an important message for kids — if you really want to do something, don’t whine about it, just do it. Just show your parents, hey, look what I can do.”
The fact that now his parents have come around makes it a difficult song for him to continue to connect with, and he’s considering removing it from his set lists, even though it’s a crowd favorite. “Now my parents are very supportive because they’ve seen it all happening. So I’m not pissed at my parents anymore but… I dunno, it’s just this weird thing.”
“I’m very competitive, and I know music is not a competition by any means, but I feel inspired and driven by my friends’ success — like this guy is fucking crushing it right now, I hope I can get to that level.”
One of the things that is not in question is the viral success of his first single, Thank You Internet.
“Thank You Internet is something we rewrote several times because the first time we wrote it, we wrote it as a complete joke, my buddy Kyle and I.” He then sings the original bridge while we sit in the stairwell, sending some passing fans and myself into fits of laughter.
“Dog and cat videos, yeah! All that shit can stay. But Kim Kardashian and her fake ass — that shit is lame!”
Recovering, I ask him about the production of the video, which seemed extremely large scale for an indie artist.
“It took about two or three weeks of planning. I have a bunch of talented friends who came together, and it was one of those things where everything fell into place kind of by luck.” A friend of his who has produced successful music videos in the past helped him with permits for filming locations, and keeping Chris’ “overly ambitious ideas” reined in.
One of these ambitious ideas was to reach out to different apps and ask them to help with the animation. “We sent it to Tinder and Bumble and Uber, like hey I want to put you in my video, and the ones who responded listened to the song and were like ‘aren’t you dissing us, why would we pay you or give you a sponsorship?’”
He also reached out to an animation company in Indiana that was luckily willing to work with him on a “nearly non-existent budget.” Everything, from the usernames in the video to the locations to the time stamps are extremely intentional. With the combination of catchy, relatable lyrics and excellent animation, once the video was completed, they did get one major social media outlet on board.
“Once we had the video all put together, we sent it to Facebook and they were like ‘we love this, we want you to be artist of the day.’ We thought it was crazy, but they released it and we got to watch it grow organically. It’s been amazing.” At the time of this article being published on April 17, 2018, the original post of Thank You Internet on Music on Facebook has had 981,890 views — at the time of the interview on April 1st, it had 846K.
“I feel like I have a lot of friends who had a song that’s popped off, and for me to have this video, and having so many people show up on Facebook — which I hadn’t really used because I’m such an Instagram guy — that was a really cool experience.”
“I’m not focused on getting a label, I’m just focused on getting to a place where I’m super proud of everything I’m doing, so I can give that over to the fans without anxiety. I feel like I’m on the right track.”
Shortly after TYI, he released his second single, Love In The Morning. Both are crowd pleasers at his live shows, but he feels more comfortable with the latter.
“It’s fun and I like what TYI is about, but stylistically it’s different compared to the other songs that I sing where I’m like, ‘hey this is a piece of my soul, here you go.’” He currently has the release of two more singles planned, and is excited to see how his fans receive them.
While creating music may take up the majority of his time, Chris does attempt to make it to his friends shows, and make time for other interests. One of his favorite books is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which he recommends to all creative people. He enjoyed the movie Ladybird, and hopes Timothée Chalamet — “the guy that was in Ladybird with the french name, on the cover of GQ, kind of androgynous, really good looking dude…” — would play him if there is ever a movie made about his life.
When I ask my final question — if there is a song that isn’t his own that he felt described him — he chooses Changing by John Mayer. “It seems crazy because I’m not personally into country-style music, but it’s some of the best songwriting. ‘I’m not done changing/I may be old and I may be young/but I am not done changing.’ I feel like that’s always relevant for me.”
Any creative folks who are anxious about turning their projects into their careers can certainly look to Chris Jobe as an example:
Accept that change is inevitable & allow it to fuel your growth.
Get ready & stay tuned for Chris Jobe’s upcoming singles by following him on Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify! If you’re in the Nashville area, his next performance is a free show at Analog on April 26th at 8:30pm.
Enjoy what you just read?
Learn more about Meridian Creators here, give us a like on Facebook, follow us on Instagram & Twitter, and consider supporting our growth by subscribing monthly through Patreon or giving a one-time donation through PayPal!