Jim Jonsin Talks Racing, Idol and Music
When producer Jim Jonsin isn't leaving his mark on musical tracks, he's leaving them on the race track —literally.
Joined by the likes of pro-skateboarder Bucky Lasek and race car driver Marius Avemarg, Jonsin, who's seen success with smashes like Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams," Lil Wayne's "Lollipop" (for which he won a Grammy in 2009) and T.I.'s "Whatever You Like," to list a few, recently formed the racing crew Rebel Rock Racing.
"We developed a team because I was interested in just driving and being on the track. It’s a lot of fun," Jonsin tells XXLMag.com.
As if that weren't enough of an adrenaline rush, Jonsin is lending his musical expertise to American Idol, starring as one of four top producers chosen to mentor the contestants this season. In addition, he continues to make strides with his label, Rebel Rock Entertainment, which boasts such artists as B.o.B.
XXL caught up with the music vet who talked about plans to create more Rebel Rock Racing events, future plans for Rebel Rock Entertainment and what fans can expect from his upcoming stint on Idol.
Vroow, vroow, start it up!—Nicole LoPresti
XXLMag.com: You’re mostly known for your work in the music industry. How did you get into racing cars?
Jim Jonsin: We started this racing team at the beginning of the year. I would drag race cars and do some motor cross riding but I never did any road racing. We developed a team because I was interested in just driving and being on the track. It’s a lot of fun.
XXL: Are there any similarities between what you do in racing to what you do in music?
JJ: I think they're very similar. This sport is not really that popular in this country unless it's Nascar. So, I partnered up with this guy named Bucky Lasek, a skateboard pro. He's really popular in what he does and he races cars. I thought him and I should partner up, build this brand and help make the drivers more popular. This way, maybe we could influence some of the other teams to sign on younger talent and develop them as if we would recording artists the same way we do with music.
XXL: What other things are you doing with Rebel Rock Racing?
JJ: We're doing an event this May for cancer. It’s called "Rebel for a Cure" and we're raising funds for kids with cancer. We want to get some performers out there and some race car drivers to make it a real interesting, fun day. There are people like Young Jeezy, T.I., and you know all these guys that have these cool, fast cars that have no idea what they're capable of. We could get them to go out on the track and learn what their cars can do and what they can't do. It's gonna be a lot of fun.
XXL: Ultimately, what is the vision for Rebel Rock Racing?
JJ: I would like to discuss some ideas we have to make Grand-Am Road Racing more popular and help with branding and showcasing the cool factors of racing. Def Jam was branded off of LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. You have Nascar and their famous drivers. With Grand-Am, it's harder for people to know who the drivers are. We're going to help brand drivers and I would like to propose some ideas that we have to make it way more popular to the entertainment world and to the artists. Bucky's won like the X Games, nine or 10 times, so he's very popular in the video games and shit. Between the two of us, I think we can not only race and have a great time doing that but also help to build the sport.
XXL: Tell us about your work with American Idol.
JJ: I'm doing American Idol as a producer/mentor. I'm producing songs every week, doing covers and mentoring the contestants in general. I'm teaching them the dos and don’ts of the music business.
XXL: How’s that going?
JJ: It's been going really good. I'm actually on my way to the studio now to help with a song for two artists that I'm working with. I actually don't know who I'm working with yet.
XXL: As a mentor, what advice are you giving the contestants?
JJ: The most important thing for these artists to know is that whether or not they win on this show, they won already because of their exposure and the opportunity for them regardless. They have to actually make good on it and make the right choices and start working on their career. Another thing that I always tell them is you need to be proactive and write your own songs and become more than just a singer. You have to learn how to engineer, you need to learn how to produce, you need to learn how to write. Every little bit counts. I tell that to all my artists that are signed. You're not just gonna be in here like a puppet. You got to write your own stuff. Your gonna eventually not need me; I'm not gonna babysit, I'm just here to help develop you now and build you up.