It was an ordinary weekend morning in March of '06. I was again perusing the new music added to IAC that morning when I came upon the artist Courtney Jones. I didn't realize the unusual treat I was in for until I clicked on the song "Ride." I was so instantly and totally moved by this song that I knew I had discovered someone and something very special in the music world. It wasn't very long before the multitude of listeners at IAC found this artist too and her wonderful music."Ride" shot up the chart in record time. I don't believe to this day any one song at IAC has ever climbed the chart so fast and stayed at the top so long. A record to behold and admire for sure! Courtney has a style and delivery that is all her own. She is smooth as silk with a tonal quality that rivals any female singer performing today. Her popularity in the Northwest USA as well as the world over via internet has grown by leaps and bounds in a relatively short time. Her artist page lists innumerable accolades and industry names that recognize the talent and abilities of this rising star. It nice to know that true quality still occasionally manages to rise to the top in this era of manufactured cardboard cutout stars! Take a few minutes and jump into the mind and world of Ms. Courtney Jones and may I suggest streaming her beautiful music while reading this most informative and interesting interview. It makes for a delightful experience! Without further ado, the world according to Courtney Jones!
IAC: At what age did you first remember taking a little more interest in music than say your friends at the time? At what age did you get your first realistic thoughts that I can really do this? That is, I can perform music as well or better than anyone I'm hearing around me and that's what I want to do?
Courtney: A love for music wasn't unusual growing up,
especially in my family. Choir was a big deal at both of my high schools,
and I was always involved in that, but I never thought I had the ability
to make music into a career. I lacked the technical skills (and desire)
to teach it, and I didn't have the voice for a performance major in college.
In retrospect, I was a lot more involved in music than the average choir-goer,
but I didn't think much of it at the time. I'm pretty competitive anyway,
and choir was one of the few things I did well, so it made sense to me
to throw myself into it and try to be even better. The decision to drop
out of college three semesters in and do music full time was still a little
scary, but it's what I was supposed to be doing. And the first realistic
thoughts of "hey, my music can hold its own on a national stage" didn't
come until recently. But it did. I feel like I've finally come into my
own sound and I'm ready for the world to hear it.
IAC: Please tell all the listeners and viewers at IAC a bit about your backround in music and/or other interests/pursuits in life that you feel or have felt focused on, be they passions, hobbies, curious interests,etc.
Courtney: I took some piano briefly in middle school
and quit because I never did my theory. To this day I don't read music
very well. I also took a couple years of voice lessons in high school,
musical theatre and classical training, but dropped that halfway through
my junior year. I was really involved in choir, and by my senior year I
was in four different choirs at once. I was singing alto and tenor in jazz
choir, second soprano in concert choir... it was a lot of fun. Music was
just the thing to do, and honestly one of the few things I felt growing
up that I could do decently well. Other hobbies? Let's see, I make cookies,
I read books, I watch movies. And I really enjoy traveling, but I haven't
done that as much as I would like to. Someday.
IAC: What were you strongest and weakest subjects in school and did you take many music classes throughout your years of education? Have you ever had formal singing lessons or does that beautiful voice and pitch come most easily and naturally to you without much work?
Courtney: Math wins hands-down for my worst subject. I wasn't particularly good at science either. And I struggled with foreign language. Now that I think about it, I had a hard time with most subjects... I really enjoyed history though, and I discovered anthropology in college and found it really interesting. I've been involved in choir since the fourth grade, and had a couple of years of voice lessons in high school. I think the big turning point for me vocally was when I decided that I was tired of singing other people's music. I was about 17, and didn't have any songs of my own, but I'd been singing jazz, and country, and classical, all sorts of stuff that wasn't me. I decided I was tired of sounding like other singers and wanted to know what my natural voice sounded like. I've been singing with my "default voice" ever since.
IAC: If I went to your CD player and/or computer right now and had a browse through your musical collection please tell me what artists I would find in your playlists and what is currently playing in your daily listens?
Courtney: I have to divide my music into categories for this:
Daily Listens- Keane, Guster, Carbon Leaf, Coldplay, & Lovers Electric.
Albums I Know and Love Every Song- Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon", Boston "Boston", Butterfly Boucher "Flutterby", Train "For Me, It's You".
Beatles- they get their own category, it would be pointless to list favorite songs, or even albums.
Other music I listen to a lot- John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band, Kate
Havnevik, Patty Griffin, Counting Crows, REM, Enya, Fountains of Wayne,
Evanescence, Matchbox Twenty, and Corinne Bailey Rae.
IAC: If your friends were asked to compare Courtney Jones to any movie star, current or past, what actress name do you believe they might respond with and why?
Courtney: They would probably laugh. I don't know
that there's anyone that immediately comes to mind.
IAC: If Courtney would be sitting down this evening to have her VERY FAVORITE DINNER tell me exactly what that meal would consist of including the beverage. And, if you were having this dinner with ANY person of your choosing in the world for a dinner guest whom might that person be and why?
Courtney: I don't know exactly what it would be,
but I know where. There's this fantastic little restaurant on the coast
that I love, and their breakfast is amazing too.
I'm not that adventurous with beverage choices- milk or water for me. And
with anyone...? Probably Paul McCartney, so I get to meet him.
IAC: You have such a wonderfully pleasing sound to your music that captures such a wide range of listeners. Do you strive to arrive at this particular sound or is it simply the way the music comes out? In other words have you tried any other musical styles in the past and evolved to this present style for a reason?
Courtney: My goal is to create music the kind of
music that I enjoy listening to. I listen to a lot of alternative pop,
I like the complexity of the sound, and creative lyrical writing. I don't
know if I always achieve it, but I that's the goal. I listen to so much
music, and always have, that I think the combination of so many different
influences creates a unique sound in itself. I've sung in many different
genres in the past, but I feel at home toeing the line between alt.
pop and singer/songwriter.
IAC: Did you come from a musical family and who/what do you think were some of the biggest musical influences in your life growing up?
Courtney: I grew up in a family that has a deep
appreciation for music. My mother and grandmother are both music teachers,
and there was always music on in the house, in the car, singing at church,
singing at school, singing for holidays and for no reason whatsoever. I
was raised on the Beatles, and Fleetwood Mac, Oleta Adams, Boston, America,
Stevie Wonder, the Carpenters... I just remember being surrounded
by it when I was a kid. Not much has changed since.
IAC: Tell me about your drawer full of unfinished tunes or assorted lyrics on dog-eared pieces of paper or sticky notes. Have you ever salvaged any of those items and made decent tunes out of them? Is this not one of the most frustrating and yet curious aspects of being an artist?
Courtney: Oh goodness, I have tons of that stuff. I have scribbled song concepts on the back of old set lists, pads of paper you get at hotels, dozens of spiral notebooks with sometimes completed songs in them that never see the light of day. The truth is, I have a hard time going back and making anything out of them.
Something within me thinks it's retrogression. I go back and listen to some of my really early stuff, and a lot of times there's a line or an idea that's actually pretty good, but I like to move forward with my writing. I will, however, rip off older stuff musically. I'll find a progression I like and recycle it in a better song.
IAC: Do you have any special advice or remedy for all those artists out there who may be suffering from writer's block? What do you do when when this happens to you, if it ever does happen to you?
Courtney: I really hadn't hit a major writer's
block until recently. I had written half a dozen songs that I thought were
by far my best yet, and I was scared of writing something of a lesser quality.
I didn't want to go backwards. Suddenly I felt everything sounded the same
when I sat down to write, and nothing was coming lyrically... it was pretty
frustrating. That being said, there are two different things that I found
work for me. The first is to just make a list of possible song concepts,
metaphors, like "rain", or "stars". Things like that. I use a lot of water
imagery in my songs, so I try to stay away from those in my own writing
now. Another way, which I find works the best for me, is to attend concerts.
For some reason, live music gets me thinking along songwriter lines. That's
broken me out a couple of times. Just be careful it doesn't sound exactly
like whoever it was you just saw.
IAC: If Courtney was having a big night on the town the movie she might be going to see would be .......... and the concert she might be going to attend would feature........?
Courtney: I prefer movies where things blow up, but that's not a written in stone requirement. I like movies where I get to think, and I get to laugh, (and getting to appreciate totally cool special effects is a plus as well), but I don't like walking away totally confused.
As long as it's clever, I'll probably like it. Unless it's a horror
flick. I don't do scary movies. And concert? I don't know, I guess it depends
on who's in town. Nothing too hardcore.
IAC: Tell us some things that you would like to do musically that you haven't had a chance to try or do yet.
Courtney: I want to play the guitar! I've been
trying, but it's just not happening.
IAC: Please tell us some of the thoughts you have about independent music and the impact it is having on the music business in general. Do you think it has made many advancements on reaching the general public and where do you envision it heading in the future?
Courtney: I think it certainly has made advancements
in reaching the general public. You can listen and purchase independent
music on dozens of websites. Do it yourself artists now have the resources,
from production technology to companies like Discmakers for CD replication,
to make a living in music without a label. As far as the future goes, I'm
not sure. The artists that are filling arenas and Billboard charts are
still signed to major labels, and because we have the capabilities to move
further on our own than in the past, more is expected of us if we're looking
to be signed with a major. But independent music is making a stand, and
I think that competition is good for the industry.
IAC: Tell us some of the major differences between the Courtney Jones of five years ago and the Courtney Jones of today in any facets of your life including your music.
Courtney: It might be easier to say what's the
same. I've done a lot of growing the past few years. I had just ventured
into the world of songwriting five years ago, and now it's my full-time
job. I was still in high school, which I don't miss. I was an awkward kid,
quiet, very shy, and I got along with most people fine but didn't really
hang out with anyone in my spare time. I think that's why I turned to music.
I've slowly been gaining confidence over the past couple of years, and
that's affected everything from personality, to physical appearance, to
the music I'm writing. Confidence has been a long road for me, and it's
still something I struggle with, but I'm very happy with how far I've come.
IAC: Tell us about the most memorable vacation you have ever had and some of your best memories about that time. What would be your dream vacation?
Courtney: My family would visit this little resort
town every summer when I was a kid, and that was a lot of fun. We would
have our traditional game of mini-golf, where a hole-in-one was worth $5,
and then go for ice cream afterwards. And Disneyland, of course, is classic
good-time vacation. My dream vacation... that's hard to narrow down. I
really want to travel the world, but I'd have to say a trek through greater
Western Europe would probably be it. I have this thing for castles, and
museums... and architecture in general.
IAC: Music seems to be somewhat cyclic and yet ever evolving at the same time. Do you see yourself as an artist that is seeking to perfect one certain style/genre or are you always looking for something a little bit different to broaden your talents?
Courtney: I want to stay true to my sound. Certainly
I want to get better, but I'm not looking for a dramatic genre shift or
to perfect anything. I don't think people are looking for perfect, they're
looking for something to relate to, something that's accessible. I think
evolution of sound is natural as you get better, you should be progressing,
but I don't worry too much about perfection. I just want to make good music.
IAC: I'm sure you've become aware of the incredible level of talent on IAC. Tell us a few of your favorite artists or stations that you listen to on IAC. Isn't the talent level quite amazing?
Courtney: One of my favorite artists is Melody
Gardot, who I came across a while ago. I love her voice, her whole sound,
and all the nuance. Aaron Bowen is another great independent artist, but
I met him before I found him on IAC so that's kind of cheating. More often
than not I find myself perusing the charts and listening on artist's pages
more than stations, actually. And the talent really is amazing.
IAC: If you could record a duet with any artist of your choosing and any band of your choosing who would this group be comprised of and why?
Courtney: I'm not personally a huge fan of duets,
but if I had the opportunity to work with another artist or band.... probably
Coldplay. Or Train. When I'm singing along with my stereo we sound pretty
good together, haha. And with both groups, they achieve this amazing alt.
pop sound that I love. Good writing too. I haven't seen Coldplay live,
but I know Train rocks in concert.
IAC: Is there anything missing at IAC that you would like to see implemented? What do you think the best features of the site are? How did you find IAC?
Courtney: I can't remember exactly how I came across
IAC, but I do remember thinking it was a great opportunity for me to get
my music heard. It's very artist friendly, and it's easy to hop on and
listen to some good tunes.
IAC: What do you think of the state of the world in general and please tell us some of your greatest concerns and/or worries concerning the future of the planet. Do you have a more optimistic view of the future or do you think things in general are heading in the wrong direction?
Courtney: I think that many of the world's greatest
issues could be resolved if we were all a bit nicer to each other. And
I don't necessarily mean to other nations, or world leaders (although that's
certainly important). I mean to our neighbors. To our friends. To our families.
There are so many who are angry, and who place blame, and I don't think
that's the answer. If we can do our best and take care of things on a small
level, I firmly believe that the larger problems will be much easier to
IAC: OK, your favorite pig-out, somewhat unhealthy, but oh so yummy foods that you just have to have once in awhile are.....? C'mon, level with us!
Courtney: Pies, cakes, cookies, muffins, basically
anything baked... and I think I'm single-handedly keeping Jamba Juice in
IAC: OK Courtney, do you believe in Destiny?
Courtney: Kind of. I believe that there are pre-determined options, but that we as people are entirely capable of passing them up. Isn't potential kind of a mild form of destiny?
Courtney: Not really.
IAC: Love at first sight?
Courtney: Nope. But fortune cookies... I think they've got something there...
Courtney: Hard to say.
IAC: Overnight success?
Courtney: Not literally.
IAC: Reliable and sane drummers?
Courtney: Debatable, haha.
IAC: The greatest loves in Courtney Jones' life are......?
Courtney: Apple pie! And racquetball. And movies.
IAC: and the greatest pet peeves Courtney has are .....?
Courtney: Singing "Happy Birthday". Hearing people
eat. Most country music.
IAC: What is the greatest on stage embarrassment that you have had to endure as a performer?
Courtney: I leaned over for my water bottle at a show
one night and fell over. That wasn't a particularly good moment.