Jason Reeves is a singer-songwriter originally from Iowa City, Iowa. Shortly after moving to California in 2005, he met Colbie Caillat and co-wrote many of the songs on her debut album, Coco, including the hit singles “Bubbly” and “Realize.” He also co-wrote songs on Caillat’s follow-up album Breakthrough, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, plus “The Show,” which was a hit in the United Kingdom and elsewhere for Lenka.
His 2007 album Magnificent Adventures of Heartache and Other Frightening Tales won acclaim for its heartfelt pop-infused folk songs, and his album The Lovesick will be released by Warner Brothers this year.
The following interview was conducted by email.
Jeff Moehlis: What can we look forward to for your upcoming concert at UCSB?
Jason Reeves: You can look forward to unique versions of old and new songs, stripped down and honest.
JM: Like you, I grew up in Iowa and now live in California. How has the transition been for you?
JR: It’s a drastic change, as you must know as well. It took me awhile to adjust to the sheer volume of humans and natural beauty. One of the biggest differences was the freeways and the way you have to drive.
JM: Is there anything that you particularly miss about Iowa?
JR: I miss my family and friends from there and so many little things about my hometown. The people of Iowa are a rare breed.
JM: Are there any Iowa bands or artists that you’re fond of that people outside of the state might not know about?
JR: My favorite is Greg Brown. He’s got his own thing and is from Iowa City.
JM: Did you have any formal musical training?
JR: I took piano and drum lessons when I was young, and took a lot of choir classes in high school. Beyond that I just play by ear and learn as I go.
JM: When did you first start writing songs?
JM: What is the songwriting process typically like for you, or is there a typical?
JR: There are no rules or certain methods. I usually start with the guitar or piano and sing melodies over the chords. The lyrics seem to be born out of that, and the fact that it’s still a mystery to me is my favorite part.
JM: You have co-written some hit songs with Colbie Caillat. What do each of you bring to this songwriting partnership?
JR: I love writing with Colbie. We have something very magical together that’s difficult to describe. We’re very comfortable with each other, and that’s really important for co-writing. I think both of us bring different things to each song.
JM: I’ve read that Rihanna had 27 songwriters and 32 producers working for several weeks to come up with the material for her latest album. As a songwriter who sings his own material, sometimes written in collaboration with one or two other people, what do you think about that?
JR: I think everybody does it their own way. I do what works best for me, but it might not work for somebody else. That does seem like there were too many cooks in the kitchen, though.
JM: What advice would you give to an aspiring songwriter/musician?
JR: I would say it’s all about insane amounts of patience and belief in yourself. You have to have a vision and know that it’s worth seeing it through. Other than that, just be true to your heart.
JM: When will your new album, The Lovesick, be released?
JR: It comes out sometime this summer. There’s no exact date yet, though.
JM: What are your plans, musical or otherwise, for the near future?
JR: I don’t really believe in plans. They only change. My goal is simply to be able to make music and live life in this crazy, falling-apart world.
JM: Where are you responding from?
JR: Today I’m in L.A. Tomorrow I’ll be in San Francisco. Always moving on ...
— Noozhawk contributor Jeff Moehlis is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.