She was the talk of SXSW and Sam Smith loves her music – “fucking beautiful” were his exact words. The 25 year old singer-songwriter JONES may not have released her debut album yet, but she’s already poised for big things. We sat down with her to chat teenage diaries, vintage shopping and girl power.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the Aldgate neighbourhood of London. It was a pretty strange place to live, as it wasn’t very residential – mainly offices and tourists passing through, but it was a good spot to people-watch. Now I live in Hackney.
I read that you grew up listening to Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross – how did they inspire your music?
I always had their songs in my stream of consciousness, and thanks to my mother they were woven into my childhood. I loved their beautiful voices and the romantic way they wrote about love. I think listening to these classic artists helped shape what I wanted to become.
What was the first record you bought?
That would have to be the Spice Girls’ first album. As most young girls back then, I was obsessed with the whole British girl-power idea.
You frequently use past diary entries as source material for songwriting. How nerve-wracking is it to share your innermost thoughts?
In my early years of performing I was afraid to sing such personal songs, but I just kept going and pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Now I barely even think about it.
Where do you like to hang out?
I love the diversity in London’s nightlife because each neighbourhood has a completely different vibe. Where I go depends on the mood I’m in, but I enjoy Spitalfields Market for its delicious food stalls, and Regents Park is a real gem within the city. The pubs in East London are excellent when I’m craving a good Sunday roast. My favourites are The Cat and Mutton in Broadway Market, and Pub on the Park over near London Fields.
Describe your style in three words.
Classic, feminine, and earthy.
How does your on-stage persona differ from your off-stage identity?
There is no dramatic shift in persona. It is still very much me, but on-stage it’s a heightened version of myself–more elevated and in a way freer. I can do things on stage that I normally wouldn’t or couldn’t do in normal life—I still have introverted and intimate moments during the set.
What do you like to wear on-stage?
This is something that will always continue to evolve, but right now I enjoy experimenting with a series of vintage sequin jackets that I collected from different stores around East London.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A friend who also works in the industry once told me to never be afraid of feeding my artistic fire, and that I must always keep this alive. It was the sort of advice I really needed to hear at that point in time.
Career highlight so far?
Performing on live TV for Jools Holland, playing at SXSW, and each of my headline shows have all been major accomplishments. I’ve been fortunate enough to have great audiences each time.
This summer I’ll be performing at a lot of festivals: The Great Escape, Latitude, and Dot to Dot—to name a few. Then, my album “New Skin” will be released at the end of the year.