Don’t chase a hit song. Chase a real life! When I had my first record deal, I was booked up for writing sessions with so many different songwriters and producers around the world for over a year. I was writing songs nonstop that I actually stopped living life. The only thing I was doing, was being in the studio day and night, and later ran out about things to write about and lost that first love for music and creativity, by constantly feeling obligated to ‘deliverer that hit song’ to the record company. For any young songwriter out there, I would say, write less — live more! And the songs your write from that place are going to be so much better and more powerful!
As part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jonas Myrin. Jonas is a Swedish singer, musician and songwriter based in Los Angeles, California. Myrin began his musical career in the early 2000s as a worship leader at Hillsong Church London and songwriter for various international acts, and later went on to become a solo artist in 2012. He is known for his work with Matt Redman with whom he won two Grammys for the song “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”.
Myrin began songwriting at an early age. His parents, who worked as missionaries, provided Myrin with Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway records, which he has cited as a major influence on his work. Myrin later moved to London, where he became active with Hillsong London and co-wrote several songs that were featured on various albums by Hillsong Music. Since then Myrin has written songs with various musicians such as members of Supergrass, Peter Bjorn and John,and has appeared in the 2002 music video for the Sophie Ellis-Bextor song “Get Over You”.
In June 2012 Myrin released his first single, “The Day of the Battle”, which has been certified gold in Germany. Myrin later co-wrote the song “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” with Matt Redman (who performed the song). The song has won two Grammys and spent 16 weeks at the top spot on Christian Radio and remained number 1 on the Billboard Christian Songs Chart for four months.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/589ec006b26c5766c56145ac1ed6bcf9
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a town called Örebro in Sweden. My dad was a photo journalist. In addition, my parents do charity and ministry work around the world. They always brought me and my sister along. Everywhere from living in South Africa, to traveling to Northern Russia and Iceland. I think my upbringing really shaped me into who I am today.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Music for me was always a massive part of my life. I remember starting writing songs around the age of 9. I could just go to the piano, play and write melodies for hours upon hours. Music and the piano for me was a best friend, an anchor, a safe place, whatever was going on in my life. To this day, wherever I am in the world, if there is a piano there, I feel right at home. It amazes me every day that this ‘best friend’ of mine has now become my career path and full-time profession.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Great question! There has been so many incredible stories, places and people that I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with… it’s hard to pick one specific story. But it was really special to get to work with my parent’s all-time favorite singer, Barbra Streisand. I had the privilege of writing and co-producing some songs on her last album ‘Walls’. Barbra actually became a huge encouragement to me in releasing my new solo material this year. The first time I met her, she said: ‘Jonas! I’ve been listening to your demo over and over again, and I just love your voice! You need to be an artist — and not just write songs for others!’ I took her advice to heart, and here we are! Thank you, Babs!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was making my first album, I was obsessed about recording every little song idea that came to my head, regardless of where or when! I just never wanted to lose the idea. I was on a flight once, when suddenly I had a melody idea come to me out of the blue. I had to record it quickly into my phone, or else I was afraid I would forget it. Everyone around me was sleeping on the plane and I couldn’t leave my seat without waking somebody up, so I put a blanket on top of my head and began quietly singing the new melody into my phone, trying my best not to wake anybody up. As I am singing this idea the person next to me knocks on my shoulder saying “oh I’m so sorry that you’re crying, are you ok?” and I just laughed and said “oh I’m totally fine, I’m just trying to record a song idea [30,000 feet above the ground, in the middle of the night, with a blanket over my head]”. So embarrassing. I guess the lesson is, don’t record voice note song ideas on airplanes, when you think everybody is sleeping. lol
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m working on an animation motion picture movie at the moment. I’m writing all the original songs for it, I grew up with movies like “The Lion King”, “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast” — so to now have the privilege of writing the soundtrack for a big animation, is just amazing. Challenging, of course, at times but also so much fun and rewarding watching these characters come to life, through animation and finding their own voice and song is just such a special thing to be part of.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
1. In a world that is more divided than ever, I believe art has the power to unite us. For the kid that looks and feel different, to recognize themselves on the screen or on stage, to see themselves in an art piece, can be a life changing moment, to feel that they’re not out there on their own, but that they matter and are seen, is so important.
2. I’ve always believed that it is our individuality and uniqueness that makes the world a beautiful place. I hope a day will come when this will fully be a reality in the entertainment industry. I think we have a responsibility and mission, both as creators and distributors of content to really show the power and beauty of equality and diversity; of what the world actually really looks like today. Art and culture have the power to build bridges where there is a gap or distance, and I think there has never been a more important time for being ‘bridge-builders’ than now.
3. Representation can come in many forms and can actually help to open up the eyes of the viewer, to see a new perspective and way of thinking.
I believe art has the power to really champion diversity. I wrote a song with Idina Menzel that really sums it up for me. The first lines of the song go…
’At this table, everyone is welcome. At this table everyone is seen. At this table everybody matters, and no one falls between.’
I really hope these won’t just be words in a song, but a way of living in 2021.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. ’Be yourself, for everybody else is already taken’ When I started in the the music industry, some people would say ‘Jonas, you need to be more like ‘this’, or sound more like that guy’. To later realize that it was in the uniqueness of my own voice, honest expression and authentic way of writing I would find my breakthrough.
2. Keep it real! Keep it simple!
So many times, I thought the more cleaver chords and words I would use, the better or more profound a song would be. Sometimes the most powerful words can be when they are said in a super simple and authentic way just from the heart.
3. Don’t chase a hit song. Chase a real life!
When I had my first record deal, I was booked up for writing sessions with so many different songwriters and producers around the world for over a year. I was writing songs nonstop that I actually stopped living life. The only thing I was doing, was being in the studio day and night, and later ran out about things to write about and lost that first love for music and creativity, by constantly feeling obligated to ‘deliverer that hit song’ to the record company. For any young songwriter out there, I would say, write less — live more! And the songs your write from that place are going to be so much better and more powerful!
4. Follow the goosebumps. If something gives you chills and makes you feel something on the inside. Just let it be what it is. And if that is just with a piano and vocals and nothing else, have the bravery to just leave it as it is. Don’t ruin the purity of a song by trying to then overthink or overproducing it.
5. FIND your Team. It’s true when they say ‘teamwork makes the dream work’. Don’t look for the big managers or for validation from the executives at record companies or movie studios. Make you art — do your work and put it out into the world and the audience will find you.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Someone told me years ago to make art from the overflow of your life. I think this message relates to anyone in the creative industries. It’s so easy to give from ‘an empty river’, but to actually have the patience, to take the time and let the well of your life fill up, and then create from the overflow of that. Letting your art pour out from this place has been a game changer for me.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Thank you! I would say don’t look for the change, BE the change. I believe any movement starts with ONE person, daring to stand up and making a difference. That is true leadership for me. Not just letting your songs, Instagram post or words preach, but letting your real LIFE speak. One stone thrown into a lake can bring ripples on the water for generations.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are many people that have helped me on the way that feel so grateful for! One of those is Matt Redman, who I wrote “10,000 Reasons” with. Before we even started writing songs together, we did real life together and have stayed friends through so many seasons of life. Regardless of the up or the downs, twists or turns. He is, and always been an inspiration and a huge encouragement to my life — as a human being and to me as an artist.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Tough question! I love life quotes. I heard someone say; ‘Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.’
I’ve had some real moments of doubts and struggles in my career, but I’ve always tried to allow the battles make me better instead of bitter! We all have that choice every day, to decide to see it all as a gift, for life to make us and not break us.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have lunch with Jacob Collier and pick his brain on crazy modulations and harmony. He made one of my favorite albums of 2020 and also seems to be such an authentic, fun and just bright shining soul.
How can our readers follow you online?
They can find me by following me on Instagram. @jonasmyrin and same for Facebook and Twitter!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thanks so much for having me! Here’s to a brand new 2021.