With his song Call You Home going viral, being certified gold and airing to an estimated audience of 100 million people during the Superbowl, it’s been a rollercoaster few years for Kelvin Jones. He recently spoke to leftlion.co.uk.
What was it like to have your breakout single, Call You Home, become so popular?
The song kind of had two lives. Firstly, it went from having 300 views on YouTube to going viral with over a million hits. That was something that you just think happens to other people; it was on Good Morning America, and I remember watching it and having an outer-body experience. Then, about a year later, it started getting played on German radio and it blew up all over again, and became a gold record. It was just unbelievable.
What has it been like to tour the world?
Man, in a word: addictive. This year I played in Poland for the first time – when you’re playing in a place that you’ve never been to before, you don’t know how many people are even going to be there. So for these people that you’ve never met, who don’t even speak the same language as you, to not only turn up but also sing your songs back to you is very addictive. You just want to grow, get more people interested and go back again.
What is the average Kelvin Jones fan like?
I would say similar to Ed Sheeran’s, having been in his crowds. It’s very much a mixture, because the kind of music that we make seems to appeal to a broad range of people. My current single is called Lights On, which has the lyrics: “I know that you’ve been hurt before, broken dreams and burnt out hopes, but I’m going to love you with the lights on.” So these are emotional topics that, for some reason, are connecting emotionally to a lot of girls. But in terms of age, it’s all over the range.
What motivates you to perform?
The feeling you get in the middle of the show, where you feel like there’s a moment. It’s normally about fifteen minutes or so in, and you just feel like everyone is there. For the first couple of songs, people are adjusting, finishing off their text messages or getting into the zone. But at that fifteen-minute mark, people stop looking at their phones, stop thinking about other things, and forget what day it is – and everyone just connects to this one moment. That’s a rare thing that we don’t really get any more because of all the distractions in life. But it’s always something I look forward to.
How would you describe your music?
Pop is definitely the key word. It’s the easiest term. I’m heavily influenced by Oasis; I love big choruses – a chorus has to know it’s a chorus. I’m not a fan of songs where, after three minutes, I’m still not sure what part of the song I’m listening to.
Who else influenced you aside from Oasis?
People my age who are into music tend be heavily influenced by John Mayer – his command of the guitar is inspirational. I get really inspired by things I can’t do – if I hear a rap, or something else in music that I don’t understand how it’s been done, I get really excited and think about how I can represent that in my music.
You were born in Zimbabwe and grew up in the UK. How do you think this shaped your perspective and creative approach to music?
It changes my approach to music in as much that it changes who I am, and only that way. I am from Zimbabwe, and I am Zimbabwean, but I spent the last fifteen years in the UK. I am also equally British – you can hear in the way that I speak that it’s a mixture of Zimbabwe meets British. It affects the way I think about things, because I feel like I’m constantly grateful. I’ve been in a place where it’s not like this. My relatives sometimes don’t have food, or are in a situation where they don’t have a home. You can’t really get things like that out of your heart, so when I get these opportunities, or something good happens to me, I get completely overwhelmed by how grateful I am.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
There are many different highlights, but the ones that come to mind tend to be me playing live, because that’s my favourite thing to do. I’ve been fortunate enough to get two gold records, and that’s something I never thought I’d have. Selling over 200,000 CDs in Germany with my name on it is a dream in itself, but playing shows in ridiculous places like the Royal Albert Hall, or to audiences of 50,000 people are big memories. I have to admit, I played in a placed called The Eagle in Manchester in front of fifty people a couple of months ago, and that was one of the best shows I ever had. Those special shows are unforgettable.
What was it like having one of your songs featured in a Super Bowl advert?
It didn’t feel like it was happening to me, it didn’t feel like my voice, or my song, because I remembered writing that song in a little room at my parents’ place at 2am, and it was just for me. They say that you can imagine what one hundred people looks like, but you can’t comprehend the scale of seeing 100,000 people. So for 100 million people to be hearing my song, my voice, is something that I just can’t imagine.
You’re going to be performing songs from your debut album, Stop the Moment, as well as some new tracks from your next album. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I never really write albums – I write a collection of songs, and when it feels right, it’s right. The new album isn’t finished yet; Stop the Moment captured my mind at nineteen, the next album will capture my mind at 23. I’ve got a few new songs coming out soon, and the next single is called Cry a Little Less, which I’m really excited about.
What are your aspirations for the future?
My only goals are with the shows. I’m currently working on two tours, one which is supporting my friend Kovic, and then my own tour, which will have dates in London and across Europe. So all of my goals revolve around making sure those tours sell out. The biggest show I’ve played on my own was 300 people, so this year I’m aiming to get 500.