An Interview With the Promising and Inspiring Singer-Songwriter, JO STONES On His Very Bright Future!
Posted On 29 Jul 2015
Tag: Alison Krauss, All Access, All Access Music Group, American Idol, Anthony Gonzales, Artist Interview, Eggshells, iTunes, Jo Jo Walsh, Jo Stones, M83, New Jersey, Off My Mind, Philadelphia, Say Don't Go, Shades Of Grey, Songbird Competition, The Letter, Thom Yorke, Tracy Chapman, Under The Influence, Westminister Choir College, While You Can, YouTube
With a unique soulful tone and down to earth vocal stylings, singer-songwriter, Jo Stones is the real deal!
He was classically trained at the Westminster Choir College and has performed with top-class and critically acclaimed choirs, orchestras, and conductors. In the early summer of 2014 his single “The Letter” was released on iTunes with word that Jo was working with multiple producers in the Philadelphia area preparing for another project set to be released in 2015.
He is currently in the recording process working on an EP which will include original songs such as “Eggshells” and “Say Don’t Go” which at this time can be seen on Jo’s Youtube page.
For more information on Jo Stones, check out the following All Access interview:
What’s a typical day like for you lately? How often do you spend working on your music?
At this point, I like to have a checklist of what I have to get done written out the night before. In the morning I make my coffee and sit at the piano and just fool around with whatever music comes to me. The mornings are the most creative time of day for me, and I usually wind up with a tune that I just enjoy playing that I’ll come back to throughout the day. In between that, I try my best to meet any of the ‘plans’ for that day. If I do just one thing that I wanted to get done then I consider that day a success.
Growing up, was music always a big part of your life? Has your family always been supportive of this passion?
Music has always been a constant in my life. I was lucky to grow up in a household that never tried to stop me from expressing myself, except at the dinner table of course. That was the only time my family could get me to shut up (most days) in regards to singing. My mother has always been my number one fan and still is, even more-so than when I was a kid. She always pushed me to pursue music and singing, she bought all of my pianos through the years and was so thrilled when I chose to attend Westminster Choir College for singing.
Do you think music and creating music has helped you and your new-found sobriety? How do you think being sober has changed the way you create music or ultimately think about music?
Getting my second D.U.I. and hitting rock bottom was the driving force behind putting this album together. At the same time, I realized my alcoholism was the only thing keeping me from taking my performing and songwriting career serious enough to even consider it a career instead of a hobby. Music is the web that holds it all together for me, it is my sanity in this new chapter of my life.
There’s been a huge change in not only the vibe of my music but in the intention behind each song. I find that the subject matter comes second to the main message behind my songs, which is that no matter the situation, find the beauty, look outside of the ‘pressure’ of the moment to see the lessons and growth that comes out of any experience. One of the lyrics from my song “While You Can” is “nothing is defeating, play the game of life as if no one is competing” and I think that’s an example of that message.
You have mentioned that you hope your debut album, “Under The Influence” gives a message of strength. What songs do you think are particularly hopeful? Essentially, how do you think your album gives off this message?
I find both joy and strength in knowing that every single moment, situation, and experience in this life is a lesson to be learned. Sometimes it takes longer to learn that lesson and this is when we see patterns of repetition, the same drama with a different face. The strength comes from just accepting, acknowledging, and moving on or letting go, which is the main theme throughout the album.
The song “Shades of Grey” (not to be confused with those naughty novels) tells the story of a woman close to her 90’s who’s eyesight had deteriorated to the point where she was only able to see shadows and vague shades of light. What inspired me to write the song, however, was the brightest and most genuine smile and the sense of positivity that she radiated. She wasn’t sulking in her situation. She accepted it and because of that was able to embrace the joy and love that surrounded her. She found beauty in the chaos.
What songs are you most proud of on “Under The Influence”?
I’m always so excited when I play the first song from my album “Off My Mind”. I think it takes the listener down many different avenues and the same goes for the last song “Say Don’t Go”. Both are the longest songs on the album as well. They’re basically the bookends of the album, giving you a taste of who I am, a bit of my attitude, a bit of my love – especially for the piano, and a huge chunk of my soul.
Tell me about the Songbird Competition that you were in. What was that experience like for you?
Songbird is an American Idol styled singing competition in Philly’s gayborhood. I won the first season of the competition and grew so much during that period not only in my confidence, but in my willingness to take risks and giving my all even when I knew I was going to forget the words (which I did often) which gave me a chance to work on my improvisational skills. It was a chance to find my own stage presence without the security of sitting at a piano. I went into the competition a long haired ‘Jo Jo Walsh’ and came out a buzzed ‘Jo Stones’.
How has being from New Jersey influenced your music?
I’m not sure if it’s influenced my music in any particular way, but living a train ride from both NYC and Philly definitely has its benefits. I grew up in a suburb with no real music scene, so most of my influence comes from my experiences from attending and playing open mics and shows in Jersey but mostly Philly.
What musicians have consistently inspired you and your music? Who would you love to work in the future? Who would be your dream duet partner?
Growing up and still to this day, I have always been so fond of Tracy Chapman. Even through the heavy traffic of fame she embodied a sense of stillness and stayed true to her art. Thom Yorke is another inspiration but more so musically and in his ability to be daring and trusting in his work, again without falling apart and losing sight of his passion. I’d Love to make an EP with Yorke and Anthony Gonzales from M83! That would be EPIC! As for duets, I’ve always loved Alison Krauss’ voice, I’d be honored to sing alongside her.
So far, what do you think has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
Admitting to myself that I was powerless in my addiction and taking the first steps towards recovery. It was the easiest thing to do- not being true to myself, but since I’ve been able to really dedicate myself to sobriety and become aware of the strength that we all possess, my life has become worth living.
Where do you see yourself in 10 or 20 years?
Honestly, I’m all about living in the present moment and I don’t see a use for worrying or planning for that far down the road. I’d love to be alive, happy, and pursuing some avenue of music with the intention of just expressing myself. I want to be honest, productive, and really truly alive.
What else would you like our readers to know about you or your music?
I believe strongly that we are all one, and that we are all in this together. Releasing this album is just one example of what can be accomplished when you go with the flow of life instead of against it. Live, Love, Laugh.