(Original Photo By: Alex Mason Photography)
The latest installment of the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi, hit theaters in December to record numbers. One of the prevailing themes of the movie was burying the past, looking toward the future, and an inherent belief that anyone can rise to the top from the humblest of beginnings. Someone who might be able to relate is musician/producer/DJ, Seth Jones (Sj). Fresh off of an opening spot on Seven Lions and Tritonal’s Horizon Tour, Sj is starting to make a name for himself with his uplifting productions. Despite his recent success, Seth says that he never expected to make it like this in the music industry.
“A lot of people say they are going to be something from like three years old, I never had that. I was just curious and I would do little things. I would take toys/objects to the park and build things. We had a piano sitting at the house and I would figure out how to play it. A desire for creativity and innovation led me towards music. I was over at a friend’s house and he had a guitar under his bed, so I brought it home and learned how to play it. Chasing big dreams, especially being a musician, just didn’t really exist in my hometown and therefore, it wasn’t really part of my mindset. But then I went to Belmont University in Nashville…being around people who did have those dreams I was like, oh, okay cool, this is something I can actually do, and the rest is history.”
Even before Seth started making headways with his music (specifically his most recent single, “Flicker”), he had been using his influence as an artist to help change the world through his philanthropic work. Despite being a full-time musician, Seth also founded a non-profit dually based in Nashville and India called One Life, which helps to “transform places of poverty (in Indian slums) into places of possibility.” They recently finished a project called “Our Dream Home,” which is a safe house dedicated to long-term development and care for 25 young refugee women who have escaped poverty/sexual abuse/slavery. They provide educational and vocational services to prevent these women from returning to the slums.
“I had a friend in Nashville who had gone over to India, met a few people, and he invited me over there. So I went like six years ago to Calcutta where I met people who needed help. Upon my return I started One Life with my friend. We had no idea what we were doing, kind of the same as music…I never had a dream or anything. I’ve always really cared about people and have wanted to make the world a better place, but the idea of starting a non-profit was never something that came to mind. I saw the opportunity and realized that I had the resources and ability to help, and so we did. It’s been quite a journey the last six years.”
Seth mentioned that as an artist you have to be a self-starter and also be aware of the business side of music. Sometimes the best ability is availability and Seth says that being able to show up and just do something on your bad days is a major key to moving forward as an artist. Whether you’re a professional musician or just someone scrolling through Instagram, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and feeling let down because of that. It may be cliché, but adversity builds character. If you don’t challenge and push yourself, you’ll never know what you can accomplish.
“I think the real struggle is with yourself – figuring out how to be creative and marry these worlds of art, commerce, even spirituality, and all the things that you care about into this thing that you do for a living. You’re also usually in a community where people are doing the exact same thing or something similar so it’s easy to compare yourself, or to not feel like what you’re doing is up to par. It’s honestly an artist’s tortured soul that’s the hardest thing. I’ve seen that kill careers and make people leave more than any other thing, just people who get discouraged with what they’re doing. I think a lot of it is the discipline of just showing up. Even when you don’t feel like you’re in it, you take a little step and it adds up to something great.”
Hard work, positivity, keeping an open mind, and of course…a lot of self-discipline, Sj is a great example of how anyone can chase a dream and achieve success. Seth also had a vision for what he wanted his career to be and he’s applying that and growing accordingly. Founding a non-profit, that’s just going above and beyond. But as Seth tells it, he’s all about love and freedom. Dance music is love and freedom in its purest and most addictive form. Artists should strive to provide that for people. Life is hard and people need something to lift them up. Sj is doing just that by leading a successful music career.
“I want my whole career and everything I do to be about love and freedom. I want to bring people into deeper connection with one another, to have amazing experiences. This is the only life that we have, every moment we can create that is centered in that reality of embracing the moment is the best. People listen to music and come to shows to unleash themselves. Especially in dance music, there are so many colorful personalities and people who might work from 9-to-5 and then they show up at these events and have renewed energy. I love that. I think the world needs more of that. As a songwriter, I want people to connect emotionally to these themes…and give them that moment of not feeling alone, understanding themselves a little bit more, and creating a space where they are free to be themselves.”