Indy: The first time I heard your music was on an episode of Scrubs. How did it get on that show, and what did that do for your career?
JR: It started it. I wasn't setting out to be a musician, I was living in New York, writing screenplays. I wrote my first song, "Winter," and I played it for Zach [Braff, the lead actor on Scrubs] and he said, "You should record that, and maybe the producers of the show will use it." I thought, "Yeah, right," but I recorded it and sent it to the producers, and a month later it was on the show.
Indy: How does your background in screenwriting impact your songwriting?
JR: Screenwriting is a visual medium. Even though you're writing words on paper, you still have to show it, not tell it, so when it came to writing songs, I just think visually. So if I'm writing about a breakup or something, the things that come into my head are what the girl was wearing or what the sky looked like.
Indy: The sound you've developed is simple and unique.
JR: I try to stay as honest as possible. When I started writing these songs, I had an awful neighbor who would complain about noise all the time. So when I would write songs, I'd write them very quietly. People liked it, and I didn't want to change that.
Indy: Lately, you've gotten TV exposure on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and American Idol. What's that doing for your popularity?
JR: Being on Ellen helped a lot. She is so cool. I got thousands of e-mails from people saying, "I saw you on Ellen I'd never heard of you, and I just went out and bought your CD." It's amazing how daytime TV helps you out more than prime time.
At The Black Sheep, Feb. 26.