Kush Jones is a DJ and producer, born and bred in New York City. Drawing influences from relatively niche, yet hugely influential, dance scenes in NYC and Chicago, Jones is a standout artist in the Jersey club and footwork scenes which have exploded in popularity in the last couple of years. Jones has an ear for sampling, and will infuse a song with anything from early R&B vocals, to the ubiquitous “Why the Fuck You Lyin’?” vine. The end result is a slew of songs that will make you dance and put a smile on your face.
Jones has an EP due out on trill.wav Records. With no firm release date yet, he’s working on crafting a project that's a perfect mixture of his trademark soulful, humorous and sporadic sound. I recently got to chat with the producer about his introduction to music, artistic goals and creative process.
What were your first memories of electronic and house music?
Kush Jones: I have a bad memory, and I consume a lot of music, so I don't really have a bunch of memories. However, "Gypsy Woman" by Crystal Waters makes me feel the same way today as when I first heard it as a kid.
What moment, or series of moments, influenced you to DJ? Were there any DJs/producers you looked up to?
One specific moment I can think of was the first time I got to play a live set at my brother Chong's crib. It was for Sim Simma Radio (link: https://soundcloud.com/teardropisfromnyc/kush-jones-ssrdtv-set-oct-13th) and I was preparing so hard for a 30 minute set. I wanted to make sure I played music that best represented where I wanted to go as far as my sound. It was my first time playing for people I didn't know.
I played the set on an APC20. Those things are built kinda janky. My whole bottom row of buttons stopped working after a month. I enjoyed the feeling of playing music I like and seeing positive reactions. I knew it was something I would want to do throughout life.
I have a ton of inspirations when it comes to DJs. A big one for me is DJ Paypal. He plays all my favorite kinds of music, and each time I listen to something from him it pushes the limit on what he did before. Suspect Bitch and DUCKY are two DJs I began watching recently. I listened to a mix they did a few weeks ago and those ladies are very talented. Women who DJ are just cool altogether because it's not the norm and guys in music are annoying for the most part.
Juke is still a relatively niche genre that was spread out of Chicago. Why did you choose to start playing juke and creating your own edits and tracks?
The reason juke and footwork stand out to me are because of the dance battle culture behind it. In NYC, we have “getting lite” or “lite feet” and when I saw video of Battlegroundz in Chicago it reminded me of the battles that used to happen all over NYC in different venues. Sample-based music is cool too; juke and footwork sampled some of the most soulful tracks to date.
What were your first few gigs like? What were the biggest lessons learned?
My first few gigs were cool because they were curated organically. Much of them came through friends and homies I performed or played alongside before. There was minimal stress and I was super comfortable.
If you get booked, make sure expectations from both sides are put on the table and discussed. In the end it'll prove to be beneficial for you and the venue/promoter to do so and it shows your professional and serious about what you do. If music is your livelihood then act like it.
How did you get hooked up with trill.wav Records?
They were a label that I came across while looking for outlets to get my music heard when I first started out. I sent them music and they were very open to what I presented. The first piece of music I have ever put out was through them. I have taken a very long time to put out an EP with them because I want it to be as perfect as possible.
What has been the process so far of the EP? Is there a central theme or concept behind it?
I have a ton of projects that I have worked on in Ableton the past two years. At this point I am just going back and cleaning up those projects and structuring them how I want them to sound. There isn't a real theme behind it. I just wanted to put the work from myself I enjoy listening to and have features from artist that I work well with.
What are your thoughts on online communities like Classical Trax?
I love Classical Trax and communities like it because it puts you in contact with people you thought were impossible to reach. It's a booming platform for artist to get their works out to even bigger mediums and I love them for that. Shoutout to Matt for getting it off the ground and everyone involved.
Sidebar though: the internet is a sus place. Sometimes people in internet communities don't really have anything contributing to say and that aspect of it sucks.
Do you ever get burnt out by music? What do you do when you want to get away from it?
If "burned out" means tired, then technically no. I definitely get frustrated with music all the time but it motivates and pushes me to overcome that. A lot of the time I feel like whatever I do next has to be better than what I have done previously. I necessarily don't know what that is or how to achieve it so I'll keep working until I know it feels and sounds right.
If I want to get away from music I either play video games or I'll go travel to see my friends and play video games with them.
Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?
One super track with Feloneezy and Traxman. I also joked about making a bunch of tracks with Orange Julius and putting out a tape called Kush and OJ. I never proposed the idea to him directly but if he's down then I am bout it.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
Not sure. I've been blessed with family and friends that supported me financially so I can do what I do.