Kelvin Jones is taking part in “Sing mein Song” this year – an emotional journey for the singer, as he explains in an interview.
Kelvin Jones (27) is a participant in the show “Sing my song – the exchange concert” this year. His episode can be seen on May 17 (8:15 p.m., VOX). During his trip to South Africa, Kelvin Jones also visited his native Zimbabwe. In an interview with spot on news, he describes the emotional moments and what it was like to see his family again after many years. In Africa he noticed that the country was his “home”: “I was able to recharge my batteries that I was missing,” says the singer. He also talks about his new album This Too Shall Last, which was released recently.
After your debut album in 2015 you have now released the follow-up “This Too Shall Last”. What has changed in these seven years – musically, but also in your private life?
Kelvin Jones: Almost everything has changed in the last seven years. I had the chance to live and I had to do that to ensure that the album had new storytelling, growth and direction that reflected my kind of music. Musically, I’m proud that my music is so much more than it’s ever been.
But I also notice in my life that the last seven years have personally led me to where I want to be. There are always difficult moments for me, but I often learn the most from them and can then process them with my songs.
“Love To Go” sounds like a declaration of love. Is the song aimed at a specific person?
Jones: It’s actually written for every person I’ve ever loved. Whether it was my family or my girlfriend, my job keeps me on the road and always leaving the people I love. So I’ve learned to take her love with me wherever I go. And I also want to pass that on to people: that love can often be a challenge, but you have to learn to be able to take love with you without being able to see the person every day. That’s what makes love stronger.
“Cry A Little Less” is a very personal song about a breakup. With the completion a load has been lifted from your shoulders. Why?
Jones: I have a hard time expressing myself when speaking, that’s why I make music. And on “Cry A Little Less”, like many of my songs, I can finally express myself through singing, writing and playing. I think the music says more than the words. And afterwards I often feel healed and it brings me to my zest for life.
Such a song has its own life and the way until you are finished with it can be very challenging because there are just a lot of emotions connected to it. But in the end that makes the song even more special. He tells a story, which is also about the fact that there are moments when I felt completely alone. You have to accept the feelings and then do what your heart tells you, and I did that.
In recent years you have been confronted with pressure of expectations and self-doubt. How did that come about and how did you get through this phase?
Jones: I think pressure and self-doubt are always a part of life as a musician and life in general. I’ve realized over the past few years that I’ve often been the person putting the pressure on myself rather than others. When I realized that, I was able to control it better, find myself more and find joy in life. So now I’m doing silly and funny things to remind myself not to be so serious and just enjoy the journey. Everyone should do what they feel like doing, as long as they feel comfortable. Such decisions can make you more relaxed and confident.
You grew up in Zimbabwe, then moved to London and now live in Germany. To what extent has this path of life shaped you?
Jones: He completely shaped who I am and where I am today. I can recognize parts of my personality that are Zimbabwean: how to be loud and proud, but also loving to every person that comes my way. Then parts that are English: how I speak and express myself, but also the outfits and the style I wear.
And parts of my German personality: how to be direct and inviting. And so I’m a colorful mix now and that makes me the person I am. This journey through different cultures, experiences and moments means a lot to me and I’ve learned a lot about people and about myself. Like all the challenges I’ve had to overcome, I think it’s often these moments that make a difference.
You spent the time on “Sing mein Song” in South Africa. How did you experience the time there? Did you remember anything about your childhood?
Jones: I loved my time in Africa. My childhood memories of Zimbabwe were a bit hazy so I got the chance to fill in the details. Now I can describe how the sunsets over the mountains or how the breeze in the woods feels. It’s my home and I was able to recharge my batteries that I was missing. I believe that every person feels most comfortable at home, no matter where that is.
I’ve learned that, in the end, it’s about that feeling of home, even though you might not be home. The time in Zimbabwe was very valuable for me because I could finally live my Zimbabwean childhood, it was very crazy, but also just beautiful.
How often do you visit your family in Zimbabwe? How rooted are you there?
Jones: Unfortunately not that often. I hadn’t seen most of my family in 20 years. It was very emotional to hug my grandmother again and just have my whole family with me. Many of my family no longer live in Zimbabwe and everyone came here, it was a big gathering with over a hundred people.
Zimbabwe is really my root, I could feel that from the second my feet touched the ground there again. It’s in my blood And reconnecting with those roots was something I hadn’t felt in a long time. But I took those roots with me to always have with me now, like the love from “Love To Go” that I always want to have with me.
Why did you want to take part in “Sing meine Song”?
Jones: Because it’s sing my song! (laughs) I’ve watched this show so many times and wished I was sitting on the couch in Africa, laughing, drinking and singing with friends. It always struck me as a show that really focuses on the love of music. And now I know for myself that it is so. I think it’s rare to be able to capture moments like this with a camera. That’s what makes “Sing meine Song” so special.
How nervous were you before filming started?
Jones: Incredibly nervous! I was worried that my German wouldn’t be good enough, I was worried that I would miss the jokes, I was worried about presenting myself well. But in the end I just had to be myself and was able to completely relax and enjoy from the first second of the shoot. And luckily I was able to learn enough German with my fans before departure, who also encouraged me a lot in my Instagram live streams. Before starting a project like this, it’s always good to talk to people who aren’t directly involved. That’s why I have to thank my fans in any case.
Which song was the biggest challenge for you?
Jones: Lotte’s “More Like This” was really difficult for a lot of reasons. First: Lotte is a good friend of mine so I really wanted her to love my version of her song. Secondly, it was super difficult to sing so many lyrics in German. I had to remind myself not to focus too much on making it “perfect” and focus more on doing it from the heart. I ended up producing the version myself, so it took me weeks to prepare the version. But it’s the version I’m most proud of, probably for those reasons too.
How did you prepare for the show? How did you approach the songs?
Jones: The most important thing for me was to find a deep connection to the songs and the stories in the songs. Without that I would only do karaoke and I didn’t want to do that. So I spent a lot of time listening to the songs over and over again, reading through the lyrics and thinking about how the song evokes feelings. Once I felt the connection, it was much easier to express it and then make my version of it. You learn a lot about music in the process.
Were you afraid of disappointing the original singers?
Jones: Honestly no. It’s about letting your heart work on songs like this and doing what makes you happy. So I put my heart into the songs. That’s how I work when I make my own songs. I don’t worry if the fans like them or not. The most important thing is that I connect with them and it’s from my heart.
So of course I was hoping that the original artists would connect to my version of their song. But I didn’t worry about it because in the end you have to be happy with yourself. Luckily, the heart remembers the emotion you put into something, and if you’re really lucky, other people feel it too.
Which artist are you looking forward to the most?
Jones: I was very excited to see what Clueso would do with the songs. He is a very special person and a special artist. He really just seems to follow what he feels, with nothing getting in the way. I find that very impressive. I have the feeling that he makes music without borders. I think you can take a lot from it.
What emotional moments were there on the show? Did tears flow?
Jones: So many emotional moments, I definitely cried a lot of happy tears! One of my favorite moments is in the second episode when Floor plays SDP’s “Unikat” and Dag says, crying, “That’s what I meant by the song.” I thought that was so beautiful.
How did you all get along with each other?
Jones: It’s amazing how quickly we all hit it off. I think there’s an unspoken understanding between musicians that helps a lot. We even laughed, screamed and sang drunk around a piano on the first night. We were so open and honest with each other right away. I actually have seven new lifelong friends from that time.
The show sheds light on everyone’s life and career. How was it difficult for you to open up?
Jones: Actually, it was super easy for me to open up because I felt safe and comfortable. Because of the way they film the show it was very easy to forget the cameras were even there so we could all really get lost in the conversations and be ourselves. Of course it was also about many emotional moments from my life, but I was really looking forward to this time. I think that every artist can give people something to take with them and that just feels really good.
Who surprised you the most?
Jones: I would say Elif surprised me the most. Her style of music has changed quite a bit over the years and I think I’ve forgotten the different styles she can do just like that. She could be rapping one second and singing the most beautiful tunes the next, it was amazing and she is amazing.