Behind the Voice: Chris JonesAugust 17th, 2009
Being one of the few male singers out there on the trance scene makes him a rare gift. But there’s more to Chris Jones than ‘just’ a talented male singer. With his raw, rock-oriented voice, an infectious enthusiasm on stage and plenty of determination, Chris lacks the standard EDM has known for many years. Introduced to dance music through no one less than Roger Shah, Chris got a head start with ‘Going Wrong’, working with Armin van Buuren and Shah himself. Despite his never ending love for rock music, Chris did get a little crush on dance music. As a result of that new love-affair, he travelled the world performing with Armin on his ‘Imagine’ shows, whipping the thousands of trance fans into a frenzy. But that’s not all. ‘To The Sky’ is the brand new collaboration of Chris and Roger Shah, and created quite a buzz around trance-land already. Not at all near the end of his game, Chris is set to scorch along the EDM scene. Sit down and enjoy the ride, for we’re about to have a look behind the voice of Chris Jones.
Armada: When did you first started singing?
Chris: “I started to sing at an early age. You know the usual stuff: singing Karaoke on holiday and in the shower etc. When I was about 13/14, I started acting in plays at school. Some plays involved singing but I didn’t really take it that serious, it was just something I enjoyed doing. It was not until I left school that I started to think maybe I could make a living at acting. Well, I would give it a go and see what happens.”
Armada: When and how did you notice there was more than just a good ring to it?
Chris: “I was concentrating more on acting than singing. Every time we did a play that involved singing it surprised me how many people came up to me and said that I had a good voice. It wasn’t something I had even considered before.”
Armada: Did you ever take singing lessons?
Chris: “When I was with the band I used to sing rock songs for 45 min’s to an hour and you need to know a few tricks of trade to enable you to do that night after night. So I went to see the true genius that is Stevie Lange. She is based in London and has worked with many big and aspiring rock singers. What she taught me was priceless, I will always be grateful and as soon as I get on the road in a big way she will be the first person I call.”
Armada: Could you tell us a bit about projects outside EDM you’ve done so far? You started off with a band in school?
Chris: “When I was 17 I got together with a bunch of school mates ,we had a idea to form a band because everyone seemed to be doing it at that time. We started playing in our bedrooms or any other spaces we could find. We loved it and practiced as often as we could. After 6 months or so we thought we were ready for our first gig,from memory I think it was in a tent in Crosby Village in Liverpool. No one watched or listened, but it was a start and we were hooked. We gradually got better and got booked all over the UK. It was a great time in my life and it taught me so much. But as with most things situations and circumstances change and we called it a day in 2006. We are all still mates and always will be.”
Armada: How did you end up in EDM? Was it all thanks to Roger you got involved with it, or was there always something that attract you to the dance scene?
Chris: “To be totally honest, it was down to Roger that I got involved with EDM. Everyone knows how Roger contacted me on MySpace and how ‘Going Wrong’ was born. I had always been into rock music and I hardly ever listened to any other genres. I do remember my older brother forever playing dance music. He was into Oakenfold and was never away from Cream in Liverpool, so I have always been around dance music. But I guess that at the time I was too young to take it all in.
But one thing is for sure, since I have been working with Armin and Roger I have learned to love the trance scene and it is amazing to think that I may never have stumbled across all the fantastic talents and great friends involved in trace had it not been for that chance encounter with Roger.”
Armada: Do you take it as a challenge to incorporate rock with dance music?
Chris: “Yes I do. It didn’t come easy at first and it was a great challenge to try to fit my style and structure to a trance track, but to be honest I have been helped by the best and with their help I am now beginning to understand more about this great genre. And the more I understand the easier I find it to write.”
Armada: Especially in EDM, there’s not a lot of male vocals. Do you think that’s a shame, or do you prefer your status as a rare gift in the EDM scene?
Chris: “I would love to hear more male vocalists in trance music but the other side of the coin is that I am also very lucky to be in a small group of male vocalists. It certainly gets me noticed.”
Armada: You’ve been doing projects with Armin van Buuren and DJ Shah. What’s it like to work with them?
Chris: “It has been a great honour for me to work with Armin and Roger. I mentioned before just how much I have learned from them both. They are such great talents. But most of all they are great blokes and we’ll be friends for life. It has been a blessing to meet and work with them both.”
Armada: How do you look back to the Imagine tour?
Chris: “Without doubt it is the highlight of my life so far. Each show was amazing and they just seemed to keep getting better and better. The first show in Utrecht was unbelievable, it was my first time in front of so many people. It also taught me a very valuable lesson that will live with me forever. What also surprised me is that each show is so different. What with the crazy fanatical crowds and the energy that the trance followers show is just unreal. There is nothing like it anywhere. Thank you Armin for making it all possible.”
Armada: Do you always write your own stuff? Is there anything in particular you get your inspiration from?
Chris:”I would say that I write my own stuff about 90% of the time. I like to write about life experiences and the way I am feeling at that particular moment in time. The more I travel and the more I see, the more fuel I have for my witting. I also like to co-write as often as possible. Sometimes 2 heads are better than 1. Most of the really great songs have been co-writes, and I would love to meet that special person with whom I jell lyrically and emotionally…if you are out there please give me a call.”
Armada: A lot of people commented on your voice as a bit too ‘rocky’ or ‘screaming’ for dance music. How would you react to those kind of comments?
Chris: “This is a tough one. EDM is a genre that I am just entering so I suppose I need to bow to tradition and understand why some people say and feel the way they do.
I also think that people are used to hearing sweet sounding female vocals and my screaming comes as a bit of a shock some times, but ‘Going Wrong’ is well received all around the world and the crowd seem to love it and join in wherever I go, so I must be doing something right.
There will always be people that don’t like my vocals and jump at the chance to criticize whenever possible but as long as there are people that love them then that is fine with me. I don’t read the forums that much but when I do there are a few chaps that are quite bitter..this is to you…I would like to meet you down a dark alley sometime to get a few things straight.(joke)”
Armada: What makes a vocal a good vocal in your eyes?
Chris: “I love to hear the emotion in a song. If it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end then that’s as good as it gets. I also like originality in a voice, something that makes it stand out as being from that person and no one else.”
Armada: Got any vocal heroes yourself?
Chris: “Too many to mention but I will name a few. Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, neither of them are what you could call a fantastic singers but both a very distinctive and one offs, the sort of voices that make music worth listening to. I also love the sound of Don Henley from the Eagles. His songs are filled with emotion and are so well written. The master of the rock song in my eyes is Jim Morrison from the Doors. Man, could that guy belt out a tune.”
Armada: Still dreaming of any special collabs?
Chris: “It is a bit optimistic, I know, but my ideal collab would be with Don Henley. That would be a dream come true. On the EDM side, I am more than happy working with the people that I am at the moment. Things are going great so no need for change. I would love to do a big Trance duet ,that could be really cool. I did a show last year in Malta,Maxi Jazz was headlining and we got to hang out and chat for a while. He is a cool guy and I loved his style, so it would be great to do something with him in the future.”
Armada: ‘To The Sky’ is coming up for a release. Could you tell us a bit about it?
Chris:”‘To The Sky’ means a lot to me lyrically. I wrote it about my girlfriend and a time in her life about 2 years ago when she lost both her grandparents within a short period of time. She was very close to them and the song tells how she feels since they passed away and the fact that she can still feel them, even though they are no longer there. I try to sing the song with emotion and I hope you can understand why ,now that you know what the song is about.”
Armada: Is there anything else you’ll be working on this year?
Chris: “I am currently working on a very big Rock/pop project that is nearing completion, but at the moment I can’t say too much about it. But I feel sure you will hear more in the near future.
I am also working with Armin, Eller and Benno on new stuff and there will be another single with Roger to follow ‘To The Sky’. Plus me and my very good friend Eller get together every few months to make some gritty but pleasant rock sounds. We work well and have a laugh at the same time. I feel sure that we can produce some magic together, I’ll keep you updated.”
More info on Chris Jones, check his MySpace.