Interviews

Jon Vinyl Is the 20-Year-Old R&B Master Who Gets That Life is Fragile

The talented Toronto-raised singer seizes fleeting beauty on “Cherry Blossom.”

by Devin Pacholik
19 February 2018, 10:14pm

Photo by Jorden Lee; with styling by Rahul Madan  / WIL Studios

From flowers to on-sale pizza by the slice under a glowing heat lamp, beauty tends to fade with time. You must seize it while you can. Jon Vinyl grasp that fleeting quality of perfection on his dreamy new track “Cherry Blossom.” Vinyl, real name Jonathan Hamilton, compares the allure of a crush to the ephemeral nature of cherry blossom petals on the Jay 808-produced track. The emerging R&B artist from Toronto delivers darling metaphors with sweetness and care. Left stunned by the relatively unknown singer-songwriter, we had to find out more about Vinyl.

The 20-year-old artist’s career has only just begun, with a handful of tracks released at the end of last year. Managed by his brother Jamil Hamilton, Vinyl’s first single, “Nostalgia” caught the eye of Shawn Mendes. Apparently, Mendes is a friend from Vinyl’s high school days, but when the star saw the massive streaming numbers from the fellow Canadian artist, he decided to keep the momentum going on social media. We reached out to Vinyl to talk about his career, life in the Pickering, ON area, and the new track “Cherry Blossom.” On it, Vinyl sings, “You pop up, shine bright, then you hit the road.” After talking to the positive and humble Vinyl, we’re anticipating his shine will have a long and lasting reach. Listen to “Cherry Blossom” and read the interview below.

Noisey: What does your life look like?
Jon Vinyl: Originally, I was raised in Toronto. The Dundas area. Essentially, I lived down there for a while and ended up moving down to Pickering. I was always into music, but we got into it a little more heavy over the last couple years. We had friends who were producers and decided to build a studio and ended up making more music. It ended up paying off.

You were working with Tyler Mcghee, the producer.
Yeah, for “Nostalgia.” I only really had a couple producers. The one who made “Nostalgia” was my best friend. Fast forward to now, he showed me that beat, and I said, “Yo, let’s go.” It was really quick. The initial ideas were down in less than an hour and the song was done the next day.

Already, with just a few singles out, you have a distinct, warping and dreamy sound.
Typically, when I hear something, it gives me a feeling that I want to work on it. It takes me back to a time, and I have to get it out.

Are you in touch with the scene in Toronto?
I’m in Pickering now. Toronto has a lot of good creatives. I had a friend called Shawn Mendes [ l aughs].

That’s a good transition! He shouted you out hard for “Nostalgia.”
Me and Shawn go way back. He lived out in Pickering as well. We went to high school together. He was always singing and stuff. Randomly, he started posting vines. He blew up from there. He skyrocketed, went on Ellen—fast forward and he’s this big star. We have the same friends, so when he comes home, I’m chilling with him. Anyway, I was on the phone with him the day before “Nostalgia” came out. He was in L.A. He said he was excited. I released it, and it started getting a lot of numbers. Another friend showed him it was blowing up, and [Shawn] freaked out. We always talk about the two kids from Pickering. Next day, he shouts me out. We talked about how he wasn’t going to shout me out, but he did.

What piqued your interest in music?
Growing up, my mom played a lot of old soul music. I don’t know if I liked it then because it was just around me, but I started imitating it. I guess my tone wasn’t too bad. My brother [Jamil] told me it wasn’t too bad. So I trained, and here I am.

You seem like a positive person. Do you channel that in your music?
Yeah, I tell my brother I want to sing about stuff that is relatable and in a positive way. Obviously, there’s some dark stuff too but motivation stuff. The real stuff. Kind of like the singing J. Cole [ laughs].

Talk about “Cherry Blossom.”
You know how cherry blossoms are only in season for so long? I took that concept and related it to a person. You like how they look, but they aren’t around much. When I get concepts like that, writing is easier.

What are some of the biggest chances you’ve taken in your career so far?
I would say trying to get in the industry and not doing anything else is tough. You see your friends in university and stuff, and you’re just at home cooking vibes, you know? It feels like you are setting yourself back a little bit, but hey, future gains could be bigger.

Devin Pacholik remembers those weird chocolates called Cherry Blossoms. Follow him on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Noisey CA.