Durand Jones and the Indications Interview

Interviews, Uncategorized

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“We’re not the type of people to say “all artists have a duty to write political music.” We just write about the things that are important to us.”

We caught up with Indiana-based soul artists, Durand Jones and the Indications, to get to the heart of their music and it’s power to connect with such a diverse amount of people worldwide.

Premiering new songs of their latest album: ‘American Love Call’ the other week, at Dingwalls, Camden, their sentiments resonated with the crowds; the album itself is very much a love letter to life and an expression of how people are feeling right now – their deep lyrics feed the soul.

Elizabeth: Firstly, take us back to the start of the band and where you all met?

Durand: This project got together in the autumn of 2012. I was working with the IU Soul Review as a graduate assistant. Soul Review is a class students can audition for. The ones who get in learn about and play soul music. I taught the horn section, wrote horn charts, and arranged horns parts. I was asked to sing for the class as well since this year was short on guys. They knew I sang with bands back in Louisiana, and since it was my job I reluctantly said yes. The particular category of study this semester was Motown. I sang backgrounds on some Temptations stuff, and had a solo on a Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell duet— ‘For Your Precious Love.’ That’s how I met Blake Rhein who gave me Charles Bradley’s ‘No Time For Dreaming’ on CD one day after class. In that way he established a friendship with me and invited me to hang with him to sing on a tune he was writing. The tune became ‘Givin Up’. He then introduced me to Aaron Frazer. And we all began writing together. We started to hang and listen to records as well. They introduced me to a band that they played in called Charlie Patton’s War. They were a rowdy rock and roll band and the first time I played with these guys was in a basement to Otis Redding’s ‘Dock of the Bay’ at party in a basement. That was the start!

E: Durand, you mentioned you were from a small town, in what ways has coming from a small town impacted you?

I’m from a very rural part of Louisiana. A place called Hillaryville, Louisiana. Coming from a rural area I got to explore for miles in the woods, go fishing and swimming in the Mississippi River and learn a traditional style of singing that isn’t practiced much anymore in the Baptist church. Our parents forced us to be outside and wouldn’t let us back in until the sun was going down. That is how I discovered my love and need for nature. In the country things are still so all of your senses and emotions are heightened. Moving to Bloomington was a wake up call. I didn’t realise how poor I grew up until I moved up there, or how country I was. I recently moved back to Hillaryville after doing stints in Chicago and NYC and I must say it truly feels like a completely different world between Hillaryville and those places. I love the country life and it’s where I want to be for the rest of my life.

Aaron, when we met at your Dingwalls show, you mentioned you played in a punk band. How did you find the transition in going from punk to soul?

Haha, well more punk-blues than straight up “punk”. Before we met Durand, 3/4 of The Indications had been in our own rock n roll band called Charlie Patton’s War. We had a reputation for putting on super rowdy performances; Blake used to stand on top of my kick drum etc. We played a ton of shows over 3 years – mostly house shows and dive bars. But that meant that when we met Durand, the band was already tight. The soul and rock artists we enjoy are ones that celebrate passion and prize grittiness.

Durand Jones 2; Elizabeth Andrade

Durrand Jones and the Indications owning that stage at Dingwalls, Camden

And at what point did you all realise you guys had something special as Durand Jones and the Indications? – Do you guys still play in other bands?

Blake: Last year when we played the Troubadour in L.A., the whole room sang every word to  “Is It Any Wonder,” which was completely surreal. People we’re even singing along to “True Love,” which at that point only existed live demo on YouTube.

Aaron put out a really great 45 under the name The Flying Stars of Brooklyn. That band featured Eli “Paperboy” Reed and they are amazing live. They play a fundraising show once or twice a year, so if you’re in NY keep your eyes peeled.

You all have such amazing energy on stage. I remember the first time seeing you play (at the Lexington, London) and was blown away by your energy and humbleness. You guys put so much energy into each show. How do you consistently maintain this? 

Durand: A lot of it comes down to touring smartly. We don’t drink or smoke much and try to eat right. There’s so much music out there, and so many touring artists, that when people decide to pay attention to what you’re doing, you better return the favour and give them your all on wax on stage.

How do you find touring? How was last years 10 week tour – any crazy stories to share with us? 

Blake: I had a hard time with being on the road for long periods of time at first. I love having my own space to be creative, draw, and paint. That’s basically impossible on the road. But I’ve found my ways to stay happy and healthy on the road and I’ve really come to enjoy it.

One of my favourite stories was from Kansas City last year. After the gig, we all ended up at the same little jazz club down the street from the venue. Most of us were at a table in the back and there was a little quartet in the front playing standards. Out of nowhere comes a wild-as-hell trumpet solo, and sure enough it Kiinch, who was touring with us at the time. The crowd was way into it, but the house band, who were undoubtedly upstaged, were not.

At Dingwalls the other week, we really loved the bands matching shirts, reminds us of the soul bands. We were also admiring how there was a real diverse mix of people and ages. Soul music is what brought them there, you have really connected to people. Tell us more about the support coming through as of late?

Blake: Early on, we had a small coalition of fans who came from the record collecting community. That group along with the independent record stores clerks that were recommending the record were crucial in getting us off the ground. But the more we’ve toured around, we’re meeting all different types of music fans. We’ve met some fans who love live music more than anything and will come see us multiple times over the course of a week on tour. We’ve met fans who are totally new to collecting soul 45s who probably bought their first single at our merch table. One of the most rewarding group of fans we’ve connected with is the lowrider community throughout southern California. A lot of these folks have been listening to this style of music for 50 years. They’ve been incredibly enthusiastic and supportive about what we’re doing.

Durand Jones 3; Elizabeth Andrade

Framing the moment after their sold-out in-store gig and album launch at Rough Trade, East

Congratulations on the new album: ‘American Love Call’ – it feels like a love letter or expression of your feelings to America. Tell us more about the dynamics in writing and  sharing vocals.

Durand: Everyone writes and brings ideas to the table when it comes to the songwriting. Sharing the vocals is something that reminds us of all of the vocal groups that we have come to love. With the resurgence of this style of soul music, many bands call upon high power shouting soul singers but no one has embraced the musings of someone like Eddie Kendricks or Damon Harris, and Aaron has filled that void I believe. He gives us a unique and refreshing dynamic to the group. Although I’m not doing much soul shouting anymore, it’s a nice contrast between us two.

I’m loving the political commentary on your songs. It really connects to what people are going through. I heard what you said at Rough Trade East, that 78% of Americans are living from pay check to pay check. It kind of reminds us of Charles Bradley ‘World is Going Up in Flames’ and Aloe Blacc ‘I Need a Dollar. It feels like you are following on from them but doing it in your own way. 

Aaron: It’s a crazy statistic, but it’s true. We’re not the type of people to say “all artists have a duty to write political music.” We just write about the things that are important to us. And among those things is the idea of intersectionality. Racial identity is at the forefront of the political conversation, and that’s essential! But only focusing on that leaves out the things that unite us. And a big uniting force is class. We can acknowledge what makes us different while working together to improve conditions for poor people, regardless of their colour.

We spotted that you raffled one of your records for The Poor Peoples Campaign – can you tell us more about your involvement in this movement?

Aaron: I learned about the Poor People’s Campaign last year, and it verbalised so many things I’d been feeling. It’s a non-partisan movement created by Martin Luther King Jr. that revolves around uniting people across racial lines to address issues of economic, racial and environmental inequality. I’ve been trying to organise shows and fundraisers like this to raise money for the organisation because I believe this movement could be the source of hope and positivity so many people are searching for.

Follow Durand Jones and the Indications on: Twitter // Facebook  // Instagram

Words and photos: Elizabeth Andrade (@LizzyyEA)

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Ten Fé // Interview

Interviews, Uncategorized
Ten Fe; Press Shot; Abi Raymaker

Ten Fé; Photographer: Abi Raymaker

The thing with ‘new music’ is that there’s always ‘another’ band to discover (surprisingly) but like everything fresh, a new song begins with a wave of excitement, the thing is, you can often end up spiralling off from one artist to the next like a Radio DJ (forgetting a few along the way), it’s only the exceptional that stand testament to this, consistently nailing both that ‘excitement’ and ‘freshness’ with every listen – for us, over the past year now, Ten Fé have been that constant force. They play an unmissable homecoming show at Camden’s Dingwalls in less than a week (Thursday 23rd Nov).

Ahead of next weeks show we were keen to chat them on a personal level, discussing everything from living up to their namesake ‘to have faith’ (as it translates from Spanish), to conquering America this summer and capping off their manic year by recording their second album in depths of winter in (one hour of daylight) Norway next month. They stand true to themselves and are content from standing devoid from ‘coolness’ and ‘scenes’. These are romantics at heart, but in head, real, deep and inclusive – once you’re into Ten Fé, you’re in for good! 

We have an inkling that we’ve caught you at a very exciting time – not only have you just released a new song: ‘Single, No Return’ but ultimately, a teaser to your second album. To be honest, there is such an infectious buzz surrounding you at the minute, we’re literally counting the days until your London show next Thursday (23/11). Tell us more about recent events for you – what have you been up to as of late, festival-wise this summer, any touring stories to share from your experiences of Europe and America?

Yes, good times on Planet Fé at the moment. These last few months, and the whole of the last year really has been wicked. Things feel like they’ve been building and falling into place for a wee while now, so we’re just cracking on. The US tho – being able to go there and find people are into what we’re doing was a mad mad trip. We’re all hopeless romantics, so starting off the first US tour in Manhattan, and playing our way across the country and reaching the Golden Gate at sunset for the final show, was heavy.

You said in the past that you have a lot of strong American music in your veins, and that America remains a romantic place for you? Do you think there’s any fear we might loose you (hopefully not, please God) to the States one day?

Ha, well you can only go where you’re loved … so if they want us over there it’d be rude to say no! America is just mad fun really; and yeah, course, on a deeper level it’s a romantic place for us; all those artists and places that are so clear in your imagination when you’re sitting in a bedroom in Birmingham or London. But going there this year, it’s allowed us to see that there’s a reality behind that too. You get a tangible feeling that there’s an attitude towards music and playing live which is different to here – in some ways it feels a lot more solid, less ‘flavour of the month’ than it is England, or London in particular. That definitely chimes with us, and we want more of it!

Would everyone in Ten Fé associate London as home now or is there a closer bond to the north of England – Birmingham, where a few of you were born and reared?

Ah, if you’re not from London in the first place, it’s always hard to call it home. So, I’m not sure. We couldn’t have been born anywhere else as a band, we clearly ended up here cos we were hungry for something other than Brum, and we’ve got a lot of love for London. But there’s something pretty Midlands about us no doubt. No one in this band tries to sh*t higher than their own arse, which is a Brummie way of saying, everyone’s got their feet on the ground.

I have to ask – you mentioned you busked in Dublin via Twitter recently and I was intrigued – can you share with us details? What’s your thoughts on their approach to music over there? I love the city myself (Rachael) and go back and forth to family a lot. Have any of you any Irish relatives, possibly even involved in music back home?

Glad you asked 🙂 yeah I (Leo) have a lot of family over there – my dad’s from Dublin … I used to live in there myself for a time. It’s a deep, deep city. Especially the music side of things – like I was taking about with the US – there’s a tradition of music, performance, song which is just under the surface. It’s not necessarily a ‘folk music’ thing, but it just seems to be there – everyone has a song to sing, a poem to say. My family are no different to everyone else’s in that regard I guess – once the guitar comes out, everyone gets involved.

It’s funny, it’s not as though your music can be pinned to a particular country, I wouldn’t necessary say your music is distinctly English, (or Irish as it stands) – is it something that you’re proud to say doesn’t shoehorn into a particular style, scene or modern wave?

Yep, I think you’re right. We don’t come from a scene or a sound that could be associated with a particular place; and we try to ignore the pressure to fit in to one. Because that’s an outside pressure – from press, peer pressure, or social media. As a band, you shouldn’t be worrying about what scene you fit into, or band you sound like. You should just be making music you like the sound of. And we do; so in that sense we’re proud of not fitting in. That’s where you’ve gotta have your faith, stick to your guns.

You recently supported the Music Venue Trust campaign, performing a set for them for part of their series of gigs at the Ultralounge, Selfridges – the cause felt something close to your heart, can you explain why?

There’s a lot of pressure these days to appear as the finished article when you’re starting out as a band. And I’d say we just think that’s not very helpful: you need time to develop playing live, and being a bit sh*t for a while, and find things out about how you want to sound. The more small venues close, the less bands are able to do that; and the more you get these one-off, stacked, industry ‘events’ / showcases – which aren’t good for the music. Just makes everything tense and spontaneity gets swept under the carpet.

But ultimately, we’re not into fighting the rising tide on a point of principle; if venues are getting shut down, so be it, that’s the way of the world and it’s up to bands to put on their own shows in venues they’ve found. As we did.

For those unfamiliar with your music and background, can you take us way back in the day, where playing bongo’s at a house party spiralled off into this brotherly bond and busking duo – how much have you overcome to get to where you are today?

Yes, it’s fair to say much ball-ache has flowed under the bridge since that fateful Night of the Bongo. I’m not sure ‘overcome’ would be the right word tho; we’re no martyrs – we love what we do. For a long time we were just having fun, busking around the place before we decided to do this band. Since then, the things that have taken time and effort are the things every band has to do – writing good songs, finding good people to play them with and the money to record them with; and finding the right people to manage you and work with you on your dream. Like I’m saying above, plenty of people think you can short-cut those things – us included – but you can’t, dammit.

Busking has been an important element to your band right from the start. Has performing in this way helped build confidence in both your delivery and style of playing? It takes a lot of guts to put yourself on a stage of your own making, would you say that this has encouraged you to pursue/realise the potential between you, Ben and Leo?

Busking is very intense. Certainly the way we do it: jumping on the trains, playing to everyone sardine-d in a rush hour, and running from the BTP, and all that (not the CARLING sponsored, sanitised buskers-corner nonsense, with amps, lighting rig, etc) – so yeah, it’s gonna have an effect on how we perform in general. You get a good sense on how to hold someone’s attention with a song, and how you have to be inclusive – and that is definitely something we have in our live shows. We hate the way some of these style bands act like they’re cooler than the audience.

Busking is brutal though, and we’ve definitely paid our dues on the District Line, not to miss it if we never did it again. We’d have formed the band with or without busking, it was always a way to make money first and foremost…pimp or die.

As a five piece now the live shows have taken on a new dimension – you seem to understand each other live really well, like you’ve always been together. How long have you known Johnny, Alex and Rob, and at what point did you decide to pool them into the band (willingly or under duress, haha)?

Well, if we’ve learnt anything its that you CANNOT form a band with an iron rod – believe us – we’ve tried! We’ve know everyone in the band a long long time – either directly or through other people. And when it’s your best mates you can’t bullsh*t them, or start twisting arms – think everyone can see is that the five of us together has something deep going on, and long may that continue.

When you think you have a decent song what’s the process you go through in deciding if it’s recording material? Who’s opinion do you value the most, as individuals, and collectively as a band?

We play everything we write to our managers, Russ and Clare (Some Kinda Love – give me some looove) are the best in the biz. They’re f**king amazing and we sound everything off them.

A sublime and timeless album hits that perfect chiaroscuro of light and dark, it’s all about the emotion created, how did you go about achieving this with ‘Hit The Light’ – would you say the choice of songs was consciously crafted to deliver this bittersweet pathos, tell us more?

Kind words indeed, thank you. I think that light and dark you’re talking about comes from the way Ben and I are as songwriters. We’re really quite different from each other; definitely not in the way that one of us is ‘light’, and the other is ‘dark’ … more that we compliment each other – so when he’s light, I’m darker, and vice verse – we naturally balance each other. That’s not a conscious thing at all though, and if we started to try and engineer that we’d be curtains.

The way both the band’s name and music captures a mood, a feeling, almost a guiding light for us listeners, ‘to have faith’ as it translates from Spanish – how do you keep this binding and driving faith as musicians?

Tough question! Not too sure, how does anyone keep their faith? By not questioning it I guess. Surrounding yourself by good people; “be nice, not cool” is another old Brummie aphorism that can’t really be argued with. A bowl of porridge every morning certainly helps.

Instead of attempting to categorise your music, because to be honest, who likes being put in a box, reminds me of that scene in The Mighty Boosh, (are you fans?) that conversation between Howard and Vince: “People are always trying to put people in boxes”. (Haha, miss that show big time!) Instead, let’s talk about what musicians you look up to in terms of their style of playing and songwriting?

Ha – yes – love that show! The Moon has provided much spiritual guidance over the years.

Around now, we’ve lot of time for War on Drugs; saw them at Ally pally a couple nights ago. F**king Amazing. Feels like he doesn’t give a sh*t about what people think – just does his own thing. Others, for the same reason: Kurt Vile, Kevin Morby, Khruangbin, Twin Peaks, Mac D, Delicate Steve, Courtney Barnett, Angel O, King Krule …

So your debut album was recorded in Berlin and you’re heading off to Norway for the second album – do you choose to purposely record abroad, (escapism from home and routine) or does it just happen to be where the best producers reside?

Yes we do purposefully escape. We’ve noticed that we’re not really into how things end up sounding when we’ve recorded them in London. We are buzzin to get over to Norway too – there’s an hour of daylight there in December, so we shouldn’t get too distracted by whats going on outside the studio. We’ve heard its £15 for a 1/2 a shandy over there too, so light relief may be at a premium. Can’t wait.

Do you feel at peace with who you are as people and artists, content and know exactly what you want to achieve at this stage in your careers, if so what do you think has helped this?

 Ooof, too big. Ask us when we come back from Norway.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given, and also, if you was to give any advice to musicians starting out, what would it be?

‘Stick to thy guns, lad’…and I’d say the same to any wide eyed and bushy tailed ones starting out.

Not long now until you headline Dingwalls, Camden, have you thought through the set-list and any covers that you might play – you recorded (and often encore with) a sublime cover of Born Slippy (Underworld) – is there another cover that you feel as passionate about sharing with your fans?

Ah, cheers – yeah we loved doing that Born Slippy 🙂 I reckon we’ll be up to a few tricks at Dingwalls, but which ones, I don’t know – we’ll be in the lap of the Gods by then.

And finally, any updates that you can give us on your (hotly anticipated) second album?

We’re rehearsing the new tunes every night in bunker below Oxford Circus. They’re sounding goood: deep and upbeat.

Ten Fé headline Dingwalls,  Camden Thursday 23rd November // Tickets are available here – we’ll see you there!

In the meanwhile enjoy their debut album, ‘Hit The Light’ here (released Feb 2017) and their latest single, below.

Ten Fé  // Website // Twitter // Facebook

Words: RACHAEL CRABTREE (@ECCENTRIC_EEJIT)