I first became acquainted with Cypress Jones through a music video that he had produced for local chanteuse, Laryssa Birdseye. So when I saw his recent video release for “Know Yourself” it took me a little while to figure out that it was not only his video production, but also his own song and voice. With its positive message and melodic backdrop his new tune “Know Yourself” grabbed me from the first listen. I dug into learn more, and found that Cypress grew up locally, recently moved to LA to pursue his dreams, and comes from an impressive musical family. His father, Alan Jones, is a very well-known local jazz drummer and his mother, Janet Chvatal, is a German opera singer. With a family background in jazz and opera, it’s not surprising that Cypress has a talent for music, understands how much hard work it takes to get anywhere in the business, and has an interesting perspective.
“Know Yourself” is an inspiring song about… knowing yourself and how important and tricky that is. Check it out and learn more about Cypress, his journey, and his purpose in life in the interview below.
PN: I first became acquainted with you through a music video that you had done for Laryssa Birdseye. Your videos are great! So I was surprised when I saw your new video for Know Yourself. It took me a while to figure out that it was you, and your song. Can you say something about what inspired that song for you?
CJ: Thank you for the kind words! I have been rapping/producing pretty seriously now for about 14 years, just not in the public eye. It has been a long personal journey of deciding who to be and how to present myself if I ever decided to release music. One of the main things I’ve figured out recently is the most important thing is to get to know yourself, then present yourself and your story to the world. If you are authentic, you may never fall in line with the mainstream and be as big as you always dreamed, but you will be fulfilled, and actually have a chance of touching people in a meaningful way. This is where the idea came from, and I decided I wanted to share it, as well as just make a fun song for people to vibe to.
PN: The song is described as being “car freestyle”. Can you describe the writing, performance, and production that goes into this kind of song?
CJ: This song was made completely in one night, from the beat production, to writing and recording. I have a lot of big productions in the works to start off my career, and I felt like if I didn’t just release it now, I may never get to it. So, I decided to jump in the car, and do an equally to the point video production to go along with it so I could edit and release immediately. It’s not a music video, but also not a live freestyle, so I just came up with a name and decided to run with it. I am hoping once I release my next “Real Music Videos” fans will come back to it and have a greater understanding of who I am. Doing these run-n-gun songs and shoots is pretty fun, so I may do something similar every month from now on.
PN: I heard that you are originally from Portland and just recently moved to LA. Why did you move?
CJ: I moved to LA for a couple reasons. First of all, I went through an incredibly traumatizing break-up, and it was time to change scenery and get my head straight. Second, I realized that although it is possible to “Make It” in Portland. Ultimately, everyone eventually ends up in LA once they find success. It’s just where everyone and everything is. Since being here, I have realized it is the perfect place for me right now. Being surrounded by so many of the most successful and motivated people in the industry is a breath of fresh air for me. When there are so many people better than you, hustling harder than you, there is nowhere to go but up if you have the right attitude and keep humble. I am learning an incredible amount, and fast. My heart will always be in Portland, and once I find the success personally, and commercially that I am looking for, I plan on moving back, or at least living there half time. I miss it very much.
PN: Some of the lyrics in the song make it seem like you have been working on freestyle hip hop for quite some time. Is this your first song and/or music video? Do you have more song concepts ready to record or perform? Any plans to do more with this, or to perform live?
As I said before, I have been doing Hip-Hop for about 14 years now, since I was 11 and living in Germany. In the last 6 years, I have released a video here or there, but really only because I love doing it. I would just set up the shot and have my friends film it, whoever was available that day. If people watched and enjoyed, I was happy. Only now am I considering really pushing to do this full time. I have 5 videos in the works at the moment, including my first big budget song and video “All I Want” which I am very excited about. Right now I am polishing up the songs & videos, and building a plan on how best to release them so that this next push can really start off my career. I make at least 2 songs a week, and have for as long as I can remember, so I have no lack of material, it’s just deciding which ones to release and when to build the image that I want and to peek people’s interest.
PN: “Know Yourself” is uplifting and positive. But, a lot of hip hop seems kind of negative and sometimes derogatory towards women. Do you have any thoughts on that?
CJ: I have decided with my music that I want to be a positive force, but that’s just the true me. I am a positive and upbeat person and want to give that part of myself to the world. Everyone has darkness in their lives, and some artists feel like that darkness should define them. I have no problem with that, as long as concentrating on that darkness makes you happy. I know that for the listener, sometimes someone opening up about the darkness in their lives can help you navigate through it. Being derogatory towards women, or anyone for that matter is not helpful. There’s a fine line between expressing your feelings, and attacking an individual or group. I do not condone any of that. Love is the name of the game in my world.
PN: Who are your influences- in music, video, life, etc?
My father and mother are my two biggest influences. My father, Alan Jones, is a respected jazz drummer in Portland, and my mother, Janet Chvatal, is an opera singer over in Germany. They have both been successful in this industry and taught me everything I know. They are as supportive as it gets, and give me knowledge on life and my career every day. I am truly blessed to have them. Rap-wise, I am a huge fan of Eyedea, Aesop Rock, Slug, Big L, Talib Kweli just to name a few. I gravitate towards lyrical rap, although recently I have learned how to appreciate pop more, and am adapting just a little, style-wise, to reach the most people possible.
PN: What haven’t I asked you that I should have?
CJ: Ha ha, I enjoyed your questions. Maybe: “What do you feel like your purpose in life is?” And my answer would be, to make art through whatever conduit I can, to bring people joy and to be a friend who is there for you, whomever you may be, whenever you need me. I want to repay the artists who helped me through my pain and have saved my life so many times.
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