Amy Jones is one of those artists that paid her dues. She has been honing her singing and songwriting craft for years, always believing in the passion that kept her going. All the hard work started paying off over the past 2 years culminating in receiving the award for the best EDM record for 2018 in collaboration with Cinimin. She is also the ambassador for Faith Guitars in South Africa and took some time off to chat about the music industry, working with Cinimin and her love for her Faith guitar.
Congratulations on winning the best EDM track for the year. It must have felt amazing?
Amy Jones: Yes it felt amazing. Thank you so much.
That was a co-lab with Cinimin so tell us how did that come about?
Amy Jones: In March I got asked to perform for Clicks at the Clicks Curls event. It was a corporate and I went up to Johannesburg. Kyle Cassim was the DJ for the two days. So I’d do a set and he’d do a set and he heard me play my guitar. Then he was like ‘Can you please play another song?’. I played another song on guitar and then he said ‘you need to come to the studio. Let your manager speak to my manager and we’ll just get connected. You come to the Sony Studio and there’s a track we have for you. My brother and I are called Cinimin‘. I’ve never met Austin at the time. Then a day later they called us to come to the studio. That was like 10:30 at night and we got to Sony Studio and they played the track. The first track they played me was not working. I wasn’t feeling it and I felt pressured because you need to write something now you know.
Then Lee (Lee Willcock, owner of Jirah Productions) heard another track which was a Cinimin one called You and me and he was like ‘What about this one?’. He put it on and I started singing in little bits and pieces and then we called it a night. It was one of those studio nights where you felt like this could either work or not work. Then we left it.
Lee came to Johannesburg again for his other businesses and asked them to give us the track. He told them that “We’ll take it to Cape Town and let Amy sit on it for a bit. We can record at Kosher Studio and see what happens. I got together with another writer Caleb Williams and he got this idea. He said ‘Here’s an idea, you just run with it, Amy’. And that’s what I did. I finished it, went to the studio, took one take and we got You and me.
It’s number one on the Heart FM charts at the moment.
Amy Jones: It is number one, I can’t believe it. It’s crazy. Like I performed in Johannesburg at a few festivals and how the people are singing along passionately. I remember writing a slow part to the song Every day I think of you and like that part, I remember sitting on my bed writing that part. When you’re on stage and you see people close their eyes and sing it passionately I’m like wow, that’s incredible.
What’s interesting to me is that they (Cinimin) heard you sing just with an acoustic guitar – a solo acoustic performance. Just based on the voice they could hear it on an EDM track which is amazing.
Amy Jones: To be honest the first time someone heard it on the radio the person actually contacted Lee and asked ‘Listen is there another Amy Jones perhaps because there is this song playing’. He was like ‘No there’s only one Amy Jones. That is the song that’s coming out”. So it was like kinda cool for people to see what else I can do and not just acoustically, but that (style – ed) works as well.
So where do you see Amy Jones stylistically from solo acoustic artists to EDM? I mean that’s quite a difference…
Amy Jones: I know it’s a huge jump hey. I have to say it was completely out of my comfort zone. I do believe that you grow when you are out of your comfort zone and I also believe that we actually got to see different doors opening that wouldn’t have happened if it was acoustically. So your audience grows. It’s a younger crowd this time which is amazing and I love it.
You kind of find that they latch onto the other singles that have already been released. So where I see myself in future is basically possibly another feature, whether I do it with Cinimin or with someone else. But musically I see myself as Urban Pop. Whether the guitar is with me or not I can always add it on but I want people to know that I am not just a singer. I am a singer-songwriter. I love guitar and I play it.
So co-labs are something you will definitely consider again?
Amy Jones: Yeah I’ll definitely consider that again. I had so much fun. I learnt a lot. I spoke to J’Something last week when we were in Johannesburg. He told me something I will never forget. He said money can’t buy experience and experience is so much better for you as an artist to have and to gain. So I was like wow, that’s actually really cool.
There are so many things that you hear about the music industry, the good and the bad. You’ve now been involved in it for quite a while, what is the one thing that you wish were different?
Amy Jones: Oh man, one thing that I wish was different in the music industry itself would be if all the artists were just like really genuinely support one another and not being like I must beat your number one. I wish that would be different and we all realise we have a gift and it’s not for ourselves but for the world and for each other. if I have a creative idea and you have a creative idea, we can put it together and it would be even more amazing and better. So yeah, unfortunately not everybody is the same and not everybody is the same as myself – and that’s fine. But I wish that wasn’t a thing.
I assume you find it to be quite a lonely place at times then?
Amy Jones: Yes I think everybody expects your life to be exciting – and it’s amazing – but at the end of the day you only have a few who really gets the journey and really understands that it’s not just ‘you now won an award in its all fine’, but it’s hard work getting there.
We hear so many times that as an artist you have to put in the ‘hard work’ and you seem to agree. What does ‘hard work’ mean? What kind of ‘hard work’ do you need to put in?
Amy Jones: The hard work for me would be the preparation. The process of even how this song (new single – ed) got to be and sitting with a track and actually listening to it 10 times, 15 times. Writing and saying this line does not work, then recording, singing it over, then change this line or change the chorus you know? This way, that way. The back and forth and then also not giving up and having that tenacity of ‘I’m gonna get it right until it’s perfect you know? And sometimes I’m a perfectionist but I think who’s not? It’s my art and I love what I do.
We were talking regarding the next song that is coming out that sometimes when your mind is so fixed on perfection you forget about the feel of the song. It’s important not to lose the feel of the song and where it’s going instead of having this one thing in your mind to get it perfect.
You write your own songs so of course, you know exactly where you want it to end. There’s not a lot of people that know that you actually write your own music. Where do you find inspiration for that?
Amy Jones: I would literally be driving, sitting at home, sitting outside or I’ll be in a mall and hear something or see something and I will write it down quickly. Or an idea or a melody will come and I will record it on my phone. Or someone will tell me a story about their life or a deep story and I’d be like ‘wow that’s quite intense, I wonder what it would be like if I was in your shoes and what would I write around that perspective.’ Then I can actually put myself in that situation and write from that.
So apart from just having talent what other emotional or mental skills does it require to be successful in this industry?
Amy Jones: Well I think it’s you are not to give up and your belief in yourself should not override that. You comparing yourself to other artists shouldn’t be a thing cause if you compare yourself to me please don’t! But if you compare yourself continuously you will never know who you are as a true artist and what makes you different and what sets you apart from all the rest. I think it’s an identity thing.
If you know who you are – I’m very strong in my faith so if I know who I am in the Lord – then I think everything else is ok. I do believe what else you need to have emotionally is also strength and courage. People will judge cause there’s a lot of pressure when it comes to doing what you do but as long as you believe in it and as long as you love it then I think you’re fine.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received as an artist?
Amy Jones: The best advice was to never give up. I use it a lot because it is so true for me and the journey that I’ve been through with music. It’s not just been two years. Two years with Jirah Productions was amazing, but it’s been a long few years for me. I never gave up. You have to keep the faith and to know that if you have a gift and there’s something in your heart then you should not let a family member or a friend or somebody you don’t even know change you from doing that one thing that just sets your heart on fire.
You mentioned Lee from Jirah productions. You’ve been with them for 2 years. What do they bring to the table? You seem very happy with them.
Amy Jones: Oh it’s such a blessing. Two years ago I remember Lee said to me ‘Amy you know I want to start this thing but I don’t know what you think about it. I have no knowledge regarding the music business but we can just see and try you know.’ Then I was like ok, you know let’s do it. We were sitting down and I had a pen in my hand and we Google’d and we wrote down Good Hope FM – this is the number; Heart FM – this is the number. We had no contacts whatsoever.
Now if you see Lee’s phone you’d be like oh wow you actually know him and her. It’s amazing. So yeah it’s been a pretty crazy ride. A lot of high’s and also with high’s come low’s but it’s kind of cool knowing that you’re not alone. So Jirah Productions has really meant so much for me in this journey and to see the company grow and to see myself as an artist grow and Lee grows as well in his managing skills. It’s amazing for someone who didn’t know anything. I think a lot of people wants him to manage them. I’m excited to see what happens and what is still to come for the company.
Well, let’s talk gear. We have a faith guitar here and you are the brand ambassador for Faith Guitars.
Amy Jones: I am the brand ambassador for Faith Guitars in South Africa.
Why specifically this one? Was there something specific on this guitar that you just loved?
Amy Jones: What happened was I had an event to go to in Cape Town. The night before I was playing and practising and I put it down and somehow my hand slipped and it fell. It cracked and I’m thinking ‘I have to sing tomorrow. I don’t have a guitar. What I’m I going to do?’ I sent pictures to Lee and Lee was also panicking but he just kept calm and cool for me.
He started making calls and then I said why not go to Paul Bothner and maybe see if we can get a deal like get a guitar? He dropped me off at the event and I went there without a guitar and I just did something like a capella. Luckily it was a sharing thing so you share and you sing. I shared and I also gave a bit of a testimony regarding my guitar that broke. While I’m busy with this event Lee’s busy sorting out a new guitar. When he fetched me he took me to Paul Bother and he was like ‘Ok you can pick a new guitar, you can pick whatever you want. I was like what? I can’t believe I can pick any guitar that I want!
Then my heart just went to the Faith and especially for what it stands for you know. I was like ‘wow it’s amazing. I felt like it was God-sent. I picked this colour because it was more or less the same as the one that I had. You know when you have a baby and you’re like ‘can’t just let you go but I have to but I’m somehow trying to replace you?’ I just have a love for this one.