Interscope Records’ Jordy Towers can’t let go in his video, “Don’t Say It’s Over”
Check out more about Jordy Towers and click on the video icon the view the video.
Jordy’s music is a hyper, ambitious collision of rock, pop, hip-hop, R&B, and electro influences that showcases Towers’ ability to shift effortlessly between singing and rapping, as well his nimble wordplay and ear for killer hooks.
…I was alone a lot…My only friends were my hip-hop records. I’d listen to A Tribe Called Quest, Snoop Dogg, De La Soul, Dr. Dre, The Fat Boys, LL Cool J, Roxanne Shanté, Guru. In junior high, I went to a school that bussed in kids from South Central and I felt connected to them in a way I didn’t feel connected to the suburban kids. The realness of their life, they struggled like I struggled as a kid.
To understand Jordy Towers, to truly appreciate the full force of his singular personality, you kind of have to meet him in person. We hope, for your sake, you get that chance someday. A diminutive, mohawked motormouth with an easy laugh, Towers is instantly likeable. He’s smart, scrappy, and hilarious — with a swaggering, rap-star confidence that might come off as arrogance if it didn’t mask the fact that Towers is essentially an attention-seeking kid from a broken home who pretty much raised himself. Born and bred in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, he was homeless until a few months ago when he signed a record deal with Roma Records/Blackground Records. Towers’ story is intense, and if we tried to tell it all here, we’d be writing a book, not a bio. So listen to the music, because it’s all in the songs the 24-year-old singer and rapper is cooking up in the studio for his debut album.
The music is a hyper, ambitious collision of rock, pop, hip-hop, R&B, and electro influences that showcases Towers’ ability to shift effortlessly between singing and rapping, as well his nimble wordplay and ear for killer hooks. The songs reflect a multitude of styles: “Spaceboy Boogie” is dirty electro-funk; “Feelin’ California” is feel-good, laid-back summer pop; “ADD” is island-inspired reggae/hip-hop; “Don’t Say It” is ’60s-flavored R&B; while “Cling On” is a straight-up club jam. It’s verbally vivid, melodically extravagant, rhythmically riotous, and stubbornly eclectic. And Towers filters it all through his unique worldview — one that could only come from someone who’s lived what he’s lived.
Music has always been my escape,” he says. “It’s what has kept me sane. My mom left when I was seven and I was raised by my father, who was a struggling actor. My sister moved away and my dad was always off working, so I was alone a lot. I ate a lot of Ramen. My only friends were my hip-hop records. I’d listen to A Tribe Called Quest, Snoop Dogg, De La Soul, Dr. Dre, The Fat Boys, LL Cool J, Roxanne Shanté, Guru. In junior high, I went to a school that bussed in kids from South Central and I felt connected to them in a way I didn’t feel connected to the suburban kids. The realness of their life, they struggled like I struggled as a kid. ”
The grandson of MGM film legend and operatic singer Kathryn Grayson (who starred in the films Anchors Aweigh with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, Show Boat, and Kiss Me Kate), Jordy was the family’s black sheep. In junior high, he befriended Michael Jackson’s niece and nephew Siggy and Brandi Jackson, and was taken in by their parents, Jackie and his wife Enid, after dropping out of school at 16. “I lived with them and they used to encourage me to sing and rap,” Towers says. He and Siggy formed a reggae-rap group called Rebel Youth. “I had dreads and everything,” Towers says. “I sold weed at school and would get caught and kicked out.” Eventually Towers got the boot from so many schools that he says he was eliminated from the L.A. Unified School District altogether and sent to a probationary school where “the kids were gangsters or lived in half-way houses.
Through it all though, Towers always had music. He’d steal his sister’s CD’s (The Dark Side of the Moon, The Chronic, 2 Live Crew’s As Nasty As They Wanna Be) and write out the lyrics to the songs. “I could see the pattern of the song that way,” he says. “I studied the craft from real early on. I remember kids beat-boxing at school on the eighth-graders’ lawn. I was a scrub, but they’d let me come on during lunch. I was the only sixth-grader that could come on. We used to break dance in a little circle,” he says with a laugh. “Music was all I ever wanted to do. Well, that or be a baseball player. I wanted to play centerfield for The Dodgers, but I’m too short. So I decided to be a rapper. Everyone in my family sang, so I got into rap because it was the furthest thing away from what my family did. I didn’t start singing until five years ago.”
When Towers was 18, he ran into some trouble with the law, did a short stint behind bars, and upon release, found himself living on the streets. A friend got him a hotel room and told him they should make a record, which they did with the help of some investors, under Towers’ alter ego/rap name Optimus. “We made this incredible live hip-hop album with a full orchestra, but it was so expensive to record that we ran out of money to market or distribute it,” he says. The album found its way to rapper/producer Lupe Fiasco who asked Towers to support him on a 2008 tour. “I got a loan to follow Lupe on the road, but then the loan company went bust, and the whole thing was done.” Long story short, in October 2009, Towers was living in his truck when he was contacted by Zach Katz, a business associate of multi-platinum producer/songwriter J.R. Rotem, who asked for a meeting. Towers recorded four songs with Rotem, “Spaceboy Boogie,” “Don’t Say It’s Over,” “Feelin’ California,” and futuristic love song “Lullaby.” A deal with Rotem’s label didn’t pan out, but Towers walked away with a top-notch four-song calling card. “I started living in my truck again,” Towers says. “I felt like the biggest loser.”
Desperate, he called his grandmother to ask if he could come home. She agreed if he’d commit to going back to school. “I was going to get out of music, I just couldn’t bear it,” Towers says. He signed up to take business classes at Santa Monica City College and was set to enroll when a friend called and said he wanted to introduce Towers to Gary Marella, a record industry executive who had launched a label, Roma Records (distributed through Blackground/Interscope Records), and was looking to sign a flagship artist. Marella flipped over the Rotem-produced demo and contacted a fellow record executive and dear friend, Chuck Field, who set up a meeting for Towers with Blackground Records’ Barry Hankerson. Hankerson took one look at Towers, with his mohawk and shades, and said, “This motherfucker’s a star.” “I went home and said to my grandmother: ‘Granny, I think I’ve gotten the deal I’ve been looking for,’” Towers says. “She grabbed me by the hand and pulled me in and said, ‘I know you’re going to be successful.’”
The next day, Towers, was making breakfast when his grandmother’s nurse came running into the kitchen. “She was yelling, ‘Get in here, she’s having a heart attack!’” he says. “I had the paramedics on the phone and they were telling me how to give her CPR, but she died on me, right in my arms.” Grayson was 88. A few days later, Towers signed his deal with Roma Records, “and I haven’t looked back,” he says.
That was February 2010. Since then, Towers has been feverishly writing and recording the songs that will appear on his debut album, which he is thinking of calling Jordy Towers Featuring Himself. He’s also finishing up a script for a short film based on several songs from the album, including first single, “Spaceboy Boogie.” “It’s a take-off on Star Trek, Star Wars, and Avatar,” he says. “We’re just clowning on everything. It’s a musical, like Bollywood in the Valley, but on a planet that hasn’t been discovered yet.”
Towers is also looking forward to getting back onstage. “I want everyone to be able to come to my shows, no matter what kind of music they like,” he says. “That’s what great artists do. Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin — they brought people together. Music is the great social equalizer. I want to make great music that’s relatable, catchy as shit, and just lets me flex my skills. This is only the beginning.”