Imagine if your inaugural visit to America was spent in Austin, Texas for their hectic annual music festival, South by Southwest. This very circumstance was the case for s London songstress JONES—née Cherie Jones—who unpacked her luggage on U.S. soil for the first time only a few days before this interview.
The soft-spoken chanteuse repping East London had her handful of SXSW shows within the different day and nighttime venues, wooing presumably newer listeners with her entrancing vocals from her Indulge EP. But when she wasn’t standing center stage, she was soaking it all in. Before dipping out for New York, JONES chatted it up at VIBE‘s lounge at the Bud Light Factory about the fun in people watching, food babies and what to expect from her in the future.
VIBE: Alright, now, you can tell me all the fun you’ve been having down here at South-By. What’s been going on?
JONES: Oh, God, it’s been a type of a blur. I got down here on Tuesday, and yeah, had a few shows, and had some barbecue food, which is good, and I played show with another English band called Honne last night, that lasted ’til 2:30 [a.m.] so it was good. And a couple of shoots and shows today, so it’s been really busy but really great to like, come over to America and kind of connect to people over here.
Is this your first time for you? In Texas or America?
First time in America!
Yeah! I’ve always wanted to come, and it’s been rally interesting.
It’s a good place. This is my first time in Austin, in Texas at all, so this is a first for me as well, but, you definitely have to make your way up to New York.
Oh, we’re going, after this! Yeah, we’re going tomorrow!
Oh, so you’re out! So, this segment that we’re doing is called “Take Five,” and you’ve mentioned that you’ve had a lot of shows, like how many overall?
Yes, um, I think five. About five? Or six, if you count yesterday. I think.
Have you felt like, very overwhelmed, or have you had the time to, like, chill out an explore Austin, explore South-By?
Um, I…yesterday I got to walk around a bit and try some of the food which is what I was really excited to do. But it’s just really exciting, there’s so much going on, there’s good music, like, good energy, so it’s been good.
Who are some of the people that you were excited to see?
Uh, I wanted to see Charli XCX, who I saw, that was cool. And I saw another British singer called (TK??), that was good, uhhhh Kaycee Hill, and then Honne yesterday.
Give me the last five songs you might have played on your iTunes or your iPod.
Um, Coldplay, Little Dragon, Pinky Lee, Tame Impala and Rihanna!
The ANTI album? What did you think of the album, did you have a favorite song?
I like it! My favorite song is ‘Never Ending.’
What do you like about that one?
It’s guitar-picking, it’s quite different from what she’s done. Yeah, I like it!
So, tell us a little bit about the kind of music that you make, and what we can expect from you in the future.
Well, I’m from London, my music is kind of like modern soul, I grew up listening to classics like Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross, Bob Marley and Michael Jackson, just like classic song-writing, so that’s definitely shaped the way that I sing and the way that I write songs. So yeah, it’s just kind of soulful singing, singing about love, life and yeah, just kind of in a fresh sound.
What do you think the people at South-By will take away from your performances? Even in America, because here it’s very up-beat, a lot of rock, a lot of hip-hop, a lot of so-and-so, so like, calming down is a different aspect.
Yeah, I’m quite calm, and my songs are quite laid back, but thankfully I seem to be really connecting with the audiences and taking them on an original journey in my own way. I just have to make a good impression and get them thinking about the songs.
When you’re not on as JONES, when you’re not on as a performer, what do you like to do in your downtime, in your spare time?
I mean, I grew up as an only child, so I like to kind of walk around and watching people. It’s very interesting. I like to read, I’m very into Buddhism, spirituality, so I like to read stuff about that. Um, yeah, and I like to spend a lot of time on my own, in my own thoughts. I’m always thinking about songs and lyrics, so I always get ideas popping up.
Who are some of the most interesting people you’ve seen down here at South-By, in terms of, people-watching?
I’ve seen some amazing outfits from different artists! Some people are so creative, so as soon as you see them, you know that they are branding themselves, and they are establishing their own identity. I didn’t get to speak to them, but they definitely made a visual impact. So, that’s something good. Actually, that was a Danish artist called Kill J, who had some really cool stage wear. So that’s been the most interesting, because it pulls your eye straight away.
And the most important question, what’s the best food that you have had, specifically at restaurant or the kind of food that you’d had while down here?
Yes, I went to Stubb’s [BBQ] yesterday. Oh my God. Food coma! It was so good. I had chicken and ribs and it was good. Very good.
I think we’re all gonna leave with food babies.
Yeah, I’ve been trying to hold off, but now I’ve started, I gotta indulge in it a little bit.