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N’FA Jones – Singer / Songwriter / Producer

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Photo: Michelle Grace Hunder

I met N’FA way back when he was a model and have a memory of him even back then having a bit more substance and originality to him than first met the eye. At that time he was also still a competitive athlete. He was a sprinter/hurdler and competed for Australia across a few key events. A few years later N’FA hit the Australian music scene with a bang in the 2000’s as part of the ground breaking Melbourne outfit 1200 Techniques. The band actually formed in 1997 with their first album, Choose One (2002), becoming a crossover success debuting at #20 in the Australian music charts and leading to an ARIA award nomination for “breakthrough artist”. The band went on to to win “best debut artist” and “best hip-hop act” awards at the Dance Music Awards. The album included the hit single “Karma,” which also charted in the Australian Top 40 and won ARIA awards for “best independent release” and “best video”.

The group went on a hiatus in 2005 and have since been described as “an important part” of the mainstream recognition of hip-hop in Australia, whilst drawing influences from other genres including rock, funk, soul, electro, drum and bass, electro jazz and breakbeat.

Since this initial success N’FA has re-invented himself as a solo artist – N’fa Jones – No Fixed Abode – and has gone onto to have a successful music career in his own right.

Over the years since, N’FA has played at premier music festivals such as Splendour in the Grass, Homebake, Good Vibrations, Falls and Pymarid Rock, not to mention touring with international and national kings such as De La Soul, Roots Manuva, Souls Of Mischief, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Arrested Development, Butterfingers, Blue King Brown, guesting with Katalyst, Resin Dogs, Foreign Heights, and Breaks DJ’s Nick Thayer, Bass Kleph, Daedelus and Son Of Kick to name a few.

After spending a few years working as a musician in the UK and touring various European countries – N’FA has returned to Australia and continues to write and collaborate with other killer homegrown acts such as Drapht – featuring on the 2011 hit – “Bali Party” from their ‘Life of Riley’ Album which won the ARIA award that same year for ‘best urban album”.

In 2012, N’FA also featured with Drapht on their ‘Tasty’ EP with this great track titled “1990’s” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAAtTKga5G8

Most recently – N’FA has again been working with Drapht and his label ‘The Ayems’ and will be releasing this new collaborative album in early 2014 – titled ‘Black + White Noise’.
This LP is a diverse and dynamic scope of music, journeying through the dark and light soundscapes of Hip Hop, future beats, soul and roots. The first single “Life’s A Game” has just been released.

To see N’FA live – check out his upcoming tour dates here:

N’FA JONES TOUR DATES

October 18 – The Manor, Leederville WA
October 19 – Electric Vines Party, Swan Valley WA
October 20 – The Get Down – DJ Set, Perth WA
November 9 – Rocket Bar, Adelaide SA
November 20 – Sosueme, Beach Rd Hotel, Sydney NSW
November 22 – Laruche, Valley Fiesta, Brisbane QLD
November 23 – Revolver, Melbourne VIC

http://nfajones.com

Q & A:

1) You’ve had a colorful and full life and have had success across sport, modeling, acting as well as music. Which has been your biggest love to date out of all of these disciplines/creative options and what has been your biggest success or career achievement so far?

Well, It’s all had it’s highs and lows… I never really made an effort or cared for modeling or acting… That stuff just happened by accident really, although I have some great memories… I was always focused on sport and music as a kid… more for the love than the practical outcomes. Perhaps with a more practical focus I might have achieved more still. With my athletics, I’d say running 4th at the Olympic trials and medaling at 2 National champs, and representing Australia in the 110m hurdles was pretty awesome. Training with amazing people and world record holders was amazing as a young man. With music, every song is an achievement… Every gig when the people show their love, and every time a fan/new friend tells me how my music has had an effect on them, to the energy of rocking a huge festival crowd – for me is an amazing natural high that is difficult to explain, but am grateful for.

2) You had great success with the band 1200 Techniques in the early 2000’s and more recently have been keeping busy on numerous collaborations working with other amazing talents. Do you have a preference with how you choose to work musically these days? Ie. Solo/as part of a band/collab? How have your collabs come about and who have been some of your greatest creative influences over the years?

No preference really. I find that as long as I’m connecting with the music, then the writing process is fast and easy. I really don’t like to force a song, or it never feels honest and real. I’ve done collabs over the internet, and in the studio with artists. Both work well if I’m vibing.

3) How would you describe your particular musical/creative style, and do you feel it has changed over the years as you’ve developed as an artist/performer?

I’m not sure how to describe my style. I guess melodic introspective rhymes. I just flow, and the words and subject matter seems to arrive. I don’t think much has changed in my style. The development is probably more in my comfortability within myself, my style, and my vibe. My voice has definitely developed and got stronger over the years, and perhaps my performance isn’t quite as high energy, but the energy has shifted, and is stronger in a less erratic way.

4) You lived in the UK for a while. Do you feel this changed your musical/creative direction? Tell me a bit about this experience.

I learnt a lot more about the hustle and hard work in the UK. I wouldn’t say it altered my music direction, if anything it made me more aware of who I was and what I was about as far as content, style, and musical purpose. The more I travel the more I realize that I’m uniquely my own person, and that the only way to stand out is to be the only you there is. Whether people get it, see it, or understand it isn’t as relevant to me as what being my own artist is. (I think that kinda reads a bit wanky, but it’s definitely true) If you chase trying to be someone else, you’ll loose yourself.

5) What do you love most about your work? / What are the biggest challenges for you as a musician? / would you ever take your career to the States, or are you happy with pursuing the Australian vibe?

Yeah I’m happy with my work. Almost all of it from day dot until now. The only stuff I’m not happy with is anything I felt that I had to force. But it’s all a learning curve.

The hardest part is keeping the belief is oneself when nobody seems to be listening or caring about the music I care so much about, and working out how to be seen and heard amongst everything else. As far as the States, I would only work the scene abroad if someone out there believed in it and wanted to help make it happen. Otherwise, I don’t see myself getting on a plane anywhere and saying “Hi, I’m here, look at me”… That’s just not me… I’m definitely putting feelers out into the world now, and if there’s some love I’ll suss it out, but I’m not desperate for a result.

6) What type of training (if any) do you need to do (or do you personally do) as a rapper/vocalist? Who is your idol or someone that you feel is at the top of their game when it comes to your genre?

Just rap, sing, and if you can, then freestyle a lot. Mind you, I’ve never really practiced that much, but I think it all through in my head plenty. I think developing your tone is a major factor. Even if you can write well, if your voice is horrible to listen to nobody will listen, unless they relate to you on some other supernatural level.

The rapper’s at the top of their vocal game to me are KRS ONE & Black Thought. Their voices and overall skill levels are close to untouchable.

7) What do you do in your down time when you’re not writing, practicing or performing? What are you creatively passionate about?

I like to spend time with my family as often as I can. Creatively, it’s pretty much just music for me. Though, I do love to cook. When I have a minute, I like to cook for a bunch of friends.

8) If you could work on any creative project – what would that potentially look like?

It would probably be an Arts/Music Festival. More boutique and cool than big and crazy. I’d also make it a fundraiser and try to tie together everything that I love about art from visual to audio layers in-between into a weekend. I don’t think it would be in one spot. I’d make it happen across the city in different spaces and venues.

In fact, as I write this it’s inspiring me to make this happen… I might get onto this and see what I can make happen…

9) What’s your all time favorite song? and fave band/s? What is the best gig you’ve ever been to?

Song – Hmm… Perhaps “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. I know, I know – but it’s just so beautiful and evoking.

Bands – wow this is hard.. Well, from the live shows I’ve seen – Burning Spear, The Roots, Rage Against The Machine, Little Dragon, Hiatus Kaiyote.

I haven’t actually seen Rage Against The Machine live, but they get a pass for being the most kick ass live band of our generation.

10) What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/collaborations or future goals you are yet to achieve?

I’m about to release my new album “Black + White Noise” on The Ayems label. I’ve just released a new single “Life’s A Game” and I’m about to do a lil’ tour and build toward the album release in early 2014. I’m also steady working on music and plans with my House Of Beige crew (Sensible J, Dutch, Remi and crew), DJing, Family vibing, and chillin when I can.

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