Los Angeles theatergoers know J.D. Driskill for playing Roger in Jonathan Larson’s Rent in numerous L.A.-area productions, including Rent Downtown L.A., for which he won a StageSceneLA Scenie Award. Now J.D. makes his recording debut with his eleven-song CD Fairytale …That Once Upon a Time Thing. “Rawcoustic” is how J.D. describes Fairytale, and there is indeed an exciting, raw feel to each of the CD’s eleven tunes. Minor chords predominate, emotions are raw, hearts are broken and/or bleeding, and for the most part it’s just J.D., a guitar, backup harmonies, and nearly a dozen songs sure to gain the Arizona native an enthusiastic following. One thing is sure, one listening will only whet your appetite for another…and another.
J.D. took time out from his busy schedule to sit down and chat with us about his dual careers, and about Fairytale …That Once Upon a Time Thing in particular.


Hi J.D. I’ve really been enjoying listening to your songs. Having seen you twice singing Jonathan Larson in Rent, it’s especially exciting to hear your own work as a songwriter.

Thanks Steven. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed them and thank you for taking the time to listen to my album and come see Rent twice!

You’re very welcome! So, let’s talk about your CD. You’ve titled it Fairytale…That Once Upon a Time Thing, but a number of its songs aren’t about “Happily Ever After” relationships. How did you come up with the title and how do you feel about happily ever after endings?

Basically the concept of the album is that everyone is always looking for that “perfect” relationship, though from my own past experiences, everything doesn’t always end well, even though at one point at least some of those relationships were perfect in my eyes. My album reflects on a lot of the downfall side of relationships, which you hear in tracks like “You’re Pretty ” “Alone ” “Dear Joelle,” etc. Sometimes people don’t get the happily ever after and it’s sad. If you’re one of the lucky ones who find it, then I suggest you hold onto it and never let go. For me, I haven’t found it, but maybe one day I will.

Who were your biggest musical influences growing up, and who inspires you most as an artist in 2011 going on 2012?

Funny enough I grew up on a lot of Rap and Hip Hop as a kid, so, 2Pac, Nas, Boyz 2 Men were a big part of what I listened to as a kid. These days I’m influenced by artists such as Jonny Lang, Jared Leto, and Justin Timberlake to name a few. I can only hope to achieve half the success that they’ve all reached at such a young age.

Fairytale is produced by Harley Jay, another multitalented musical theater performer slash singer-songwriter, and Harley backs you up on guitar on each of the tracks on your album. How did you two guys hook up musically and how did it come about for Harley to be such an integral part of Fairytale.

Harley Jay and I are both from Arizona and went to the same high school, but at different times, so we’ve known each other for some time. When I went through a break up I decided to do what every artist does, pick up a guitar and try to write a bunch of sappy songs. I called up Harley and asked if he could help me play and record some of them. After getting through a couple of them he asked me to open up for him at the Whitefire Theatre. The show went great and from there we kept working on songs and eventually got to where we are now. Harley is one of those people that I’ve always looked up to and I admire his talents, we jelled really well when we started and just kept it going. I was very lucky to have him, without him there wouldn’t be this record.

The musical accompaniment is pretty spare, just you on vocals and Harley on guitar—a purely artistic decision or one influenced by economic reasons?

These days I feel like everyone puts out these overproduced albums, and don’t get me wrong, some of them are great. For me, when I listen to only acoustic music, I feel like you’re able to really understand the artist and the song. That’s what I wanted for my listeners, I just wanted them to be able to listen to something that they might be able to relate to.

The music industry has changed a lot in the past decade or so, with the Internet, iTunes, etc. enabling new artists to get their music out their without that illusive Big Record Deal. Does this help a young artist like yourself get heard?

The Internet is crazy! It’s also a huge part of music today. It’s the reason a lot of labels are going away and CD revenue is dropping. If it weren’t for the Internet today we would’ve missed out on a lot of musicians that might have never been known. For me it’s a chance to get my music heard all the way from here to the other side of the world by a click of a button.

You’ve probably played Roger in Rent in more different productions than any other Southern California performer. Is there any one of those productions that stands out for you above the others?

I’m not going to pick one because I’ll never hear the end of it. People in my casts would ask me all the time which one I thought was better. All I’ll say is that over the time I did that show it was a new experience, from the first time to the last time. It’s one of those shows that just gets to you and you’re never the same after doing it. I was very blessed to have been able to play the role of Roger, which was my dream role and still is. I hope I can do it again one day again and if you’re reading this and casting Rent, give me a call!

How do you see yourself as an artist/performer over the next few years, as more of a musical theater performer, recording artist, or a combination of both?

I always have issues picking one thing that I like to do, I love doing it all and so far have been blessed to have been able to do it all so far and hope to continue doing what I love.








     Born in Olympia, Washington JD Driskill was on an airplane headed to California After bouncing around the US he eventually got to Arizona where he did most of his growing up. After singing in choirs in school, he tried his shot at theatre After gaining rave reviews from critics in roles and winning awards he decided to give California a shot
     Coming to California in 2007 he attended AMDA and graduated two years later. From there J D was lucky enough to land the role of Roger for a local theatre, after that he bounced around from theatre to theatre playing that role of Roger, gaining rave reviews and winning a StageSceneLA Scenie award for Outstanding Performance By A Lead Actor.
     After going through a breakup in September of 2010, J.D. picked up a guitar and starting writing songs He met with good friend Harley, who asked him to come play show with him, so two months later, on November 19th there he was holding an acoustic guitar and sharing with the world what he had went through. After that J.D. went into the studio with Harley Jay and over the next year they put together his debut album Fairy tale .. That Once Upon A Time Thing, which released on the one-year anniversary of his debut acoustic show.

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