It’s not where you are, it’s where you’re at. These words hold true for JWestern – government name: John Gooding – a producer/singer-songwriter whose softly slung chord progressions, frictionless beats, and pastel pallet of wavy instrumentation suggest a sound more indebted to South Central L.A. than his bedroom in South Yorkshire. Nevertheless, he combines both to create a woozy rural metropolis where the streets look like degraded 35mm film stock and its permanent summer. Part indie-adjacent R&B crooner whose soundwaves crash onto the shores of jazz and hip-hop, part mineworker cracking gems at the cliff face of pop, JWestern’s delivery is distinctly British; sardonic asides and northern vernacular dripping from his semi-rap flow.
Beats are in his DNA, quite literally – his dad was a drummer. It was only natural then that John was lured to the iridescent neo-soul/hip hop culture orbiting Soundcloud, where discovering Rejjie Snow and Tom Misch aged 14 was like a bump of raw medicine. Not that he acted on his impulses. For a while, he led a double life: “I was in bands but knew I wasn’t being true to myself.” admits John. “It was as if I was two different people. I enjoyed it, but the music didn’t give me feels. At home, I’d be JWestern in my bedroom and get such a buzz.” Like a mouthful of acid and popping candy, what he came to produce in his room was a wonky ooze of synesthesia crackling with reality.
Inspired by the likes of King Krule and Steve Lacy, JWestern shares an honest attitude and candid approach:“A lot of the songs are born on the acoustic guitar I got aged six.” professes John. “Something about that instrument allows me to connect with how I’m really feeling.” It has become somewhat of an energy for the JWestern alter ego, an aesthetic Excalibur. “Other times, I find bass to be the most direct route to the heart of a song.” Regardless, the outcome is pop perfection: crisp beats, groovebump basslines and hallucinatory guitars that float with the colour and verve of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, trespassing in and out the mix.