We’re Getting Candid in our interview with Jhariah, a Brooklyn-based singer.
Jhariah has been making music since 2017, seamlessly fusing dance-punk, emo, prog rock, and hardcore with pop, hip-hop, Latin dance, and more to make a sound deeply personal to him. They just finished up a tour with their friends in Pinkshift and released a song together called “EAT YOUR FRIENDS.”
We talk to Jhariah about the importance of making a community with fellow musicians and fans, how bands like My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy inspired him to push the limits of their own music, and how fans discover and connect with music in completely unexpected ways.
Below is an excerpt from the interview. Hear the full conversation on Name 3 Songs podcast.
Excerpt from Getting Candid with Jhariah [INTERVIEW]
You recently released a song with Pinkshift called “EAT YOUR FRIENDS” and you shared on Instagram that this song is about not allowing yourself to fall into the competition of the music industry. Can you expand on that?
[When I started writing the song] I immediately wanted Pinkshift on here. I was trying to tackle this idea of writing a song about jealousy and figure out where that fits in within the greater scheme of my life. I didn’t know anybody else [when I started I started making music]. I didn’t have friends in bands, I wasn’t in a band – it was just me.
So I’d get into this thought loop where everybody felt like a benchmark. Like, I gotta reach this point or I gotta accomplish this. And the more I found a real community – Pinkshift was a big part of that, they were one of the first bands that I felt really connected to – it really started to ease a lot of those feelings.
Now that these bands are my friends, [I realized] this is really at odds with what my heart wants and the community I desire. People love to pit bands against each other. Especially when it’s a band of marginalized folks. They love to put everybody in a ring and say there’s only room for one, and I don’t want to be that one. What about my friends?
The crux of the whole song is having people trying to pit you against people that you care about, and it’s very grating on your dignity.
Your sophomore album A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO FAKING YOUR DEATH is an amalgamation of many sounds, so much so that it feels like I’m in a cinematic universe when I’m listening to it. You bring in elements of dance-punk, emo, prog rock, hip hop, latin, and more. How did you begin building all of this? How did you get here?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently, especially going into the next album. And I’ve always had this tendency to connect dots. I look at these different genres and scenes and they don’t seem that different to me. So when I’m making music, I’m never sitting down like, “I want to make a song that sounds like this genre.” It’s more about what do I want to say? and how do I want to communicate it?
I’m pulling from this endless bucket of ideas and sounds and seeing what fits together. There are definitely conventional combinations, the same way there are foods that go together, but so many of those things are serving their own roles in different contexts. Like a guitar can mean a lot of things depending on the genre. So that’s just how I’ve always thought of everything – connections and patterns. Once I started making music it came naturally.
And also I get bored easily so I always want to make something that I haven’t heard.
As somebody who deeply loves pop punk music, I can say it’s kind of a stale genre. And I feel like this era of punk is like bringing in outside noises that haven’t been done before. How did you even land on combining those sounds and making something totally new?
I will say I don’t really listen to pop punk. I love a little Sum 41 here and there. But I’ve always gravitated toward bands that break out of their respective scenes and separate themselves from what’s happening.
The reason I love [My Chemical Romance] is because they came up in emo and pop punk and they sound nothing like any of those bands and that was intentional. They knew that and they wanted to do something different, and it was the same with [Panic! At the Disco].
I am so fascinated by the things that bind a certain scene together, because so often it’s not the way the music sounds. Like you take emo music, all those bands sound completely different. But something binds them together culturally. I’m always striving to pull from different places and do something that stands out as maybe a little contrarian, you know?
We talk a lot about mental health on our podcast and how there’s a lot of stigma for minorities and for men seeking help for mental health. At the same time, music can be a form of therapy and can be a very vulnerable thing for musicians. What has your experience been dealing with mental health or just being vulnerable in your music?
I agree with all of that. Making music is a lot like therapy. A few years ago my music was almost escapist. [My writing process] was always like “I’m gonna write a story because this is what I need.” I always felt separate from how I’m feeling, because I almost felt like my experiences weren’t worth capturing.
And then I noticed over time that people would latch onto these songs and be like, “oh wow, I’m going through this thing and this feels very relevant to me.” And I’d be like, “how did you know?”
Regardless of how you’re feeling about your life and your mental health, it’s always gonna make its way into what you’re creating. I started to learn that people can feel that on a very deep level beyond just a metaphor.