JESS and Gavin are a wonderful duo that makes up The Kondoors.
I have known them for a while and can appreciate what a solid and impressive force they are – a married couple of the same musical soul and mind. I wanted to talk to them about their upcoming single, Mr Rain. It is out on 6th October and talks about the resolution of love; the light at the end of the tunnel. I quiz the duo on their musical background and how they met; whether we are going to see any more material later this year and what they have planned.
They discuss the artists who have helped mould them and the people influential to them; how their careers have evolved and how their paths intertwined and merged.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi! Yeah, we're good thanks.
It's been incredibly busy few weeks for us. We just came back from Wales recording our album!
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
Yes. We are The Kondoors, A.K.A. Jess Greenfield and Gavin Conder. We are married - despite our different surnames. Haha!
Mr Rain is your forthcoming single. What can you tell me about the song and how it came to life?
That song came about after Gav was playing around with the first few chords when I was making dinner one night.
It was really catchy and knew he was on to something. It took a while to write it as we'd keep coming back to it adding bits and scrapping them. The idea behind it really was that we wanted to write a positive uplifting song that reflected the positive shift in our relationship.
We had been through so much sh*t and it felt like we had turned a corner.
Jess and Gav. You are a couple. Were you in a duo together before embarking on a relationship – or was it the other way around?
No. We met nearly fourteen years ago through a mutual friend who was running a band.
Gav was fronting it and they were looking for a female singer. That's when we first sung together (then). Once we became a couple (not long after), we thought we'd do some stuff together - just singing covers to earn money. It was only recently really that we wanted to make a real go of things, musically - doing what we wanted and putting our heart and soul into it.
Does being in a relationship make songwriting easier? How much of your relationship and experiences with love enforce your music?
It is basically the crux of everything we write about, to be honest.
It is not easy to write together initially as we argue but then we somehow stumble on an idea or lyric and then it flows.
Sometimes, the songs pull on so many experiences and feelings that they are hard to sing.
Can we expect an E.P. or album from you guys in the coming months?
Our E.P. will be out at the end of the year and we have just finished our album - and that will be out next year. We did the album at Monnow Valley in Wales live with a nine-piece band and co-produced it with Paul Stacey (Oasis/Black Crowes).
Tell me how you both got into music. Did you both start out coverings or were you part of bands?
Gav: I guess I got into music initially for the Rock and Roll aspect of it. I didn't start singing till I was about seventeen and I managed to get into a Soul covers band - and I realised that I could make a living out of it. I had always written songs though and always knew I wanted to be an artist. I began to meet really great musicians who introduced me to other great musicians and so on.
That's, in the end, how I met Jess. I always loved 1970s Soul and Rock - so it feels great to be writing and performing music of a similar style.
Jess: I was always around music from a very early age. My dad is a musician and I spent a lot of my childhood going around music shops and watching his gigs. I remember first going to Ronnie Scott’s aged (about) three or four! I realised I could sing aged fifteen and, after that, there was nothing else I wanted to do. I started off in covers bands and then doing lots of sessions etc. (same as Gavin).
Our lives have been incredibly parallel with each other. It's weird!
Who are the musicians that influenced you both, growing up? How important are your early experiences with music?
Jess: Well; number-one is my dad. He not only taught me about great music but great feel and a strong work ethic. All the music he and my mum played have shaped who I am a musician. I grew up listening to lots of Latin and Soul; Funk and Rock - George Benson, Miami Sound Machine; Donny Hathaway, Stevie and so many more (from my dad) - and lots of World music and, of course, artists like The Beatles and Paul Simon from my mum.
Gav: I always loved bands like Pearl Jam and Metallica growing up. My parents were into Rock and then I heard Stevie Wonder - and my eyes were opened.
I can see you guys have performed some great gigs lately. Which dates stick in the mind and what have your recent gigs been like?
Probably the Meraki Festival in St. Albans.
It was our first time on a main stage and it felt amazing. Our most recent gig was at Pizza Express in Holborn and it went down really well. We sold it out too, so that was good!
The Kondoors have so many fans and get a lot of love on social media. How much does that mean to you and what message would you give to them?
It means everything to us. Really.
To know that people like what we do and tell their friends about it is incredible. We would like to say the biggest thank you - and to keep supporting us as that's what keeps us going.
Have you got any plans for later this year? Will you get much chance to spend with family at all?
Jess: I am doing a tour with John Illsley from Dire Straits for a couple of weeks, so that will be fun. Mainly though, we will be getting finishing touches done on the album.
What tour dates do you guys have coming up?
We don't have any tour dates yet. I think next year we will do more live stuff.
IN THIS PHOTO: Rider
Who are new acts you recommend we check out?
Yes; our friend Rider. She's incredible, both vocally and as a producer. She writes the most epic, heartfelt Pop.
Also; Vivienne Chi. Such an original artist with a really distinctive sound and voice.
If you each had to select the album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
Jess: Probably Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morisette
What an amazing album. I think I had felt every emotion listening to that album. I think it helped me get through my teenage years, to be honest - amazing songwriting and vocals.
Gav: Hard question. Probably Voodoo by D'Angelo. The playing on it is incredible - and he's like the modern-day James Brown.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
It's a tough world to get into. Keep your eyes on what you want and don't be scared to do stuff yourself. Don't ever wait for anyone. If you believe in what you do and do it; someone will step in and help you with your journey.
Be nice and know what you want.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name a song and I’ll play it here.
Jess: I Believe (When I Fall in Love) - Stevie Wonder
We walked down the aisle to that song after we said our vows on our wedding day.
Gav: Circles by Vinegar Joe
It's just a great song.
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