Multi-Instrumentalist Indie Artist JAWNY Dives Into the Process of His Last Project, ‘For Abby’

Photography by Ariel Fisher 

Imagine multi-instrumentalist indie artist JAWNY sitting on a sofa in a run of the mill sitting room and you realize Kurt Vile’s in one corner of the room and Beck in the opposite one. They’re both beckoning at Jawny to come over. It would be a weird situation but it’s one we posed to the laidback musician: which slacker singer would he be tempted to head towards first?

“Ohhh! Good question,” the 25-year-old laughs, “but easy… Beck.”

Jawny’s innate capability to blend pop, funk and indie rock with ease as well as create and inhabit multiple characters comes as no surprise — the genre-defying hybrid artist never stops moving, both musically and literally. The DJ impresario Zane Lowe has said he’s “never been more excited about a hybrid artist since Beck,” so you can see why the comparison’s starting to stick.

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Jawny idled his adolescence away in South Carolina and then spent his formative years in New Jersey and Philadelphia before migrating to sunny Los Angeles. It’s no wonder he’s getting a big reputation for offering a little bit of everything in his music with the influence of all those cities in his brain.

Some background for you, and it could get a touch confusing: Jawny’s debut EP, For Abby— released in October 2020 — was a mixtape made for a girl…a girl called Abby, obviously. The title track of that EP was recorded by her heartbroken, fuckup of a boyfriend named Hugo. Hugo is a bitter soul who’s channeled by Jawny. And now Hugo’s returned (via Jawny) with a new EP: The Story of Hugo. It’s a bitter prelude to the now infamous Abby mixtape, a pop-heavy gut punch of bitterness and remorse in watching the person you loved and lost move on from you. It’s a 20-something’s grieving process brought to life. So, to be clear, Jawny channels the spirit of Hugo to create this body of work. “Angsty dude man. Hugo is Hugo,” Jawny explains about how he got into the bitter frame of mind to create this angry follow up work.

“That’s just how Hugo does things…while I was in the process of writing my last project, I started coming into my own and this project was like the continuation of that confidence. I worked closely with a few friends. We got a house for a couple of weeks and went in on the music.”

When he’s not a vessel for Hugo, Jawny is an affable and easy- going kinda guy. His secret to this sunshine-y outlook? “I got good friends, good people around me. And I watch a lot of wrestling with my partner,” he says with signature West Coast surfer charm. Signed to Interscope Records in early 2020, he can’t wait to get on the road and play some live shows. “You should come to my next show and find out yourself. Let’s just say, we’re fucking ready,” he promises.

His 2019 track “Honeypie” (which took an hour to write) rocketed to 300 million streams—does it affect the way he writes? Knowing it’s consumed on social channels?

“No, nope, nah…,” he says resolutely. “I don’t make music for any of that. I make it for my fans and myself. That’s it. I make it to perform in front of the people that connect to the music. I make it because I need to. That’s why I do it.”