As a little kid in Albania, Jon Tarifa wanted one thing: to be a professional football player. He had no teddy bears in his bed, but a soccer ball instead. Fortunately, he had a Plan B, to become a music artist. He looked admiringly at his cousin, Eneda Tarifa, who was serenading the entire family with her mini performances when she was six years old. Jon also wanted to do that someday.
Due to injuries, his football career ended rather quickly so he switched to Plan B. At that time, his father was a diplomat and his family first moved from Albania to the United States of America, and later to the Netherlands. Jon Tarifa arrived in The Hague with a head full of music.
He was quick to join a popular Dutch band; Nuclear Family. Jon loved that old-fashioned boom bap ‘hip hop sound; DJ, samples and raps, which reminded him of his upbringing in the United States. In 2006, after having spent a few good years in NuClear Family, releasing an album and touring the country, they parted ways on good terms. In 2008, Jon joined another band, L4 (Looking 4ward) and two years later their debut album “Counting Coins” was number 1 on the Dutch Alternative charts for three weeks in a row. That same year, L4 went on tour in the United States, performing in New York and Washington DC.
That was not enough to keep Jon satisfied. He wanted to expand his art and head towards a new musical direction, a more organic one. In 2011, Jon decided to start a solo musical career and write his own songs with a feel-good island vibe. He put together a group of talented musicians to form his own live band with members from Germany, Suriname, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and of course Albania.
An international band requires an international approach: In August 2011, Jon Tarifa launched his debut single “So Right” in four countries simultaneously and that same month he performed at the Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival. In 2013, Jon released his debut album “Free to Be” which included the number 1 hit on FunX Radio “Focus” and “Next to Me” which was the song of the week on Radio 6 in The Netherlands. Not only did Jon tour through the country to promote his album, but he also performed at Eurosonic Noorderslag in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and has rocked the stage 8 times at Parkpop Festival (biggest free European festival), among many other festivals.
In October 2016, Jon Tarifa became world news with his single “Don’t Go”. The song was used in a tribute video for the former President of the United States, Barack Obama. Don’t Go which went viral on internet and even reached the likes of CNN India and The New York Times, to only name a few. The video was also shared by both of President Obama’s daughters on social media. As a result, Jon was invited to perform the song on various TV programs in the Netherlands, such as the popular RTL Late Night and Hart van Nederland, among others. In the meantime, the video has reached over 57 million views and over 2 million Spotify streams. In the summer of 2017, “Don’t Go” was re-launched with an official (animated) video clip by Universal Music in the United States.