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How Durand Jones put more ‘self’ into his songs

Durand Jones knows the power of a group effort. He and his band, The Indications, pooled their creativity on three studio albums that injected modernity into classic soul, the latest being 2021’s Private Space.

But Jones also knows the power of personal perspective. It’s what he brought to Wait Til I Get Over, his solo debut — heavy emphasis on “solo.” The 12 tracks are his words, his voice. It’s Jones sharing a singular view of his Louisiana hometown of Hillaryville. Of growing up there, seeing it deteriorate and putting it behind him, only to return again and again.

The album also sees Jones turn that all-seeing eye inward and present his queerness with the same unflinching honesty. That’s one of the topics he generously explored with Nate Imig during a recent interview, going in depth about representation, how old and new have collided in Hillaryville, and writing for the child version of himself, as well as the children dealing with the same issues he faced growing up.

You can find highlights from the interview below and enjoy the full conversation at the top of the page, either on YouTube or using the audio player. Wait Til I Get Over is also available right now on streaming platforms and Jones’ Bandcamp page.

The following has been edited for length and clarity.

On the new album’s “live energy”:

It was absolutely incredible. It was something that I've always wanted to do but have not necessarily been given the chance or opportunity in the past. In other recording projects that I've done, it's usually the band records first, and then you have your vocal days. Being that I was able to fully steer the ship this time, I knew that I didn't want to do that, and I wanted to be in the room with the band singing with them.

What I discovered were these ideas that were flowing and happening that I knew wouldn't have happened if I was by myself. I was reacting and interacting with the band, and they were feeding off of me as well and leaning on me just as much as I was leaning on them. A song like “Lord Have Mercy” and the rawness and the rockness that tune has, I don't think that would have been possible if it weren't for us doing it all in the room together.

On his music speaking to kids in difficult circumstances:

The more and more I do this … and the more and more successful I become in my path as an artist, I feel that inner child within me. That kid who just believed and dreamed.

I know that there are so many more kids in the rural south — particularly queer kids, kids of color, kids from underserved, impoverished backgrounds — who believe that they have it within themselves. But everything around them is telling them that they don't.

They need to hear messages like “Letter to My 17 Year Old Self” and messages like “Secrets.” And that's why I feel like such a big part of this record is, yeah, I am taking sensibilities and holding on to traditions from the past. But I'm also reaching forward and hopefully reaching out to some youthful guys out in the rural south.

On the emotions behind the video for “That Feeling”:

I can't tell you how much my heart was pumping the night before it was released. I really felt like I was showing a different side of myself, and I was really trying to show strength through vulnerability. And the response was absolutely beautiful. It really assured me that there's power in community. There's power in finding your people and finding people who love you and embrace you and believe in what you do.

That one will always be super-emotional to me, even having the opportunity to reach out to that ex-partner and share the tune with him was, in many ways, very beautiful and therapeutic. ... We were just talking to each other via text message or whatever, and after we listened we got on the phone and talked. It was really beautiful, and it almost kind of brought us back to those tender moments when we were just teenagers, young adults, trying to figure out who we were. It was really sweet.