Photo courtesy of Jonathan Plevyak
By the time Jonathan Plevyak was a senior in high school, he knew he wanted to pursue music for his career, and the Baltimore native didn’t waste any time after graduation. He made his way up to New York to attend an NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) conference and immediately hit it off with a couple of writers who invited him to come to Nashville. Upon doing so, he fell in love with the city where songs are born and began a series of commutes from his home in Maryland and back. Each time he made the trek he would meet new people to collaborate with, resulting in a good foundation for reaching his real goal, which was moving permanently to Nashville.
Plevyak and his bandmates made that move about two years ago and unlike many other hopefuls, it’s been pretty smooth sailing so far. Focused first on making new friendships rather than straight-forward business networking, he feels that was a wise decision. “I think the biggest thing for me was I started going to shows. I went to rounds, showcases, full band shows, all of it. I just tried to throw myself into the scene here.”
Raised on a healthy dose of classic rock, which he credits with inspiring him to want to play and write music, Plevyak says rock and roll will always be his first love, but he’s found himself gravitating toward different types of music during certain stages of his life. High school introduced him to rock artists such as Dave Grohl, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and John Mayer. Moving to Nashville opened his eyes to Americana, which he has come to really embrace. “I love the storytelling in Americana music, just the ‘heart on your sleeve’ aspect.” He also counts R&B and a lot of outlaw country among his favorite genres.
Since first stepping foot in this city as a resident, Plevyak has been busy writing and doing shows. About co-writing, he says, “I’ve been a little selective on who I write with. I have a small circle of people that I know every time I get in a room with them something magical is gonna happen.” He adds he didn’t move here and start shaking hands and asking to write with everyone he met, which is the typical route most people take. “I like to know before I get in the room that it’s someone I vibe with, that we have the same goals and common ground.”
When it came to getting gigs, Plevyak and his band didn’t have much trouble. One of his first shows was Whiskey Jam in Midtown, followed by others popular venues like The Listening Room and Analog in The Hutton Hotel. “Analog might be my favorite venue to play in general,” Plevyak said, “just the ambience there, and the sound system is so good.” While he’s racked up plenty of indoor gigs around town, it’s festivals that Plevyak really enjoys playing, and he was luckier than most to land some of the most coveted ones the first year he was here. He played CMA Fest, Tomato Art Fest and Musicians Corner in Centennial Park, to name a few.
Some may wonder how he managed all that so quickly. Luck may have played a part, but Plevyak has his own theory. “It wasn’t necessarily like I was just lost standing on a corner trying to figure out where to get started. It seemed, at least as far as the live perspective, in terms of getting exposure that way, it just kind of happened organically. I think that was mostly from just being here for the first couple of months and making friends here.”
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Plevyak
Asked to describe his own music, he told me that it usually gets placed in either the alternative rock or folk country genre. Seems like a pretty sharp contrast between those two, but he also mentioned Americana, which began to make sense. Listen to one of many Americana mix playlists on Spotify and you’ll notice how unique the many different sounds are. Plevyak is more than happy to have his music placed in the great big Americana basket. “Some of my favorite artists in town like Ruston Kelly and Donovan Woods are part of that. I feel like those guys are kind of driving the new sound.”
Speaking of new sounds, today marks the day Jonathan Plevyak’s new single, “Like a Daydream” releases. Co-written with Seth Rentfrow, Plevyak said, “He’s amazing. He plays with another artist in town, Kyle Daniel. “Seth, that dude is so good. He just exudes rock and roll. He wears it on his sleeve. Again, he’s one of the ones I know every time I get in a room with him, we’re gonna come out with something cool.”
While visiting his parents back in Maryland, Plevyak came up with the chorus, but found himself stuck on the verses and the melody. Once he got back and sat down with Rentfrow, they were able to knock the whole song out in about an hour. Within two days, they started recording at CLAW Sound Studios in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. What made the recording of this song notable was the fact that Plevyak and Rentfrow played all of the instruments. “It was the first song I got to play drums on. It was a fun experiment.”
Playing drums wasn’t the only thing about making the record that was memorable. The studio itself had its charms. With a good amount of enthusiasm, Plevyak described it to me. “It’s really a cool studio. I love garage studios and that’s like what it is. The vibe there is really great. I’ve recorded at a bunch of studios in town and a wide range of different kinds, from bedroom, home and big major studios, and something about recording there is just awesome. They have a couple of little dogs always running around. We’ll take breaks and grill some burgers or hot dogs, make fresh coffee. It’s just a real homey, relaxed experience and I feel like this is one of the songs where you can hear it in the recording. You can hear that we all had a really good time making it.”
There’s no hiding his excitement for the song’s release. Plevyak explained, “The song is about escaping all the noise and the craziness right now in our current climate. Just getting on the open road with your special person and getting lost in the peace and the quiet and the serenity. It’s a super upbeat, feel-good song. It brings me a lot of peace and happiness. I get good vibes when I play it and I really hope that it’ll do the same for other people.”
Obviously, the day your song is released is always important, but as an added bonus, the video for “Like a Daydream” also releases today. Filmed on and around Williamson County’s Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge, it’s nothing fancy, but certainly perfect for conveying the song’s message. Plevyak pointed out that one of the first lines in the song is, “Hop on the Trace, it’ll take us someplace wild and free,” so I thought that would be a good place to shoot. When quarantine started and we lost shows, I had a little extra time and got super into riding motorcycles. Seth and I took a trip down there, and that ride, especially right now in the fall, that ride is unbelievably stunning, so I thought it was a great spot.” The video depicts Plevyak riding a Honda Rebel 500 motorcycle, a ride that he had originally hoped to share with a female character, but that idea fell through at the last minute. Looking back on it, however, he thinks it was meant to be, explaining that, “The song is is called ‘Like a Daydream’. Maybe people can perceive it more as that’s what I’m envisioning while out on this adventure.” The video was filmed by his roommate Nick Stafford, which Plevyak mentioned made it “easy, totally indie and it gets the point across.”
Video courtesy of PLEVYAKofficial and YouTube
As with most independent artists, the promotion of their music falls mostly upon themselves. Plevyak is lucky to have help in the form of a publicist, but a large portion of the workload will be his own. He plans to spend release day doing exactly that. He told me has a “big list” of blogs he needs to contact and he’ll be spending a lot of time on social media sites plugging the new song and video. He’s also looking at an Instagram Takeover with Young Music City soon and possibly a safe, socially-distant, acoustic songwriter round type of show at his house in the near future.
Naturally, Plevyak is missing live music, just as we all are, and his goals for the next few years highlight that desire to get back out and start playing to real audiences again. “I feel like the thing that gives me the most purpose, and my sound is utilized best when playing live with my band. I would like to get on more festivals and some national tours as a support act with some artists that I think my sound would be a good fit with. I want to play and travel as much as I can and grow my fan base, and from a digital perspective, growing the numbers. I’d like to make more friendships and keep having the scale of things getting bigger.”
For our final few minutes we had some fun. I presented Plevyak with a scenario. He was going to record a cover song from any genre in the last decade. It was to be a duet with a female artist. What would the song be and who would his duet partner be? He thought it over rather quickly, and came up with the Lucie Silvas song, “Black Jeans”. I was taken aback, as I’m a big fan of everything that Silvas has recorded, so I was immediately familiar with the song. It’s not what I expected, but it’s an absolutely fabulous song. Asked who he wanted to sing it with, he said he wanted it to be Silvas herself, but if she was unavailable, he chose either Lauren Daigle or Clare Cunningham.
Video courtesy of Lucie Silvas and YouTube
Fans might be surprised to know that Plevyak knows all the lyrics to Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” and it’s his go-to karaoke song. His favorite coffee shop is Portland Brew and when it comes to Nashville food, he can’t say enough about the breakfast at Star Bagel. Another place you might find him if you’re really looking for him is Taco Mama. He said he and his friends probably eat there three times a week.
Another fun fact. His late grandmother gave him a clock. It doesn’t work, but he surmises it’s pretty old, probably handed down to his grandma from her own parents. “It just doesn’t work, but I won’t ever get rid of it.”
Then I came at him with a question he probably won’t ever be asked again, and I was guessing, but I doubted he’d been asked it before. I asked him this. What, exactly, is the mystery liquid that flows freely on the streets and sidewalks of downtown Nashville? It wasn’t a Zoom interview, so I couldn’t see his reaction to that question, but I sensed I was correct. He had definitely never been asked that before. Then he confirmed it, he had not. He laughed, thought a moment, then said, “Well, definitely don’t step in it. It smells… I’ll just say ‘sewage-related’.” Fair assessment, and yes, definitely, at all costs, do not step in it.
Finally, when Jonathan Plevyak “Thinks Country”, what does he think? “I think, in a non-stereotypical way, but in a good way, of cowboy hats and boots and freedom. I listen to a lot of outlaw country so I picture American flags, the Midwest, open roads and trucks. I feel like country music is the most American thing. I think of good times. I love how country music talks about the simple things in life. I picture a cookout, the 4th of July, cold beer, making memories and good old American freedom.”
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Plevyak
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*Featured photo courtesy of Jonathan Plevyak