On September 11, The Blue Stones released their latest single, “Let It Ride”, out on Entertainment One. The track debuted on YouTube in the form of a live video, capturing the duo returning to their element on stage and giving fans a chance to experience the song as intended, as a captivating performance.
We caught up with The Blue Stones’ Tarek Jafar to talk about this latest release, among other topics relating to the pandemic and what’s coming up next for the band.
Tell me a little about yourself! When did you first start making music?
I live in Windsor, Ontario. My mom is actually where I get the musical gene from, she taught me piano at a young age. When I was 12 or 13 in early university, I decided to show my music to Justin (who is now the drummer of The Blue Stones) and he was down to mess around with it a bit more… that’s when everything started off in the second or third year of university.
I’m actually a certified physical therapist as well. I lived in England between 2015 and 2017 to get my physical therapy degree so that was kinda before everything blew up as far as momentum The Blue Stones but I managed to get that locked in before I started to tour more frequently.
How did you meet Justin Tessier, and decide to start making music together?
We were both very good friends since sophomore year of high school. He played in high school bands and I sorta kept to myself, but we were both big music fans, and we shared a lot similar interests as far as our musical influences. He was a bit more rock/classic rock focused… I was a bit more modern rock, hip hop, and r&b focused but we definitely met in the middle on a few bands that we still like today. But yeah, I used to write music on my own and not really share it with anybody and Justin was the first person I did share that music with.
Do you have a process for writing your lyrics/music that you can cite?
It’s pretty random. Most of the songs that I’ve written have started off with me messing around on the guitar or piano or even just from having a melody in my head that I threw down onto a voice recorder on my phone. That’s usually where things start then I start to flesh out the ideas on my own whether it’s just instrumental as far as guitar and vocals, or it includes a little bit of drums. Sometimes I’ll track a little bit of electronic drums just to give Justin an idea of what I’m going for. But yeah, typically its music first, lyrics later. More recently, after working with Paul who’s a producer on our upcoming album, we just spent a lot of focus on lyrics and lyrical content. He’s made me see the value in developing good lyrics that people relate to and lyrics that really tell a story.
How has the pandemic affected your music and your lifestyle? What are some inventive ways that you’ve learned to cope?
Well it’s difficult for us all. I feel like we were building so much momentum in late 2019 into early 2020 and it’s just such a shame to see it all be kind of put on pause. Obviously we understand that there’s nothing we can really do about it so, in the meantime, we’ve just been trying to interact with our fans in other ways. The positive thing is it’s made us really focused on our online content and our online presence which I think a lot of artists are now focusing on too.
We’ve not only been performing through live streams, but teaching things! I do a couple of guitar lessons and even some keyboard lessons for songs that our fans want to know how to play, so we’ve done that. Justin’s even done a cocktail session where he just taught people how to make a cocktail. We’ve also done a lot of cool interviews and zoom calls with some pretty cool press outlets. So, I think it’s affected everybody by pushing the whole music industry online… before it was a mix of onstage and online but now it just feels like it’s completely online. Actually, it hasn’t been the worst thing; Recently, I’ve been reconnecting with playing the piano and I can definitely thank the lockdown for that.
What is the inspiration behind your new song, “Let it Ride”?
It’s kind of a funny story but both myself and Justin have a mutual friend that we went to Vegas with for his bachelor party and it was just the most Vegas weekend of all time like… everything you could imagine. That sorta influenced me but the idea of us touring influenced me as well. You know, we live pretty unique lifestyles being musicians and all, and sometimes traveling all the time can clash with us wanting to have personal relationships with our girlfriends or wives. I felt like I wanted to write a song that sort of alluded to that. It’s kind of interesting being partnered up with a musician because you have to be okay with them roaming around and being ambitious while, at the same time, you’re trying to strive to have this stable, traditional, locked down lifestyle. So, it’s a song about having to approach our personal relationships a lot differently than others would.
Can you tell me a little bit more about your upcoming performance, “Live On Display” ?
It was an awesome project that we were able to do when everything was locked down. We wanted to perform live and we wanted to do something a little different than a livestream. At the time, we felt like everybody was just hitting the nail on the head constantly — beating a dead horse with these live streamed performances. Every time I was logged into instagram, somebody was going live from some room in their house playing some sort of acoustic instrument and I just kinda got sick of it. So, our producer Paul had this great idea of actually doing a performance or putting on something that was unique and special for our fans (and other people who ended up tuning into our performance). We put together and reworked a lot of songs and stuff we had already released, but we also wanted to release “Let It Ride” with a performance video versus just a standard music video. That’s kind of how the idea came about and, luckily for me, my brother’s a director so he was able to get an awesome team to film it. With Paul as a creative director to put together some cool arrangements for our songs, we came out with something that we’re both extremely proud of. We can’t wait to share the rest of the videos with everyone.
What’s in the future for The Blue Stones?
So, we’re definitely looking to release this performance video. That’s our main focus, and that’s coming up. After that, we would love to release one more single before we drop an official album, but we’re just not exactly sure how that’s gonna play out with Covid. A lot of people ask us when we’re gonna release our next album and the answer we’ve given them is “as soon as we know, we’ll tell you!” There’s just a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes as far as when to release an album and we wanna make sure that we release it the right way. We’ve put so much work into it and we’re so proud of what we’ve done, so we don’t want it to just be a flash in the pan and then go away… we also want to be able to tour it.
Anything else you want to mention?
Just keep an eye out for the performance video! Also, people always ask where they can keep in touch with us. We’re both pretty active on our Instagrams and we try to interact with people as much as we can so feel free to send a message if you have anything to say! It’s usually Justin and I behind the keys, so you can always just send us a question or whatever else and we’ll usually answer it.
Photo Credit: Jennifer McCord