An Interview With The LA Artist, JONEZEN On His Musical Background, Recording Music in Rehab and More!!
Posted On 28 Apr 2017
Meet the Detroit-born and LA-based artist, Jonezen. He creates an infectious brand of alternative hip-hop. Although he’s surely on his way, Jonezen’s road to the top has been far from easy. In early 2012 he checked into rehab after almost dying from alcoholism. This is where he pieced together his debut mixtape, Live From Rehab. His hard work and creativity earned him recognition in the 2013 and 2014 LA Music Awards as Hip Hop Artist and Solo Performer of the Year. Since then he’s opened for hip-hop superstars Bone Thugs N Harmony and even recorded with Gucci Mane.
Learn more about Jonezen in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for you and your music? How is 2017 treating you so far?
2016 was a big year for me. A lot changed. I left my label and management. Released an album I was really proud of “Beautiful Disaster”. Got new management. Put out a single “Day Job” in the summer that charted overseas and stayed on the charts for the better part of 6 months. I started writing new music that had this different sound and getting ready for 2017. 2016 was nuts. Lol. 2017 has been really dope so far. My new team is top notch, I’ve dropped some records and videos that have all done really well. I’m in the process of writing new music and getting ready for an EP in the fall, already planning the first project for 2018. Lot going on. All in all I’m having fun. Things are good.
Where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it?
I like this question! Original. You find me sitting at my desk. Half writing lyrics for a new song, half sending emails trying to re connect with some industry people and working to license my new song “Heaven for a Sinner”. And yes, absolutely music going on. My manager Kristin turned me onto the Mansionz yesterday. I’ve been listening to their new album non-stop.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Could you see yourself doing anything else today?
100%. When I was a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a musician or Michael Jordan. Literally. Those two things were it. I don’t remember my earliest music memory. I do remember buying my first two cassettes, head banging in my parents living room with my friends listening to Alice Cooper, and performing House of Pain’s Jump Around from the balcony of my apt as if I was doing a concert for the people in the parking lot. I love this shit man. It’s in my blood.
Can you talk about the decision to go by ‘Jonezen’ and not your own name, Chris? What does it mean to you?
Funny story. I was in rehab. I was on the phone with a friend of mine talking music and what I was going to do next (I had always been in a group, never a solo artist). So the group broke up, I’m in rehab, and everybody I know keeps doing the “Mike Jooooonneeessss” thing with my name. So I’m telling my friend about this and asking what I should call myself in this real joking manor. And he goes “why don’t you call yourself Jonezen. You know, because your last names Jones and you’re in rehab”. We laughed. I liked it. It stuck.
What do you think the music scene is like right now for up and coming artists and people just getting going? What advice could you give to them?
It’s the best time ever for artists, but also the hardest. There’s so much noise to cut through. That being said, there are a million tools at your disposal that you can use to get a leg up and stand out. My best advice is to focus on making music you love first. For you. Nobody else. Then worry about/learn about marketing and building a fan base. Study that shit. If you focus on building from the ground up, and creating something of value that can sustain itself (you know, a real business), you wont have to worry about labels and all that. And surprisingly enough, once you don’t need em, they’ll come calling.
What was it like putting the songs found on your debut release “Live From Rehab” in actual rehab? Why was this place such a creative and inspirational place for you at the time?
Man, it was so cool. Music has always been my release, my expression. I was going through so many changes my life was literally falling apart so I had to get it out. It’s not so much that rehab was a creative space, it’s just that my life was in turmoil. There were a ton of emotions associated with that. Rehab actually sucked for being creative. There’s people everywhere, your days are scheduled, there’s zero free time. It’s hard to get in the zone. I was just so focused though I made the time. I found a way. It’s funny, people to this day don’t believe the actual album was recorded in rehab. It was. 100%.
I’m curious to know how you think you have grown as a musician and how yours songs have changed since the height of your alcoholism? What did it all to your sound?
I think some things have stayed the same and some things have changed. When I was deep in it, especially towards the end, my shit was depressing. Before it got bad, a lot of the music I made with my group was fun, party music, some guitar stuff, some straight hip hop stuff, some real stuff. A nice mix. That’s what I think I have now. A mix of styles with a mix of content. I’ve grown up though. My view on the world has changed, my view on myself as a person has changed, the way I think about everything has changed. That has ultimately changed my creative process, content for the music, the way I approach subject matter and what inspires me. I think the music now is way more fine-tuned, way more thought and effort put into it, it’s more creative, it’s pushing limits. I like where I am at with it.
You have continued to be acknowledged in the music industry for your work. Which award that you have won in the past has meant the most to you so far? And what was it like winning your first award for your music?
I think the best award was my first award. I was fresh out of rehab and sober living and got nominated for Hip Hop Artist and Social Media Artist of the Year at the Los Angeles Music Awards. I was blown away. Even the nomination was just like this awesome moment when it just felt like “man all that shit was worth it”. To actually win was unreal. I had a lot of friends there with me, lots of support, lots of love. And when they called my name they all went nuts. It was a great feeling. I felt super accomplished, super proud of where I was in my life and my career. That was a great day.
How do you think that you are constantly pushing boundaries as an artist?
I think the easiest way to say it is that I’m always doing and making what I’m feeling and not trying to stay in one box or lane just because that’s what I’m “suppose” to do. I’m inspired by so many things and styles of music it’s impossible for me to just make one kind of music. I think that pushes the boundaries of what people think of as traditional hip hop and rap.
Do you have any upcoming plans to tour at all? Where can people see you perform live next?
No tour plans as of now. Shout out any agents that are looking to pick somebody up! I’ll be playing in L.A. a lot through the remainder of the year. Nothings booked yet, but I’m getting the ball rolling.
Who are some of your very favorite artists? What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
There’s so many. I’m pretty out of the box so there’s not many rappers on the list. I’d love to work with Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys or Adele. I’m super into the Mansionz right now. A track with them would be awesome. My top rappers would be Yelawolf, MGK, J Cole or Tech N9ne. I think my bucket list would be The Band Perry or Eric Clapton. I covered songs from each of them on Live From Rehab and it would be super dope to actually get in the studio and cut new versions of those records. Each of them means a lot to me.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
I hope the message is hope. Plain and simple. And that anything is possible. Change can happen. People can be whatever they want to be in the face of adversity. All that. I don’t rap about it in every song, but if you know my story, and where I’ve come from and what I’ve been through, the simple fact that I’m making music and doing my thing is proof of all those things. That’s what I hope people get. I hope they believe in themselves.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Nada. I love y’all. Thanks for the dope interview!