Updated: Aug 5, 2021
J.Pappas is a rapper with a very refined understanding of song structure. His music always comes with crisp melodies and well-thought out lyrics, and he structures them with strong collaborations. A quiet rapper with a bold voice, J.Pappas creates his own compositions and produces them.
In his music, he uses beautiful orchestral instruments intertwined with his hip-hop/R&B sound which gives each song a bit more body and volume. There’s always something light-hearted about his music, even though they’re deeply reflective topics.
Currently based in Boston, the artist studies at Berklee College of Music but spends most of his time writing music between two coasts, Boston and LA. Very similar to Healy, Still Woozy, and Mac Miller, the artist creates these narratives in his music that are extremely vibey and very much put you in a kind of mood where you slip away into your thoughts. The songs oscillate between raw monologues, bump-worthy verses, hypnotic melodies and lively instrumentation.
In his recent release, “Your Favourite Songs”, J.Pappas gives us a funkier, jazzier vibe that has you singing and swaying along to the beats and monotone vocals. The synths give this simple song life and make it the key to a chill Sunday afternoon … “sunsets to all of your favourite songs”. The song is interwoven with sounds of trickling water making the song soothing while also being electrified by the synths. His tracks are a blend of juxtaposing energies in one stream.
I fortunately had a chance to interview J.Pappas and
here is our interview:
Neelu Mohaghegh [NM]: I’d love to start with how you got started in music and what you're doing with it now?
J. Pappas [JP]: Alright, so my name is J.Pappas. I am a producer, artist, songwriter, engineer. I grew up in the UK (just outside London), I went to international school, but kind of all over the world. My whole life I moved around place to place living in places like Korea, Australia, but I did spend the majority of my life in London, before moving to Boston for school. So, I studied music production engineering at Berklee College of Music. I guess I started making music, really young. I got really into music production, probably at the age of 12. I had a music tech class in middle school where we learned about GarageBand, and ever since then, I was just really into making and looping things, and making beats and stuff. Ever since then, I've been interested in learning instruments, writing songs, and making original music.
[NM]: That's awesome. Since you mentioned that you've been kind of a world traveler, how has maybe living in all of those different cities influenced the music you create now? Or maybe it didn't influence it, but maybe what were those experiences like and how have they influenced who you are today?
[JP]: Yeah, I'd say there's no real direct influence, but I think the indirect influences are definitely there, in the sense that I'm very open to new ideas. I'm very open-minded when it comes to listening to new kinds of music and different cultures—really learning about certain things and taking things in and appreciating it for what it is. I try to understand that so that I can kind of apply it. I guess that's where that definitely had a little bit of an influence on me.
[NM]: For sure. Who are maybe some of your favorite artists right now, some of your influences?
[JP]: I say some of my biggest influences come from kind of 90s, hip hop and r&b. I grew up listening to a lot of 90s rappers like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, stuff like that, but then I got really into the New York scene, Tribe Called Quest, NAS, stuff like that. That really influenced kind of more of my beat making. I'd say my rapping too. Then I love singing. I don't consider myself a singer by any means, but I love singing and I understand my voice in that sense that I can write songs and use it as an instrument. I'm really inspired by Lauryn Hill, D'Angelo, that kind of stuff. And recent artists, I really look up to like Mackerras, Daniel Cesar that kind of group of kind of neo-soul artists that's taking over the scene.
[NM]: Yeah, absolutely. Have you gotten to collaborate with a lot of artists, having gone to Berklee College of Music and being around the underground music scene of the Boston area?
[JP]: Through Berklee, I'd say I've worked with a lot of artists that were Boston-based, just like I was on my last album. All the collaborators on it were my peers and fellow Berklee students. So yeah, being at Berklee has definitely opened me up to finding artists in Boston and finding musicians and players, even outside of the Berklee bubble. I've met some great musicians from the Boston area, and it's really inspiring. It's a great place for music.
[NM]: I love that. I would love to hear how would you describe your music to people who you meet you for the first time.
[JP]: I guess I would describe my music as very mellow, chill, understandable. It's fun for everybody. I try to appeal to everybody in some way. I know you can't please everyone, but I'm always open to trying new things to try and appeal to other people.
[NM]: How about your creative process? Especially with the latest single that you put out.
[JP]: Of course! I pretty much produce everything in my bedroom. I get into the studio sometimes if I want to record bigger things, like drum kits and stuff, but most of it is bedroom production. All in the box. For my most recent song “Your Favourite Songs,” I played all the instruments on it. I played guitar, bass, I did the drum programming. I did the mix, but I also shout out my friend Zyre Sherman that did the big synth solo towards the end of the song. He killed it. He's a great sound designer, really good at all the electronic stuff. So he's the first person that came to mind that I wanted to hit up for that. But yeah, that's that's how it worked. I recorded everything in my room, vocals, everything into Logic. I actually wrote it. I'm in California right now, and I wrote it here in California, during quarantine. It was a time where I think it was the summer or the winter. Not exactly sure anymore. I came here in January, and I wrote it, and I ended up really liking it and turning it into a song, and then when I got back to Boston, which is where I have all my gear, I wrote the song first, recorded it, and then sent it to my friend to do the big synth part. I ended up mixing and mastering it.
[NM]: That's awesome. Where would you say most of your inspirations for your songs come from? Like, where do they stem from the most.
[JP]: A lot of it comes from in the shower. I'll just be in the shower, and I'll like think of a melody or think about my concept. I'll just sing it and then voice memo it. Or they'll just come from me thinking, being deep in thought, and not doing much.
[NM]: For sure. What would you say is like an underlying theme amongst all of your songs?
[JP]: Definitely introspection. I think the the main thing I write about on what tends to be a theme, intentionally or unintentionally, is that I tend to write about moments in my life and then analyze them from from retrospect and look into why I did something and why that was wrong, why that was right. Really just kind of think about that and look back on it, whether it was for better or for worse.
[NM]: Yeah, no, I mean, I think that’s very relatable, especially in the past two years that we've been going through, I think a lot of people can relate to that, and now are exercising introspection. If you had to choose on of your songs to share with people listening to you for the first time and this song would give them a better understanding of you and your music, which would you choose?
[JP]: I guess, lyric wise and personality wise, I would probably play the last song off of the album I released in December, called “St. Pancras”. The title is a place in London that I would go a lot growing up and that was the train station I would always like connect to. I think my verse in that is probably the most personal I’ve ever gotten in a song, and I think the sound of it too, is really something I like. It's kind of mellow, also kind of dark, hard hitting drums, groovy baseline, and then I switch it up at the end kind of where it’s more fun, like J Dilla production style. It’s also jazzy and I love that sound, as well as it showcases like collaborators that I really admire. That's a good starting point maybe for somebody that really wants to get to know me through my music.
[NM]: If you had a dream collaboration with an artist who would that dream collab be with?
[JP]: That's really hard. There's so many people I would collaborate with, honestly. Let's see. I've always wanted to work with Kanye West, that's something that has always been a dream. That experience would be really interesting and very different. But I feel like you could get a lot out of working with somebody like him—Kind of all over the place, but just mega-talented.
[NM]: Do you have a favorite spot in Boston?
[JP]: I love sitting down by the Charles on the docks. That's just such a peaceful spot. It's such a relaxing place. Whether it's to write or just hang out, it's really nice. Also, just walking down and around South—It’s just really pretty and I get a lot of inspiration walking down there.
[NM]: Yeah, that area is beautiful. Especially, how it’s developed for sure. Is there anything that you do outside of music that maybe people don't actually know about you?
[JP]: I like taking photos. I love photography, and I actually shoot a lot of portrait photos for my art and for other artists/friends. I've really enjoyed that. I studied a little bit of it in high school. I did it up until probably coming to college where I didn't really have time for it anymore, but I’ve been doing it for certain people still, and I also like directing, like videos and stuff. It's something I want to do more.
[NM]: Are there any new finds/new artists that you're obsessed with or just very intrigued by and are giving them a listen on repeat?
[JP]: I’ve been really listening to a lot of Remi Wolf. I’m not sure if you know, oh, yeah. She's awesome, really unique, really like her stuff. I’ve been really into elouise and his new album. That's really good. Let's see my friend, Oliver released a song called “Departure” that I've been bumping. Jackson Lundy has a new song. I've been bumping a lot of this one artist called C Tongan. I like really good Spanish artists.
[NM]: Amazing. Any summer plans?
[JP]: Hopefully an EP to be released by the end of the summer. We're not really sure about the timeframe yet, but it's in the works. Working on doing some shows around Boston—Actually have one, August 5th in Allston. Just working on getting the live stuff back and in rotation, because it's been a while and it's gonna take a little adjusting again.
[NM]: Super cool. Do you have any goals as kind of your checkpoint or your mark to keep you motivated?
[JP]: I think my goals are to finish projects I'm working on and be really satisfied with them, and then make sure that I am very happy with the result before putting them out because I know it's easy to just kind of get stuff out because you need to get stuff out, but I've been really prioritizing like taking care with the work and like choosing the right people for the song and stuff like that. And I've just been really, that's my priority. And that's a goal of mine is to like be happy with everything that I start to put out.
Thank you so much J.Pappas for the time! We’re ready for the projects to come!
Be sure to follow him on Instagram and Spotify.