LA Jones is an eight piece powerhouse ensemble out of Kansas City whose music has energy and soul to spare. Blending horns, keyboards and guitars with the take-no-prisoners vocals of singer Danielle Jones, LA Jones cites influences as far-reaching as Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga and Huey Lewis and the News. In other words, they are a party band to be reckoned with. We are happy to share an interview with Danielle Jones about her band, their newest single "Behind the Times" and what's ahead for them.
How did the members of LA Jones come together? Does everyone live in the KC area?
So the band unofficially started in 2016 when Tim and I decided to start a duo with me singing and him playing guitar. We had just moved in together after Tim’s graduation and, at the time, the project didn’t have a name and we weren’t playing any gigs. The only thing we knew was that all of the music we were writing felt bigger than a duo act. Early 2018 was when it all started to come together. We were working on our first single, Switch, and we got in touch with some friends from school to come help us record the track. After that, we picked up our first two gigs and we decided that we would officially go forward as a band rather than a duo. Fast forward to today, and we now have a lineup featuring a mixture of people we knew from Kansas State (our trumpet player, Daniel and our keys player, Marcus), some guys we met in the UMKC music scene (our drummer, Cade and our trombonist, Trevor), and some more guys we met through the awesome KC music network (our bassist Jeramy, and our sax player, Matt). Ultimately, everyone in the band kind of knew each other (you know, six degrees of separation and all that) - again, it cannot be stated enough how awesome the music scene here in Kansas City is! Thankfully, everyone lives in the city now. There are a ton of us in the band, but we love it - it’s the sound we envisioned!
Talk about the recording and release of your first EP Bring Me Back Down. What were some of the challenges of putting this collection of songs together?
I think a lot of the challenges with this EP just came from it being so new to us. For some of us, it was the first time in a professional recording studio. Then the first time releasing a single, the first time ordering and selling merchandise, the first time designing a CD cover, the first time editing recordings, etc. But artistically, I don't think we faced too many challenges. We had a good idea of how we wanted it to turn out from the beginning, and we were able to more or less achieve exactly our vision. We are constantly coming up with new music, so if anything, the challenge comes in keeping the recordings up to date with our ideas!
How does songwriting work in LA Jones? Who brings what to the table?
Generally, the songwriting process starts with Tim and I. Usually, we will come up with a phrase or melody that we like and bring it the rest of the guys in the band and see where it goes. Bring Me Back Down was written entirely like this. It can be tough writing with 8 talented musicians, but we totally believe that everyone in the band has something valuable to bring to the writing process. In fact, our newest song (coming out September 4th) was actually one of the first songs that we wrote entirely together as a group. We had different members come up with different ideas (for example, our piano player Marcus wrote the bridge for the song) and we put them all together at practice. It was a new experience for us, but the song really reflects the different ideas presented by the different members of the band.
What’s the story behind your band’s name?
We had spent quite a bit of time brainstorming names, making lists, trying to come up with something that was catchy, memorable, and sounded like it represented the vibe that we wanted. However, nothing on our list really stood out. It wasn’t until we started playing off my name, Danielle Jones, that we finally found it. My name by itself was too straightforward so we tried messing with it a little bit. We tried different variations like “Dani Jones”, “D-Jones”, and “Elle Jones”. On that last one, Tim said, "It sounds like you're saying “The Jones” in Spanish, like “El Jones”. I responded with, "Yeah, but I'm female, so it'd be “La Jones”!" At that point, we both just looked at each other, said "LA Jones" out loud, and knew it was just right. The best part was that when I finally told my family the name we had picked, my dad tells us that LA Jones was actually my great-grandfather's name! I had no idea because everyone called him PawPaw! But that absolutely sealed the deal for us.
What’s the band currently working on?
We recently released a new single "Behind the Times" on all streaming services and platforms. We have a new single coming out in November, and we are working on an original Christmas song to be released around the holidays! Lastly, for early 2020, we have a top secret collaboration planned with another awesome Kansas City musician. We won’t reveal anything yet, but it’s going to be sweet!
LA Jones's recommendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
The Odyssey by Homer
The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
Holes by Louis Sachar
Robinson Caruso by Daniel Defoe
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Tao Te Ching by Laozi
Edgar Allan Poe Collection by Edgar Allan Poe