These days, when it comes to music, I tend to be late to the party, so I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I only discovered Siôn Russell Jones a few months ago. I was I was lucky enough to see the incredibly talented Welsh singer-songwriter play live on three separate occasions in the space of a week, when he supported the Oklahoma trio Hanson during the UK stretch of their world tour. I had no idea of who he was – only that Hanson had initially picked a Welsh artist for their Cardiff show, but by the time the tour had started in Glasgow (where another support act had been booked) the brothers had decided to invite SRJ along for all the remaining dates. Hanson chose well – within minutes of his set, the crowd was clapping along and dancing to the infectious choruses of tunes like ‘Best of Me’, ‘Mandy’ and ‘So Long’.
It doesn’t happen very often to leave the concert of one of your favourite bands singing along the tunes of their support act. But that’s exactly what happened to me, and as soon as I arrived back home from a week of Hanson shows, I went straight to iTunes and downloaded all of SRJ’s work. Fast forward a few months, during which I managed to see him play another couple of smaller but equally brilliant gigs – and I’m still listening to SRJ’s poetically titled new album, ‘Lost No More’ – which I reviewed here.
So, the next logical step was to ask this talented emerging artist for a short interview on Multimediamouth and I’m glad to report that Siôn kindly accepted to spend a few minutes answering our questions.
Let’s get this question out of the way before anything else. Did you expect to gain so many new fans through supporting Hanson last December? I’ve yet to come across a Hanson fan who was at those shows and who didn’t think you were absolutely brilliant.
I was really pleasantly surprised to gain such positive feedback from from the good folks at the Hanson shows. From the very first concert in the Ritz venue in Manchester I was getting countless tweets and my online presence definitely felt as if it was growing. Since the tour, I genuinely felt as if I’ve gained some very loyal, life-long followers which I consider to be a priceless asset and I’m very grateful for such a wonderful performance opportunity.
Your music sounds nothing like other popular singer-songwriters at the moment – your sound has a very timeless quality to it, rather than the usual nods to what it’s fashion right now. Do you ever feel any pressure to conform, to tailor your product (so to speak) to specific audiences, or to be radio friendly?
I’ve always written music and performed it for my own enjoyment. It was never designed with the sole intention to please others but saying that I’m hugely grateful that people do enjoy listening to my music and I’m honoured that it brings enjoyment to others as well. Because of this, I’ve never felt as though I need to change my sound. Its the best way to approach it because it removes any pressure. Music should always be fun.
What are the difficulties and the challenges of being an independent musician at present times, when selling records is, by all accounts, very difficult?
Self promotion can be very tiring. Especially for me. Although I can be a showman onstage I’ve never felt the urge to broadcast my business to the world when I’m not performing. Some of my favourite musicians have an air of mystery about them. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have a tendency to expose people to readily and when the enigma or idea of a persona is removed because they are too easily available, a part of the excitement dies. I think its a balancing act between being just about prevalent enough, but not too easily available. For me this is the hardest aspect of the industry.
You mentioned in a recent interview that your grandfather was poet; and there’s a strong poetic element in your lyrics. Do you draw inspiration from poetry, or do you have a favourite poet who might have influenced you?
Yes absolutely, I’m strongly influenced by poetry. I think its so important to have well crafted lyrics as they can levitate a great melody into an incredible song. Charles Bukowski has had the largest impact on the shape of my words. I owe many of my best songs to him because of the ideas he inspired me to write down.
And on a similar note, what artists and types of music have influenced your present sound?
There are too many to name and they cross many genres. It’s more accurate to say that Metal, Rap, Pop and Folk have inspired me to write my songs. There are many artists in each genres that have shaped the way I write. I think its very important to listen to a very broad spectrum of music to attain a higher understanding of the art form.
Your new video – ‘Despite my Burdens’ features a Dachshund and masked wrestlers. It’s all a bit David Lynch. Who came up with the concept, and did you find any truth in the old adage ‘never work with children or animals’?
The Dachshund belongs to my lovely manager, Rhiannon and was surprisingly well behaved! The video concept was developed between myself and the filmmaker, a very nice chap called Alex at Burning Red film agency. The initial idea was a little more sordid but we calmed it down for the masses!
7) What do you do for fun when you’re not busy writing songs?
My favourite thing to do when I’m not performing or writing is going to visit my friends. I love the company and good conversation is priceless. I also love going out to watch other bands and artists perform. Reading, running, traveling and pretty much anything involving music is how I chose to spend my time here. I’m privileged that I’m able to do these things.
Thank you very much, Siôn, for taking the time to talk to Multimediamouth – we look forward to seeing you on stage soon!