Indiana Daily Student

J Fernandez to play the Blockhouse

Chicago singer-songwriter Justin Fernandez, known as J Fernandez, soon returns to Bloomington with new material after playing at the Bishop Bar a little more than a year ago.

Fernandez and his band perform at 8:30 p.m. today at the Blockhouse. Local bands Mike Adams At His Honest Weight and Daguerreotype are the opening performers for the show.

Most of J Fernandez’s recordings are heavily layered, multi-track recordings made by Fernandez, but he gets the support of a full band when he takes his music to the stage. He said he needed a band’s support to be able to play all the layers of his songs.

“It just kind of made sense for me to grab some of my friends and have them play the parts,” Fernandez said.

Even with the band, he said, his recordings have so many layers that his “homemade pop music” gets stripped down into a simpler form for live shows.

“We try our best to cover everything,” Fernandez said. “It’s not exact, but I think it’s a bit more energetic.”

J Fernandez’s debut album, “Many Levels of Laughter,” will be released June 9. The album has a few more “straightforward pop songs” than the three extended plays he has released, Fernandez said. The album has also moved away from the “more synth-y, instrumental” music on the EPs, he said.

Fernandez said he came up with the album’s title separately from writing the songs.

“The title, I think it maybe started with the idea of doing something with comedy and sort of the different uses of laughter and the different uses of humor,” he said. “Just that idea of a comedian telling that dark, sort of depressing story but adding a punch line to it so that it gets laughs.”

Though the title came separately, Fernandez said a dark sense of humor found its way into a lot of his writing. For the album’s first single, “Read My Mind,” he said he “wanted to take that formula of a pop love song but have the lyrics be ambiguous and sort of dark in a way.”

The single, released earlier this month, is Fernandez’s version of a love song, he said. The song is about love, he said, but there’s also a breakdown in communication between the two people in love.

“I think that there are people who can relate to that,” Fernandez said. “You’re in it, and it gets to a point where you’re never really talking but trying to communicate.”

One or two more songs will be released as singles before the album comes out in June, Fernandez said. The song he’s most excited for people to hear, “Between the Channels,” will probably be one of the singles, he said.

The song is more energetic than the other songs on the album, and Fernandez said it was also the easiest to arrange for live performance.

“That can be tough sometimes when we’re trying to listen to the recording and figure out how to make it work live,” Fernandez said. “That one was easy. Right when we started working on it, it just sounded so much like the ?recording.”

With the album’s release date coming up, Fernandez said he’s ready to keep moving forward.

“I’m really excited for this one, but I also started working on stuff for a new one,” ?he said.

Working on new music isn’t something that comes entirely easily or naturally to Fernandez, he said. He records a lot of ideas for melodies on his phone while he’s driving to work, he said, but then he has to lock himself in his room for a few days in order to turn the ideas into something complete.

“I really do have to set aside time to work on stuff,” Fernandez said. “I feel like I’m not one of those people who just has good ideas all the time. It’s definitely one of those things where I have to just drink a ton of coffee and get some ideas down.”

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