Interview with ICMP guitar alumnus Jon Hockings

Our alumnus Jon Hockings signed a deal with Kobalt earlier in the year. We quiz him on how it came about...


Our guitar alumnus and fast rising writer and producer Jon Hockings has enjoyed a great 2018 so far, signing a deal with Kobalt Music a few months ago.

It’s confirmation of his emerging talent with Jon now working as a writer for hire. ‘Bad Boys’ by Lilly Ahlberg is one of his co-writes and was released to some acclaim earlier in the year while 'Aftershock', written for Hannah Jane Lewis picked up some serious streams - both point towards an exciting future as he busies himself with an increasing number of projects. 

Between writing sessions, we caught up with Jon to learn more about how the Kobalt deal was brokered, plus how his time at ICMP helped set him off on his career…

Well done on your recent deal with Kobalt Music - could you explain a little about how it came about?

Thank you! I wrote a few songs about a year ago that (although unreleased) started to get a bit of a buzz. Then when one publisher makes an offer, things tend to move quite quickly.

It's definitely important to say that it took me several years of very little reward and NO money to get there ... sleeping in studios, doing any gig I was offered and also moving back home for over a year (which luckily for me is Slough so drivable from London).

How important is it to you as an emerging songwriter/artist to get this deal? 

It's effectively the first step and means I can devote all my time and energy into writing AND eat. It also means I can move to London and get completely stuck into as many gigs as possible too.

Initially I wanted to sign as a validation that I was good enough, but by the time it happened I was so determined that I was doing what I wanted to do, it didn't really change much. I knew I wasn't going to stop however long it took." 

What led you to study at ICMP? And what did you learn during your time with us that shaped your musical journey? 

I literally copied my friend Nathan Cunningham (at the time, school guitar rival and now amazing producer in LA) in the hope of any education other than A-Levels.

Your manager Victoria Becks also studied at ICMP - did you meet while here? How important is having a manager at this stage in your career?  

Yes Victoria and I were friends, then she started to take more of an interest in the music I was writing. She began managing me and my friend Matt Newman in our production duo.

Having a manager is vital, I can't take meetings while writing songs and I spend ALL my time writing songs. Also external feedback from someone who you trust is very important: whether it's song feedback, choosing sessions or deciding long-term plans.

There are a lot of bad managers (and good ones), so pick one that is clearly interested/excited in you and doesn't have a huge roster..." 

if you know someone else they have managed that is also a good way to get the scoop. I was lucky to find Victoria so naturally and trust her with my life!

How important has being in London been to your career, both as a student, then after uni? 

Being in/near is vital. It is where work is whether writing or gigging. The trick is finding somewhere cheap to live even if it's an awful area. 

What current projects are keeping you busy?

I'm doing a couple of weeks with a girl called Lova who is for me the perfect artist ... she comes in to the session with a clear idea of what her brand and vision is as an artist and has a unique sound and style. I think it's rare for artists to have a career of longevity or any career unless they live and breathe 'their message' and what they want to say/ stand for. 

What does your musical future have in store?

I have no idea. I'm doing some writing trips to Sweden/LA over the next few months which will be fun.

The only thing I'm focussed on is improving (my voice, piano playing, understanding of song math and when to ignore it, melodies ... the list goes on). Music has a way of telling you where you're going so we'll see what happens next… 

Listen to 'Aftershock' by Hannah Jane Lewis.


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by Jim Ottewill
July 30, 2018
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