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Articles Home » Interviews » Jordan, Keven - 2003 Interview
 
Jordan, Keven - 2003 Interview
MINSTREL FOR A MOMENT
Interview with Keven Jordan
Written By: Gdazegod
Date: Feb 2003

GLORY DAZE talks to former Sony recording artist - from Toronto Canada - Keven Jordan.



INTRODUCTION
What sort of aspirations crosses the mind of a young child growing up in exotic North Africa? On countless balmy Egyptian nights looking up into the Northern night-sky, that's exactly what Keven Jordan used to ponder on. Perhaps an artist of some kind? Far off into the future, it became true, for a short time at least. It seems unique in a sense that an upbringing in a foreign land would earmark this budding singer/songwriter onto greater deeds. That's exactly what happened upon moving to Canada prior to his teen years.

For the uninitiated, Keven Jordan is better known to many melodic rock fans as the artist behind the soft rock/AOR 'No Sign Of Rain'. Released in 1991, it was Sony's first venture into signing a Canadian artist to their roster - and the venture paid off initially. Keven's foray into the recording industry left an indelible mark during the early nineties. However, just as quickly as he arrived on the scene, he soon vacated it. All the while leaving traces of his music behind, still held in high regard to this day. Posing this very question to Keven, is he surprised that he still has a following out there in web-land? 'I would never have guessed' he says unbelievingly. 'It would come as a shock to me and actually does - if it's true! It is good to hear though.'

As our intro suggests, an upbringing in North Africa of all places is hardly the nursery ground for a budding melodic rocker. I asked Keven what he remembers from those early years. 'I remember being a bit of a loner' he recalls, 'I used to spend hours alone, daydreaming, basically being a creative little kid, always making stories up or making things out of materials I found around me, models etc. You realise by living in Cairo and Alexandria just what strange places they were. In addition, I do remember always trying to convince my parents that I could sing in any language, and I used to do so a lot around the house.'

MUSICAL BEGINNINGS
Though he had a penchant for singing his head off as a kid, music itself came late. In fact, it wasn't even up there as a principle driver. Keven agrees. 'I never had music as a primary interest or goal in life, although I do know that I have always felt, even that far back that I was mean't to do something creative. Hard labour didn't seem the right thing. I can say that I was a lazy kid who gravitated towards the arts.'

Like any other teenager growing up in the eighties, the 'glory days of melodic rock' struck home for Keven. The start of a burgeoning career was at hand. 'Oh man during those days you couldn't get me away from a guitar or piano, I spent all my waking time listening, writing, singing. I was obsessed! But I still had no idea I would ever do it for real, it was just a passion' he says.

Keven moved from his base in Stratford Ontario, just west of Toronto, to the big 'T' itself. One can't help but notice Keven's similarity to a guy like Corey Hart for instance. Canadian, musically similar, singer/songwriter tradition, playing the Toronto club/coffee house scene. Even though Corey was a few years earlier, Keven explains his recollection of that time, and the musical direction he took. 'The musical direction I had intended on was a bit more of a folk-based sound. I loved and still do, the sound of acoustic guitars and piano. I started out making little home demos on guitar and vocals only, then I got more into keyboards and that's when that 'sound' came about, the melodic rock thing just sort of happened and I did try to perfect my own version of it, well tried to at least' he says.

You would be surprised at just who Keven used as his sounding board. Not a pair of names you'd immediately identify in the melodic rock scene at least. So just who were they? 'A ha! Simple' he chuckles, 'the two biggies were Dan Fogelberg (early stuff) and James Taylor to this day! Amazing that one guy got lost in the musical woods as well as his identity while JT continues to pump out world class material.'

One of the more notable achievements for Keven was the fact that he was the first Canadian artist to be signed up by the revamped CBS/Sony label. They were obviously trying to maneuver themselves into the Canadian market and Keven was seen as a good bet at the time. The process didn't happen overnight though. 'I had met Tim McCauley through a mutual friend and he heard a couple of home demos that I had done' Keven says. 'We decided it would be fun to collaborate on a few tunes. He was part owner of a 24 track studio in Toronto (Red Line Recorders) with a partner Henry Gooderham, so it seemed like if I could strike up a good partnership with him - I would be able to perhaps finally record a few songs in a professional setting.'

NO SIGN OF RAIN
'It was really at this point that I had begun to think that I would like to make songwriting my life's work and I knew that a great demo did make a difference no matter what people said about piano/vocal demos - although those do work if the song is really good. We did come up with a few things, I had brought in 'No Sign Of Rain' pretty much finished, and he helped me stick a bridge in it and we made a demo. A few more songs were added and I gave this tape to a friend who was between jobs in the A&R side of things - Mike Roth. He sent the tape to Barry Bergman (my manager it would turn out to be later) and the reaction all around was positive. Everybody seemed to think that there was a good chance that a record deal might come about if Tim and I kept at it. Well a few months later Mike Roth ended up at Sony A&R and Sony eventually offered an eight album deal internationally. After I recovered from passing out at the news, I said YES!'

Well who wouldn't! Obviously a deal that big mean't that they were looking for something, or that they could mould you into something that they market effectively. What do you think their aims were, in terms of promoting you as an artist? 'They were looking for the next Corey Hart - or something similar, so the pacakaging was slick and they tried to play-up and use any positive physical attributes I may have possessed during that 'youthful time' lol! they plastered my face all over the media!'

I suppose at this point, mention must also be made of Barry Bergman. His contribution and guidance to Keven's musical career was significant. 'Barry was a huge influence' agrees Keven. 'I trusted him with my life and he never let me down and did everything he could to protect and guide me along this path in a crazy business, he's quite a guy and we still talk all the time.'

The musicians that appeared on your debut album 'No Sign Of Rain'.. Guys like Tim And Matthew McCauley, Danny McBride, Marty Walsh, Peter Cardinali and a whole host of others. I asked how Keven managed to get this particular team involved. 'That was simple really' he says, 'most of those dudes were friends and some were just the best session guys in town and we had a good budget so HIRE THEM! Danny McBride was my roommate at the time so he was cheaper!'

At the time of writing this interview, it's been nearly twelve years since 'No Sign Of Rain' was released, both as a single and an album. I think it's agreed among the melodic rock fraternity that it still holds up very well as a musical piece of work to this day. 'Yeah I can still listen to that song and appreciate it. There are only about three songs that I have written that I can still listen to without cringing.'

THE JUNO'S, ONWARDS TO 1994
The album has also been described as a good example of pure AOR.. for want of a better phrase. Some of those tunes were so geared for radio, and in fact, a couple got a reasonable level of rotation at the time. Obviously, 'No Sign Of Rain' the title cut, 'Just Another Day' and 'True Believers' came out as singles. What was the reaction to those? Well, the reaction was amazing, new artist, first record and those were being played to death on the radio. Great reaction, could not have dreamed of better luck - and they were totally AOR, that was my bent and goal at the time, I was in love with that sound.'

The Canadian public and media thought so too, as Keven picked up a Juno Award for best new artist (1991/92). At that point, he must have felt pretty good about things. 'I felt great, at times I felt that I really didn't deserve all this and that perhaps somebody was going to call my bluff, but overall I was pretty happy.'

the second self-titled album from 1994 was a vastly different affair altogether, but still with some great tunes onboard. However, it's been written elsewhere that Keven felt indifferently about the end-result. 'I was very disappointed with that record' he says. 'My producer and co-writer on the record was a very talented guy (Rob Friedman). He was strong musically and in the production side, I take full responsibility for my lack of enthusiasm on that record. I was becoming a bit tired of the 'biz' and I let things slide. I didn't put myself fully into it and most of it got away from me, instead of saying 'wait we don't have the songs yet', I pushed to get thing recorded before I ran out of money which I did! Therefore, we recorded all the songs we had at that point, some of which sucked donkey!'

Some of those songs like 'Who Knows', 'So Far' and 'More Than Enough' are still very melodic. You Should still be very proud of the album? Some of those songs yes, but some not so proud, I'm very hard on myself and I knew I had better stuff to give if I just had my wits about me.'

The quote on the liner notes is interesting: 'This album is dedicated to all those forces and beings that oppose us daily. For without them, we can never grow to be who we must eventually become to survive.' It more or less acknowledges (in the music industry in particular) the pitfalls one must overcome to progress. Was that what you were thinking at the time Keven? 'At that time and still to this day, I live my life with the premise that shit happens! It is up to each of us to either get the lesson or be angry at the Universe. The latter serves no purpose while the former is the best way to live and grow.'

At this point the grunge/Seattle scene was taking off. Quiet possibly Keven could have been an unwilling victim of the changing musical climate between 1990 and 1994. 'Yeah to a certain degree I got caught right in the change, but again it was a time for me to decide what to do rather than be pissed off. I decided to take a break because I wasn't about to change my direction to suite the times.'

Keven decided to opt out of the scene from 1994 onwards. This was bought about primarily by his creative endeavours outside of music, as well as other personal aspects. 'Both creative endeavours in photography and design, and a need to live a more private life. I have never wanted or been one for attention; valuing instead my time and privacy. Realizing that I didn't have the personality to be a road warrior or a rock star travelling the globe, the creative person in me like s to do something once and let it have a life rather than recreating it night after night.'

Keven continues. 'There is nothing wrong with that of course, but ultimately it didn't suit my needs and wants. Some thought I was crazy, but I never wanted or liked being the property of a record label. Being disposable as most recording artists are without realizing it, instead I'd always admired those behind the scenes who were writing and producing twenty years ago and who are still doing it. Whereas in that same time 2 zillion artists have come and gone. I always wanted to be writer or producer.'

So many musicians I've met seem to have this aptitude for technology related pursuits. How have you found it in the graphic design/new media industry? 'Absolutely, I work on a computer all day for my design work.. it's great!' And your opinion of the Internet and as a vehicle for promoting artists now? 'Fabulous! If I was currently involved with music, my first line of promotion would be radio then the web!'

Now, the $64,000 question. Seeing as you are technically inclined - any chance of Keven Jordan putting pen to paper and then to keyboard/guitar for some new material? 'Hell yeah man! I just started writing again and have a small setup for song demos. Ya never know! But the next time you hear about KJ it will hopefully be as the writer or co-writer on a huge single!'

Finally Keven, thanks for giving us your time. Anything you'd like to add for the benefit of our readers? 'Yeah sure. Don't ever think that AOR will go away, instead just get ready for the next wave of it, which is as sure as the nose (big one too) on my face!'

[A big thanks to Keven Jordan for allowing us the opportunity to catch up with him. Also, I am hopeful that this article will deflect the many inquiries I get asking what he is up to. Well now you know.]



Related Articles:
Jordan, Keven - 1991 No Sign Of Rain
Jordan, Keven - 2003 Interview with Keven Jordan

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