Florida native Spencer Jordan is a pop singer-songwriter who moved to Nashville in 2016 to begin his songwriting and artist career. His music is a mixture of the music he listened to growing up in his small beach town and the prevailing sounds found in today’s pop, and his writing focuses on the everyday struggles and victories that come with life, love, and growing up.
I got the chance to talk to Spencer about how he first got into making music, his new single “WYD?”, what it was like filming his first ever music video for his single “Maroon Five”, his love of Spiderman and so much more! Keep reading to see what he had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
Music was always very important in my family. I grew up in church with both my parents on the praise team, and took classical guitar lessons when I was younger. I learned I could sing at 14 around youth group camp fires. I probably sang “I’m Yours” more times than it has actual streams on Spotify.
I wrote a little bit in high school, but I’m not exactly putting those songs out. I mostly focused on cover songs and gigs to make extra money. When I went to the University of Florida, I got a weekly gig at a popular bar and that’s where I really learned to perform (Also GO GATORS). When I was 21, I wrote my first “real” song and that’s when I think I really fell in love with making music.
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
I think it has to be my first concert with my band in college. I’d just started getting really serious about writing, and we got the opportunity to open for Sean Kingston (of “Beautiful Girls” fame). There was this HUGE crowd and it was like nothing I’d ever done or felt before. A switch flipped in my head at that point and it just made sense. Coincidentally, the birth of my actual music career was the beginning of the slow death of my college career. Oops. Sorry mom & dad.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. Your sound would typically be classified as pop, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe it?
This is always such a hard question. I guess I just want to convey the normal ups & downs of life. Like, the usual person isn’t popping champagne in an LA nightclub, they’re drinking out of solo cups while thinking about texting their ex. I just want people to feel seen in whatever it is they’re going through, and I love to find the nuance or romance or craziness that exists in normal life. I don’t know if I answered the question, and “normal” is so relative, but I think that’s what I try to go for. Pop for the regular guy.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
I grew up learning every John Mayer song he ever put out. I was also raised in Jupiter, Fl, which is a beach town, so it was impossible to escape Jack Johnson. Also I attribute my near-obsessive love of harmonies to my dad raising me on The Eagles. Lately though, I’ve just been binge listening to newer pop artists like Lauv and Quinn XCII, which has really influenced me the last 3-4 years.
Let’s talk about your new single, “WYD?”. What’s the story behind this song?
Well first off, I wrote this song with Levi Burwell, Joey McCarrick, and Cody Johnson (not the famous country artist). I got the idea for writing a song called “Wyd?” way before we actually wrote what is now the definitive version. I liked the idea of calling out someone who had been stringing you along and came up with the hook “I don’t wanna be what you’re doing” which made me feel very clever [laughs].
While the song isn’t an exact re-telling of actual events that happened to me, I’ve definitely felt used by someone I had feelings for that wasn’t capable of feeling those same things for me, and this song is about realizing that and ending a toxic relationship. I’ve also received my fair share of “Wyd?” texts. Looking at my own experience through the lens of millennial dating habits ended up being really fun and cathartic, and I think every writer in that room got to put a little bit of their own experiences into it, except for Joey, who’s been in his relationship since he was like 12.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into what it was like specifically for this song.
Specifically? Well I can tell you there was whiskey at the beginning of the write and there wasn’t any at the end. I already had the “Wyd?” idea, but it hadn’t found a home yet. Levi started playing a riff he came up with, then sang what’s now the first line in the song, and we started really rolling with the concept. Before we even started actually writing, we all talked about common things associated with millennial dating culture we could pull from. I can’t remember the exact chain of events leading to the full song (see previous part about the whiskey), but I can distinctly remember coming up with the chorus melody, then having a crisis of faith. My other co-writers then had to convince me to keep my own melody, which is always funny. I also remember fighting over whether or not to include the word “decadent” in the 2nd pre-chorus, but Cody made a strong case for it (he just graduated from Belmont law, if that tells you anything about how that argument went) and won me over. So yeah, my pop song has an SAT word in it now.
Something I’ve always been curious about with songwriting is how topics come to mind. Did you know what you wanted to write about going into the song session that birthed “WYD?” or did it just come about organically once you were in the session?
As I mentioned earlier, I’d actually had the idea for “Wyd?” well before the write, but I kept trying to write the song myself and those versions always came out as mid-tempo, contemplative, sad boy pop songs. I never really vibed with any of those and didn’t finish any of them. When we were in the room, Levi played that riff on the guitar and things just clicked into place from there. So to answer your question, yes and no; we all had ideas prior to entering the room, but after the first line and initial decision to write the concept, it was a really fun and organic group effort to create something new.
Were there any major changes made to “WYD?” once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
Surprisingly enough, no! It was written on acoustic guitar but we all knew it should have a DNCE or Nick Jonas type vibe. I’m honestly surprised at how the original version really informed the produced version; we even got to have some acoustic guitar in there! I will say that the high note in the last chorus was not originally in the song – I was just feeling impulsive that day in the studio!
I know you also recently released a music video for your song, “Maroon Five”. What was your experience shooting that video like? Was that your first time shooting a music video?
Yes! My first ever music video! I was so excited and extremely nervous, since like a lot of people, I don’t think of myself as great in front of any form of camera. But my videographer, Lexy Kadey, had such an infectious energy and passion for the project and story that it was impossible not to love every moment of it. I’d actually won a competition with my single “Maroon Five” and Lexy storyboarded, filmed, and edited the video entirely for free, so it was kind of a dream come true.
Another aspect that added to the general positivity of the experience was that the main characters in the video, Jake Durkin and Joanie Lynch, are two of my best friends and actually engaged in real life! So I just spent the day hanging around behind the camera with my best friends watching them be in love (okay, that sounded weird but you get what I mean).
A lot of my nerves came from the fact that I’m kind of a film nerd. My friends and family won’t even talk to me about movies anymore because I bring up things like “character arcs” and “camera work” and “editing.” Because of that, I was really afraid of putting out music videos in general, because I was always scared they wouldn’t live up to my expectations. It turns out that Lexy is even more of a film nerd though, and when I explained to her my fears and what I envisioned as far as camera work and editing, she absolutely nailed it. I’m so proud of the video and everyone involved, and it honestly made me fall in love with my song all over again.
You’re still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
I have a goal that I think is legitimately realistic, but challenging enough to actually mean something if it happens: I want to play at a music festival. I’m hoping that after putting out the other 2 songs on this project and getting my full band set up to snuff, that I’ll have enough material to start sending stuff to bookers. I grew up going to festivals like Bonnaroo and Hangout, and there’s just something about the energy of those large outdoor venues in the hot summer sun that really gets to me. I’d especially love to play at Sunfest, which is the 4 day music festival in my hometown that I’ve attended pretty much my whole life. Even if I’m the 4 o’clock slot on a Thursday, it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do.
Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
You’re talking to the right nerd. Ya’ll, I love superheroes. I love them in comics, I love them in movies, I love them in TV shows. I grew up on comics and Saturday morning cartoons, and I guess I never really stopped. I’m into so much stuff that even trying to explain my last week of nerd-dom would be difficult, but here goes: Spiderman. All of it. I’m reading the “Miles Morales” and “Spider-Gwen” comics right now (of Spider-verse fame) and consider myself somewhat of an Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse evangelist among my friends, or just anyone I bump into on the street! It’s an absolutely perfect film and it’s a crime that more people haven’t seen it because general American audiences see animation as a medium for children (Honorable mention to Spiderman: Far From Home which I also LOVED. Tom Holland is my Spider-man).
I’m also a subscriber to the DC Universe streaming service and would like to plug the show Doom Patrol, as I think it’s one of the best seasons of television this year, and the best superhero show I’ve ever seen, but NO ONE KNOWS IT EXISTS.
On a larger scale, I can tell you I flipped out when I saw the Marvel Phase 4 lineup last weekend and am still on a high after that. This stuff is basically my Superbowl. It’s such a great time to be a nerd right now. All the things I loved growing up are getting (generally) faithful and creative adaptations and even the weird stuff is going mainstream! So yeah, if it has a cape and a tragic backstory, I’m probably obsessed with it.