SJM editor Charlie Anderson caught up with Ezra Collective keys player Joe Armon-Jones after the release of his solo debut, Starting Today.
What do you get from playing music, as an experience, that you don’t get from doing anything else?
I get a feeling of connection to other people through improvised music that I don’t feel through any other medium in life. Being able to connect with somebody and communicate with them without using words is a very special thing.
How would you describe your music?
My music is music to enjoy. I need to enjoy making it and I want other people to enjoy listening to it. If you wanna dance then you can dance. If you want to sit at home with headphones and get deep that’s also cool.
What makes your solo project different to what you do with Ezra Collective?
The main difference I would say is that my solo project has a varying line up. I choose different musicians for different gigs, so the line ups are never quite the same.
Ezra Collective is 5 members that will always stay the same. I appreciate both of these methods when it comes to setting up a band. I appreciate the freedom and on the edge-of-my-seat nature of having different musicians on different gigs, as long as they’re musicians I trust, and it’s exciting for me to hear and perform the songs with different feeling each time. But I also enjoy the connection that I’ve built with the other members of Ezra, which wouldn’t have happened without years of playing in the same band together. So definitely appreciate both ways of going about it.
Starting Today: how did you go about composing the tracks and what inspired you?
Starting Today was all written at home in Hither Green. I took a month off gigs, said no to some stuff that I actually wanted to do, in order to stay at home and let the music happen without too much pressure. Ran out of money the next month tho 😉
Starting Today, the song, was written after hearing a Theo Parrish tune called Footwork. London’s Face I wrote with Oscar Jerome in my room. Almost Went Too Far I wrote in the living room when I was hanging out with Maxwell Owin, my housemate.
How do you choose who to collaborate with?
Collaborations seem to happen naturally in general. I only work with people I actually think are nice people, and can usually tell pretty quickly if somebody’s just trying to work with me to get a leg up in the music world, or if they actually want to collaborate and make something beautiful.
In terms of your daily routine, what do you feel you need to do to keep on top of things?
Daily routine is always different. I basically don’t have one, every day is mad different. Today I woke up in Switzerland and as I type this I’m on my way to Cologne on a tour bus, so it’s harder to have a routine in this environment. But I’m getting better at eating well and exercising more, cause if you forget to do that stuff tour life will just make you ill.
What was it like playing at Outlook & Dimensions festivals this year?
Outlook & Dimensions was incredible, had the most relaxing week I’ve had in a long, long time. And saw some wicked musicians play too. Shouts to Shy One and Tash LC both sets were incredible.
Is there anything that you enjoy doing that isn’t related to music?
Nah not really. Music seems to work its way into every corner of my life. Not mad about it tho.
Tell us about Tomorrow’s Warriors and the impact that it’s had on you.
Tomorrow’s Warriors is where I met most of the musicians that I play with today to be honest. Gary Crosby was very welcoming when I first started going to the sessions, and it’s a mad essential service for young musicians because it’s free of charge! Many of the musicians I know and love today owe their musical beginnings to Gary and Tomorrow’s Warriors.
Mr. Bongo Presents…Joe Armon-Jones
Thursday 4th October, 2018