Racquel Jones,
The TVD Interview

Who is Racquel Jones?  To some, she’s an amazing musician and vocalist.  For others, she’s an inspired artist and painter. However, after peeling back the onion a bit, I found Racquel Jones to be quite simply extraordinary. 

Born and raised in Jamaica, Jones has broken molds and shattered ceilings as a rising star. She is fearless, focused, and unapologetic in her desire to crush pre-existing stereotypes with a quest to be treated equally as a woman in the arts—and to create on her own terms. 

What were your first impressions of music as a child?

I could not make sense of music as a kid, and it is still hard to articulate it now.  I just know that it did something inside of me, it moved me. I liked it and wanted more of that feeling. I also wanted to create that feeling for others incorporating into it the sounds I love.

Do you recall the first time you performed on a stage?

My introduction to performing was in church, but I don’t remember the first time because I was so young.  Outside of that, I do recall performing at about eight or nine at school. My teacher discovered that I knew how to play the recorder—nerd alert—that I taught myself to play. She decided to enter me into the JCDC Music Competition in Jamaica. I made it through three rounds—and got a bronze medal—but apparently was too young at the time to advance in the categories that would allow me to compete nationally. I remember that feeling. I remember the audience. I remember the judges. It was incredible.

Who would you consider your greatest overall influence on the person you are today?

I find that question to be very strange for us as human beings because it leads to compartmentalizing and prioritizing one influence over another. I feel as if everything that I have encountered in life, every person and every experience, has influenced me. I cannot pick them apart to compare and definitively say which had influenced me more. Like I said, everything I hear, everything I see, everything I think of—good or bad—has impacted me in some way. I just know that I’m open to everything and the learning that I encounter along the way.

What are some the challenges that women in the arts currently face?

I don’t know if this is me downplaying myself or not, but my fight is literally to occupy my own space along with being free to be myself. I don’t know if that equates to me being strong or revolutionary. I just know that’s my fight and it’s probably relatable to a lot of women. The challenges for men are the same challenges we have as women in everyday society, except that they are more heightened for women.

At the end of the day, we’re literally just screaming, “Give me the space to fucking create. To be paid like guys are paid and to be me without these imposed misogynistic unrealistic standards brought up by men. Why can’t I have freedom to be me?” That’s literally the fight.

How have you been able to personally overcome them?

It is a day-to-day thing. Some days I’m more armored up mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to deal with it. Other days, I’m just like, “Hey man, all I’m trying to do is to be creative and to be me.” It’s tough. I feel as woman in the industry, we’re constantly screaming above the noise to be heard. Then that is misconstrued as us being aggressive or being divas, and we’re labeled as hard to work with when the fact is that we have been saying it diplomatically for years. Unfortunately, people just aren’t listening. But again, it varies by day. But one thing is for sure, I am going to be me.

What began your relationship with Thievery Corporation?

I was in the studio doing a demo. The studio has a villa, and Eric Hilton and his fiancé at the time, now wife, were there on vacation. During a tour of the studio, Eric had a chance to catch me recording and walked away loving my sound. He reached out to my manager wanting to collaborate on a few projects he had at the time and the rest is history. That sound became the lead single off their album, The Temple of I & I.

Your latest album, IgnoRANT dropped on April 23.  Give us the background on what turned out to be a fantastic album.

I’ve always wanted to create an album where half of it was music, and the other half was visual arts exploring the same ideas. Circumstances were never ideal until I began working with Magnetic Moon and their amazing team which allowed me to create with really dope people. It all materialized in the middle of touring with an immediate urgency to start recording. My initial thoughts were, “Okay, this is going to be my first album. What is it that I want to say? What is it that I’m feeling? What’s really important to start this whole thing off?”

I can recall being on a plane and scribbling down notes about what I wanted to say. Writing down things that I was feeling at the time was important to me, but I knew from the onset that I wanted the album to address stereotypes.  I reflected about stereotypes that I face, ones we face collectively as human beings, and some I grew up seeing. What is the common denominator between everything here?

Exploring it further, I felt like ignorance was the thing that was common to all of us. I thought about how much we say as victims or villains without any real conversation while everybody’s screaming about what their own plight is. We all come from the premise of ignorance. If we just stop the screaming and speak to listen and speak to hear, we’ll figure out that there’s a lot we don’t know about the other side. That’s how it all came about. And circling back to my initial notes on that plane, they ultimately became the titles of the songs on my album.

What’s your favorite single off the album?

It really varies. My favorite is “Manic,” but then I have days when I’m in my turnout mood and I like “Arrogant.” Then there are days when I’m addressing my pain and dealing with my heartbreaks or my hurt for whatever reason and so it’s “Hurt.” Then there’s days when I just fuck with the beat of “Sacrilege” hard and just keep listening to it on repeat.

Any plans to tour now that things are starting to open up?

For sure. I’m also doing an exhibition because the world needs to see the art that goes along with the record. I want them to visually see what was going on in my head when I was writing IgnoRANT. But in terms of touring, just like I waited to do my record, I want it to be under the right circumstances. I don’t believe in shortchanging when I’m giving. I want to give it all and I want to give it correctly and intentionally, so I want to wait for the right circumstances. At the end of the day, I cannot wait to be standing in front of an audience performing these songs and exchanging with the crowd on a personal level.

Are you a fan of vinyl?

Oh yeah. I’m old school like that and very much into vintage albums. I grew up in Jamaica and don’t know if you know, but the sound system is a big part of the culture of music in Jamaica. It’s all vinyl.

Are you a collector?

I started to at one point, but I moved around so much that others were always taking my stuff.  My collection is paused for now, but certainly I’ll get back into it when I’m more settled.

For you does old-school vinyl sound different than music released in digital formats?

For sure. My favorite party in Jamaica is called Dub Club. It’s a party where they play dub music, really good reggae music, and it’s all on vinyl. There is nothing like the sound of old vinyl.

Describe Jamaica in one word?

Aggressive.

If you could take the stage for one song with any musician, past or present, who would it be?

Bob Marley.

Do you have any charities or causes that are near and dear to your heart?

Mental health.

Ska music or reggae?

Reggae.

Your biggest musical influences?

Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley.

Favorite venue to perform worldwide?

Red Rocks.

What currently pisses you off?

Being lied to or being talked down to.

What brings an immediate smile to your face?

Babies, art, music.

IgnoRANT, the debut full-length release from Racquel Jones is in stores now.

Racquel Jones Official | Facebook | Instagram

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