Northbound is arguably at the highpoint of their career. Their highly anticipated second album, Soul Kiss, was released on November 22. They are currently on a twenty-date tour across the United States with renowned pop-punk bands Simple Plan, State Champs and We The Kings, gaining more and more fans as the days go by.
But Jonathan’s car won’t stop breaking.
“We travel in an older vehicle and the ignition is pretty broken,” he said. “The key can come out once it’s been turned on. We drove for about four hours before realizing the key was gone. Imagine explaining that predicament to somebody in the middle of nowhere.” They had a new key made, and it ended up not even working.
Jonathan Fraser, the creative mastermind known as Northbound, is a pop-punk artist from Boca Raton, Florida. The 26-year-old singer, songwriter and guitar player grew popular in his local South Florida scene, touring up and down the state numerous times, gathering a following as he went along. Northbound is a unique hybrid of a solo acoustic project and a full-band. This gives Fraser the ability to still tour even if his backing band is unable to do so.
His first album, Death Of A Slug, was rereleased in 2015 on Animal Style Records. Since then he has released two EPs, and as of August 2019 Northbound was signed to Smart Punk records.
Northbound combines the best elements of punk, emo and acoustic indie to create music about heartbreak and nostalgia. The songs feel incredibly personal, yet at the same time like everyone can relate to them.
Two singles, “Hurt Today” and “Bad Blood” were released a few weeks ago as the first teasers for the upcoming album.
Being a musician is no easy feat. “The best part is that I work for myself,” Fraser said. “I really pride myself on being an entrepreneur. Traveling the world and gaining new life experiences is incredibly fulfilling.”
Not every day is as rewarding. “The worst part is that my job is 24/7,” Fraser said. “It never stops, my phone is constantly blown up and I am always planning the next move. I feel like mid-level musicians work harder than most people and they see significantly less monetary return.”
Despite the long days and nights there’s nothing else he would rather be doing. Fraser knew from a young age what his career path would be.
“As a child I was so drawn to music,” he said. “Everything about it seemed so exciting. So as a kid, the big stages, the lights, the fame, the money, the lifestyle and rejection of authority was so appealing. When I really began my career, it was fueled by something a lot less vain. In high school when everyone was choosing colleges and taking their SATs, I relentlessly wrote music. I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else. I didn’t apply to a single college. I knew then and there that I was giving this a shot. Literally nothing on planet earth feels as good as playing my music for people. Looking back, it wasn’t even a conscious choice, it was just the only choice.”
Unfortunately, the tragedy of mental illness is a common occurrence among artists of all kinds. Fraser is open with his battle of anxiety and depression on his personal social media accounts. These accounts are kept separate from the verified Northbound accounts which amass over 5,000 followers across Twitter and Instagram.
Anxiety affects many people, but is especially prominent for those who are naturally creative, according to psychotherapist Diana Pitaru. The link between anxiety and creativity is a vivid imagination.
According to Fraser, he tends to use the feelings created by his depression and anxiety to facilitate his creative inspiration in his songwriting.
“I think my mental hurdles have definitely played a role in my process. For better and for worse. I don’t like to romanticize them or give them credit for what I’ve created, though. It’s played a role in my writing because it’s played a role in my life,” Fraser said.
Fraser is not the only one who benefits from this. Many fans can relate to what he is going through and use the music he creates to help them deal with their own problems. Nicole Kerr, a longtime fan of Northbound, said, “The music is so impressive. Most of it is kind of intricate and beautiful to listen to. All the lyrics are super expressive and have helped me get through some intense emotions.”
The parallel of Northbound songs is an interesting one. Fraser uses writing music to help him through his battles with mental illness, while fans like Nicole listen to that same exact music as a form of therapy.
Like many musicians, his dream is to “become the biggest band in the world.” While that is quite ambitious, he says that his goals are different. “I think my main goal is to be able to provide for myself and a future family through my art. I never want to be a ‘grown-up,’ for lack of a better term. I want to do what I want and make what I make and not have to worry about finances. I’m okay with living modestly as long as it’s fully supported through creation.”
Some of his dreams are already coming true, like touring with Simple Plan, a band he has looked up to for years. But, “there are tiers to success. You can always go up one more step,” Fraser said. “Even the biggest artists in the world can get bigger. It’s important to be happy with where you’re at, but know there’s potential for more.