Interview: JONES Makes an Energizing Return with “Giving It Up”

Atwood Magazine spoke with JONES about her evolution as an artist, what to expect from her in the future, the unsolvable riddle of songwriting, and more!

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Straight of the gate, it is evident that “Giving It Up” embodies an overwhelming sense of euphoric energy. That sugar rush of emotion provides the perfect antidote to the gloom and paralysing uncertainty that we are all battling through. Throughout, JONES’ alluring vocal exudes a tranquil sense of calm that’s impossible not to be infatuated by.

Giving It Up – JONES

It’s been nearly four years since JONES’ critically acclaimed debut album New Skin, which included striking singles such as “Indulge” and “Melt.” Although her debut served as a sensational showcase of her unique talent, “Giving It Up” sees JONES return with spellbindingly electrifying confidence. With her latest release, it is clear that she’s absolutely relishing in her bold individualism with the result being a dynamic track that’s dazzlingly brilliant.

JONES recorded the track with the extraordinary talent Fyfe and Mike Spencer who has worked with the likes of Gabrielle Aplin, Ellie Goulding, and Jack Garrett. That melting pot of incredible talent has given birth to a track that is as beautiful as it is energizing. “Giving It Up” serves as a powerful statement of intent and undoubtedly heightens expectations for JONES’ forthcoming sophomore album.

Atwood Magazine spoke with JONES about her evolution as an artist, what to expect from her in the future, the unsolvable riddle of songwriting, and more!

Listen: “Giving It Up” – JONES


Atwood Magazine: ‘Giving It Up’ is incredible. Why did it feel like the right track to come back with?

JONES: The honest answer is that it was a very hard decision and actually there was bout two or three weeks of me, my manager and my label driving each other mad. We kept saying one week, “okay, it’s this song” and then we went back to the drawing board. Then we’re like, “No, no, it’s definitely this song.” We kept changing the song for about three weeks, which drove me quite mad for that time.

Then we decided and then got some external feedback. You never know, there’s not really a science to it. It’s just a gut feeling thing. So it was very almost another song. It ended up being a topic of much debate.

How was working with Fyfe? I was obsessed with this debut album.

JONES: Fyfe is my favourite producer that I’ve ever worked with. He is so talented across so many genres. He’s so humble, so respectful. So actually the first-ever writing session I did with Fyfe is where we “Giving It Up.” It was in the summer and we’d never met before. I think I was probably quite nervous because I always get a bit nervous before working with new producers. We had this session his garage in his house and “Giving It Up” was the first song we worked on together.

Given everything that’s going on right now; how does it feel to be releasing new music? Was there any consideration?

JONES: Just as the lockdown was happening in the UK, I had just gone out to shoot the video in LA and I heard on the first day of shooting that they were closing the borders, so I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like getting back in but it was fine. The first conversations I was having with my manager was that I really didn’t want to release music at the time because, you know, everyone was worried, everyone’s scared. People are losing relatives, people are isolated.

I have friends who live alone who are just not really having a good time being separated from their families. I really didn’t feel it’d be right to self-promote in this time but then I think as time has gone on, people are adjusting.

I think as an artist you do have a certain responsibility to provide something for people to make them feel good or to uplift and have a good vibe. So then I kind of turned it around. But I definitely didn’t want to do it at the very beginning of all this and it is definitely a weird time to be releasing music.

JONES © 2020

The video for the track is incredible. What was the creative process like?

JONES: Thank you. It happened so quickly. I worked with a director called Nina, who’s a very cool creative person. We hadn’t met so we just did lots of chatting over email and a couple of phone calls. It was a bit of a leap of faith, to be honest. But we had, you know, lots of mood boards, I had some initial ideas. I wanted it to feel quite dreamy and surreal because this whole project I’m doing is very inspired by dreams. I’ve always been fascinated by them but particularly in this last couple of years, I have just always been very interested in dreams. So I really wanted to get to feel dreamy

Then we flew there and just on the fly did these like different shots. One of my favourite things to say is if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Like we’d flown there to get the LA vibe and the good weather, and it rained every day and it was cold. Lockdown and all these things we didn’t plan for were happening too, but I think we managed to get something really cool and special out of it. It was a whirlwind and weird, but hopefully, something good prevailed. I’m proud of it now.

When something emotionally impactful happens, do you normally feel the urge to write about it instantly or do you take a bit of time to process the feeling/experience? Or does it vary?

JONES: It definitely varies. My songs are like 50/50 autobiographical and some of them are just pure storytelling, Songs are definitely my source of therapy and have been since I was a teenager. Normally, you know, if something painful happens, I probably can’t write about it straight away, because I’m going through the pain, but maybe I can shortly afterward.

Sometimes songs can take ages to finish, and sometimes they can just come like that. I would love to nail the formula. Maybe on my deathbed, I’ll be like “aha, that’s it.” But right now, I feel like songwriting is kind of like solving a riddle. Like, there’s a piece of threads dangling in front of your head and you’re just trying to pull down until something that makes sense.

Sort of following on from that, when you’re writing, do you ever think about the potential interpretations that listeners might have when they hear your songs?

JONES: I do wonder because one of my objectives, when I’m writing songs, is that I really do want to make myself and make people feel good because music is entertainment sometimes, but for me, it’s like an emotional outlet. It’s something that raises your spirits and that’s the thing I normally use to make myself feel better if I’m sad or depressed or stressed.

When I’m writing a song, especially in the chorus, I really want it to feel uplifting. I guess I do something to imagine what would that feel like for someone else to listen to or to sing. Like, does it make you feel good? Or is it making you feel bad? I don’t know. I mildly think about it, but then you just get caught in a creative wave and just do whatever feels right.

Watch: “Giving It Up” – JONES

You collaborated with Honne on the track ‘no place like home.’ How did that relationship start?

JONES: I was the support act on one of their tours, which was amazing. I think it was just our managers had been speaking or something and we both kind of heard of each other, and thought be really cool to collaborate.

I first worked with them on a song called ‘No Place Like Home’ and I just did a featured vocal on that. Then they said they’re going on tour, would I like to come and support them and I said yes instantly. Then we did some writing together and we wrote ‘Melt’ together, which is a song on my last album.

They’re great and both just super talented. It’s been incredible watching them soar and just tour constantly. Tour was amazing too. It was like probably the first tour that I felt comfortable performing. Like fully enjoying performing so I’ll never forget that one.

From your earlier releases to now, what are the biggest changes you’ve noticed within yourself? How has that affected your music?

JONES: Well, the first thing that pops in my head is the writing process; this album has been much more controlled by me. I have really felt a strong need to be the main writer on these songs. For most of these songs, I’ve written all the lyrics and the top line.

Whereas on the first album, I was definitely finding my feet and I worked with lots of co-writers. For this upcoming album, it has been very important for me to just say lyrics as I wanted them to be and evolve from one song to the next. Sound-wise, I don’t think this new album is a million miles away. I think it just feels more defined. I think I’ve just found a sort of sound palette that feels like more defined than it was before, but I don’t know I think it’s just been like a natural progression.

On Spotify, there’s a lot of acoustic versions that you’ve put out. What’s led to that? When you’re performing acoustic, do you connect differently?

JONES: I think so. I think the acoustic versions kind of just happened. I think we just tried it and then found a lot of people connecting with them. So made it a rule to always do that. It’s actually so nice, as an artist to be able to do a couple of versions of a song. For example, when I’m starting to write a song, it’s always normally on a piano or keyboard. It starts off in that format, very stripped back, just voice and instrument. It’s lovely to be able to share it that way as well. Those songs feel even more personal and even more honest, because there are not massive layers of production to hide behind.

It just feels like you’re just talking to someone, and they have a lot more intimacy than the bigger production tracks. But then I also love being able to see the bigger productions at the same time so it’s great to have both.

JONES © 2020

One of my favourite things about your music it feels intimately personal yet easily accessible. Do you ever encounter any difficulty combining that sort of accessibility with authentically earnest emotion?

JONES: I’m not afraid of the word pop I have to say. I’m a mixture of soul, electronic and pop; I like to call it like modern soul-pop. My philosophy is like simple sort of catchy choruses and then you can go into the detail and into the weirdness in your verses and say whatever you want. I think that’s the way I attack it.

It’s just my natural tendency to try and write that way because I do love pop music, but I do love organic soul music with the feeling and the baseline drums. So it’s just been a very natural way for me to write. In verses, I like to quite say quite personal things, like a detail of how I was holding a coffee cup. For me, verses are like a stream of consciousness and choruses feel more like a summary of the feeling.

Has that always been the case?

JONES: I’ve always aimed for that. Songwriting and music-making is a craft. You can start with a raw desire to do something like I want to write songs, but you might not necessarily be able to execute them. But through stubbornness, persistence and learning from other people, you learn your craft.

When I did a lot of co-writing on the first album, it was quite hard in the beginning because to co-write with someone, you have to make yourself very vulnerable. That was hard in the beginning, but then I learned a lot from seeing how other people do it. So  I’ve just taken that into my own personal style then and is it what it is now.

Is there anything you'd like to go back and tell yourself when you were like, making that, like with the perspective that you've had now?

JONES: I think in anything that you are not super experienced in, unless you are an incredibly naturally confident human being, you have doubts. Especially doing anything creative, because there’s not really right or wrong. So maybe if I were talking to myself back then I would just tell myself to trust my ideas.

So it's like a really strange question, considering everything's going on. But like, what are you like, most excited about like in the future when all this is over?

JONES: I am most excited about playing a show. Playing songs, playing a show, and connecting with people directly. On a personal level, I haven’t been able to see my mom during lockdown, so I’m excited to see my mom. Also, just to be able to see friends and to not feel strange about crossing people in the street. There’s that thing now when you walk, you know, some people don’t care and other people kind of do keep the two metres distance.

It’s gonna probably be a while until that’s not the case. I think I’m just excited to be able to live freely again. And dreams. Yeah, well, my album title is actually. I don’t know if I can say that but it’s very heavily inspired by dreams. It’s a topic that I’m kind of brainstorming and exploring on a lot of the songs on there and through my artwork as well in the videos. So yeah, we’ll see what happens.

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