is a man of the night, and with the help of his band, he's written an album all about it. Late Night Champ
, which drops June 12, is a genre-hopping, instrumentally expansive ode to late night creativity and the beauty of insomnia. We had a chance to catch up with Sandler in this edition of our PV Q&A, and we got the scoop on people of the night, why he feels creativity is nocturnal, and of course, which late night talk show he'd kill to perform on. Check it out, spin his tune "Stars Align," and grab the full album when it drops.
PureVolume: You’ve mentioned that your new album Late Night Champ refers to 'a way of life and an anthem that a lot of people can relate to.' Can you expand on this?
Jon Sandler: To me, staying up late is more than just a sleeping preference — it is truly a way of life. Before I wrote this song, I didn’t realize that my affinity for staying up late actually made me part of a community. Especially in NYC where it is common to have an untraditional schedule, people not only stay up super late, but seem to have evolved into late night creatures that thrive and excel in the hours between 1AM and 5AM. With aggressive pride, people have approached me to declare — ‘I am a late night champ!!’. [It's] an anthem for all of we Late Night Champs in the world — you are not alone! While others sleep, we live!
PV: What is it about those late night hours that most stirs your creativity?
JS: I love the stillness of the late night. I love the idea that I can be working and creating when most people are asleep, stores are closed and cars are parked. It feels like found time, when I can breath as things move a little slower, and I can do things “off the clock”. I also like the idea that the weirdest, creepiest, most unique/under the radar and taboo things happen really late at night. For me, creativity is nocturnal.
PV: How many of the album’s tracks were actually composed after midnight
JS: I don’t remember how many of the songs were originally born late at night, but I do know for sure that, at one point or another, all of the songs were worked on creatively after midnight. Most of the songs were started late night, but I did some work on them during the day. The fact that most of the mixing and other post-songwriting work happened late, has contributed to my feeling of being engulfed by the essence of nighttime when I listen to the songs. The album feels more like the moon than the sun.
PV: Your sound is very genre-spanning. Where do you derive the majority of your musical inspiration from?
JS: I really don’t think about genre when I write. I usually come up with lyrics and a melody at the same time, and the song takes form in an organic way. There is no direction that I wont let the song take me. If it is pulling towards folk, then that’s where I go. If it’s rock, then I’ll see you there. I let the song lead me, not the other way around. As weird as it may sound, the songs write themselves — I am just a medium. Recently though, the instrumentation and amazing musicianship of my band mates has influenced the way the songs end up. They all have such a unique and special sound, that in rehearsals the songs have been naturally flowing in a certain direction that I really love.
PV: What was the inspiration behind the song "Stars Align"?
JS: 'I'll see you when the stars align' is something I have said to girls who want to hang out, but I sort of know it'll never happen — either because I have a girlfriend or because I am not interested. Once in a while, I’ve said it and actually meant it, and then when it actually happens, I can romantically declare, ‘the stars are aligned.’ In this song’s case I was inspired by a girl in NYC who wanted to hang out. She was very sweet and a fan of my music, but for various reasons I just never thought or wanted it to happen, and I desperately hoped that she would move on and find someone who appreciated her.
PV: Which late-night talk show would you most want to be a musical guest on?
JS: No brainer — Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I could die a happy man if The Roots played along side my band on national television. Questlove playing drums on Late Night Champ — forget about it. I would also love to do one of those musical parodies with Jimmy. I think he and I would totally jive.
PV: What’s next for you once the album drops?
JS: Once the album drops, I hope to play a lot and spread the word. We have a tour planned for the end of July and we are going to be working on two more music videos. I really hope that people connect with the album and it leads to more amazing opportunities. The energy around this album feels really great, so we are all super excited to show the world what we did. and keep the momentum going.