Pop-country artist Joseph Wandass IV aka J4 unveiled his debut single “Two Front Seats” on July 19th.
Co-written with Nancy Deckant and Eric Mallon and co-produced by J4 and Eric Mallon, the debut single conveys a simple but yet effective storytelling we can all relate to.
“What made the song perfect for my first single, however, was the simplicity of the story, and how relatable it is. Who wouldn’t wanna drive down the coast of Cali in a convertible with the guy or girl they love!” says J4.
The Buffalo, New York native starting singing in church before moving to Nashville for high school. He is currently studying Commercial Music at the Belmont University. In between classes, J4 began performing daily at Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge and is currently working with Nashville-based artists Katrien Vanderbeck, Renee Morin, Gabbi Calvert, and Delaney Dickison.
J4 will be releasing two more singles followed by his debut EP, Iridescent, coming out next year.
“Two Front Seats” is now available worldwide.
Introduce yourself - where are you from?
Hi I’m Joseph Wandass IV AKA J4!
I am a Pop/Crossover artist originally from Buffalo, New York! I lived there until my junior year of high school and then move to Nashville to pursue my music career.
What's your story?
Since the time I was a kid I was always involved in music. My dad played piano, which sparked my interest. I took piano for many years, then started writing songs and singing. I became very involved in the school musicals, and especially involved with worship and church music.
After moving to Nashville, it became apparent that I wanted to become an artist. I decided to go to Belmont University to study Commercial Music. This has lead me to a ton of opportunities with my songwriting and artistry!
Could you describe your childhood a little bit?
I grew up as an only child in small town New York. I was a pretty quiet kid, but I always loved playing the piano, and doing some science. I looked up to my dad a lot, who was a doctor by day and a classical pianist at night. He always pushed me to try to be the best at everything I do, which lead me to develop a strong passion for music.
Faith has always played a large role in my childhood. I grew up in a small Southern Baptist Church, where I learned all the traditional church hymns and read the Bible a billion times. This made me develop a strong connection to worship music, and eventually lead me to a worship leadership position in high school.
How would you describe yourself today?
I am an active singer-songwriter and producer in the Nashville area. Just trying to make my mark on this town!
When did you know you could sing?
When I was 13, I auditioned for the New York State talent competition. At the time I was just a kid who enjoyed singing to Rascal Flatts and John Lennon, And didn’t consider myself much of a vocalist. However, after singing “Imagine,” at the New York State Finals, I ended up winning the competition, which made me realize that I was meant to sing!
When did you start writing songs? What made you want to write in the first place?
I started writing songs at 11, right after my grandfather passed away. I can see the face of my mom when she had to tell me to this day. I was shocked at what had happened, and went up to my room to cry. After a while I began to just think of how sad my mom was, and wrote a song called “Her Face,” about that moment she had to tell me about my papa passing.
How would you define J4, the artist?
As an artist, I love stories that we can all connect to. The beauty of music is that no matter who we are, we can all connect to it, and it is a universal language that brings us all together. My goal is to bring the storytelling and songwriting of Nashville and the universal stories we all share, and set them to that urban feel of New York I grew up with. I don’t like to live in one genre, rather I want to combine both the city and the small town I grew up with into one unique musical style.
"Two Front Seats" is your new single. What's the story behind this song?
This last semester of college, I got an opportunity with a local publishing company, where I began work as a track writer and demo producer. It was here that I wrote with Nancy Deckant, the CEO of NashvilleCOOL Music Publishing, and Eric Mallon, a phenomenal track writer. We began writing, and I explained that I was so tired of writing ballads and sad songs. Eric responded with an idea he had buzzing around the past few days-“How bout this,” and sings the hook to the song with a catchy Thomas Rhett rhythm and a cool groove-“As long as it’s you and me in those two front seats.” After that the song took shape, and it became that upbeat summer jam that I had been trying so hard to write. Now it’s one of my favorite songs to sing-just a simple, fun, lighthearted tune.
When did you start working on this song? Who did you work with?
A few weeks after writing the song, Eric Mallon (Co-Producer and Co-writer) sent us the demo of the song for Nancy Deckant (Co-writer and CEO of Nashville Cool Music Publishing) to pitch to her artists. I loved how fun and simple the song was, so I put it on hold. Once I decided I was going to release my debut single this summer, I knew it had to be this song.
I began producing it months out, and worked with some awesome musicians, including Christopher Delisle (Acoustic and Electric Guitar), Sam Rivera (Percussion), as well as Katrien Vanderbeck and Delaney Dickison (Background Vocals). I also worked with two fantastic audio engineers, Tyler Ross, who mixed and mastered it, and Joey O’Brian, who helped me tweak and finalize the mix.
Lastly, I had the greatest project manager helping me with admin and publicity, Katrien Vanderbeck, without whom I would not have been able to release this song!
What made you want to release "Two Front Seats" as a single
After I got the demo back from Eric, the production and feel of the song fit the style I was looking for-that acoustic driven pop feel with story oriented lyrics. What made the song perfect for my first single, however, was the simplicity of the story, and how relatable it is. Who wouldn’t wanna drive down the coast of Cali in a convertible with the guy or girl they love!
Any favorite lyric from this particular song?
“Let the rhythm of the radio take us where we wanna go.”
I love the first line of the chorus because for me it’s so true. Sometimes I will be driving and I blast the radio so loud and jam out so hard I’ll miss an exit or turn because I’m so lost in the music. And in a way, that’s me just letting the music take me where it wants to!
What appeals you the most about songwriting?
I love telling stories. And songwriting is just like writing a good story. The fact I can tell these stories, and do it through what I love-singing- is what makes it so appealing to me!
In your opinion, what makes a good song?
A good song is so hard to define. It is also so subjective, as songs are by their nature creative and unique. But I think what truly makes a good song is how it affects other people. If a song lets the listener feel something, dream of something, remember a fond memory, get fired up, or just simply enjoy the music, it’s safe to say it’s a good song. But if it just simply doesn’t have any effect or meaning and within 30 seconds the listener is on their phone already queuing up another song or just choosing a different one altogether, it’s safe to say it is not a good song, at least to that one person.
What does singing make you feel?
Singing is an art of its own. Maintaining a healthy voice takes dedication and daily practice. But the dedication allows you to hit notes you never thought you could, do new tricks you never imagined, or just find a new tone you’ve never explored. And when you find that new thing, it’s like finding your voice all over again. Sometimes even in practicing I feel like a little kid again, just constantly learning. It truly makes me feel excited more than anything else. Because there is always more to learn and more room to grow as a vocalist and musician!
As an artist, what do you want to accomplish?
I am hoping to release an EP and begin performing larger venues around and outside Nashville. My goal is to tour and perform full time out of college, as live shows and performing is my biggest passion. However, more than anything, I want to impact as many peoples lives as possible, whether it be by lifting them up on a bad day with a simple happy song like “Two Front Seats,” or by telling a story that they can relate to, and touch their heart in some way.
How did your life change since your move to Nashville?
In Buffalo I really had very few ways outside of school to perform. However in Nashville, there’s always a place to play, and always a show going on somewhere. So I went from only performing at school and for larger events, to performing nearly every day down on Lower Broadway. I also learned how different Tennessee can be from New York. Probably the biggest thing that changed is “you all” has changed to “y’all” and Wegmans has changed to Kroger!
How would you describe Nashville?
I would describe Nashville as a sprouting mega city. It’s one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and is so much more than just its music roots that it is known for. In terms of the Nashville music scene, I would describe it as songwriting focused. The scene is filled with fantastic songs, and though many people may see Nashville as only a city of country music, you can find almost any genre of music being written, recorded, performed, and created here. No longer is Nashville just the city of country music - it is truly “music city,” for all music.
Any upcoming projects?
I have two more singles coming out after this debut, followed by my EP, Iridescent, coming out in January of 2020. I am also working on the EP for Derik Sibit, another Belmont student, as well as the debut singles for many other Nashville artists, including Katrien Vanderbeck, Renee Morin, Gabbi Calvert, and Delaney Dickison.
In your opinion what would make the world a better place?
I think we have a world where people talk too much, and don’t listen enough. If we all listened to each others stories, and tried to understand the world from one another’s perspective, we would have a much better world.
What biggest life lessons have you learned so far?
My father would always tell me, “Don’t work to make money, do what you love and you will make money.” A lot of times we lose sight of our dreams- that one passion that makes us tick. And I always have to remind myself - it’s not about the money, the fame, the admiration, the pride - it’s all about the music. Because music is the thing I love, and as long as I follow my father’s words, I know that I will be able to find my path in music.
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