Finding 'Man From East': Unpacking Identity and Crafting Hits with Jordan Astra

Finding 'Man From East': Unpacking Identity and Crafting Hits with Jordan Astra
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Currently Based In: Toronto, Canada
Favorite Hobby: Boxing, Drawing, Music Production
Favorite Artist(s): Pharrell, Anderson Paak, Jungle, Jamiroquai, Nu Genea, SG Lewis

Your most recent EP, "Man From East," was highly anticipated. Can you share what inspired the title and the overall theme or message behind this project?

Ayee thank you. The album cover photo is a picture of my dad when he was 22 and this photo really kickstarted the whole identity of this project. My dad passed in 2012, and before he passed, he asked me to write a song called ‘Man From East’, a story about his journey leaving Indonesia for Canada.

Jordan's Father Iwa

As I was putting this project together, I really found myself mirroring his journey, leaving an old life behind to begin a new one. There was a lot of moments that made me realize I was really my father’s son in a lot of ways, from traveling the world to telling my own unique story and never looking back.

Your music has been described as an infectious mix of uptempo R&B and funk. How do you go about blending these genres to create your unique sound?

Funk and R&B really complement each other with roots of Soul and Jazz chords. I’ve always loved R&B in its downtempo warmth and Funk with its electric energy, so I wanted to imagine a world where you could have both the warmth of R&B and the uptempo energy of Funk.

You've collaborated with various artists like Joyia, Misha, and Sascha Liebrand. Can you tell us about your collaborative process and how these partnerships influence your music?

It's crazy, most of the collaborations that have become records have started because of instagram. If someone posts a musical or drum loop that I love, I’ll just dm them directly and ask if I can try something.

As both an artist and producer, I really like to make records happen, so I always do my best to get them finished and in a place that we can talk about releasing. Lately though, I’ve been in my producer bag a lot, lowkey opening my personal studio to artists that I want to work with locally here.

Your single “Starting From Scratch” seems to encapsulate themes of personal growth and determination. Can you elaborate on the inspiration behind this song and its accompanying music video?

This was the first song I wrote when I arrived back in Toronto. The last 8.5 years I was living in Melbourne, Australia and that’s where I actually started recording and releasing music.

Things were picking up down under, but wanted to go big with this music and made the move back to Toronto. When I arrived, I really felt like I had years of experience with me but had no name or reputation in Toronto, so it felt like I was ‘starting from scratch’ - that’s how the song came about, and I wrote it in 30 minutes. 

With numerous records under your belt and a diverse musical journey spanning from Melbourne to Toronto, how has your international experience shaped your musical style and approach?

Melbourne is a big-little city I’d like to say. You can be a big fish in a little pond, but the scene there just doesn’t have the same reach and hunger as a city like Toronto.

When I was in Melbourne, I was still really trying to find my sound, but It wasn't until I reached Toronto that I truly discovered a new level of style, culture and inspiration. It’s been the best decision I've made for myself and my career. 

You've mentioned that you voice note melodic ideas based on your feelings at the moment. How do you capture and translate these spontaneous inspirations into fully realized songs?

I’ve got a couple secret weapons that I keep. Voice notes are super clutch and like most artists, we’ll go back to those recordings, listening back for a melody or vibe that we felt in the moment. I also keep in my notes a list of ‘song title ideas’, random phrases or ideas that jog my memory, and what I want to talk about.

From there, I combine the melodies of my voice notes and pair it with a phrase or idea that I feel like fit together - Topic meets Melodies. 

Your mantra, “Repetition Sharpen Blades,” speaks to your growth and evolution as an artist. Can you share a pivotal moment or experience that has significantly shaped your musical journey?

Well researched brother, I appreciate that. 2019 I performed in Australia to be a finalist in the ‘Showcase Tour’ which was a touring company that went across the UK, US and Australia to find the next big artist.

It was a $50,000 grand prize and a 20-city tour across the states for whoever the winner was across the entire competition. After winning the leg in Australia, I was invited to LA to perform in the finals against 105 other artists. After 2 long days of artists performing, I was invited to be the final 3.

Such a proud moment for me being in the final 3, but I performed one last time and won the whole thing.  I got the cash, invested back into buying a house and when it was time to tour, COVID hit. This was such a momentous time in my life as an artist and from that point on I knew that God had big plans for me, so I’ve been chasing this vision ever since. 

Having been inspired by artists like Pharrell, Jamiroquai, and SG Lewis, how do you incorporate these influences while maintaining your distinct sound and artistic vision?

I love these artists because of their energy; upbeat, rhythmic and filled with musicality. We all pull inspiration from Disco and Jazz in beautiful ways and I focus on doing the same thing in my own vision.

On top of that, these artists have incredible live performances and as an entertainer my goal is to elevate this scene to new heights with my energy as a performer.

Beyond your music, you also work as the host of celebrity interviews for Sidedoor. How does your experience interviewing other artists influence your perspective as a musician and producer?

I love people first and foremost. I love learning about people’s stories and trying to understand where they come from. I’ve always been the type of person to listen first and let people reveal themselves to me rather than making quick assumptions.

Interviewing with Sidedoor came about when they were looking for a host and so I put together a resumé and then a few months later my first interview was with Jessie Reyez.

After interviewing big artists like Jessie, Don Toliver and NLE Choppa it’s made me realize that the people you have around are everything. With a little luck, preparation and opportunity, that’s where you find success. 

What tips can you give to up-and-coming artists?

Keep it pushing. Don’t give up. Learn, Create, Fail and Succeed. Repeat. Be obsessed with this art and never stop being an artist.

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