Durand Jones on his new solo album, disco, and his 17-year-old self
Durand Jones and the Indications are one of the exciting neo-soul bands in recent years. On Friday, May 5, Jones is stepping out on his own, releasing his debut solo album, Wait Til I Get Over.
Ben Freid, host of The Colorado Sound Morning Show, connected with Jones recently to talk about the album, how the music differs from his work with the Indications, his outfits, the power of disco, and what he’d say to his teenage self.
Read highlights from the interview below.
Ben: You have a debut solo album coming out May 5 called Wait Til I Get Over. It feels much more raw than your previous work with The Indications. How did the process for this new album differ from your previous work?
Durand: When I talked to [my record label] Dead Oceans about doing a solo record, I had every intention of not going into the studio and doing exactly what I’ve done before with the Indications. I wanted to go into the studio and do all of the vocals with the band live. Everyone [was] in the room together working it, making it happen, which was an amazing experience for me because I was able to really push the band in ways that I haven’t been able to before in the studio. I was also able to be influenced by the band.
I was so surprised at myself. I was just singing things that I never thought of or planned before. It just was coming out. That was a really magical and beautiful process for me. I think that’s what tended to lead to the more raw raucous sounds of this record.
One of the first songs you released from the album, “That Feeling,” I can tell it’s a very personal song. What was going through your mind as you were writing it?
Man, what was going through my mind was the end of something really beautiful, the end of something that I wasn’t sure should exactly be the end. I wrote this to overcome a lot of shame and guilt I had. Being raised in a christian church and household, I thought for the longest time that being gay or bi was one of the worst things you could be in this world and in this life. I was so embarrassed and ashamed about who I was. When I was writing this song, I really wanted to overcome all of those feelings and really embrace and love myself fully. Back in 2015, on my birthday, September 7, I went to the piano and I said this was going to be my birthday gift for myself, and that feeling came right on out.
You’ve said you wanted to make a record that your 17-year-old self would love. You’re standing in front of that nerdy 17-year-old, what do you tell him?
Oh my gosh. I would tell him that I hope that this would make him very proud. Yeah, this is very emotional to me.
I would tell him that you’re not an imposter and you don’t have to be ashamed of being queer. You don’t have to be ashamed of growing up poor. You don’t have to be ashamed of anything. You should be proud. Whatever seat you get at whatever table, you deserve it, don’t hold your head down. Don’t just take the dreams that people have for you. You can dream bigger than any dream anyone has for you. You can dream for yourself. That’s what I would want to tell him, and that’s what I would want this record to be a reflection for him.
You performed with Gary Clark, Jr. last year at Red Rocks. What was it like working with him? And can you describe your experience at Red Rocks?
Gary was so chill and very cool. He’s such a family man. His kids are running around during the sound check. Yeah, just a really nice, hospitable guy. Red Rocks in itself was…oh my gosh.
Honestly, I feel so lucky because I’ve gotten to play in some of the world’s greatest venues. I’ve gotten to play at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, some really cool places in London, just all over the world. I have to say, Red Rocks is probably the most amazing, magical place I’ve ever sang at in my life.
[And] the altitude. Singing up there, I mean, that in itself is an experience too. It adds to the intensity of a venue like that.
What goes into your onstage outfits? How does that happen?
I got my whole little wardrobe back here, but I take a lot of influence from the soul greats, and that’s the reason why whenever I’m home, I’m usually like a housecoat kind of guy, pajamas, flip flops. B ut whenever I am on the stage, I feel a duty to just put on as many rings as I can on my finger. As many chains as I can. I want to dress the best, the nines, because it’s a part of the history and the tradition of all of the predecessors, the heroes that I have. A lot of those guys didn’t have much of nothing, but they made sure that they would go on stage and be the freshest dude in the whole auditorium. That’s my goal and my inspiration always to just uplift them.
You mentioned your influences, and I want to ask, has disco been a big influence in your life? When I listened to your previous work with the Indications, I get a disco vibe. Are you a disco fan?
I really appreciate disco. I love it so much that I have to really state the case for it, because it was one of the very few times in American music history where Black, queer, and women, also Latinos, were at the top of the pop charts [and] absolutely killing it.
The only reason why it phased out was because some really pretentious, so sad to say, uptight rock and roll guys were just like, ‘This isn’t rock and roll.’ Which is such a bummer, because disco was really a pop music that was super inclusive, that allowed someone like Sylvester to be a cultural icon throughout the world at a time when gay culture, queer culture was extremely underground.
Yeah, I just admire disco for not only for its musical aspects, but also just for its platform of inclusivity. I just think that it was just way ahead of its time, more than most other genres.
Who are you listening to right now? Is there any new band that you’re really into?
Danielle Ponder is just a rising star, absolutely beautiful voice, beautiful soul, beautiful human. And I really love Thee Sacred Souls. I think they’re killing it in the soul game right now. Then I got to rep for out here in San Antonio where I’m currently residing, there’s this amazing country artist out here by the name of Nicky Diamonds, Afro Latino. He has one of the most unique voices I’ve ever heard and just a genuine soul, lovely person that you couldn’t fall in love with this guy if you met him. I know the world is about to experience him very soon, and so I’m so excited for him as well.
I ask this next question to every musician I interview. I’m the Morning Show host for 105.5 The Colorado Sound. I ask you, who would you drive 105.5 miles to go see? Dead or alive.
Stevie Wonder, he’s just absolute inspiration to me. I have the Stevie Hotter than July record like right here next to me. Huge influence to me, this record. Oh my goodness. Yeah, Stevie is my guy. I just love how expansive his discography is and how unafraid he was to tackle any genre. I love him so much.
Durand Jones’ solo album Wait Til I Get Over is released May 5.
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