Jonny Zye is a 25-year-old multi-faceted musical artist based in Los Angeles, California. Years before picking up the guitar as a young teen, Jonny was influenced by a variety of musical genres, from classic rock to funky pop, soulful jazz to twangy country. Today, these musical influences are evident throughout his original compositions, as well as the extensive catalogue of songs he can recreate from memory.
Jonny considers his an addictive personality, which is true in all aspects of this description. Not only is he a people person with a heart-warming smile and a je ne sais quoi you can’t miss, but also he considers himself addicted. Not to the usual stuff like drugs, carbs, or chocolate, but to music—to performing, writing, singing, playing, and all other aspects of creating music. He has said many times that the only thing for him is music, and vows to center his life around music until his last breath. “It’s not a choice. It’s not a job. It’s what I do.” This drive to create and perform music is the most powerful part of a huge personality.
At age 13, Jonny picked up a guitar while hanging out at a friend’s house one afternoon. He didn’t know anything about chords, hand placement, or technique, but he was able to create sounds and melodies that set off a spark of desire. $50 later, he owned a cheap guitar and amp—for the next few years, he’d play for 3 to 4 hours per day, often bloodying his fingertips on the journey to a musician’s calluses.
It took a few years for lyrics to join the melodies Jonny’s hands created; this was because lyrics required him to sing, as there was no one else to do so. Jonny recalls lying in bed one night at age 16 and feeling a fire in his belly that wouldn't quit. Finally, at 3 a.m., he jumped out of bed, grabbed his guitar, and spent the next hour or so writing his first complete song—chords, melody, and lyrics. The feeling of accomplishment from this completion was like nothing he’d ever felt before, and that is a feeling he still chases today, with every song he writes.
The vocal journey from there to here wasn’t easy—not everyone believed he had what it took—but, as he does, Jonny overcame. In overcoming, he shattered any lingering doubts about his vocal talent. These days, he visits his world-renowned vocal coach Stevie Mackey in L.A. every couple of months in order to compound on the skills he develops on his own during his daily vocal exercises, practice, and development.
Every aspect of Jonny’s music comes from Jonny himself—no one else does it for him. His music is a reflection of him as a person, a look inside his mind and soul. His mission is to create timeless songs that people of all ages, walks of life, and experiences can relate to. His opinion is that people need music, that it’s essential to life, and he wants to create music that expresses natural human emotions, needs, and philosophies.
Jonny’s latest album, the aptly named “Onward & Upward,” is comprised of songs he wrote at 20 years old, inspired by the conclusion of a long-term relationship. In this album, you’ll find songs about heartbreak, feeling lost, overcoming, and moving on. This immensely personal album addresses these things and more in a way that makes the listener believe that moving on, healing, and finding love again are legitimate possibilities. Jonny describes this album as an incredibly cathartic experience—chronicling his pain and perseverance, his heartache and optimism—and this is evident throughout the entire album.
Jonny Zye is working toward success in an industry flooded with performers just like him, but the thing that sets him apart from the rest—undeniable talent aside—is his drive and need to live a life in music. To him, there is no other option, no back-up plan—he must, and he will do this. In an industry that constantly demands more, Jonny Zye is un-ignorable. He commands admiration and respect as a musician, and it is well deserved on every level.
A professional through and through, Jonny held weekly artist residencies at Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, CA and the Grand Hyatt San Francisco. He also played artist residencies at Andaz Napa, Maria Maria in both Danville, CA and Walnut Creek, CA, as well as a variety of other venues. He has performed at large and small venues across the Bay Area and farther beyond, such as Hotel Cafe Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe San Diego, The FIFTH Anaheim, The Boom Boom Room and Hotel Utah in San Francisco; House of Blues in Hollywood; and the historic Elsinore Theater in Salem, Oregon, among many others. He has also performed at colleges and universities across the country, to very enthusiastic audiences who immediately ask when he’ll be returning.
Jonny has showcased at the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) Mid Atlantic Conference 2015, the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA) Conference 2015, and the Association of Entertainment Professionals (AEP) Worldwide Conference 2015. In January 2016, he received an endorsement from HP Guitars, a superior-quality company, based in France.
Jonny’s fan base becomes evident upon learning of his social media statistics. He boasts over 49,000 followers on Facebook, with an average 1000 more weekly; over 25,000 Instagram followers; over 6,500 followers on Twitter (his least-used social media account); over 3000 subscribers on Youtube; and thousands more listeners not reflected in these numbers. Jonny’s weekly live streams routinely reach thousands of people across the country and world. His music video for “Time to Heal,” the proceeds of which are donated to The Amy Winehouse Foundation, has been viewed on YouTube almost 15,000 times in a month and a half.
-Written by Kate Wilson