Donell Jones: Music’s Missing The Love

After releasing his album Journey of a Gemini in 2006, Donell Jones took a break from the music scene for a minute. In that time the R&B singer-songwriter, who has written and produced for likes of Usher, Silk, Brownstone and Madonna, decided it was time to cut ties with his record label, Jive – and now after four years away is ready for a comeback.  He released The Lost Files EP last year and joins the growing list of artists and bands from the ‘90s era, like Maxwell and Jodeci, who have all returned to try and revive their R&B/Soul successes. Donell reveals why he believes people are now missing the R&B music of the ‘90s and how he is vowing to bring some love back to his music.

SoulCulture: It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from you musically and otherwise, why the break?

Donell Jones: I was signed to Jive and I was ready to leave but I was still bound to a contract for a while until I finally left in June 2007. I just felt it was time to do own thing and always wanted to start my own record label, so I finally did and that’s how CandyMan Music came about. I never stopped recording and working on my music but now I feel like I can truly do what’s right for me without any of the restrictions. I feel like I can handle things the way I want now like the marketing and promotion side of things, so it’s been great to be able step out on my own and get back to making music again.

SoulCulture: Have you signed anyone to your record label?

Donell Jones: At the moment it’s just me but I am working with a couple of other artists; right now I’m just focused on where I am and what I’m doing but in time there will definitely be more artists signed up.

SoulCulture: You also recently released an album of unreleased unheard music, The Lost Files. What made you decide to release it now?

The Lost Files CoverDonell Jones: I just felt like I had to release it man, because I been away for such a long time and I knew I had to give my fans something. All the songs on the album basically span the history of my career, like some songs were made right at the beginning in ‘96 all the way up to some of the ones that didn’t make it onto Journey Of A Gemini and there’s still a lot of other songs that I got so there will definitely be more albums like this to come. I just thought it would be cool to have this one as like a prelude to the official album just to remind people of me, what I’m about and getting the fans feeling the music again.

SoulCulture: Based on that prelude what can we expect from you on your next album?

Donell Jones: Expect greatness. I’ve had a lot of time to work on it so I truly think this album is the best so far, because it’s all me now, there’s no more outside influences and that means you should expect nothing but the best from me. I’m not one to work with loads of different artists and rappers, it’s just not me but I really liked what Ryan Leslie was doing so he will definitely be on there for sure and I also got Mike City producing some stuff, mainly it’s just me doing it all from the writing to the producing.

SoulCulture: Since you’ve been away for a minute, what are your opinions on the R&B/Soul scene at the moment?

Donell Jones: I like some of the artists but the subject matter is something I don’t like right now. I think music now is missing the love element for real. Like some of the artists have forgot about the soul, like the music that makes a woman want to really listen to the words, that will make her cry or just bring out some kind of emotion. Now it’s just that teeny-bopper type of music, that’s hook friendly and totally commercial. I don’t like it man but that’s what it is. And now it’s like there’s all these R&B singers who wish they could be rappers or something, cause a lot of what they’re doing isn’t real singing to me, I don’t really know what to call it but I think things have definitely changed and not for the best.

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SoulCulture: Is there anyone that has stood out to you that you would like to work with in the future?

Donell Jones: You know what I would work with anyone and try anything; at the end of the day to me music is universal. In terms of artists I respect, I think Ryan Leslie and Trey Songz are doing their thing but with Trey Songz even though I like some of his stuff, there’s things he does I wouldn’t do and that’s just because that’s just me, I do understand that artists want to push the boundaries but like I said before it’s kinda headed in a direction I’m not willing to take personally. I know what my fans like and what they want to hear but obviously I’ve changed and it’s not going to be exactly the same, I’m not going to give too much away but I want to open people to other sides of me musically and they’ll hear that on the album.

SoulCulture: So I know you have your own Twitter account now, what do you think of the social networking sites – because you obviously started out at a time when none of this was around. Do you think the internet has changed things for artists for better or worse?

Donell Jones: I think it’s incredible. I don’t miss those days when fans would have to send you letters to some PO Box address because I hardly ever got the chance to read any of my fan mail. But now these websites mean I can speak directly to a fan.  It’s just a lot easier and it’s a great marketing tool for artists now because we don’t have to rely so much on a record label to get stuff done, if I wanna know what my fans are thinking about a song or anything I can just ask them and find out. So it’s definitely great for making artists more independent but at the same time it is a curse and a blessing because I do think the internet has made us more lazy in a way but at the same time it’s opened up some new avenues and NO I don’t tweet about every little thing I do (laughs) but it’s fun, it definitely brings me closer to my fans.

SoulCulture: You’re doing some Valentines concerts with Musiq Soulchild and Avant in the UK next month, you must be looking forward to performing again after so long?

Donell Jones: Yes it’s great to get back to doing the live stuff and I’m really excited to be back in the UK again it has been a long time and I love it there it’s like my second home. I don’t know man, it’s  just a different vibe out there, like it’s so nice when I come out and perform and the crowd is singing every word to my songs so loud I can’t even hear myself singing; that’s awesome. Of course it will be great to be around two great artists like Musiq and Avant but for me it’s all about the fans and just getting to interact with them again.

Donell’s as yet untitled album is due for release in April, dates to be confirmed.  He performs alongside Avant and Musiq Soulchild in London on Friday 12th February 2010 at Brixton Academy. Click here for more information and full UK dates.

–Sarah Mene

Follow @DonellJones96 on Twitter!

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