10 Questions with Jordan Lally

This month we are honored to interview Jordan Lally.  Jordan is a singer/songwriter, best known for his work with his own alternative rock band Fiction 20  Down, Jordan has written and produced over 50 songs on 5 studio albums. As frontman for Fiction 20 Down (also known as “F20D”), Jordan has toured  throughout the United States, including appearances at festivals like California Roots, Millennium Music and others.  This guy is the real deal!

1. Tell us about your musical background, how you got into songwriting, and any current projects you have now.

I started my career in music as an audio engineer, recording & mixing for other artists, initially at a commercial studio and then eventually at my own independent studio. I’d always loved music, but the studio experience exposed me to songwriting at all different levels across various genres, and really ignited my own passion for songwriting. Currently my primary outlet for songwriting is my band F20D - a hybrid of rock, hiphop & reggae which def keeps things interesting as a songwriter. I’m also currently working on a more intimate singer-songwriter EP to be released under my own name. I say intimate cause I’m using light percussion instead of live drums, acoustics/ukulele/cello instead of electric guitar, etc. I’m also currently producing a few projects with other artists that I co-write a bit on.

2. What influences you as a songwriter?

My primary influence as a songwriter is my own life experience, and that of those close to me. I can’t write about something that I haven’t experienced or witnessed in some fashion. I don’t lean too much on modern radio, except when it comes to maybe structure or tempo, things like that, but that’s really getting into more production rather than songwriting.

3. What do you think about the current state of the music industry? Do you think it’s more difficult to build a career in music today than say 20 years ago?

Unfortunately nowadays it’s less about the music, and more about image. That’s how I’d sum up the music industry. It’s not enough just to be a great band anymore. The waters are too muddied, everyone is releasing music, so you really need that image to be well thought out and fine-tuned in order to stand out.

I’d say it’s probably easier nowadays to built a modest career as an indie artist, kinda like starting a small business, but on the flip side it’s significantly more difficult to grow that small business into something more legitimate. It was easier to become a “rock star” back in the day, but now it’s at least easier to scrap together a living as a working musician.

4. Who are some of your favorite songwriters right now?

My favorite songwriters of all time are Damien Rice and Bradley Nowell. Currently I’m not tuned in too too much, but clearly whoever’s the songwriter in Imagine Dragons is doing something right! Bruno Mars and his team are some great songwriters as well!

5. If you haven’t already, are you open to working with another songwriter or a team of songwriters?

I have certainly worked with other songwriters within my own band. And as a producer, I get the opportunity to co-write with artists as well. I would be open to any & all collaborations with other songwriters in small numbers, especially in the producer/songwriter dynamic. But if I’m being honest, the thought of working with a “team” of songwriters sounds like a bad idea to me… when you try to please too many people, the art gets lost. 

6. How important is outside opinions of your working songs?

I believe that nothing matters more than your own opinion. I have to personally love something I’m going to put my name on, otherwise what’s the point? That said, objective perspective is invaluable. I have a stable of people who I shoot new songs to for feedback… some of the feedback I agree with, some of it I don’t… but listening to their opinions helps me crystalize my own. The key is to be able to balance other’s opinions with your own gut feeling. 

7. Do you think it would be beneficial to have an unbiased team of songwriters in the studio with you while you record music?

For a pop artist trying to appeal to everyone, sure. But for me, one or two co-writers, invested in the project as producers or performers, that would be perfect. Any more and I think you start to get into trouble. Too many opinions can quickly take any song to a point of diminishing return. Songwriting is about unique perspective. That unique perspective becomes watered down as you involve more people. Bring in a team of producers to oversee the production of an already completed song, now that makes sense to me. For a song to be relevant on radio it needs to be framed in whatever the current contemporary format is… multiple producers could help in that regard. But in my opinion, songwriting is best left to those intimately connected to the subject matter and the project itself.

8. What’s the most unique location you’ve ever written a song?

No where interesting really… shower, couch, tour van… basically anywhere there’s idle time enough for inspiration to creep in. A few weeks back I wrote an entire song while mowing the lawn:-) I’m pretty excited about that tune, it’s got alot of potential. I actually already started pre-production on it, and I’m headed into the studio with my bandmates in a couple weeks to record.

9. Fiction 20 Down won “Breakout Artist of the Year” and you were nominated as one of Maryland’s best songwriters at the Maryland Music Awards – congrats! What’s next for you and the band?

Thank you! We’re taking a step back from touring and focusing on the production of a few singles we’ve put together. We’re also in the midst of bringing in some new management, so we’ll be spending some time with that transition. Beyond that, we’ve got some cool things on the horizon!

10. Any advice for a songwriter who is starting to make a go at a career in the music industry?

Welcome outside opinions, but at the end of the day, trust yourself. Anyone can learn to play guitar, or program a hiphop beat, but what separates you from the pack is your own unique perspective shaped by your personal experiences. Use that, it’s your greatest tool.

Thanks to Jordan for the interview.  We’re wishing you much success with your music and career in this crazy business we all know and love!  Check out and listen To Jordan Here: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation


Stephen Antonelli

SongBuilder Studios, 709 Frederick Road, Catonsville, MD, 21228, United States