Steve Jones AKA Stylusboy
A woman gets into her car after a busy work day, which ended on a high note with a relaxed and positive meeting. She pops a CD into the slot and pulls out of the car park. As the music starts up, she takes a deep breath. By the time she reaches her house, she is calm, the stress of the day is forgotten. Because on her drive home she’s been taken on a journey - by one man, his guitar and the stories he creates.
Steve Jones (also known as Stylusboy) hands me an EP. The cover is a beautiful hand-drawn piece, so I ask him to tell me more about it.
I hand-make all my EP covers so it feels like it’s been created by myself from start to finish - that’s a great feeling. Handing something to someone and knowing “I made that, and I think they’ll enjoy it.” The songs themselves tend to be driven by emotions and storytelling. I guess in some ways it’s a little folky in that when I perform it’s often just me and my guitar and I am telling a story but I guess if I had to label myself it’d be ‘indie folk.’
What kind of stories have you written about in this EP / your album?
The album I have coming up is called “Routes” - it’s about knowing where you’re from and where you’re going. There are some songs that are just about other people’s journeys, some about plodding on when things are tough. It also is a play on words of “Roots” - one of my songs is for my great grandfather who could have died as a firefighter along with the rest of his crew during the Coventry Blitz, had it not been for his family insisting he stay for dinner that night. It’s odd to think that without that one act, I might not even exist. Those types of emotions run throughout my first album.
So this album is your first as a solo artist. But where did your music career first start?
As with most musicians, I was in a band when I was a teenager - ready to take on the world. I then went on to be in another band, Low Drive - we got some coverage in places like Kerrang! Magazine, released a few albums but then went our separate ways naturally as bands do. This is my first album as a solo artist so we’re going to kick it off with a launch night - right here in Coventry at BackHaus.
Now for that age-old question - do you get nervous before going on stage?
Not in the ways that you think - a lot of the things I worry about before a gig are whether I’ll make the train on time, or whether the electronics will work. I don’t feel nervous about the performance itself; I just love to connect with people through my music. I often start with my quietest song, to draw the crowd in and make them feel like I’m speaking directly to them - because that’s exactly what I aim to do.
What’s your favourite place that you’ve ever played?
That’s a tough one - there are quite a few. Mostly, the more intimate the venue the more I enjoy it - I’ve played some stunning smaller gigs in London like Green Note and St Pancras Old Church. The most quirky one has to be Folk In A Box - where you play to an audience of one within a wooden box - that was a really surreal experience. I’m most looking forward to performing for Humans of Cov, for which I wrote a 10 line song - it was great creating something for that project.
Tell me a bit about the process you take when writing songs - what’s your favourite part about it?
Often I will be driving or walking along and suddenly think of a one-liner, or hum a particular melody and have to quickly stop to write it down. Most of the time they end up forming into a vivid picture in my mind which I hope to paint with my lyrics - they come from places of emotion sometimes, but mostly they’re just there to share a story or journey. They often don’t end up sounding the same by the time they hit the album. When you perform a song a few times you’ll naturally change and the songs will evolve over time. That’s why I wanted to make sure that this album wasn’t too refined, but stayed true to the performance.
What does success for this album look like to you?
I’d love for it to spread but I have to say it’s going to be difficult to beat my #1 hit I got in Indonesia…(True story!) Mostly I just enjoy turning up at gigs, playing my music for a crowd and enjoying the process of writing and performing. Recording it almost feels like a secondary process, but having people hear it outside of those gigs and connecting with people would just be amazing.
Stylusboy’s album, ‘Routes’, launch gig will be played at Backhaus&Co on September 13th 2019
Written by Amy Turner of Writing Into The Ether