If you don't know who Jared Blake is, get ready because you will be hearing his name and his music a lot more in the coming months.
Jared was a featured contestant on season one of NBC's hit musical reality contest, "The Voice", as a member of Blake Shelton's team. While Jared didn't win the title of "The Voice", he's sure proving that his voice is one to be reckoned with and that just because you don't win a reality show contest doesn't mean you don't win in reality itself. Jared's not an unknown presence in the music industry, having worked with such high profile names as Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich and the Goo Goo Dolls among others. He's just now starting to make his mark and etch his fresh, unbroached sound into the genre of country music. He was known on the show as "the country rocker" and he's living up to that around Nashville. His new cd is in the works along with a few other projects that we'll find out about soon enough and his music from "The Voice" has reached as high as #16 on the iTunes charts. Jared may be known for being on "The Voice", but if the rabid sales of "Don't Mind" are any indication, he will be known by HIS voice.
Thank you to Jared for taking a few minutes to sit down and catch us up on what's been going on, his time on the show and a little more about what Jared Blake is all about and who he is.
LL: So tell us a little about Jared Blake, who are you as a person and an artist? Give us a glimpse into your background and what brought you to where you are right now.
Jared: I grew up in Arkansas in a town of 2,000 people and one stoplight. Growing up in the sticks, there wasn't much to do so I started playing music. I started playing piano and stayed glued to that about 2-3 hours a day. It was easy, so I got bored with that quickly. I picked up a guitar around 14 years old, and since that was harder, I decided to stick with that. I started writing songs when I was 16 because I had started singing at talent competitions and original songs gave you extra points. I, of course, wanted to win and did. That started a passion for songwriting, so I moved to the only town I had ever been to outside of Star City, Arkansas and that was Branson, MO. I met one of my best friends there, Eric Landes. We started writing together and got introduced to a couple of people from Nashville who told us about getting paid to write songs. We immediately moved to Nashville at age 20.
The songs I had written with Eric got me my first publishing deal with MoFamous Music and Mosaic. My first time in the studio was at Universal and the sides were produced by Bobby Pinson (BMI songwriter of the year award); Gretchen Wilson even sang backup for me! I sang a lot of demos for other artists and songwriters which led to my second writer deal with Sony/ATV and Love Monkey Music (Bob DiPiero). I signed with them in 2006 where I wrote/recorded about 200 songs over the next few years. I had a chance to write with many legendary songwriters that had written songs that brought me to want to write to begin with. Continuing to write with these guys has been a true blessing and some of the highlights of my career.
I've had a lot of opportunities with record labels, things just haven't panned out. I believe that things all happen for a reason and at a time when it's supposed to happen, not when you tell it to happen.
LL: People are obviously gonna know you from the first season of NBC's "The Voice" as a member of "Team Blake". After being on the show, having Blake Shelton as your coach and being in such an intense musical environment, is there anything you learned on the show that's helped you in your music and do you feel it's made you stronger in your music?
Jared: (laughing) I don't know that a reality show is going to effect your own music. I will say that the best advice I got on the show came from Reba and Blake. Reba said that she thought I was perfect the way I was and to go out there and be me. That's the best thing an artist can ever hear. Blake said something similar, you know, in a Blake-kinda way. I think it was more like a...go do what you do man. So, it made me stronger to be okay with being me.
LL: How would you describe the Jared Blake fan base?
Jared: (laughing) They come in all ages, shapes and sizes. We've tried to research where they live, who they are, and it's probably been the most confused my team has ever been. Trying to sift through the music fans from the tv fans might take a little time, but they have been really amazing! I love 'em all and they are why I get to do what I love every day. I will never lose sight of that fact.
LL: Ok, gotta ask because I KNOW there's been something ... what's the weirdest or scariest "encounter" you've had with a fan? While on the subject of fans, what's the nicest thing a fan has done for you?
Jared: Weirdest: A twitter fan asked me to poop on their chest...did you want me to go that far? (laughs) Otherwise, I'd say there was a mom that let her little girl run through Chicago traffic, knock on my window, and ask me for my bandana. I gave to to her, of course.
Nicest: A group of my fans donated their money to help me produce my new single. Any time a fan buys music, it's the biggest compliment I could possibly receive. It means they are invested in me, my career, and even supporting my family. I also hope it means it's touched their life in some way.
LL: Tell me a little bit about what goes into your songwriting and your music and where do you draw your inspiration? What's your favorite song you've written so far?
Jared: I draw inspiration from EVERYTHING. It happens to be what is hitting my heart and soul at that moment. I've tried to write about what people want to hear like a cute little love song, or breakups, you know...common things. I just can only write what I feel. Anyone who listens to my music can hear my life story over the years. Some days I'm feeling cheery and sometimes I'm in a darker place. You can hear all of that. I guess that's why people think I sing from my soul. I do.
My favorite song...Change. It's only my favorite because I continuously hear that it helps people through some hard time in their life. We all get caught up in where we want to be and what song is going to get us there. It's only when people tell you about a song affecting their life do I see that there's a much bigger picture behind the music. It's easy to forget for an artist. I hope more and more people continue to share their thoughts on music so we can be reminded.
LL: You're a family guy, you have kids. How does this new popularity affect your lifestyle at home and how much has it changed your everyday life?
Jared: It hasn't changed the kids at all. If they see someone looking at us, they will usually walk up to them and say hi. They've just always believed that I was a superstar. I can't really explain it.
I get to do music for a living now. That's the most amazing feeling in the world. Seeing someone sing a song that I wrote gets me every time I see it. Sometimes, I almost stop singing...it shocks me. I've teared up talking about that. People still stop me when I go out and talk to me about the show, Blake Shelton's height, Christina's attitude, CeeLo's arms, and ask why I wore that shiny bandana. I know. My only excuse is you get caught up and wardrobe, on those shows, is always pushing the limits. (laughing)
LL: Who has been your biggest influence and why?
Jared: My fiance Jenn. I've never actually seen anyone else ever naturally exude what I have always tried to be. She is just that, kind-hearted, intelligent, and really funny. I have to back it up to when I met her for this to make sense. Most people know, because of the show, that I had some issues in my past. Things that I learned about myself and worked to change were all qualities that I had to work hard to become. She had all those qualities and was always just being herself. She has done everything that has helped me progress in music and life. She pushed me to be on "The Voice". She has risked losing everything to stand behind me and what she believes in. She's even typing this for me as I speak because I type so slow (laughing). Is that weird?
LL: Is there any artist you'd like to write or perform with?
Jared: Ha, tons! How big of a list do you want? Top 3 that fit my mood today: (If they had to be alive) Miranda Lambert, Kid Rock, and Kris Kristofferson. I'd always add Johnny Cash if he were still around.
LL: What's your favorite and least favorite thing about being on the road?
Jared: Favorite thing: That I get to be!! and even better that I meet fans when I get there!
Least favorite: That I don't have enough money yet to bring all my kids, or there was that time when I didn't get paid by a promoter. Trusting other people with your career is difficult for me.
LL: Tell us about the new album you've got in the works, when can we expect the finished product? What's your favorite song off the cd and why?
Jared: You can expect total chaos in the new album (laughs). I'm going to be looking to take people for a ride of emotions on the album. People can expect to see a lot of sides of Jared Blake. It will feel a little country, a little rock, and all soul. As far as a favorite, I can't choose. That would be like picking a favorite child over your others.
LL: Ok, we'll wrap things up here, we really appreciate your time. How can we find you on the internet? You have a website, Twitter, Facebook and other internet sites that fans should know? Where are your next couple of shows taking you?
Jared: If you remember "Jared Blake Music", you've got them all. Website, Facebook, Twitter, and all. I'm home for the holidays and working on the new album and more business. I'm going to try to get in some acoustic shows in TX, TN and FL very soon. I'll be doing a couple of fundraisers in Nashville also.
LL: Anything else you'd like to throw in here that I haven't mentioned? Any other projects on the Jared Blake horizon we should know about?
Jared: I'm under contract to not to ;)
Thank you again to Jared for taking time out of his insane schedule to talk to us. We're looking forward to the new cd and these other "confidential" projects he has up his sleeve. You can check out Jared's online sites listed below and also purchase his music online.
Jared Blake Official Website
Jared Blake Official Twitter
Jared Blake Official Facebook Fan Page
Purchase "Don't Mind" on iTunes along with other great music by Jared Blake.