Interview: Jonathas

Anyone who’s been paying attention has noticed that the R&B scene in Austin is coming up in a major way, and Jonathas knows that better than most. With runs on both American Idol and The Voice, the latter of which saw him get far enough to work with Christina Aguilera, Jonathas seemed poised for a national breakthrough, before life got in the way. Now, with his excellent, smooth and sultry EP Vibrations, Jonathas is looking to not just come back, but reintroduce himself via fresh collaborations with producers like White Mask and Dirty Brigante as well as peers like DoeMan and Killa Kyleon. We spoke with Jonathas over email about the music he grew up on, his love for the Austin scene and the beauty of finding the right collaborators.

Ovrld: Your material seems to straddle the line between a smooth, minimalist Usher feel and, on “Blacklight” in particular, darker, more contemporary acts like The Weeknd. Where would you say your most comfortable, natural zone is? Who are some artists you grew up on?

Jonathas: I grew up off 80s and 90s music not even a certain genre I listened to ALL MUSIC but if there were a special artist I could thank over and over again I would say THANK YOU NE-YO, he’s the reason I wanted to become a real artist/songwriter!!!

Ovrld: One of the things that really draws me into your music is how organic your vocal approach feels on most of your material, which is at odds with the more effects-driven sound I hear in R&B and Austin pop at large. Obviously you’re still using very modern production but the effects on most of the songs aren’t as purposefully electronic sounding. What goes into getting that sound for you? Who are some other vocalists you view yourself as aligning with?

Jonathas: When I first started as a artist I always wanted to sound like the ones I looked up to like Usher, Neyo, The Dream, Ryan Leslie but as I continued to grow I started finding my own voice and trying new things with it. I feel like I’m still finding myself now but I’m definitely getting closer and closer!

Ovrld: The artists you have featured on your tracks are an interesting mix of gritty (Killa Kyleon) and smooth (DoeMan). What goes into deciding who you want to work with on your songs? Who are some acts you dream of working with?

Jonathas: I try not to think too hard about features but on a personal level I truly enjoy both Killa Kyleon and Doeman’s music. Me and Dominican Jay bounce ideas off of each other a lot but other then that I try to keep actual friendships when doing features not just a “Hey, here’s your money lemme get the song” type stuff.

Ovrld: Your music is coming out during what feels like a phenomenal wave of fresh R&B talent in Austin, from nationally rising acts like Melat and Malik to up-and-comers like Jonny Jukebox, Alesia Lani and Jony Shelby. What are your thoughts on the community here? Do you feel Austin has become more receptive to new R&B over the past few years? What are some things you would like to see more of to help nurture newer artists?

Jonathas: I love the scene here in Austin, it’s a variety of all types of sounds, looks and vibes. I would personally love to have more spots here in Austin where you can be a little more intimate with the crowd, that’s about it, I’m pretty much a happy camper!!!

Ovrld: With the pandemic, obviously promoting new music has become more complicated than ever before. What are some specific struggles you’ve faced this year? What are some strategies you’ve used to stand out?

Jonathas: As I artist still trying to make things happen I struggle on a daily basis but I also take care of my mental and physical which keeps me busy as well as being a family man. The goal is to keep working and stay consistent everything else will fall in place!!!