ARTIST NAME: UNBLOOM + Connor Morand
SONG TITLE: Best Believe
RELEASE DATE: March 15, 2019
2018 could be regarded as one of Jonathan Zarola’s most pivotal years as a producer and electronic artist under the name UNBLOOM – a kind of year that an artist can leap off of, or simply crumble from.
Having released three critically acclaimed singles that prominently featured his vocals – Chances, I Followed, and Lost Myself; the young artist cemented his place in the “rising stars” category with adoring support from tastemakers such as EARMILK, Cloudkid, and Peter Robinson of Popjustice. The singles acted as an affirmation of Zarola’s ability to be a “complete artist”.
The logical move would be to continue the trend; lean into the frontman persona and ride the wave.
But Zarola, first and foremost, is a craftsman and talent curator. His first single of 2019, ‘Best Believe’ (featuring the stunning vocals of rising alt-pop artist Connor Morand) confirms this statement.
What Zarola does so well with the UNBLOOM project is adding subtlety and nuance to the accessible; to layer and adjust textures that encourage multiple listens.
The fact that ‘Best Believe’ has one of the catchiest hooks of 2019 doesn’t hurt either.
Perhaps his ability to create songs with emotional weight and danceable energy is one of the reasons why EARMILK hailed him as an “electronic prodigy,” and why he continues to push the boundaries of what the UNBLOOM project could be.
Share your life story with us.
I began my music career as a drummer for jazz, funk, and indie projects. The process of recording with these bands really inspired me to take up production on my own time.
The desire to produce music also coincided with my love of Disclosure’s debut album “Settle” which completely changed my life. I knew from that point on that I wanted to make dance-based music.
List the names of those that have supported you so far in your music career and use this opportunity to thank them.
I want to thank my Mom and Dad for being so supportive of my passion and helping me when they can to make my dreams a reality.
By extension, I want to thank my girlfriend Hannah for always being so patient with me during this turbulent time of pursuing music.
In the blogosphere, I want to thank Adam from the Soundsgood Blog, Sav from The Music Mermaid, and Peter Robinson from Popjustice. Y’all have been amazing towards my craft and me!
Narrate your experience while recording in the studio or while touring.
Being in the studio with Connor Morand has been a revelation for me. Sometimes, you just find that person who completes your process better than you do, and Connor is certainly that to me.
Writing ‘Best Believe’ was an amazing experience, and I knew from the start that his sincerity and emotional honesty would carry the song beyond genre-confines.
Discuss your songwriting.
My songwriting begins with an emotional feeling. Sometimes it stems from the drum pattern, other times from the chord progression. Regardless, I have to feel something in order to get excited about finishing it. If I don’t, I toss it.
Elaborate on your future projects.
More collaboration is in the works! Some localized to me, but others from over the border. Exciting times ahead!
Tell us what you are doing to increase your fan base.
I’m just trying to engage with my fan base as much as possible with my socials, and being as honest as I can with myself on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
I think people appreciate someone who keeps it real and doesn’t bullshit them. That’s what I aim for.
Tell us that point in time you wanted to give up on your music career.
Almost every day I combat the urge to give up and quit. This is a tough business and it chews you up and spits you out without a single care for your mental or physical health.
But through it all, I find myself writing and producing because I love it still. I love the creative process; I love the grind.
Go into detail on how you make your instrumentation or melody.
I wish there was a model for how I create melodies (it would make my life so much easier), but the truth is, I just sit at the keyboard and feel what works and what doesn’t.
I always ask: “does this evoke an emotional response?” if yes, then the idea is built upon.
Tell us your complete understanding of music licensing.
There’s a difference between a publisher and a “licensing vault.” The former actively shops your music for proper placements in TV and Movies, and the latter simply holds onto your music in anticipation of an appropriate commercial spot.
Tell us your favorite genre of music.
Electronic (in the broadest sense of the word).
Tell us the theme of most of your songs.
Most UNBLOOM’s songs deal with relationships (not only between lovers, but with anyone really), and the precariousness that exists in these relationships.
Elaborate on this song.
‘Best Believe’ is a song that explores the hard truths of what it means to be in a relationship – to be in love. Sometimes, it involves confrontation and the ensuing pain of getting to the core of where the relationship stands, or, quite frankly, doesn’t stand at all.
And sometimes the relationship surprises you; the pain is temporary because the outcome is worthwhile. That’s the kind of sentiment Connor and I wanted to explore in ‘Best Believe’.
Discuss digital distribution and streaming.
It’s probably the worst part about the music industry, and yet it’s completely vital to the success of any artist hoping to make this a full-time career.
Make sure you get your song ready for distribution as early as possible, so as to give yourself enough time to pitch to playlist curators.
Tell us numerous ways that artists can boost their revenue.
Selling merch in person or online, or going on tour/playing intimate shows are traditional ways of boosting revenue.
Tell us your opinion on self-training and enrolling in an educational institution to study music.
I’m not professionally trained by any means, but I do think there is value in getting an education of some kind. I have a Master’s degree in English literature and criticism, and I’m so grateful to have that background in critical thought. It has helped with lyric writing and session work with other artists immensely.
Go on at length on what it takes to write a hit song.
At this point, who really even knows what a hit song consists of? Streaming has changed the model somewhat, but I guess the most consistent component of a “hit” song is a catchy melody and engaging, relatable lyrics. If it can make people emote and move, that’s a good sign too.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
My artist name ‘UNBLOOM’ was inspired by the late poet Thomas Hardy; he used to place the prefix “UN” in front of words that often didn’t require them. By doing so, it would draw attention to the root word, and also the inverse of its function. I thought that was cool when applied to the word “bloom.”