Photo by: Emily Schultz

Alberta native Jordan Hart's debut EP embodies the desire we all share to feel connected.

Back in 2019, Hart embarked on a 100-day busking challenge to benefit L'Arche Canada – an organization that helps support people with intellectual disabilities. Through thunder and snow, Hart played every Sunday and donated 100 percent of the money he raised to the organization. His daily busking led to a sold-out show at the Great Hall and - from that point, his streams increased by over a quarter of a million.

Today, Hart reflects on the highs and lows of finding connection with his debut self-produced EP Only Pieces of the Truth. Through each track, Hart navigates through the ups and downs and explores the human thirst to feel connected to ourselves and to one another.

Hart worked with countless producers and arrangers over the years but none of the pieces seemed to fit. He continued to mould his musical identity and finally began to connect the dots when he met the AllPoints team. Through multiple conversations with his new creative crew, he was advised to give producing a try. After just six months, Hart sewed together his sound and birthed his fittingly-named debut EP. The title track is a gentle, mid-paced song with gloriously sweeping arrangements.

Hart reflects on the story beneath the music:

“The central character realizes that all he wants to do is be vulnerable and that he is ("holding all the cards, wishing you could see inside his walls"), but even still, and especially because the stakes are so high, he can’t bring himself to take the first steps forward toward repairing the relationship ("staring at your door, I’ll never knock").”

In all of his work, the talented singer-songwriter values the power of an honest story told through a simple song. Though he now resides in Toronto, the influence of the folk music community that Hart grew up in, is still very present in his songs. 

With a freshly-dropped EP and a second in the works, Hart has been keeping busy recording, collaborating and crafting a unique live stream show on which he plans to perform in April.

Q: How would you describe your artistry and who are your musical influences?

I would describe myself as a producer/singer/songwriter who creates an eclectic variety of music from acoustic soul to experimental roots. Some of the most influential albums in my life so far have been: Every Kingdom – Ben Howard, 22, A Million and the self-titled Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Channel Orange – Frank Ocean, Continuum – John Mayer and more recently, Leif Vollebekk’s entire catalogue. Somewhere in that mix you’ll find my sound 🙂.

Q: What inspired the title track/your latest single "Only Pieces of the Truth" thematically and sonically?

"Only Pieces of the Truth" was lyrically inspired by a couple in my life who really love each other but are fighting through a distance that came with a build-up of little unresolved tensions over a significant period of time. While I can say what it is about with confidence now, this inspiration happened subconsciously, as almost all of the melodies and lyrics in this song came from an improvisation. I find that my favourite lyrics and melodies that I write come when I am able to get my thoughts out of the way and flow in an improvisation. It took a bit more of a process to find the sonic landscape, as I produced about 10 distinctly different versions of this song before finally deciding on the final version. I originally started with purely synthetic instruments but as I played the song more often live, I was inspired to put more and more organic elements into the recording. This resulted in the final version being primarily driven by organic elements while featuring traces of the original synthetic soundscape.

Q: Tell us about the creative process behind your EP:

Each song on this EP came with a different approach. For example, "Docks" (the opening track), came together as a collage of improvised ideas. Nothing was pre-envisioned; it was all just done by playing with interesting delays and sounds, massaging them together and then improvising over the result. In contrast, "I Don’t Want to Let You Go" and "Freedom" (both of which I had been performing for quite a while before I brought them into the studio), were put together very intentionally with a clear vision in mind before laying down the first tracks.

Q: Your EP is expertly self-produced. What ultimately drove you to give producing your own music another try?

Thank you! I’ve always loved producing and have spent years creating my own demos of songs and co-producing tracks for other artists. However, the moment I really decided to take on producing my own debut EP was when a respected member of an incredible record label, AllPoints, said that he loved my production. He encouraged me to start with a body of work that was completely my own. It’s really cool to be starting with such an accurate snapshot of where I am musically, with all of its successes and imperfections.

Q: What advice would you give to other artists looking to self-produce?

I would encourage anyone in the process to worry less about perfection and more about feeling. There is so much technical information that’s involved with the production process that it can be easy to get bogged down in it all, but in the end, I’ve found that what resonates most with the creators resonates most with the listeners, no matter how technically perfect or imperfect.

Q: This record is beautifully emotive and vulnerable. Were there any particular life experiences that helped shape this body of work?

Thank you! All of the songs were drawn from specific life experiences. The songs on this EP were written over the past 6 years of my life as a performing artist. They explore a desire to deepen my relationships with the people in my life and with myself. Sonically, I was influenced by all of the music that has inspired me most throughout my life as a musician. I think listeners will be able to hear everything from my love of roots, electronic, orchestral and experimental music. I think all of those influences thrown into a mixing pot with who I am as a live performer, then tossed around within the boundaries of my simple home studio set up created the unique and eclectic sound of this EP.

Q: What inspired your decision in embarking on a the 100-day straight busking challenge in support of L’Arche Canada for intellectual disabilities? Why was this so important to you?

The 100 Day Busking Challenge came together on a whim. I was talking one day with some friends who I met while busking about the positive energy that busking on the street cultivated and we wanted to see what would happen if we spun that energy over 100 days in a row. There were many highs and lows, but it was an incredible experience, to say the least.

Every Sunday, I donated the money that I made busking to L’Arche, which is an international organization that provides loving communities for people with intellectual disabilities. My family has been a part of the organization since I was very young, and the cause is something that is very close to my heart. I’ve noticed that people are commonly quite uncomfortable around people with intellectual disabilities and that there are many misconceptions about some of them. In this beautiful time when there are so many important conversations happening around social equality and supporting individuality, I wanted to lend my voice to help spark a conversation around this group that would likely not have the means to start it for themselves. The biggest thing that I am hoping to help spread is the deep love that surrounds this community. In my experience, the core members of L’Arche have more to offer me than I could return, especially in the way of teaching me to love and be loved. Sitting around a table in these communities, I have always felt valued for who I am beyond titles, money, and material. If there’s only one thing that I could have people take away from the message that I am trying to help shed light on, it would be to ask that they give people with intellectual disabilities as much of a chance as they would give anyone else to become valuable members of their lives.

Q: What's getting you through these times of the pandemic?

More than anything else it has been spending time with family. The pandemic has created more time to connect with them than I ever thought I’d have and for that I’m really grateful for what happened this year.

Q: What's next for Jordan Hart?

During the pandemic I have been recording a ton and I have a second EP in collaboration with an incredible producer which is almost ready to release! I am also working on a unique live stream show that is unlike anything I’ve ever done before, which I am planning to perform some time in April. After that, I’m on the edge of my seat for this pandemic to clear up so I can begin touring!