Please state your name and how you would describe your music.
I’m Jonezen and I make that raw Detroit-bred Hip Hop mixed with Rock N Roll.
How did you get your start in music? How long has the incarnation of this solo project been around?
I started writing lyrics in 4th grade I think. Real young. I started playing guitar shortly after that. I got my start professionally with a group called Outta-Control. We moved from Detroit to S. Lake Tahoe, CA to do music. We recorded an album, put it out, and hit the streets with it. Before long we were packing shows and got picked up by the local promoter who put us on bigger bills and a few mini tours. That lasted for a few years, then I bottomed out from drinking and drugs. The group broke up, I went to rehab, and started a solo career as Jonezen. I had sort of always done solo stuff, even with the group, but when that all ended I knew I wasn’t quitting so I just kept on creating under a new name. This project I’ve been working on now has been in the works for a little over a year.
What’s the origin of your stage name and have you gone by another moniker before?
I was given the name Jonezen while in rehab. I was on the phone with a friend of mine who had helped me with my career while I was with the group and he said why don’t you call yourself Jonezen? He said it made sense because my last name was Jones and I was in rehab. We had a good laugh and that shit stuck. And no, before I was Jonezen I didn’t have another moniker, just a member of the group Outta Control.
How do you write your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs and do you think these topics will change over time?
The writing process depends. I keep notes in my phone. Anytime inspiration hits I write it down. Sometimes I take those little lines, develop an idea, then hit the studio with a producer to write some music that fits. Or, I get sent beats, pick the ones I like, and then match topics to those. Sometimes there isn’t a real “topic or theme” it’s just bars. That go hard rap shit. I will say that I write slowly. I never force it. If I get stuck, I just walk away and come back to it with a fresh head.
I guess some of the main things you’ll find in my music are either no theme at all, just rapping, or some sort of life message about my struggles with addiction, my past with arrests/police/selling drugs, hope, fear, figuring out who you are, change, growing up. And yes I think the topics will change over time. The topics will change as I change and experience new things. Music is a reflection of self, of experiences that make us who we are, so as I go through more and more stuff and have new experiences, my views and opinions will change, and so will the themes of the tracks. I think that’s inevitable.
What artists are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
Right now I’m listening to so much stuff. So much different stuff. I’ve been bumping that new Tech N9ne, Adelle’s albums, Alicia Keys, that new Tribe, Rag n Bone Man, Slaughterhouse, Dave East, the Hamilton Mixtape. I vibe with a wide variety of sounds and artists and get inspiration from all over.
Was there a particular band/artist or concert that inspired you to start making music?
Definitely not a concert. I always loved music though and it’s all I ever saw myself doing. The first bands I was into at a real young age were Aerosmith and Metallica. Those were followed almost immediately by other heavy metal acts like Sepultura and Soulfly, then the Deftones, etc. I was real young listening to that stuff. Around 12 I got into hip hop. The first records that really got my attention and turned me into a fan and got me started rapping were House of Pain Jump Around, Public Enemy Bring the Noise, Tribe Called Quest Can I Kick It, and a few others. From there I moved into Cypress Hill, Snoop, Dre, Pac, Biggie and all that other classic stuff.
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, ect …
Practice practice practice. Even if I’m doing songs I’ve done 100 times I still run through my set a few times before the show. The only real pre-show routine I have is to try and get a few mins by myself before I take the stage. I usually walk the block, have a couple smokes, visualize shutting the shit down and get my mind right. I need that time alone to get centered, focused, and my mind in the game.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?
It’s hard to say. I think recording an album in rehab under a new name, starting from zero, dropping it, and going on to win the Los Angeles Music Awards for Hip Hop Artist of the Year was pretty dope. Another highlight was getting to do a little tour with Bone Thugs. That was a great time and awesome experience. The awards, being on MTV, the radio, all that is cool and are all definitely dreams that I’ve had ever since I was a kid. It’s been dope to see all that happen, but the biggest things for me are the emails I get from fans letting me know about songs that inspired them, or about how my story has helped them in some way. That’s the shit that really matters and what I’ll be remembering on my death bed. Not the time my record with Gucci Mane was on MTV. Even though that’s pretty fucking cool.
If you could tour with any artists, past or present, who would they be and why?
Damn. There’s too many. Me ten years ago probably would have wanted to hit the road with Snoop or Meth/Red Man. Smoking that kush and getting faded would have been a top my priority list.
Today though I’d love to hit the road with a band like Rage Against The Machine. Some of my new stuff is going that rock n roll direction and I’ve always been a big fan of theirs. I think that tour would be off the hook.
Another guy I admire and would love to hit the road with is Tech N9ne. He’s one of my favorite Emcee’s and he’s independent. The knowledge you could pick up from that dude would be ridiculous.
Then there’s dudes like Jay, Nas, Snoop, Em, Dre. Being on the road with straight up legends doing stadiums would be pretty amazing.
Oh, and hands down Pac. That dude was something else. Amazing artist, visionary.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just that I appreciate the support and thanks for having me do this interview. Shouts to all the fans! Much love.