After years of writing songs and playing in bands that went nowhere, Jonah Knight had enough. He put down his guitar and got a real job, a stable respectable job. He became a playwright.
Six years later, he stopped writing plays and went back to music with a new approach to songwriting, performing, and the music industry.
Gone are his old songs about bars, girls, and the long, lonely road. He no longer thinks of himself as an Alt ’90s angsty hold-out. He is now a pioneer of Paranormal Modern Folk. He doesn't play love songs (unless a ghost is involved), and he doesn't sing about distance affecting his relationships (except when caused by the apocalypse).
His EP Ghosts Don't Disappear examines what it means to be haunted by ghosts, relationships, and the dead. His follow-up The Exploration of Dangerous Places looks at supernatural threats: clone armies, evil Gods, and unknown horrors turn up in every song.
While he does have the occasional purely humorous piece, when he writes about haunted houses, self-loathing superheroes, and Lovecraftian monsters he treats the subject matter seriously, as a playwright or a novelist would. In fact, his fourth album is a soundtrack to a novel. Nobody Gets The Girl: Songs for the Novel by James Maxey, based on the superhero book, examines the darkness in the human condition of the ghost-like protagonist.
Knight is currently working on a second novel soundtrack (with a steampunk theme) as well as his full-length follow-up CD.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft, Jonah.
I was a member of The Singing Boys of Pennsylvania boys choir when I was in 4th grade, so I’ve been comfortable on stage from a pretty young age.
As far as learning guitar and writing songs, I was very lucky in that my high school not only had a guitar class but a music theory class as well. I kept playing and writing through college.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Having a three year old son, my most favorite thing is getting an extra 15 minutes in bed in the morning.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Having specific subject matter that I focus on is helpful in some ways but I wouldn’t say that it’s easy. I find that traditional folkies in traditional acoustic venues don’t get into my songs because I do sidestep the tried and true song subjects. Maybe it's all the stories about spaceships and evil spirits.
I've been playing at Sci-Fi conventions lately, which is a good fit, but they are not inexpensive to participate in. Folks that love Sci-Fi movies and books and comics are not necessarily thinking about finding similar themes their music.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I really have no memory of wanting to grow up and be something. I changed majors four times in college so might say that I still don't know what I want to be.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
I lived in South Dakota for years and while I was there I wrote a lot about physical environment, weather, and the people that thrived in that setting. Once I left the state I always felt a little haunted by that land. Eventually, the lack of that environment became ghost-like. A sense that there is something out there I can’t quite identify.
Where I live now, there is a small group of passionate musicians that really do work tirelessly to provide opportunities for all local musicians. There are near constant events that let you keep working at your live performance skills.
What other artists out there do you love?
Josh Ritter and Great Big Sea have been two of my favorites for some time now. Lately I've been listening to the Nerdcore hip hop of MC Frontalot and the Chap Hop of Professor Elemental and Mr. B.
I've also been on a pretty vague quest to find bands that use non-traditional combination of instruments. I want compelling lyrics and melodies with surprising instruments.
What does your future hold?
My next album (#5) has a steampunk theme. It feels very fresh and exciting to write about time machines and dirigibles.
I've also started working with a theatre director to refine my live show. I don't want to fall into the singer/songwriter trap of being stuck standing behind a microphone and not being visually compelling.