“I don’t think people understand how incredibly difficult [the music business]is, in all stages. All stages are hard, from learning an instrument to singing, and the gigs, the live gigs, recordings and the business part of it, there is so much to learn, its incredible!” states James Jones, an accomplished producer, songwriter, guitarist, bandleader, and a singer with beautiful tenor range that commands several octaves.
What is even more remarkable is that Jones started his musical life late into his adult life and career in a search for creative options to devote his energies to.
With his family responsibilities fulfilled, and his professional life firmly established, Jones taught himself the craft of music-making exclusively through his songwriting. Immediately, he became a prolific songwriter and stylistic explorer, transforming his music from its earliest folk-roots beginnings into a pop-rock sensation called ITSNOTU.ME with a growing worldwide fan base.
Although Jones is certainly modest about the success of his music career, it must be recognized for the major achievement that it is.
Based in Huntsville, he has sought out and worked steadily with an eclectic group of established pop producers, developing a modern pop sound that fits seamlessly into the fast-paced change taking place throughout the world of music distribution, an industry which has been impacted forever by streaming and social media.
The drive, the intense effort required to implement such a strategy, speaks volumes of Jones’ savvy and his grasp of the nature of modern digital music. Not only did he reinvent his writing practices but he mastered the media needed to fill the various platforms from which music is launched these days, especially video production and modern pop/dance sound shaping.
Huntsville is a melting pot for creative musical entrepreneurship, from hip hop to beats to classical songwriting, but ITSNOTU.ME is a sound and songwriting venture of distinctive originality.
James Jones possesses two extraordinary gifts: his singing voice with its soulful resonance and his songwriting, which is topical and contemporary. While many successful Huntsville songwriters plumb personal or introspective themes, Jones finds topics, characters and storylines that seem almost film-like. A song and video such as the highly regarded “RUN4U“, takes a delightful confidence that many might be dissuaded to attempt. The song’s got everything a streaming Spotify or YouTube listener wants: crisp pulsing accentuated beats, stirring vocals, and a thrilling chorus meant to fire the imagination and pump the blood. In fact, Jones recognizes that music to accompany a workout is perhaps one of the best avenues to reach a new audience.
Jones discovered his singing voice in a local production of Seussical, a musical where he was expected to dance and sing. He soon realized that he could not dance but he could sing. Friends would often comment after karaoke how powerful, impressive, and beautiful his singing voice was. This gave Jones the confidence and the desire to pursue the art more definitively. He began performing with Kip Daynard, a classically trained pianist and vocalist, as “The Big East”.
As a duo, various professional instrumentalists often joined them. They were a highly regarded act in Huntsville and Muskoka. Their songs, harmonies, and infectious sound led to a 2017 Canadian Folk Music Awards nomination for their sophomore album, Hungry Ghosts, a highly coveted and sought-after award for Canadian performers and songwriters.
Even though their album did not win, The Big East was recognized for their talent, especially Jones’ writing which was garnering acclaim on a national scale.
Then the tide turned when Daynard took a year-long leave to travel with his family. Jones continued to write and perform solo or with local guitarist, Glenn Bladon. During this period, Jones began experimenting with the sound he was aiming for. Initially he took some projects to local producer Andre Wahl, but soon recognized that he needed to seek out production specialists to create the kind of music he envisioned.
What Jones wanted was to make tracks that would, as he describes, “combine the melodic cleverness of [Paul] McCartney, the progressive feel of The Weeknd, and sensitivity of an Ed Sheeran song.”
In other words, he wanted something that maximized his vocal abilities and he wanted to sound modern, and so he chose to explore and release songs in the Pop/ House/EDM genre.
Working with renowned producers such as Mark Zubek, Stephen Kerr, and Tom Carlisle, Jones quickly began to realize the vast potential of this new concept. He could literally spread his wings and soar in almost any direction. The freedom to pursue writing and productions in fashion, which almost seems limitless, prompted Jones to redefine his position and future as a songwriter.
He rebranded his moniker to ITSNOTU.ME, a subtle yet clear indication of new direction. Not only did his new performance tag introduce his new music, it continues to act as a web page and direct link to the product he regularly releases.
What is truly exciting about this rebirth is that Jones is able to collaborate at a master-class level with highly skilled producers and musicians while remaining vital in the creative process, developing melodies, pop hooks and storytelling, photographing and editing a library of videos that are both extremely entertaining and watchable. Few artists excel at such multiple disciplines, let alone thrive on it.
There are really no adequate accolades to describe what James Jones has accomplished in the few short years with this transformation. Go listen for yourself and marvel.
Jones’ new song “Completely” releases on July 17, 2021.
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