Every now and then listeners are introduced to a musician who is devout and sincere in their music. Their unwavering dedication and open mindedness keep them trucking along with a spirit that is easily transferable. Evan Taylor Jones encapsulates this mindset completely. Whether it is simply making great music or sharing the love for it all, the man builds upon his eclectic appeal to no end in sight. This month, while in New York City for his Denim Heart Fall Tour at the Shrine and another stint at Pianos, he stopped by McCarren Park to unveil the tale of his musical world.
Simply put, the musician lives an inspiring and fundamental ethos. When asked how he does it, he wasted no time at all. “… My world man… There is only gonna be one thing that is universal, two things really, [and that is the] inevitable and universal ‘change’… I have been really getting to know more and more epiphanies in my own thing and developing my ear [for] my sound. Regardless of what happens, I take risk… I could get in a car accident or get burnt out from live shows. [However,] the music still has to come and I still have to write the songs… You just have to keep coming out with music. [In] this day and era right now, we have to be completely independent and innovative… That’s what I am finding out for myself; being independent, innovative and influential. Reach out, engage, every comment counts…”
Being an active musician in the ever expanding space, Evan has remained mindful of the drastic shifts in the industry…” The mindset of the people is in a very healthy place right now. At one point we were fumbling, because everything was becoming free… What do we do? Do we not go with the trend? Are we gonna go against it? How will we get people to listen? We are gonna get bombarded and tumble over with all of this free stuff and they get to listen to it while we are trying to make money… It’s healthy because we are becoming more hungry and creative in the way to market ourselves. The artist is no longer just a musician, he’s a businessman or she is a businesswoman. I think that’s a very healthy [thing]. As far as the industry, the kings and queens of Spotify are still the record labels, they wanted that to happen, they forced that… [Then again], when the people figure it out, it starts to change. Now, because of technology, we can learn everything from YouTube and we have endless amounts of educational opportunities… We are able to figure out and swing our way around the record labels. That’s why the record labels are panicking, they don’t know what to do with us. We are running like the wild wild west, its great! We are in a record label plateau. Unless there is an artist who is dumb enough or just naive to what they want for their future, they are gonna go for 360 deal. People are still settling for those. [However], I think it is becoming less and less frequent.”
Even as the industry attempts to figure itself out, genres are not the same as they were. Evan is a prime participant and promoter of this evolution. “I’m trying to encourage myself and all other artists to create and play all kinds of music. A lot of artists these days are more natural, and because of that … we can sing, play, record and be creative in any genre. Look at where pop country is. There’s that hip-hop stuff, but it’s ok! … We are blending, at least we are coming together, man. At least it is bringing two different crowds together. You see these country music concerts and you got African Americans coming to these concerts too now. It doesn’t matter color-wise, but if you wanna talk about something like Philly, you got the north side coming to the country concert, but now you got the south side coming. They are blending that pop culture and hip-hop. I thinks its beautiful. I was naive at first, It’s not country music anymore. There is still country music, but it is from back in the day…”
Within the craft, experimentation and the learning of a new skill set can make or change the game. “[In] the past nine months, I learned how to play the bass, take up piano and I learned how to program drums. That opened up a whole new floodgate for me, because now you have all these options to manipulate these sounds. All of the sudden, that soul song you had can become a pop song with a soulful voice over it. I’m writing all kinds of songs and I’m gonna put out all kinds of songs. [That is] until I have good enough backing, press and funds to release what will be my full length album. That’s 80% done, recorded and written. [Music is] holding up well. [We need to] stay open and take the opportunities, even if they are not necessarily lucrative at first, because exposure is still very important. Collaboratively, I want to be exposed to other markets as well. I would like to write and produce a country song for a country artist. I’m working on a song now that is like this escape R & B Japanese-influenced song for this girl in south Florida. I just got word today from Disney that I’m gonna be reproducing a Christmas jingle in their commercials and radio play.” Evan’s music has evolved as well. “We got lots of jams. We are now in a psychedelic soul-rock vibe. I’m jamming out. I never played this much guitar in my life! It feels great. It feels like the first three months when I was learning the guitar. I just couldn’t put it down.”
Evan’s journey has been a real whirlwind of an adventure. “… I live in Orlando, FL now, in downtown Orlando. It’s been a huge blessing playing at in the area. People come from all over the world to be at Disney. Its how I’ve been able to tour. Being introduced to people all over the world and certainly all over the country has allowed me keep in touch with people like the snowbirds.”
When asked about the crazy hurricane season, Evan and his family were very lucky. “My Dad has to get a new roof, and Matthew was powerful. [It] ripped out a lot of his shingles and had some leaks, but that was about it. My house was fine and I was surprised because my house was from the 40s. My landlord told us to leave so we left for four days and came back and the power was only out for three days, but everything else was fine.”
His family upbringing helped keep his head in a good place and has prompted him to be as optimistic as possible.”… Things will be tough in the beginning, but with positivity and kindness you can turn things around. I always try to keep that in mind with my music. People go to concerts and people listen to music in a live setting because they feel accepted, that’s all. That might be the only point of their day where they feel accepted. It’s my duty to make sure they feel that. I’m wireless now so I can go off stage and I can go everywhere. I can go 100 feet out and I’ve been doing it. I’ve been leaning on people, I’ve been going underneath people and I’ve been laying down, sliding and jumping around. It works so well! I’m just trying to put on a show more and more and entertain more and more, but still keep it genuine. I don’t make it too much of a gimmick. I don’t wanna dress in any costumes unless it’s Halloween.”
His best show sounded like a perfect one. “Even though it was a really quick show, the first time I played at Pianos, September of 2016, we sold it out. It was a 45 minute set, but everything was banging. Everything was on, even the playing. We even got a recording from that night. It was just on, man. The crowd was loving it and we sold a ton of merch that night. Everything was great and we were in New York! This is, the more and more I come, becoming my favorite city. I wanna explore Brooklyn more next.”
Thankfully, his most difficult show was right at the beginning. “My worst show, it has to be the first one. I was in way over my head. I thought, ‘I’m gonna learn guitar in three months!’ I practiced every day, played, played and played. I didn’t realize I needed to learn songs and lyrics, not just the chords. I thought because I know these chords, I can learn these songs easily. Oh no man, you got to keep in mind time, put those chords in time. I wasn’t ready for that. It was only my friends at an outside bar and I flopped. I couldn’t even play songs through, it was bad. I also didn’t realize the breathing techniques. I didn’t realize how tired I was going to get just off of singing. I was out of breath. It showed, all of this stuff showed…”
When asked about musicians in the space who are killing it in 2017, his myriad of choices were sublime pickings. “Killing it right now… I still watch a lot of the old stuff. I was watching Hendrix being interviewed last night along with listening to Anderson.Paak [too]. I’ve been watching some Rolling Stones stuff [as well]… In terms of killing it right now, it has to be Anderson.Paak. I just got onto his wave. Also killing it is John Mayer, still killing it. He found a way to get through that middle age, I’m not a pop artist any more phase. I am, but I’m not. He started playing with the Grateful Dead (Dead & Company). He won so many people over, now they know and respect his guitar playing. Now, those people look at pop music in a different way. They look at him in a different way. He’s not just a pop artist, he’s a musician. He got style. I get a sense that Dave Grohl will never stop killing it. I wanna be great friends with that guy. He’ll never stop!
Evan gave simple words of wisdom that speak to his nature at best. I’m just staying open. I want the people to know that I can do it all. I want to be called upon to do many things. As long as I keep that in mind, I’ll be fine. I don’t have to be rich, but I can still make a living. I want to be able to take care of my family and loved ones.”
Give Evan Taylor Jones a listen below: