Jordan Mark Witzigreuter, also known by his electro pop moniker The Ready Set, is a sensation within the dance-pop music world. While the name is often misleading as an entire band, Witzigreuter is the only member. When touring, though, he does perform with live musicians. His smash hit singles, "Love Like Woe," "Give Me Your Hand (Best Song Ever)," and "Young Forever" dominated the airwaves back in 2010 and 2011. His sound and tonality pulls inspiration from a myriad of varying genres, including emo and pop punk music. These styles can, of course, be heard in his music instantly. Over the last couple of years, however, his sound has taken a sharper turn towards the electronic side. With the forthcoming of his V2 album, EARMILK sat down with Witzigreuter to learn more about him, the evolution of his sound, as well as the inspiration behind his aforementioned smash hits.
During my middle and high school years, I attended a plethora of dances. Many of which were usually boring and uneventful; however, the music was occasionally tasteful. I remember when The Ready Set was growing immensely and songs like "Love Like Woe," "Give Me Your Hand (Best Song Ever)," and "Young Forever" were slaying the airwaves. These tracks were also being dropped like hot cakes at the school dances. I danced to his music in high and middle school.
Witzigreuter was blown away by the immense support from those DJs' playlists, adding that it's a "huge move in supporting The Ready Set culture."
Sometimes we have to dissect our lives to discover and rid negative energy within our lives. However, sometimes it's harder than it looks. The worse thing that one could hear when going under for surgery, in my opinion, would be, "Doctor, the power went out!" The saying "it could always be worse" comes to mind. I agree with Witzigreuter's panic moment/situation of a machine randomly beeping and doctors scrambling around the operating room. This made us both feel nervous.
We all have unique talents. If I were to acquire a PhD it would have to be something in music or business - but Witzigreuter's intellectual thinking sets him apart - a PhD in philosophy is what he would go for. He added that being able to "make things up and spout them off authoritatively in everyday conversation" would be neat. He added that he wasn't very convincing, but it doesn't take much to convince one these days. To me, this is pretty intuitive.
Putting a story behind your music is super important, especially when you're pitching to bloggers and curators. There's always something to be told about a piece of music, regardless of the whether you believe it's important or not. As a writer it makes things much easier to discuss the work of art. The Ready Set's V2 wasn't intended to be a full-length album. He didn't want to put in the commitment for an entire album. Writing an entire album is a long-term commitment, and creativity for a project can't often be long-term.
Rather, he focused V2 on keeping listeners interested quicker and for shorter periods of time. He went on to add that people consume music a lot differently these days. I wholeheartedly agree. We don't consume music the same way we did five and ten years ago. Today's society has short attention spans and busier schedules. There's no time to focus anymore, unfortunately. The Ready Set also mentioned that V2 made sense for him stylistically, which can often be a struggle for a lot of musicians.
As musicians' and artists' sound changes, their stories do too. Drawing inspiration from old sources and blending them with new ones usually makes for a blissful reunion of potentially groundbreaking new art. The Ready Set's sound has done exactly that, especially in the last few years by pulling inspiration from bands like Good Charlotte, Boys Like Girls, and The All-American Rejects. Witzigreuter grew up listening to these bands, as did most others in their 20s. He stated that he was always attracted to catchy melodies, and the poppier stuff jumped in as his sound evolved. I agreed with him on his statement of "The Ready Set has always been this weird thing that rides the line of being part of a certain music scene, but also not." It has, and his fans would agree as well. Unlike some musicians, The Ready Set keeps a broad range of influences that are all over the place.
As Witzigreuter's sound continues to evolve, he still leverages sounds from his old music. You know, the infectious, upbeat, and spontaneous music that we all know and love from him. The Ready Set keeps a heavy amount of electronic music in his sound, as he did with his older stuff. "I don't think I even had a live instrument in a The Ready Set song until a couple years in," states Witzigreuter. It all started with sequencing everything into GarageBand in his parents' basement, utilizing the stock autotune plugin to finesse and creatively manipulate the vocals. But his new music sounds more refined, refreshed, and pivotal. However, not many people took these elements into account when listening to older The Ready Set music.
Everyone, especially artists and musicians, goes through a phase where they peak. Often times it then translates into a creative stop. This is generally initiates a need for something new, exciting, and breakthrough. For The Ready Set, this pivotal moment was when he released his I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love album. This album was a distinct idea and the exact sonic vibe that he wanted. Furthermore, it took him back to making his original music. He now spends a majority of his time producing for himself, other artists, and side projects, claiming that his production style is much more focused and creative than it ever was.
As one's sound continues to evolve and go through "sonic puberty," old memories of the roots can derive a fantastic nostalgia. I mean, how cool would it be to hear your own music that you conceptualized, wrote, recorded, mixed, mastered, produced, and released yourself? Then, when you're out grocery shopping one day, you hear and see the fruits of your labor in action. Witzigreuter says that it just doesn't get old, especially when you hear your stuff on the radio. Seeing someone dance or even just smile when they heard one of your very own "babies" can't get old.
An exciting realization came to fruition when he was in his hometown. He heard "Love Like Woe" on the local radio station's throwback hour. At that moment he realized that he'd been writing music for a long time. He also recalls a time when he was at Dave and Busters "absolutely demolishing" a wheel spinning game so he could win some stuffed bumblebees. One of his music videos then came on, inviting an immense sense of discomfort. This threw him off and out of his fungshway entirely for the rest of the night. Going to the bar and hearing his music incites a similar sense of nerves, but adds a layer of franticness of looking around and gauging whether people love it or hate it.
There are a lot of processes that go into writing a song, as aforementioned. Conceptualizing, writing, recording, mixing, and mastering all takes place each time a piece of music is released. Artists often have a favorite part, and Witzigreuter likes the initial spark of the concept. He enjoys the recording, mixing, and mastering steps as well, stating that those are things he puts on himself. He could work with engineers to put another layer of creative edge to each piece. He loves having the final say and being able to say that he made it from scratch, for better or for worse. And, speaking from experience, it's true. Feeling inspired and writing a piece of music can be very uncanny every time, and having the final say throughout the entire process can be very liberating.
We all have personal and professional goals. Artists' goals can sometimes be slightly different because they often times put on a facade for their fans. This keeps their personal lives separate from their professional life. I admire this, and The Ready Set wants to continue expanding his career, working with artists he loves, and getting better and better by his standards overall. Remaining positive and surrounding yourself with the right people is imperative. The Ready Set agrees.
But personal goals and professional goals are both different. Artists sometimes sparingly have them, but some greatly diversify them. The Ready Set's goals and ambitions weren't always as clear-cut as they are now. He mentioned that he viewed the project much differently when he first started it. He set a bunch of hefty goals, laid them out on a linear timeline, and accomplished them extraordinarily quickly. This, of course, came with setbacks, as he didn't know where to go after he checked everything off of his to-do list. Things had gotten muddy, and he had to step back from it for a little bit to come back to terms with everything. He's keeping things vague now and will continue making pop music, as that's what makes him genuinely honest and happy.
Successful musicians like The Ready Set often times have high standards for their music, both from a visual and sonic standpoint. Fans often hold artists to these standards, too. They always want something more. From The Ready Set, fans can expect a lot more music. He has a barrage fo music that's just sitting and waiting to be released. In addition, you'll be able to see his name on other artists' projects. If you're interested in his other creative endeavors, you can also check out his other band called Nekokat. You may also be able to catch him on tour, as he's very eager to get back on the road.