By: Eliza Farber
Snowflakes fell on the arms of my jacket as I patiently waited to meet 26-year-old indie-pop artist Jordan Hébert—or as his listeners know him, JORDANN—in Parc Petite Italie on a February afternoon. I’ve been a low-key fan for a couple years now ever since his 2018 single “I Revel in You” came up on my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist. The mellow vibe and atmospheric sound kept me listening from then on.
Jordan classifies himself as a bedroom-pop artist—which is fitting given that his bedroom is where it all started, teaching himself how to produce his own tracks there. But before that, Jordan was born and raised on the North Shore of Montreal, where he grew up playing classical violin. From elementary to high school, along with his regular classes, he’d go to École De Musique Vincent D’Indy in Outremont every week to practice music. As we walked, he told me about how he grew tired of the competitiveness and strictness of the violin, and eventually began experimenting with other instruments and sounds. At around 15 years old, he taught himself to play the guitar.
In February 2020 he released an EP, Connecting Visitors to Fun, and was able to perform at the Phi Centre for a release party—probably one of Montreal’s last live performances before COVID hit. He played the six-track EP plus his previous singles, including favourites like “I Revel in You” and “Business Solutions”, and even added some cover performances to top it all off, including his funky take on Drake’s “Just Hold On We’re Going Home”.
JORDANN’s next single is called “Corporate Social Responsibility”, which, as he described to me, is about escaping the monotony of a 9-5. I’m sure a lot of us can relate to that feeling, but it’s personal for him, too—before pursuing music full time, Jordan studied marketing at HEC Business School in Montreal.
When I asked him if he’d ever want to pursue anything in the business world, he said “You know, I’m just not really attracted to that kind of working lifestyle right now. I like having my own schedule.” That’s also why he likes working independently: “I like having a small team. I don’t need a label to produce my songs.” He makes most of his music with his best friend Marc-André Brunelle, who Jordan says is a huge part of the process: “we work well together because he has a thorough understanding of harmonic progressions. He can build tension and release it just through the chords. I think my specialty is the arrangements: creating a system of bass, synth, and guitar layers. And maybe vocals too… but that’s more recent. I had no idea how to write a good vocal line. I didn’t write a song—I wrote a track, and then just talked it out with the vocals.”
I was surprised to learn that he thought vocals weren’t his strong suit. JORDANN’s lyrics are “hella personal” to him, which is because music is his therapy. Lyrics like “She was waiting/ down the stairs/in her city shoes and a dress” in “Marketa” and “There’s no need to turn/over and over what we’ll say” in “Poll Line”, paint us pictures of quiet inner moments—of longing, loving, and losing. He uses music to cope, to more deeply understand himself and his feelings, and I think it does the same for his listeners, too. This is the balance that Jordan ultimately looks for when writing a song—somewhere in between personal and relatable. “I’d like to create songs that explain something more macro,” he says, “cause the thing is it feels like I’m speaking this stuff as if I know how it all works…but I don’t. But at the end of the day, all you can really do is speak from your experience, and hope someone else relates.”
It’s not just quiet inner moments that he wants you to relate to, though. Halfway through our interview, Jordan turns to me and says, “Do you know what a stank face is?” Knowing full well what it was, I asked him to demonstrate. He scrunched up his mouth into a funky frown and mimicked strumming the bass. “That’s the feel I want for a lot of my songs. And the next single…it’s really like you’re walking down the street and you’re f***ing feeling yourself.”
For Jordan, creating feelings for his listeners is the goal. “The basslines, maybe some popcorn guitars and some horizontal vocals…that’s important to me, but I feel like I can transpose that into different emotions and moods, and that’s what I think my project is about. When you go on Spotify, they’re not like ‘some guy released this single, check it out now’, they’re like ‘how do you feel today?’ and offer you music based on that.”
Lucky for us, there’ll be more music-inspired feelings to come—JORDANN already has a few more releases in the works. Corporate Social Responsibility dropped in April, along with a music video shot in Parc Jean Drapeau. So, for now we get to bask in the “I’m f***ing feeling myself” mood. No complaints there.