by Matt Conner
This is the thing! This has the magic on it!
When Jason Gray presented the latest batch of songs he’d written to the powers-that-be, a select group of tracks were included that featured a very special guest: his son, Kipper. Specifically, Gray had allowed his son to co-write and produce some recent demos, adding his own distinctive flair to his father’s strong melodic talent. The chemistry stood out immediately.
“Someone on my management team was listening to the songs I was working on that Kipper had produced and flipped out and said, ‘This is the thing. This has the magic on it,’” says Gray. “They brought it to one of the guys at the label when they were just hanging out over coffee and everyone thought it was very interesting. Then we had further meetings where it gained momentum. I love how organic the whole thing has been and how the proposal came from somebody else instead of me.”
While all of his children are musically gifted, the elder Gray said it was clear early on that music was in his future—perhaps even as a vocation.
“Kipper is a twin and very early on it was pretty clear that the grandparents were going to spoil them with all kinds of gifts,” Gray says. “It awakens that thing where they just want to buy them all kinds of stuff. As their parents, we thought we’d try to direct the flow a bit. Instead of gifts, we asked them to agree to pay for music lessons. That started when they were four or five.
“Deep down, I’d hoped that they wouldn’t pursue music, just because I was intimately aware of how challenging it was and how demanding of a life it was,” he continues. “When I began to notice that Kipper was really into music, I started getting nervous. All of my kids are musically gifted, but he has the gift of obsession. He could spend hours and hours playing and creating. He had GarageBand and almost immediately he began to make tracks.”
Gray admits he had mixed feelings at first about making music with his son in any capacity, knowing how it can feel a bit too familial to those on the outside. However, Kipper’s talent has made quick converts of anyone skeptical of favoritism for the sake of family.
“I remember the first year I brought Kipper along with me as my keyboard player and told the band,” says Gray. “You could see them all thinking, ‘I get it. That’s cute that you’re bringing out your son.’ Then at rehearsal, I watched them all realize that he’s a really great player. Then it was, ‘All right. We’re in!’”
As Gray looks ahead to playing these songs in a live setting and releasing the EP to his fans, he’s hoping that the few who have heard the songs aren’t the only ones who can hear the magic.
“I thought there was something there, but I didn’t trust myself to be objective enough to really know,” he says. “I knew they were cool, but I’m glad others felt that way. I also hope everybody else feels that way when they hear them.”