Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW expellee dishes on journey toward fame

Universal appeal is incredibly hard to come by, especially
in a country with a population of more than 300 million where everything is
divided into either-or categories. You are either black or white, Republican or
Democrat, rap or rock, etc. Transcending these boundaries is nearly impossible
given the fact that it is human nature to classify things.

But damn it if someone isn?t going to try. Meet Jon Henry, a
former University of Wisconsin student and native Milwaukeean who now resides
in Los Angeles attempting to jumpstart his genre-defying music career.

While attending UW, Henry was a marketing major who also enjoyed
sociology. The problem is that Henry also ?had interests in partying? and
?learn[ed] how to be social.? He got into performing via open mic nights around
campus and organizing parties.


?My interests were entertaining people, even back then,?
recalls Henry. ?School started to be less and less of a focus. I started to
think, ?You know what, I really know what I wanna do.??

Finally, Henry was dropped from enrollment, having lost
interest in school.

?Eventually, I wasn?t going to class at all ? and that was
really the turning point.?

The one thing you realize after speaking with Henry is that
the man is goal-oriented. Henry knows what he wants: He wants his message to
include anyone and everyone.

?The message revolves around things like freedom, hope. The
message that is targeted specifically: the young kids in the world, young
American kids. That?s the world that I know the best. ? So I just try and kinda
write theme music, especially soundtracks, for kids who have problems. ?And
hopefully it?s universal enough that anyone can like it, not just the one kid.?

When asked if he is, in fact, going for universal appeal, he
replies that he absolutely is. ?Definitely something that we?re aiming to do
with our music, [his record label and management company] Young World Music, is
make music that is just pop, basically ? as pop as can be. We want it to have a
broad audience so people can really relate to it and get into it.?

Henry?s approach to achieving his goal is as interesting ? and
ambitious ? as the goal itself.

?The Prime Mover [his producer and chief collaborator] and I
set out to make songs that were unlike anything else. We didn?t want to have
the approach that we?d seen before.?

So, the way that Henry wants to attain his goal is to
combine radio-friendly music with a clear, understandable message.

?Our goal is to make pop music ? I don?t think there?s
anything wrong with that. You can have music that?s meaningful and also be
commercially accessible. I totally think it?s a goal that we can realize,?
asserts Henry.

Since Henry both sings and raps, he may have a better chance
at realizing his goal than most people can appreciate. When asked if he prefers
one over the other, he states that today he prefers singing.

That said, he is also quick to point out that he has ?a lot
more experience with hip-hop music.?

Henry added, ?That?s where I started. I am open-minded and I
like a lot of different types of music, but hip-hop is where I first fell in
love with writing songs, so I think I?m really good at it. But the singing is a
lot of fun to perform. That?s where I can lose myself and say, ?Man, I?m really
having fun here.??

Henry also explains what a fan can expect at his concerts.

?It?s gonna be a variety of songs. We?ve always been
schizophrenic with the songwriting. We have songs that run the whole spectrum
of human emotions. So, when you go to a Jon Henry show what you will have is
you?re gonna have fun, and then you gonna sink and get a little bit sad, and
then you?re gonna get angry and then you?re gonna come through it and have that
feeling of hope and feeling of uplift at the end. We always take people through
a rollercoaster ? it?s real exciting.?

Perhaps the single biggest catalyst in Henry?s goal of
becoming universal is Young World Music?s marketing campaign for him.

?It started out with lots of grassroots promotion: online ?
on MySpace and Facebook.?

Henry also sees the old model of promotion as obsolete.

?I think we?re gonna go places that I haven?t seen people
going yet. It?s a changing industry. [The current model] is dying. People see
that, so we?re gonna get really creative in the way that we present this in a
timeline, the way that we set it up.?

I then ask him his opinion on Internet downloading, legal or
otherwise. Henry replies that he ?had never really had a problem with it? and
that ?the more [artists] get their music out, the more it creates real
opportunities outside of it.?

But most of all, Young World wants to create a multimedia
extravaganza out of Henry. Starting with his debut record, Goodbye Cruel World, Henry hopes to create a symbiotic relationship
between music and video in a way that has not been done before.

?I feel like the more people hear [my album] the more
they?re gonna want to see the video that we set up for it? states Henry.
?There?s a whole world that relates to the foundation of the music. The music
is just like a stepping stone ? get that music out there, I feel. For us, it?s
only gonna open up opportunities for shows and merchandising. They?re bigger
and more fun, frankly.?

He finally sums it rather succinctly: ?We take the Jon Henry
brand and let [people] know that this brand is going to offer all types of
products and services to get excited about. ? I don?t just want to have a song,
I want people to enter a world where they?re entertained in all different types
of media. Come into our world and let us entertain you.?


For potential Jon Henry fans, expect big things from him in 2008. He is
currently recording ?the first of many? concept albums in the vein of My Chemical
Romance?s The Black Parade and Lupe
Fiasco?s The Cool. He finds that
recording a concept album ?helps the songwriting on each song,? which allows
the songs to ?all fit together and flow.? He goes on to describe the songs as a
whole. ?They?re gonna be fun, very creative, and about concepts that people can
relate to and get a lot of meaning from.??

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