Every once and a while there’s a song on the playlist that your friend-with-entirely-different-taste-in-music sends you that stops me dead. A song like “Bloom” by These Brittle Bones. Uncomplicated, with keyboard loop and layers, then a young voice, hesitant and sad. Intrigued, I explored. “Flecks” is similar in sound – piano and strings – but also poetic and beautiful. The voice is old and wise.
And yet Chris Jones is young. Not young like Palma Violets or Jake Bugg-young
Chris Jones is from Swansea, Wales but currently lives in Singapore with this family (dad got offered a job there), and Chris Jones is 14 years old kind of young. And while mainstream UK and US contents itself with breeding teens to make hip-hop and candy pop, Jones is putting out music that sounds like they could soundtrack your favourite beard-stroking art house film.
I tracked Jones down in Singapore and asked him to tell me a bit about himself. Here’s a very earnest PG-rated chat between a very old woman and a very young man.
It’s nice to meet you, I’m Mikala. If I could treat you to a drink, non-alcoholic of course, what will you have?
Probably coffee, thanks! I drink too much of it already at 14 so we’ll see how that habit lives on.. Haha!
Ah, a teenage coffee freak. Awesome. Anyway. A friend recently sent over “Bloom” to me, which is how I discovered you. And then nearly choked when I learned that you’re only 14. When I was 14, I was lying under my own bed listening to the Cure and reading pretentious books…but demonstrated no discernable musical talent. So kudos for that.
You’re welcome! My point is that your songs sound more complete than debuts by musicians twice your age. Sorry to mention your age, because I know you’re probably already sick of us mentioning your age….but it’s a sort of inescapable fact. So how did you start on your musical training?
It is, isn’t it? I’ve always been somewhat involved in music, whether it’s through school, piano lessons as a child and stuff like that. I had a very inspiring music teacher in my primary school that helped develop my interest. I’ve kept it close to me throughout the move to Singapore and everything, and here I am today!
Do you write and perform the songs fully yourself or is there a guiding hand over them?
I wrote, arranged and performed the songs myself, however there was a producer who was there to get the tech side of it working and occasionally a violinist.
“Bloom” and “Flecks” feel very cinematic. I imagine them placed in a series like Skins or films like Morvern Callar or Her. Does that make sense? Do films inspire you at all? Or am I off on this?
Because I’m still young, I feel I take inspiration from lots of places – I’m like a sponge soaking up water, except I’m taking in all these ideas and then they come out through my songs. Film is a great way to get in the mood for writing – some shows that have definitely helped create a mood for a piece are British dramas like Broadchurch and The Fall. I;d definitely like to work with film one day. Maybe if it’s scoring for a movie or a show…we’ll see!
The songs are kinda melancholy too – as is your moniker, which, as a lapsed-goth, I totally love. Where’s all that coming from? Are you okay? Did you have a break up? Can I give you a hug?
Hugs are always welcome! Nah… haha…I didn’t go through the goth phase (that’s not to say it’s not coming.., uh oh!). It’s an adapted song lyric from Daughter’s song “Candles”, where she mentions her “brittle bones”.
So, you’ve got a new single coming out today, March 3rd. Can you tell me a bit about it?
I’m releasing a reworked version of my song “Hollow” which was on my debut EP. I’m excited to share it with fans as it’s one of the most gloomy songs out of everything I’ve been writing. It’s been a good few months since I’ve put anything out and I’ve been quiet so I’m excited to get back into it and show people what I’ve been working on!
And what are your plans moving forward? Tours? How do you think music will affect your schooling? Would you like it to?
We’ve been trying to put a full0length album together but with school and everything that’s been going on, it has proved difficult. So we’re going to make the album a continuing project, which I don’t have to rush, and put out an EP by the summer instead!
What bands or artists totally inspire and excite you?
I LOVE St. Vincent – literally could not wait for the album. Huge fan of the new Bombay Bicycle Club album. Really looking forward to S. Carey’s next album, as I’m a huge Bon Iver fan! Loads more too… I could go on!
Finally, what’s the coolest thing you about being you right now?
I’m about to say probably the most cheesy thing I will ever say: I have the best of both worlds. I’m really enjoying school but I am so grateful that I can experiment with music at this age also. It has been hard to balance the two, but I am enjoying every minute of it and learning so much as I get older. I must admit it is also pretty cool to see my fan base grow and have people recognize you!
Listen to Hollow and other These Brittle Bones tracks on Spotify or buy on iTunes.