David Maddox Jones is re-emerging, butterfly-style, from an old cocoon. The former The Departure and Born Stranger singer is now trading under his birth name, and hitting the ground running with his ‘Headspace’ EP. New Boots is mightily impressed with the results, and went in search of some answers.
Under your own name now, this feels like a bit of a new start.
Yeah, it definitely feels that way. Myself and Raife Hacking went under the Born Stranger since 2016, and in 2018 Raife left to pursue a more production led/DJ route; it was completely amicable. I guess my mindset then was that I didn’t want to admit defeat, and I continued releasing the odd single under that name until last year. I entered 2020 as a newly single man and this has given me time a chance to look at what I’m doing. As I’m a solo artist anyway it made total sense to just go with Maddox Jones, and be a bit more true to myself in that way I guess.
How has the sound changed?
This EP is inspired by me and what’s going on in my life and inside my head. I’ve tried to be as honest and open as possible with my lyrics. I have worked with three different producers on this record. Dave Crawford [Kinships, Decibels], Louis Souyave [St Blue, Daytona Lights]and Harry Tarlton [Tom Misch, Vivienne Chi]. They have all helped me bring out different sides of my sound, whilst also bringing their own vibes.
What was the reaction like to the title track when it dropped last month?
Really great. I’ve seen a marked difference in the response I’ve been getting to the Maddox Jones stuff compared with last year when I was releasing singles as Born Stranger. It’s given me a new lease of life to be fair. The video has had over 30,000 views, and friends that haven’t spoken to for ages have been messaging me telling me how much they love it. This is always a good test to see how you’re doing.
Tell us about the whole ‘Headspace’ EP .
This general message of the EP is one of honesty, authenticity and personal growth. I’d just come out of a four year relationship in January and I wrote ‘Headspace’ in one evening with Dave Crawford at Plastic Tree Studios. It’s about being there for someone when they are going through something hard. It was a bit of a healing song for me. I wanted it to be one of those songs that you can put on in your headphones and just zone out to.
The second track ‘My House’ was written and produced with Louis Souyave at his home studio in London. It’s basically break-up sex with old habits your trying to break free from. This is a theme that runs into ‘Dancing Feels Good’, which has a cool Nile Rodgers guitar line played by Harry Tarlton the producer. ‘Dancing Feels Good’ is acknowledging that a person or a something is bad for you, but not being able to resist the temptation of going back to it because it feels too good. The EP is story of a search for deep connection. Connection to others, to yourself and to a deeper meaning in life. It’s about authenticity and vulnerability, going after the things we truly want.
My favourite track on the EP is ‘No More Ghosts’. I wrote it in February 2019 after watching an episode of Netflix series ‘You’. The main character Joe Golderg wakes up and says “There’s no more ghosts in this bed”. It was about midnight and I sung the chorus into Voicenotes on my phone, and it became an amazing song over the next few weeks.
How has lockdown been for you? Helped or hindered your creativity? Luckily I’d just finished the EP literally the day that lockdown was announced. No joke: I was at Dave Crawford’s and in the afternoon the speech from Boris he kicked me out because he wanted to go and see his girlfriend before lockdown was enforced. Lockdown has been mostly spent creating videos and doing live-streams. I’ve written a few new songs/ideas as well. I have had a few lazy days, not gonna lie. It has gotten a bit monotonous.
Are you keen to get gigging this new project?
Yep! Can’t wait to gig. This new material has made me want to gig so bad. Until I can do that I’ll be live streaming and connecting fans where I can.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I don’t really buy albums or even stream them, I’m more of a song man. I’m into Maisie Peters currently and Radiohead. Fucking love Radiohead right now. I’m gonna listen to The Bends all the way through tomorrow!
What is your burning desire to do in the future?
Get an album together. A really great, life-affirming album. I just did a live stream this week and played ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ by Radiohead. What a song! I want to focus more on the melody and lyrics rather rather than production in future. I mean I do focus on the song a lot already, but something hauntingly beautiful is next on the agenda.
The ‘Headspace’ EP is out now via the usual digital platforms. Photo by Tom Stilgoe