STEPH JONES SHOUT-OUT
If you’ve ever taken a glance at Steph Jones‘ MySpace, you already know the type of person he is. He’s humble, down-to-earth, and above all, he’s just a really cool dude. To say the least, I was surprised when I received a comment on T2W’s MySpace about him ready to “interview when we are.” It’s unusual that an artist comes directly to us to do an interview, but then again, we’re talking about Steph Jones here. It took us a couple of weeks to iron out each other’s schedules and set up something, but we got it done, and I learned a lot about this “Mo City Alien,” as he so candidly calls himself.
After doing the interview, I learned that Mr. Jones is very hands on when it comes to his music and how it is presented, and I now know why he calls himself, “Mr. Ordinary.” He’s just an ordinary guy, and when he blows up (not if, but WHEN) I hope that his personality doesn’t change one bit. The industry needs more artists like this, and I believe that Steph Jones is definitely what the industry needs. Think2wice, I present to you Mr. Ordinary aka The Mo City Alien aka STEPH JONES!
PART 1 // WHO IS STEPH JONES?
“I GREW UP IN A HOUSE WHERE EVERYBODY TOLD ME TO ‘SHUT UP’”
Dustin: Who is Steph Jones, and where is he from?
Steph Jones: Steph Jones is a young southern boy. H-town, Missouri City. Got a lot to say on his mind, experienced a lot in his lifetime, but still walk around with a happy smile on his face all day every day because at the end of the day it can always be worse.
Dustin: You were a model before you got your record deal. Was modeling something you did to sort of get your foot in the door?
Steph Jones: Yeah, it was definitely something I did to get my foot in the door but to be honest, I was trying to do music and modeling at the same time, and modeling just took off. I was doing extra work, but I didn’t expect it to just take off like that and the next thing you know I was doing runways, music videos, commercials, ad campaigns, all over the world, so it ended up being something more than I expected, but at the same time it put me in the back of everybody else’s subconscious, which is what I wanted to do in the first place. Now it’s time for my music to add on to that whole modeling legacy thing.
Dustin: Did you always know that you could sing?
Steph Jones: No, I didn’t know I could sing, because growing up, you know, everybody knows, even my title heading for MySpace says “I grew up in a house where everybody told me to shut up.” My mom was a fan of shut up, everybody at school, my brother, everybody was a fan of shut up, so if you hear that every day, all the time, every time you open your mouth, you eventually start shutting up, so I didn’t know I could sing until I got to college, when I started doing karaoke.
Dustin: Who are some of your musical influences?
Steph Jones: Oh man, it’s a big wide variety of genres. You can go anywhere from Harry Belafonte, Harry Koenig Jr., Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Bob Marley, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, Joe. It goes on and on. Basically anybody who sang music from their heart and soul, a lot of greats from back in the day. You know, I feel old school music. I don’t really listen to the radio now.
Dustin: When it comes to the production of your music, what part do you play?
Steph Jones: I’m 100% in every aspect of my music. I co-produced half my album. I wrote 90% of the lyrics on my album. I listened to probably 3,000 beats to make this album.
Steph Jones: And I didn’t pick not one beat that was already done. I’d sit with the producer and then we’d start from the music to the beat to the hi-hats and we birth it from a baby so that’s when you know that it has a certain type of feel, and I always tell people whatever you do, make sure you do it from your heart and soul, because your soul never lies. Well, I make music from my soul, and however it comes in, that’s how I put it out. I don’t believe in blocking creativity so that’s why you may hear stuff that sounds different, like I could do a “Celebrity Chick” then come back and do a “Mr. Ordinary” because I just make music. I love making music.
Dustin: That’s good, because now-a-days you really don’t have that much going on, you have, you know, people having producers and stuff for them, having songwriters, having ghostwriters, etcetera and you’re one of the few people that are coming out that are actually doing everything on your own, and I like that. That’s dope.
Steph Jones: Thanks brother, I appreciate that.
Dustin: My next question is how did the whole DTP thing come about? How were you discovered by Ludacris?
Steph Jones: I was at a comedy club in L.A. at the improv and then my brother DeRay Davis, he’s a comedian, he hosts the improv. Every week I would go up instead of him putting up a comedian, I would just go up and sing, and so I was singing one night and then Ludacris was in the house and he was like, “Yo, you got a demo?” I had like one and a half, two songs then, and I gave it to him and I just knew he was gonna call me back, but I didn’t hear back from him and the more and more I didn’t hear back from him, I got angry, so I just started recording and recording and recording, and then I found myself in the same predicament like four months later and he was like, “I like what I heard last time, I just want to hear more music.” I was like, “Today’s your lucky day, brother!” I had like 20 more songs, and so I gave it to him and then within the next week, I had a meeting then another meeting, and then another meeting. Then we got the contract and stuff right, and that’s when I signed to “Disturbing the Peace.”
STEPH JONES AND HIS BROTHER, COMEDIAN/ACTOR DERAY DAVIS
Dustin: Okay, you also answered my next question. I was going to ask you if you and DeRay Davis were really blood brothers because I see he’s in your top on your MySpace page.
Steph Jones: Yeah, no, we’ve got the same father, different mom. We’re half brothers but we don’t say half. We’ve got a spot together in L.A. That’s my brother. I don’t believe in the half thing, it’s like you my blood, that’s my brother.
Dustin: Back to your album, what’s going to be the name of your album, and can we expect the release date anytime soon?
Steph Jones: I do not have a release date. As soon as I get that release date, you’ll be one of the first people to get the information. But the title of my album is called “Mr. Ordinary,” and the reason why I titled that is because everybody in this world, even Jesus Christ, we suffered through trials and tribulations, whether it be good, bad, rich, broke. But at the end of the day if you are doing you, yourself, that’s your ordinary. A lot of people they call my music, extraordinary and I may be doing extraordinary things, but I don’t have to travel outside of myself to do that. That’s just me every day, like I wake up. If I feel a certain type of beat, then I just do it, and then people are just like, “Man! That song is crazy!” But at the end of the day that’s my ordinary. That’s why I titled it “Mr. Ordinary.”
Dustin: What can we expect from the album as far as guest appearances, producers and overall sound? I know you produce your own music, but are you working with other producers to help you out or are you just doing it on your own?
Steph Jones: Yeah, I worked with All-Star. All-Star did “Stutter (Remix)” for Joe and he’s done a lot, he’s been in the game for a minute. I worked with All-Star, I worked with Ryan Tetter, the lead singer of One Republic. [singing in falsetto] “It’s too late to apologize.” He’s there. He’s crazy, man. He can play like a thousand different instruments, so I got a song called “Catch A Cold” with him. I did one song called “La La Means Love” with Tricky Stewart. That’s probably the most R&B song on my album, the most radio-ready song on my album.
But other than that, I’ve just been working. I don’t believe in going to find the hottest producer. It’s all about vibe and energy with me. If I vibe with you and we’ve got a crazy energy in the studio, the song is gonna come out crazy and it’s gonna come out with the same type of feel. So that’s pretty much my only thing. I’m working with a guy named Chris Warrior, and Jay Hand… Chris Warrior did like 7 records on my album. He did “Look What You’ve Done,” “Mr. Ordinary,” “Melody to Snap To,” “Hollywood,” “Southern Love…” I’ve got records. Chris reminds me of Hooty and the Blowfish. I call him Uncle Chris. That dude is so cool, and when you listen to my song, you would think I did them in a huge studio. We did it in this like, little room, but it’s all about that vibe you know, he knows how to make a song sound big with the least amount of equipment.
But I mean, whatever we’ve got to do to create that magic, we do by any means necessary. Guerilla grind, and I have no features on the album. I chose to have no features because this is my coming out album. This is about Mr. Ordinary, so I’m giving you me, I’m giving you my soul, my thought through melody. And I didn’t feel that it was right to have anybody come in because y’all need to understand me as an artist and I didn’t want anybody else to come in and fill that void.
Dustin: Okay, I can definitely respect that. A lot of new artists now think you got to have a big name attached to your name, like so-and-so featuring a big name and…
Steph Jones: Not if you have the right music, brother.
Dustin: Exactly, exactly, you remind me of Musiq Soulchild. I had an interview with him around this time last year and I asked him, why you never see him with featured artists and he said, because he wants it to be â€œMusiq Soulchild featuring.â€ He doesn’t want the other person to overpower him as far as people knowing the other person more than they know him, so I can definitely respect that.
But you mentioned “La La Means Love.” Is that going to be the first single off of the album? Are you going to make like a video for it, orâ€¦?
Steph Jones: That’s the plan as of right now. You know, itâ€™s like â€¦ now-a-days you have to do things in order to get on the radio, and â€œLa Laâ€ is a great R&B record, but I don’t think that it describes the whole â€œMr. Ordinaryâ€ sound. Anybody who goes to my MySpace or my YouTube, they see personality, they see in everything, but â€œLa Laâ€ is a great record, but when you listen to songs like â€œMr. Ordinary,â€ you know, that’s Steph Jones right there. I know a few R&B artists that can sing â€œLa La,â€ but at the same time I love that record because you know, me and Dream wrote it, so it is definitely a part of me. So as of right now â€œLa La,â€ that’s what we’re going with.
PART 2 // RANDOM QUESTIONS
“THERE’S A LOT OF FAKE PEOPLE [IN THE INDUSTRY]. BUT THAT’S NOT JUST THE MUSIC BUSINESS … THAT’S IN LIFE ALONE.”
Dustin: Okay. Now, I’m going to get into a couple of the questions from the readers. You know I got to ask a question for the ladies that hit up the site. They want to know if you’re currently in a relationship, and if not, what do you look for in a woman?
Steph Jones: Right now, I am married to my music, and what I look for in a woman is a woman that is not afraid to take chances. I look for a woman that has a certain type of independence but then, that likes to rely on me for security and comfort, but not too much. I can’t take too much of anything, but that’s pretty much what it is right now. You know, a woman that has her own sense of style, taste, you know, I’m not really judgmental onâ€¦
Steph Jones: Say it again?
Steph Jones: Yeah, I mean no, I love a pretty face.
Steph Jones: But it has to all be put together. I know so many fine girls, but as soon as they open their mouth, they turn into like the â€œWicked Witch of the West.â€ And then there’ll be some girls that ainâ€™t that fine, but she got great conversation. So it’s different with every woman, itâ€™s different with every single woman, like my favorite dish from my grandmother is sweet potato pie, but my favorite dish from my mama, is cornbread casserole, so like, itâ€™s different with different people.
Dustin: Okay, another one of my readers were wanting to know what were some of the bad parts about being in the music business?
Steph Jones: There’s a lot of fake people. There’s a lot of people that smile in your face, but that’s not just the music business.
Dustin: That’s life.
Steph Jones: That’s in life alone.
Steph Jones: There’s a lot of people that talk behind your back, you just got to deal with your life, deal with your self and know what the ultimate goal is. My ultimate goal is to keep making music. I don’t make music to make money, because I know I’m going to make money regardless. So I make music to make music for the love. When I see how people react. How a thug, a white boy, Hispanic, how they all have the same look on their face after they hear “Mr. Ordinary.” That’s what I make music for right there, and that in turn, makes me feel better about writing songs like that.
Dustin: Do you have any crazy fan encounters that you can recall like a stalker on your MySpace, or meeting somebody on the street or something?
Steph Jones: I mean of course I’ve got stalkers on MySpace, but I’ve got mad love for them too, because they tell everybody. I’ve got mad love for the stalkers, the fans, whatever. I’ll tell you at my last show, I performed for a sold-out show at the Temple Bar. Me, I never forget a face, like I remember a face from like 20 years from now, and I recognized this girl from MySpace. And so when I finished my show, I got off stage. She was shaking like how you see them shake whenever they see like Michael Jackson, or Usher, or someone like that?
Steph Jones: She was shaking. I always thought people were faking when they did that. Like she was shaking, she couldn’t talk, like she started crying, and she was like, [stuttering] “You know, wa-wa-wa I just want to take…”
Steph Jones: …and started crying, I was like, “Wow!” Now that’s the power of music, right there. I couldn’t even say anything but that was the weirdest fan experience right there, and she was like taking pictures, and taking more pictures. If you go on her MySpace you’ll see it’s like, yet another picture with Steph Jones, another picture with Steph Jones, it’s pretty crazy but you need those. If you don’t have those … because they spread your word, that’s like my little MySpace army right there. The Internet army, because that’s what music is going in the first place, digital music.
Dustin: Oh yeah.
Steph Jones: You need those kind of people, so I can’t be like “Oh my gosh, she’s crazy blah blah blah.” She loves the music, she loves Steph Jones, and in turn, I love her right back, and thank you for all the support.
Dustin: When you start collaborating with different artists, who are some of the artists that you’d like to collaborate with?
Steph Jones: I’d definitely like to collaborate with people who don’t… Like me, I don’t have a box. I just make music. You know what I’m saying? I feel the same way about Kanye West. I really want to work with Kanye. I want to work with Will.i.am. I would love to work with Amy Winehouse, because she makes music. She sings her life. I love real artists. You know, so that’s pretty much it for right now. Chris Martin from Cold Play.
Dustin: Okay, so you have different genres of people you want to work with, you want to work with like hip-hop artists.
Steph Jones: Oh yeah.
Dustin: Soul artists, rock artists, etcetera. That’s cool.
Steph Jones: Yeah.
Dustin: My last question for this part of the interview is when you’re writing a song, what inspires you and what influences your music?
Steph Jones: Well, there is no set standard when it comes to writing music, because it comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. I could be walking down the street, or I could be in the shower, or I could just be alone by myself with no sound, and a melody pops in my head. It’s a very unorthodox style. I do it to a beat. I do it myself and then take it to the studio. It’s all about inspiration, and my inspiration is life and experience. If there’s something I experience or something somebody close to me experienced, I’ll talk about it, and I don’t write records to like â€œOh! Weâ€™ve got to make this club record.â€ I just write it, and if it happens to be a club record, or happens to be a slow jam, then that’s just what it is.
PART 3 // A LOOK INTO STEPH JONES’ PERSONAL LIFE + MORE RANDOM QUESTIONS
STEPH JONES ENJOYS ROCK CLIMING, SNOW BOARDING, BUNGEE JUMPING, AND READING IN HIS OFF-TIME
Dustin: What are your hobbies? What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
Steph Jones: I’m a very adventurous dude. I do rock climbing, I paint ball, I snow board, I’ve a lot of bungee jumping. A lot of extreme sports type stuff. I like to pop bubble wrap. I’m addicted to popping bubble wrap. I’ve even got a program on my Treo phone which is a popping bubble wrap game, so I’d just be like pop pop pop.
Dustin: Yeah, I think I’ve got that game on my BlackJack.
Steph Jones: Yeah, so I’ve got that. And another thing I love to do is go to Starbucks and people watch. I get that from my mama. I’ll go in there and I’ll sit in there for like an hour, an hour and a half and just watch people. Different styles, try to guess where they came from, how old they are. What are they doing here in L.A., or New York, or Texas. That’s fun for me, it just keeps my mind open and it keeps my imagination running. Another thing I love to do is read, I don’t really watch much TV except for like Super Bowl or big fight or something like that but I’m always reading books.
Dustin: Who was the first person you say good morning to?
Steph Jones: Myself. You mean this morning?
Dustin: Yeah, this morning.
Steph Jones: Yeah, I said “Good morning Steph Jones!”
Dustin: [Laughs] Okay, when was the last time you’ve cried?
Steph Jones: Three weeks ago.
Dustin: Can you explain why?
Steph Jones: Can I explain why I cried? Because sometimes, I’ll be on the Internet so much and then like say for instance I haven’t talked to my mom, or… It takes a lot for me to cry, because I keep a lot of stuff in, but every once in a while I just have to let it go. So I woke up one morning, and I just felt like I had too much in, so I cried for maybe two minutes, got myself together, went to the gym like it was nothing.
Dustin: Okay, where we you the first time you heard your single on the radio?
Steph Jones: My apartment.
( This? or That? )
Dustin: A club or a lounge?
Steph Jones: Lounge.
Dustin: “American Idol” or “So You Think You Can Dance?”
Steph Jones: American Idol.
Dustin: FaceBook or MySpace?
Steph Jones: MySpace.
Dustin: “Boondocks” Season 1 or “Boondocks” Season 2?
Steph Jones: Never saw neither one of them.
Dustin: You’ve never seen Boondocks?
Steph Jones: Nope.
Dustin: You have got to check out Boondocks, that is like the funniest cartoon…
Steph Jones: I’ve seen the clip, I’ve seen a clip with Lil’ Wayne on it.
Dustin: Yeah, go to to AdultSwim.tv and they have like all of the seasons and all of the episodes on there. Mike from Think2Wice, posts them all the time on the site, so when you’re checking out the site, just look under I think Boondocks or whatever, and he’ll have them outlined on there.
Steph Jones: Okay.
Dustin: It’s pretty funny. I love that show.
Coca-Cola or Pepsi?
Steph Jones: Neither. I don’t drink soda. I haven’t had a soda in five years.
Dustin: Day or night?
Steph Jones: Night.
Dustin: Watching TV or surfing the Internet?
Steph Jones: Surfing the Internet.
Dustin: Obama or Clinton?
Steph Jones: Obama.
( What’s your favorite … ? )
Dustin: All right, that’s real talk. What is your favorite acronym to say over AIM, or MySpace or text messaging whatever?
Steph Jones: I’m outtie-5000.
Dustin: What is your favorite song to date?
Steph Jones: My favorite song to date, would have to be “Golden Lady” by Stevie Wonder.
Dustin: And what is your all-time favorite movie?
Steph Jones: Coming to America.
( Have you ever … ? )
Dustin: Have you ever met one celebrity that just had you completely star struck?
Steph Jones: Yeah. When I first moved to L.A. [Laughs]
Dustin: Oh, yeah.
Steph Jones: It ain’t like this no more, but when I first moved to L.A. my only idea of L.A. is what I saw on TV.
Dustin: On TV, right.
Steph Jones: So, the very first celebrity that I saw was Lisa Ray, and I was walking by the Key Club and I saw her, and all I could do is react to how I see people react on TV. I was like, “There goes Diamond from â€˜Player’s Club!’ Oh my God!” And I was so loud, and the people I was with were like “Nigga, will you shut up!” [Laughs]
Dustin: [Laughs] I feel you on that. Well, I’ll probably be acting the same way, like if I met her, or like Beyonce or somebody.
Steph Jones: Yeah.
Dustin: My next question, have you ever rode a bike?
Steph Jones: A bicycle?
Dustin: Yeah, like a bicycle. Do you know how to ride a bike?
Steph Jones: Yeah.
Dustin: Have you ever sung in the shower, but off key?
Steph Jones: Yep, but on purpose, though.
Dustin: Have you ever had what do they call in text messaging a “WTF moment?”
Steph Jones: [Long pause]
Dustin: Do you know what WTF means?
Steph Jones: Oh, yeah!
Dustin: Yeah, what was your WTF moment?
Steph Jones: You’re talking about what the f— right?
Dustin: Yeah, what the f—.
Steph Jones: Shit, the stuff I’m going through right now [Laughs].
Dustin: Oh, okay. If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be, and why?
Steph Jones: Energy. [Laughs] I can’t say it no different, just energy, anybody who hang out with me… It takes a certain type of person to actually understand me, but to just be around me all the time, you’ll probably blow a head gasket because I never run out of energy. Ever.
Dustin: So you’re a very energetic type of person?
Steph Jones: Yeah.
Dustin: Okay. If you could hop on a time machine and travel back to the past, and meet one of our musical legends who have passed on, who would it be?
Steph Jones: I would definitely love to meet Donnie Hathaway. It was such a tragic loss, you know, he died way before he was supposed to. Well he died when he was supposed to, but I would like to see him still alive. Because he was doing all that stuff at an early age, and imagine what he would have done after that, but I would really like to watch him perform and to see what manifests of his music.
PART 4 // STEPH JONES IN THE FUTURE
Dustin: Right now, you call yourself rich broke.
Steph Jones: Yeah.
Dustin: Can you explain to us what that means?
Steph Jones: Rich broke is a term I came up with because I’ve always been, ever since I was a little kid, rich in thought, but broke in my pockets. I ain’t sold no records. Truth be told, there’s a lot of people out there, you know, they be in a video, they’ll be trying a stunt like they really got something. I got a video out but I’m telling you, I ain’t hurting, but I ain’t got it like that you know, it ain’t to the point to where I got to go work back at Dallas BBQ because I definitely hold my own, but I ain’t balling out of control. So it’s like I’m rich in thought, and to me, I’m broke in my pocket, but even when I move up in tax brackets and start making a lot of money it’s like I know where I came from. I ain’t come from money, I’ve worked for everything that I’ve ever gotten in my entire life, no one’s ever handed me anything, so it’s like I’ll still use the term rich broke because it keeps me in check and it reminds me of where I came from.
“WHATEVER YOU DO IN LIFE … LISTEN TO GOD, LISTEN TO YOURSELF, AND THAT’S WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO FIND THE TRUE ANSWER.”
Dustin: Where does Steph Jones see himself in the year 2013?
Steph Jones: 2013? I have a couple of platinums selling albums. I’ll be a part of a couple of great projects because I understand music and I understand talent. Not just the dollar but I understand the dollar plus talent. That’s why I sit in meetings with Chaka [Zulu] and Ludacris. Even meetings that don’t have nothing to do with me, just so I can learn and I’m always asking advice, being a power player in this industry. Not pointing any fingers, but it’s time for people who really know music, to be behind music and to push some buttons. So, you know, I plan to be that by 2013.
Dustin: Alright, now you’ve been a model, and I know you still do some modeling on the side, and now you’re releasing an album pretty soon.
Steph Jones: Yeah.
Dustin: What’s next for Steph Jones, are you looking to move to the career of acting or open up your own business, or you know doing something else with your life besides what you’ve done already?
Steph Jones: Oh yeah definitely. I definitely love to act, I mean you can tell, if you check out my YouTube, you can tell that I love to be on camera. It’s fun, it’s like my best friend. So that’s definitely in the works, but right now what’s most important, the state of music is not great right now, so I would like to be a part of a movement that brings the greatness back into music again. I want people to be happy from here on out, to be happy to get a Steph Jones album, to be happy to be part of something that the Steph Jones movement is a part of. So in turn I say that to say this. I love music, I love life. I want everybody to love life and love music again, not fads, not fads, F-A-D-S in the music but love music from the soul, from the heart.
Dustin: Okay, do you have any last words for the readers over at Think2wice?
Steph Jones: Yes. Most definitely. Whatever you do in life, and I’ve already said this before, whatever you do in life… I don’t believe in 10,000 people picking at me telling me what to do, I’m not no puppet, I’m not a puppet artist, and I don’t feel that people should be puppet people, they should do what they feel. Do their own ordinary, because that’s where the uniqueness comes out. Whatever you do in life, do it from your heart, and your soul Listen to God, listen to yourself, and that’s where you’re going to find the true answer.
Be on the look-out for Steph Jones’ debut album, “Mr. Ordinary.” Keep it locked on T2W for info on when it will be released. Until then, peep the link to his MySpace below!