Photo Courtesy of Autumn Jones
By Lily Doolin, WERS Blog Editor
Although live mixes here at 88.9 are indefinitely canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19, we’re not stopping Wicked Local Wednesday (WLW), our weekly program dedicated to bringing you music and interviews with artists in the Boston/New England area. Tune in at 9 pm every Wednesday night to hear two songs each by two local artists!
To learn more about the artists you hear on WLW, check out our WERS Music Blog for interviews with them! In this interview, Autumn Jones spoke to WERS Blog Editor Lily Doolin about the creation of her most recent single, "Théo," her development as an R&B artist, and advice for those doing music full-time, both in school and in their spare time.
Check out the at home concert Autumn Jones did exclusively for WERS here!
I wanted to start off by talking about the single you released this year, “Théo.” What was the inspiration and process behind that single?
Autumn Jones: I was about to go study abroad in Spain. My boyfriend and I of four years now were gonna be apart for the semester, and on one of our last nights we started jamming together because he’s also my guitarist, and we always jam. We started jamming and these words about him and about our experience together and about where we’ve come and how far we’ve come together just started pouring out of me. That was the first draft of Theo, and I felt so compelled to keep moving forward with it and I wanted to release it on Valentine’s Day.
Speaking of where you draw inspiration, where do you draw inspiration in general for the music you’ve been creating?
AJ: I came from a very musical family. The song [Théo] itself actually has an allusion at the end to a song by John Legend, and my father always played John Legend when I was younger, as well as other artists. I just grew up surrounded by that, and my parents gave me all of this music to listen to, and would play the piano in front of me and all this stuff. I started taking lessons, and it grew from there.
In reading your bio online, there’s this one line that describes your style as, “If Maya Angelou could sing.” I wanted to know if she was a sort of muse for you?
AJ: I definitely started reading at a very young age, always reading poems and little short stories, things that rhymed. Maya Angelou was one of those poets that I used to read all the time. I’m working on rekindling that relationship I had with her art and with her poetry. I feel like my lyricism is directly related to the lyrics that I’ve read and the music that I’ve listened to.
Would you consider your music to be your own form of poetry, or do you see it more as a form of storytelling? How would you describe your songwriting and your process behind it?
AJ: Oh, one hundred percent. I feel like my writing has always been a bit of therapy for me. First, I was a writer, and then I started to write songs. I like to combine the storytelling aspect because I love writing and reading interesting stories, especially stories that come together. As a songwriter, that’s my job. I really am passionate about creating a story successfully and having it come out the way I want.
I know this is a totally crazy time, but are you working on a current project right now?
AJ: So, I am definitely working on a project, it’s not necessarily a cohesive piece. It’s just kind of pieces of this story that are coming together. My plan promotion-wise is to try and find an outlet or a company or even a group of people who are able to help me promote my music so that it can reach the ears that I’d like it to reach.
Right now, I’m kind of a DIY independent musician, so I’ve been putting out music on my own – except “Confident,” “Night Prowlers,” and “Neapolitan,” those were released through this independent label that signed me in Spain, but that was just a year-long commitment, Now, I’m kind of focusing on music for me and a project for me, but before I decide to do something with it – instead of just releasing things as they come through – I’m trying to make it more cohesive and make it more of a project. So yes, there’s definitely something in the works.
That’s so interesting that you had a record deal in Spain. You’re also from New Jersey, you’ve been doing stuff here in Boston… does location and where you are writing and working influence your songwriting at all?
AJ: Yeah, it definitely does. I actually just made the big move back to New Jersey this week, so I’m mostly in New Jersey at the moment. Not necessarily the location, but the environment itself. I really like warmth. I just have to be very comfortable, especially with the people in the room. Just in the right mindset really, it’s just about setting up the environment myself, or with the help of others.
To make a move through all of this craziness… I can only imagine how tough that must be. I wanted to know what you were up to in regards to your music through all of the chaos.
AJ: It’s definitely influencing my writing. I’ve actually been writing a lot more and getting into rap and spoken word. The environments that I’ve been in… it was interesting during the first half of this, a few weeks ago when we started enforcing social distancing, I really was able to focus on me as an artist and the things that I like to do for myself. I changed my hair, I found new products that I liked, I did my makeup – and I never really do any of that (laughs). I was really involved in that.
This is my senior year at Berklee College of Music, so having to focus on this project and weekly rehearsal was not necessarily overwhelming, but I realized just how much I didn’t know where I was going with this music necessarily. I didn’t know who I was. And I feel like I’m getting a more solid idea of who I am and who I want to show to people.
What is it like for you, in general, being a musician and a student? If you could give any advice to someone in the same position as you, what would it be?
AJ: I’d say don’t forget to take a rest from music every so often. Obviously, as a musician, it’s your passion. I’m so passionate about music, but being at a school also for music and doing music basically full-time, a lot of people lose their passion for it and they start reconsidering maybe it’s not for them, and that’s a valid reconsideration, that’s a valid doubt to have, but I think if you take the time to find the things outside of music that you enjoy, you’ll find a healthy balance.
Due to widespread event cancellations, music makers are struggling. With media support from WERS, The Record Company has established a fund to provide financial relief to Boston area music makers due to COVID-19. To learn more about the fund and apply or donate, please visit therecordco.org/covid-19