[Exclusive Interview]: JAWNY Remains True to Himself
From growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area to managing a pizza shop in New Jersey to going on tour with Oliver Tree, Jacob Sullenger has done it all.
Sullenger, better known by his stage name JAWNY, skyrocketed to fame after the release of his song “Honeypie” in April 2019. However, JAWNY has been making music for much longer. Born and raised in the bay area, JAWNY grew up listening to and worshipping Green Day. After moving to South Carolina in eighth grade, he was exposed to Southern rock on the radio. His music reflects his upbringing, as you can hear the indie rock with touches of Southern gospel here and there.
In January 2018, Sullenger released his EP, “Johnny Utah.” This remained Sullenger’s stage name until he signed with Interscope Records in 2020 and changed his name to JAWNY. He is known for his fluidity with his music, releasing songs encapsulating many different genres. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that he won’t be put in a box.
After his track “Honeypie” was released, it became a massive hit on the popular social media app TikTok. The song was used in over 200,000 videos, and new remixes of the melody appeared every day. The song became an alternative-pop sensation, racking over 266 million listens on Spotify.
JAWNY went from working a day job to becoming an overnight sensation. “At first, it was really scary. You try making different kinds of art and kinds of songs and put them out into the world for years, and you don’t have anything of the same magnitude of reaction,” JAWNY said at a press conference with 1824, Wednesday, January 24th. “And then you put out a different type of song or a different type of genre… and it does what it does at the magnitude that that song [Honeypie did], and you start to get into your own head. I thought that’s what I needed to do and recreate lightning in a bottle a bunch of times… luckily I shook that mindset off.”
And he certainly did shake that mindset off. Speaking with JAWNY was refreshing. He was humble, funny and had a fresh perspective on the world of alternative pop. He communicates joy in his work and knows he is growing every day. Being a clever songwriter himself, JAWNY has a great piece of advice for aspiring songwriters, “make things that are true to yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.”
This rings true for JAWNY, as he will release his debut album, “It’s Never Fair, Always True,” on March 3 2023. He will subsequently go on a North American tour with opener Wallice.
The tracks include some familiar favorites such as “strawberry chainsaw” and “take it back (feat. Beck)” and some new songs, which include his latest release, “true.” The album will take listeners on a journey, with the first half taking it back to JAWNY’s teenage indie roots and the second half focusing on his serious work with beautiful and emotional lyrics.
JAWNY is known for his narrative albums with his 2020 EP “For Abby” and his 2021 EP “The Story of Hugo.” He plans on keeping this narration in his debut album. “Making them [the happy and the sad] both exist in the same project in a cohesive way, where you start super happy, super fun… and then somehow by the last song you’ve gotten to the saddest possible place you could ever get to as a human. And it all makes sense.”
One thing’s clear: JAWNY is one to watch. The budding alt-pop singer will continue to top the charts as his talent, personality and humor speak for themselves. He’s all about being true to who you are and doing what you want to do: even encouraging pineapple on pizza. Laughing, he said, “I think it’s fully acceptable to put pineapple on pizza. Why not? I think people should be able to do whatever the f*ck that they want, as long as it's not hurting other people. If you want to put pineapple on your pizza, it’s your god-given right!”
Don’t forget to stream “It’s Never Fair, Always True” on March 3rd! You can follow JAWNY on Instagram, Spotify, TikTok, and Twitter. You can purchase tour tickets here.