It was a day like any other when I met him. It was a September afternoon in 2016. I was playing piano in the lobby of the Reynolds dorm building when Trevor Jeffries, an English major at UNCG, approached me with a guitar in hand. I found him odd, but his musical skills were very admirable. That was the start of a flourishing friendship, as I have grown to know Jeffries as a person, a musician and a friend.
Jeffries is from Raleigh, North Carolina. Born into a Christian household, Jeffries holds God close to his heart. “I was raised to believe in God and as I grew up, I chose to believe in God,” he says. He has two younger brothers, one of which is still in high school. For him, his parents are what he holds closest to his heart. “I wouldn’t be the man I am today without them,” says Jeffries.
His father is the one that got him into music. As a kid, his dad would play hits from the ‘80s and ‘90s, traces of which can still be found throughout Jeffries’ repertoire. “When my dad played “Wheel in the Sky” by Journey for me for the first time in the car, it set the foundation,” he explains.
Songs such as those, Jeffries says, are songs that molded his musical taste and ear.
He learned to play guitar through lessons in the fifth grade. The first song he ever learned was “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple. He started singing when he was a kid. “I did choir in 9th grade and hated it and dropped it,” he says, laughing at the memory. As time passed, he began to listen to more music that he hadn’t been introduced to before, like hip-hop, and began to incorporate it into his music.
In the days since listening to ‘80s tunes with his dad, Jeffries’ music has grown to encapsulate a variety of genres. His music is influenced by cross-genre artists and musicians, giving it a wide net of variation and sound. He derives inspiration from the likes of U2, Brockhampton, Skillet, Jon Bellion, Frank Ocean, Billy Joel, My Chemical Romance, System of a Down and many more.
There is one artist that stuck out due to recent events. Malcolm McCormick, or Mac Miller, was a major inspiration to him. The artist was found dead on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, after an apparent drug overdose. A large portion of the American youth was devastated. Mac Miller’s death hit Jeffries particularly hard. “I was on Twitter when I saw Mac Miller trending,” he says, pondering a bit on the emotions he first felt, “My heart dropped.”
Mac Miller has been a heavy musical and emotional influence on Jeffries since seventh grade. “I was at my neighbor’s house and we were playing basketball…when he showed me Good Evening by Mac Miller.” Since then, Jeffries has been listening to Mac Miller’s albums, from Blue Slide Park through The Divine Feminine to his last project, Swimming.
“He made me happier.” Jeffries explains how Mac Miller was depressed and trying to get better. His lyrics would express change and a want for a better future, something Trevor feels deep in his heart.
Mac Miller was more to him than just another celebrity. He had served as an inspiration, someone who seemed to understand exactly what he was going through.
“I want to move forward with him in mind. He did so much for me and making music with him in my heart is a way to pay it back.”
Jeffries has big plans for his musical future. He does not want to stay stagnant, he wants to grow out and branch into the industry. “I want to see where it all takes me,” he says. In conversations that we have had together, Jeffries has told me that he does not want to make music just as a hobby. If possible, he would like to make it a livelihood.
Before concluding the interview, I asked him to walk me through his song-making process. “Beat-wise, I have a melody first.” He pulled up Logic, a music making software, on his laptop. “I make that melody with whatever instrumental I choose and I never put anything in a loop because that is boring and unexciting.” He bops his head and body as he presses down on his keyboard that is being translated into a raspy synthesizer.
“Songwriting-wise, I make up things first and make up the meanings afterward.” He seems to rely on a stream of consciousness, putting it all down on paper first before decrypting his thoughts and giving it meaning.
The future for Jeffries is up for grabs. He plans on pursuing music and putting his degree to good use but he has no set path. “My future is bright if I allow it to be,” he says, laughing a bit. Like many other college students, his future is mostly in the hands of fate. I asked him one last question, about love. ‘What is your advice to college students about love?’ His response?
You can follow Trevor Jeffries on SoundCloud at Trevor J and you can also follow him on Twitter @trevorjeffries and Instagram @trev_mike_jeff.