Published: 27th March 2019
From Slain to slaying the music production biz: How Jonathan Wesley nearly won a Grammy when in college
Jonathan Anand Wesley talks about how he transitioned from a performer to a music producer and how an album he co-wrote went on to get nominated for a Grammy
Have you ever just locked yourself up in a room and worked on something that you are very passionate about, only to have it pay off big time a few years down the line? Well, Jonathan Anand Wesley is a live example of the above-said instance. Before you conjure up a ton of questions, let me tell you that he is a music producer. How did it pay off? Heard off the album Rumbadoodle by Arun Shenoy? That album was nominated for the Grammys in 2013 and Jonathan co-wrote a few of the songs in the album and did all the keyboard work. If this doesn’t make you go ‘whoa’, I don’t know what will.
I pushed myself to broaden my horizons by learning production, mixing and mastering
Jonathan Anand Wesley, Musician/Music producer
But when did this yearning to make it in music even begin? He answers, “Music sort of came very naturally to me. It all started when my grandfather gifted me a keyboard when I was just ten. To add to it, I was also a part of the school band and choir. I was known to be someone who spent more time in the music room than in the classroom.” And trust me when I say that it was just the beginning.
What started off with just being a part of the school band, soon landed him a role with Slain, a band that rocked the music circuit a few years ago. Jonathan was the keyboardist for the band when he was in grade 11. With a tinge of delight, he explains how that phase with the band went, “Before I joined Slain, I played for a band named Beneath the Blood. Our first ever performance was at a youth camp in Kerala. That performance was the epitome of the phrase ‘first time’s a charm,’ for me because it went on really well and there were no goof-ups but most importantly, that was when the lead vocalist of Slain approached me and asked me to join the band as their keyboardist. I was a big fan because they were totally killing the rock music space. That, for me, was a huge breakthrough.” After a certain pause, he continues, “Slain became my happy place. This was when I really started to enjoy music, I found myself and understood the kind of music I liked playing. That was also when I began writing songs and started looking at music production on a more serious note.”
Inspiration much: While most 90's kids grew up listening to Backstreet Boys, Jonathan listened to Dave Mathews band, Dream Theater and a lot of music that was not something that everyone would listen to
"After Slain, I played for the famous band Best Kept Secret. Best Kept Secret was a pop band and very different from the kind of music Slain had to offer. It is interesting how I joined the band though. So I was called to be their keyboardist for just one gig because their other keyboardist was going for his higher studies. After that one gig, I sort of just continued playing for the band for the next four and a half years. I was involved in the production of their music As a band we had a good time, we also moved to Bombay to record our Album and we also released two songs from the album on YouTube called Can’t let you go and Moving on. We have had some really high profile gigs. We played for many award shows and have opened for international acts as well. While the stint with Best Kept Secret was great, my love for music production was greater," says Jonathan.
Team work: The four-piece pop-band Best Kept Secret comprises of Behram Singanporia (vocalist), Hemanth Diwakaran ( guitarist), E K Abhilash (drummer) and Jonathan Wesley ( keyboardist)
Jonathan also explains how his exposure to music production kicked-off, “When my elder brother saw that I was open to exploring music production, he suggested that we save up and build a studio at home. We conducted workshops and everything we earned went into our studio. I pushed myself to broaden my horizons by learning production, mixing and mastering. I began producing music for other people. All this while I was still in college. I remember days when I used to come back home from college and lock myself up in a room and work. I played around with software and experimented with different sounds, guitaring and keys.”
The best man: Jonathan has won national awards like the Jack Daniels Best Keyboardist and The Rolling Stone Best Metal Keyboardist
That was a turning point for Jonathan. “Arun Shenoy from Singapore reached out and I started doing a lot of production work with him and we worked on the album Rumbadoodle together. I didn’t get to meet the rest of the team I was working with as they were scattered around the world,” he said. When the album released, things were pretty quiet. Until the Grammy nominations came around, “That album got nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental. This was when I was completing my final year in undergraduate studies. I still remember my disbelief when I was told that my music was nominated for the Grammys. Arun called all of us to the US. Being at the Grammys was so phenomenal. Taylor Swift and Adele were sitting at an arm’s distance. Tyrese Gibson was sitting right next to me. I don't think I grasped the reality of the whole situation at all at that time,” says Jonathan.
Play list: Jonathan plays seven instruments, they are: Piano, Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Electric guitar, Drums, Trumpet, and the Trombone
While that was a few years ago. What is it that we can look forward to now? " I do music production full time and I even started of my own production company called Jonathan Wesley Music. I am currently working on multiple projects with people from all over the world. it won't be fair to mention just one over the other. All I can say is that there's a lot of music coming your way. Just keep your eyes and ears opened and 'stay tuned'." he concludes