INTERVIEW: JALEN N’GONDA
I have a problem with being on time. It doesn’t matter how early I get up, how prepared I am the night before, I always seem to be running for my train or arriving to the office flushed and out of breath. Today was going to be different though, I woke up early and had a long shower and (!) ate breakfast. People who know me well will understand how out of character this is – and I have to say, morning showers might be the way forward. All was going well when I waltzed onto my train in good time this morning, still slightly wet haired and feeling fresh. That would all go downhill however, when all tube trains on my line ground to a halt and I found myself having to walk from Oxford Circus to Camden, making me a (nearly) record HOUR late. I tried so hard. Maybe I am cursed to never be on time to work? It reminded me of that Simpsons episode where Bart tries really hard to study for a big test and still fails despite all his hard work. Anyway, I’ve been cheered up a great deal by the smooth soulful tones of Jalen N’Gonda who I have been listening to all afternoon. Jalen N’Gonda moved to Liverpool all the way from Maryland three years ago and since then his career as a musician has flourished incredibly, as he’s been playing gigs all across Europe and selling out headline shows. The talented soul/jazz singer songwriter has received the support of many big names blogs and magazines, including Clash, Notion, NME and he’s grown a substantial following on YouTube and Spotify. Olivia and Cecilia chatted to Jalen to learn more about his influences and current projects:
KM: Hi Jalen. How are you? Thank you for joining us today!
J: I’m doing good thank you and thank you for having me
KM: Tell us a little bit more about yourself. How was growing up in the US? When did you first start falling in love with music?
J: Well I’m a young American chilling in the UK at the moment. I love hanging out with mates and watching Netflix on a lazy day. Growing up in the US was eventful to say the least. I made friends at a young age, went to church, went to parties, hated high school etc. I got into music when I was 11 and started to listen to my dad’s record collection. I got interested in playing guitar so my mom saved up some money to buy me one for my birthday.
KM: How has the UK been treating you so far? I’m sure our readers would be interested to know the differences you have noticed between American and British audiences.
J: The UK has been lovely so far! In Liverpool where I live the locals took me in as there own. The British audience and American audience are pretty much the same, they both will be honest about it if they like you or not. The only difference is that one has a pint of lager and the other has a hotdog while watching
KM: Your sound is so fresh and your vocal skills are incredible -we particularly loved your Mahogany Session performance. How would you describe your music? What are your main inspirations and artists you enjoy listening to?
J: Why thank you! When I did the Mahogany Session my music was strictly Soul and R&B based, but the music I’m writing now is more rock, wall of sound driven. At the minute I’m listening to The Beach Boys, Phil Spector songs and Burt Bacharach stuff as well
KM: What a mix! Your new EP is due to be released in 2018- what should we expect from it?
J: Yes it will be released in 2018. You should expect better songs than the last songs that were released, hopefully…
KM: Are you going to tour after the release of the EP and, if so, where can we come and see you?
J: I will be hitting the road soon after the release, around the UK and Europe. No dates or venues have been confirmed yet but I’ll make sure to let you all know as and when!
KM: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Where can people find you to stay updated about your upcoming projects?
J: I want to say thank you to lovely people who’ve been buying my records and streaming online. I’m in the works of recording more new material for you guys. I hope to see you on tour next year! Until then you can find me in the virtual world on all social platforms.
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