Well, any fan of Howard Jones is a friend of mine… and that is sort of how JB and I first started chatting, connecting through a mutual MySpace friend. I was instantly hooked onto his music, a relevant electronic blend of musical styles from the 80s, 90s, and 00s, yet avoiding the rehash mania. Continuing to work in music over years, JB is currently recording an album. Taking the time to suss out our questions, we would like to thank JB for taking the time to Answer 5.
1. Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Musically I’m inspired by shed loads of people, and the list grows the older I get! I grew up listening to my Mum’s Beatles “Red” and “Blue” albums, John Barry stuff, then in 77 I remember freaking out to “Fanfare for the Common Man” by ELP [Emerson, Lake & Palmer]! I loved Jean Michel Jarre's work from 76 to 86, some Tangerine Dream and Mike Oldfield... then in the 80s, Numan, Depeche Mode, Genesis, Rush, Phil Collins, The Police, Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, Thompson Twins, Sting, Kate Bush, Yes, Pink Floyd, Thomas Dolby Paul Hardcastle even!... The list is on my page. 90s wise, started getting into things like BT, Chicane, Way Out West, Feeder, and Mansun. Non-musically a lot of people inspire me, actors such as Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson, lots of films too many to mention.
2. I am one of those gear-heads, always getting swept up in those arguments of what sounds better. So, out of curiosity, what is your preference, analogue or digital? Why?
Jeez, both work brilliantly together; however, if I were asked to make a track using either digital or analog, but not both, it would have to be analog.... Because I understand analog probably more and it’s easier to get the sort of sound I want more quickly!
3. There is a misconception out there that artists that create dance music are "frivolous," yet you have taken on some deep feelings and weighty topics, including Madeleine McCann. How would you respond to this kind of criticism about artists involved in dance music?
As with any style of music there’s good and there’s bad. Personally I think some dance music falls down lyrically. I’d rather hear instrumental tracks than tracks with vocals with poor lyrics.
I always try to think of something worth saying. “That Was Then...This Is Now” is about the Asian tsunami, “Sweetist” was inspired by my first daughter... “I Really Love You Now” was written for my second daughter. “Guardian Angel” is about a guardian angel trying to help someone out of a problem… “Walkaway,” the break up of a relationship, “Trivia” is about how some people believe their problems are so bad, yet when you look at the bigger picture of life they are tiny.
4. You mention on your blog that choosing "tracks for the album was a tricky old business..." Could you expand on the need of keeping consistent and varied at once?
This album took 4 years to write. I tried to bring out the strongest songs. Equally production quality had to be considered. “Loving You Forever” was a song written 2.5 years ago, I loved the song but the production was a bit weak, so I asked Chris Andrews to re-interpret and mix it... It’s sounding a lot better now. I might even try a rock version of that song again in the future.
5. You have been in the music industry for some time now, so from your point of view, how has the industry changed in recent years?
Oh massively. Its now easier for people like me to run a fan base and sell music on the Internet. I’ve reached out to more people in the time I’ve been on MySpace in places I could have only dreamt of once. The music industry has shrunk however. So many record companies have gone or merged. I’ve not bothered approaching record companies since 2000, and even then I noticed how key contacts seemed to disappear, jump ship or move on. A lot of this has to be because of illegal downloads. Record companies don’t make the money they used to, and so are even more reluctant to spend any money on unsigned artists than they were in the 80s/90s. You can argue both ways whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I guess the net result is that there are many artists making money like me selling their material as a sideline career, but fewer artists making a living out of it.
Keep up with JB at his MySpace.