Twenty-six year old musician J.S Ondara has his own American tale of coming to the United States six years ago. Originally from Nairobi, Kenya to now living in cold Minnesota after being selected from a green card lottery, Ondara shares his life story and the American Dream he envisioned. Ondara discovered American music at a young age through pirated songs, gravitating towards Radiohead, Nirvana, Death Cab For Cutie and American alt-rock. It wasn’t until he mistakenly identified the song “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”(an original by Bob Dylan) as a Guns N’ Roses original that he became infatuated with folk music. “I fell into a folk music rabbit hole. That’s where my path was.” American folk music transported him into a different universe as well as a new culture. Ondara’s artistic song “American Dream” reflects America in his eyes, stating, “I have all this love & gratitude for this country. I love the idea of the “American Dream”. It still means something of hope.” Tales of America is a completely acoustic album produced by Grammy-nominated Mike Viola (Jenny Lewis). The LP was recorded at Boulevard Recording and East West Studios in Los Angeles, with all lyrics written by Ondara and featuring collaborations with Andrew Bird, Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith of Dawes and Joey Ryan of The Milk Carton Kids.
B-Sides spoke with Ondara before his sold out show at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco about his debut album Tales of America, his experiences living in the United States and more. Check out the interview: