Artist Interview: The Tale of A Dragon – JMAC The Dragon

todaySeptember 14, 2022 133

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By Avery Viers
Local Music Director

I found myself seated inside of Don Japanese Restaurant on Monday night, eager to meet one of three artists expected to perform at The Porch for KTSW 89.9’s Third Thursday on September 15, 2022. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Jordan McFeders, better known by his stage name, JMAC The Dragon, shared in my enthusiasm before he even had a chance to take a seat. The man seated across from me, a Texas State alumnus whose steadfast devotion to his passions, professional endeavors, and artistic pursuits, quickly piqued my interest as he began to reveal more about his creative past.

AVERY VIERS: Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today! KTSW is super excited that you will be joining us for Third Thursday this month at The Porch. To start off, could you please give me a general overview of your journey as JMAC The Dragon? How long have you been making music?

JORDAN MCFEDERS: I’ve been doing music for eight years – it’ll be nine years coming up here in 2023; I started in 2014. I’m from Irving, Texas – a suburb right outside of Dallas. I came out here [SAN MARCOS] to go to Texas State and graduated in 2016 with my Bachelor’s degree and my Master’s degree in 2017. I started getting serious about making music during my sophomore or junior year; up until then, I always stuck to free-styling. After talking to more and more artists over the years, though, it seems like that’s kind of how it starts; pretty much immediately after being told that you have an aptitude for [MUSIC]. Because I grew up in the suburbs, though, I thought, “There’s no way I could make it.”

I think I had the classic stereotype of what it means to be a “rapper” in my mind. As time went on, I started to develop my craft. My favorite rapper is J. Cole – he is my biggest influence. It was 2014 Forrest Hill Drive that kind of pushed me “over the edge” inspiration-wise; it’s such a powerful album. I was in a place in my life where I could really absorb the work at that time. The way I see it, music s*** is a lot like going to The League; it’s not always attainable, but it can be. When I first started out, it really made me think; if I was able to use the work ethic I knew I had in order to focus in on my career, I knew that I had a chance. At the same time, the stuff I was going to school for was something I didn’t really want to do. Don’t get me wrong, I did well in school; I got my Master’s and everything. At the same time, though, I don’t think that any of that was what I wanted to do with my life. It was one of those things that had always been in the back of my head. When I finally began my journey with music and started to pursue it as seriously as I wanted, it felt like an awakening.

AVERY VIERS: Yeah, I totally understand! Beginning the journey to pursue a passion can feel like tapping into a different aspect of yourself.

JORDAN MCFEDERS: Essentially, yeah!

AVERY VIERS: Switching gears to your latest LP release in June 2022, Dragon Tales. What was the conceptualization process behind that album? Did you have any other significant inspirations when it came to this project specifically?

JORDAN MCFEDERS: Oh, for sure! Did you happen to hear anything from the album I released before Dragon Tales?

AVERY VIERS: I think so, briefly. I listened to the majority of your discography beforehand but I don’t quite remember which tracks belong to each album.

JORDAN MCFEDERS: Oh ok, cool! Let me talk a little about both; they’re in combination. The Human Element was a project that I started out on Soundcloud while I was still in college. It was supposed to be pretty reminiscent of J.Cole’s 2014 Forrest Hill Drive; it was an attempt to really breakdown who Jordan McFeders was and the experiences from my life. I would say that I’m an introspective, reflective artist in general – but [THE HUMAN ELEMENT] was especially so. The first album I released – I wanna say when I was a sophomore or freshman [AT UNIVERSITY] – so when it came time to release Vol. 2, I wanted to release it on streaming platforms. Making the decision to produce The Human Element, Vol. 2 excited me because I felt like it was my series. The Human Element, Vol. 2 was written with the intention to capture my life from the end of 2021 going into the beginning of this year. I had been with a girl for four years; we had been going through a lot of issues – relationship issues – after we’d been living together for maybe three or four years. There was a lot of strain on our relationship as far as financial concerns and things like that. As artists, we draw inspiration from the things going on in our lives; at that time, I was going through a difficult time in my life. So, Dragon Tales was basically me thinking to myself, “Wow, I really made it out of some deep s***.” It was my way to release my stress and really put my focus into making good music without there being any ‘deep’ concept; I wanted to put a lot of effort into enhancing my rhyme schemes and craft as a rapper. I wanted better choruses, to find better production, and to enhance my artistry as a whole. An R&B artist that goes by the name of Hello Desperado – he’s super dope – he gave me the name [for DRAGON TALES] while we were in the studio. I explained to him that there was no real deep, connecting concept throughout the LP and that the tracks each had their own unique feelings. He suggested Dragon Tales and explained that, if each song was essentially its own little ‘adventure,’ Dragon Tales could be a way to tie the collection of stories together. The [DRAGON TALES] cover was pretty much the result of me being a geek and being a part of geek culture because of how much I love anime, video games, superheroes, comics, and stuff like that. Lately, my team and I have been putting our focus into building my brand and capturing people with my ‘Dragon Man’ persona, so the Dragon Tales cover was kind of the result of that. Ultimately, I want my persona to be a superhero recording artist who wants to save hip-hop and bring back real music. Superman is my favorite superhero – well, him and Spidey [SPIDERMAN] – so I wanted to make Superman the moniker for the album cover.

AVERY VIERS: The producer you collaborated with on Dragon Tales, LIAM BEATS, had you worked with him previously on other projects? What was it like working with him?

JORDAN MCFEDERS: Yeah, Liam is super cool! He worked with me on Dragon Tales and The Human Element, Vol. 2. [LIAM BEATS] is a producer based out of South Africa that had reached out to me on Instagram about a year ago. Up to that point, I think I had noticed him following me on socials and would see him occasionally like my pictures, but I didn’t think much of it because I thought he was just a fan. Eventually, Liam reached out to me and said, “Hey man – I’ve been following you for a while. I really like your music and I want to work with you, if you’re interested.” Pretty soon after he sent me a beat pack and it was freaking phenomenal – a lot of those tracks would eventually be featured on The Human Element, Vol 2. Later, he sent me a different set of beats and, as you can see, he’s very versatile; Dragon Tales is a little more – I don’t want to say ‘trendy,’ – but it has music that can be played at clubs and that people can dance to. My intention to make ‘feel good’ music while staying within the confines of the archetype of an M.C. As opposed to The Human Element, Vol. 2 having a ‘boom bap,’ modern to old-school feel, the beat pack [LIAM BEATS] sent me for Dragon Tales was vastly different, which was phenomenal. After approaching The Human Element, Vol. 2 as an album, I wanted to approach [DRAGON TALES] as a mixtape; I went in and put the whole thing together in a few months. Because I was approaching Dragon Tales while thinking to myself, “I just want to rap and make good music,” it quickly became the project with the most features in my discography thus far. Until [DRAGON TALES], I hadn’t worked with a lot of people – at least not consistently – so I wanted to build on that.

Cover art features a digital drawing of an unspecified hand holding an anatomically correct, bleeding human heart in front of a plain brick wall.
JMAC The Dragon’s 4th Studio LP, “The Human Element, Vol. 2.”

AVERY VIERS: Are there any tracks from your last couple projects that stick out to you more than others? Can you think of any tracks that you consider to be particularly special to you throughout your career as an artist?

JORDAN MCFEDERS: I will say the Dragon Tales intro. track, Enter The Dragon, was actually the very first track I worked on for that project. I liked everything about that beat. I felt like [ENTER THE DRAGON] was the best track to use as the ‘entrance’ into this extension of the JMAC “Dragon Persona.” Whenever I would share the track prior to the Dragon Tales release, the response was unanimous; Enter The Dragon had to be the first song in order to effectively set the tone. I also enjoy another track from that album, “Blunt,” for obvious reasons. [LAUGHS] I really like the melody in that song – I’m trying to work on getting better at improving those aspects on my tracks – and this melody was definitely an achievement for me. I was proud that I was able to execute that element exactly in the way I wanted – all the way down to the feature. That song was a gem to me. In terms of The Human Element series, my favorite track would probably be “Purpose.” In terms of introspection and reflection, “Purpose” emphasizes my true feelings about my work and my music; hip-hop is the reason I’m here. Another track that is special to me, “Penny for my Thoughts, Pt 2,” is a follow up to the first “Penny for my Thoughts” I have featured on The Human Element, Vol. 1. “Penny for my Thoughts, Pt 2,” lent itself as a way for me to rant about stressors in my life during that time; I talk about me, while still being in my relationship, and how we would often fight back and forth. Regardless of how things ended, I’ve always wanted the best for that person. The hook talks about reflecting with God and asking him to walk with me as I go through this ‘fire,’ this hard time in my life.

AVERY VIERS: What would you consider to be the most influential force that motivates and furthers the progress of your work?

JORDAN MCFEDERS: That’s a good question! What I always tell people is this– if you’re a halfway decent person, it’s kind of Entrepreneurial 101 that you’re supposed to take care of your family and your friends. I hate to give that answer because it seems like a given, you know? At the end of the day, though, it really is a major force for me. Besides that, I would say competition is what motivates me. I was never really into sports growing up, so I needed to find another competitive outlet to involve myself in. For me, hip-hop has always been about lyricism, pushing my pen, rhyme schemes, and wanting to be better than the people around me. My competitive nature doesn’t come from maliciousness; most of the time, my need to compete is because of how much I respect another person’s craft. The only other influential force that really sticks out to me is my desire to leave a legacy; I made my decision to do music after realizing how much I want to leave a mark on this world. For example, when you bring up artists like Biggie, 2pac, or Aaliyah, the passionate response their music elicits from audiences some twenty to thirty years after their career is significant; I reached a point where I thought to myself, “Damn, I want that for me.” Whether I’m Jordan McFeders or JMAC The Dragon, I want to evoke that amount of emotion from the world. That is what a legacy is to me; that’s what ‘leaving my mark’ means to me.





Written by: Hannah Walls

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