Jason Walker is a Billboard #1 selling artist and a dance floor sensation. His new release “Leave It All Behind” is a departure from his usual sound. We caught up with him to find out what was behind the shift and what he has in store for us.
JASON WALKER: It’s my pleasure, Shane.
Jason, you have been wowing fans for years now, “Set It Free” and “Foolish Mind Games” made it to Billboard #1 and now you release “Leave It All Behind” which most critics have called a smash, but a serious departure from your dance smashes of the past, why the change?
The dance floor has always been part of my life…and always will be…but after leaving JVM, I found that I was writing differently, and the shift in styles just felt like it was happening at the right time. I mean, I have always sung and performed different styles of music, from Celine-like to Chaka-like songs, so it’s not like this is uncharted water for me or like I’m trying something for the first time, on a whim if you will. No, these styles have always been a part of me. When I moved to NYC, I knew that I only wanted to be a singer – I didn’t care what kind of music. A chance to work with Junior Vasquez presented itself first, so I took it, but now it’s time spread my wings and expand my sound.
What was it like to receive the coveted spot of Billboard #1 ? Did it change your career or your thought of who Jason Walker is as a singer/songwriter ?
It was certainly a highlight for me – both times.I couldn’t believe it really. I think that it changed me in a positive way. I think that it gave me a confidence boost, as a writer. It made me feel stronger about my writing. It made me believe that I could really do this.
You come from a very small town in Pennsylvania- did you know then that you were gay?
I knew at a very young age. I think I was in 4th grade when I realized there was something different about me.Were you ever bullied in school? Yes. Many times.
How did you overcome that very difficult part of your life?
It was definitely tough. Those times kind of still haunt me today. Honestly, I just tried to focus on what I loved, which was music. I dove in and immersed myself in it. It made me forget the horrors of my schooldays. Music and good friends – who are still friends of mine today – are what got me through.Was it in hard times you would find yourself turning to Kristine W., who we discovered is one of your favorite artists? Oh, Yes. KW changed my life. Literally. Her debut album “Land Of The Living” changed my world. I consider it the best dance album ever made. She should have at least been nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy that year. She was so ahead of her time. Her work with Rollo on the album is timesless.
Your Albums, “This Is My Life” and “Flexible” are considered some of you best work, Hard driving beats, incredible synths and amazing rhythm with just the right vocals, “Leave It All Behind” goes in almost the opposite way, with extremely well-layered vocals showing your fans your range and power, coupled with some of the best songwriting we have seen in years from a LGBT artist. Why the shift in your style, and why now?
Thank you. Why the shift? That’s a good question (laughs). I really don’t have a reason, it’s just how it happened I guess. These songs just came out of me. It’s not like I set out to make an album like this. I think that the album picked me. And when I knew that this was the direction I was going, I just went with it. It was like an old friend I hadn’t spoken with in a little while. I feel like it’s an accurate representation of where I am as an artist and how I’d like to heard right now.
We know that you are best known for dance/pop, but you have really always been a very eclectic singer, for instance we know you used to sing with a blues band. Do you think that the LGBT Community will only notice an artist if first they are Dance/Pop?
No, I don’t think that. I think any community will recognize good music regardless of the style.
Many have said that the LGBT Musical Community cannot seem to compete with mainstream music, You’ve seemed to find success in both. What do you say to those critics?
When creating the title to the CD, “Leave It All Behind”, what was going through your mind? Why that title?
I wrote that song about my best friend from PGH who survived an awful divorce. There are really no hidden meanings. . .well maybe a few. . .(laughs).
When writing a song, is it always personal, or do you write a song for say the heck of it?
It’s always personal. I’m connected to each one in some way.
So, are any part of a political statement?
No, they are just part of my life. But sometimes my life is a political statement. Just joking!
When was “The Moment” of recognition that Jason Walker could do this, be a musician?
I think it was when I won at the Apollo.
The Apollo as in N.Y.? The Talent Competition?
Yes. That’s the one.
Wow! Share the experience with us.
Well, that was the scariest, but one of the best nights of my life. I was invited to be on the show and I decided to sing “Get Here” by Oleta Adams. When I walked out on the stage, there was such an uproar. People shouted such mean things at me. The host actually had to tell the audience to “shut up and give this boy a chance”. I wanted to leave, I really did. I figured that if I left, no one would ever know I was there, but if I sucked, I’d never want to sing again. But, after I sang the first line I knew I had everyone’s attention, and I wasn’t what they had expected. And by the time I finished, I got a standing ovation and I won. So, it turned out to be incredible. But wasn’t without its horror.
So, take us inside, what does Jason fear the most and what does he hope for the most?
Jason fears failure, and hopes for success. I don’t know how to do anything else, but sing.