STARTING life as a duo…
Born Stranger is now the solo project of Maddox Jones. I have been speaking with him about that change and the reason behind it; what influenced his current single, Last Night on Earth, and whether we might see some more material coming along next year.
Born Stranger discusses some important albums and which rising artists we need to get behind; how music came into his life and what advice he would offer artists coming through – the songwriter ends the interview by selecting a great song.
Hi, Born Stranger. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! My week has been good; really busy - I am just finishing up a season in Cyprus and looking forward to coming back to Blighty.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Maddox Jones. I write, record and perform Electronic-Pop music inspired by the likes of Depeche Mode, Chic; The Weeknd and Prince under the moniker Born Stranger. My latest single, Last Night on Earth, is my first as a solo artist. Before that, Born Stranger was myself and Raife Hacking.
Last Night on Earth is your latest single. Is there a tale behind the song?
This song was originally written around two years ago. The music came from a French producer friend of mine called Antony Chivers; we were instantly inspired to make it into a Born Stranger track; I fell in love with the groove. I wrote this about the song for the press release:
Last Night on Earth was written around a friend of mine’s house who sadly isn't with us anymore. The world has lost a few amazing people recently that were seemingly happy on the surface but battled with depression on the inside. Last Night on Earth is about living in the moment, being there for each other and celebrating humanity.
Will there be more material coming next year do you think?
Yes, for sure. We are releasing a cover of The Beloved’s Sweet Harmony next. I’ve just started working with a new producer and this is our first outing together. I’m really excited about it.
Born Stranger is just yourself (Maddox) but it used to be a duo. What was the reason behind the change?!
Myself and Raife Hacking had been working together for ten years in various guises and, at the turn of 2018, Raife decided he wanted to pursue a more House-producer route with his partner Kelda. We are still really close; it just felt like the right thing to do. The music industry is a tough nut to crack and if your hearts not fully in it there’s no point sticking around.
How did you get into music? Was there a particular moment when it all sort of clicked?!
When I was at university, I auditioned to the singer in this Post-Hardcore band. It turns out the guys in the band were really into '80s New Wave stuff like Japan, Depeche Mode; The Cure etc. and I’d never really listened to this kind of music before. I fell in love with songs like Enjoy the Silence and In Between Days - this is where my love of Pop-music-with-a-bit-of-mystery-surrounding-it came from.
Are there particular musicians you draw inspiration from? Did you grow up around a lot of music?
I was actually brought up in a Christian community with no television or radio - so my only outlet was to learn to play the guitar and write Christian songs to sing in church. I used to go round to my friend's house and tape stuff off the radio when I was like fourteen or fifteen….so, I never had any idols growing up really. I got into reading biographies of bands like Blur and Radiohead when I was at uni. I really brought into the band dynamic - being in a gang, making cool music.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Hmm. I hope to write some really good music ready to release in 2019...
Do you already have plans for 2019?
Continue to make and release music; hoping for a wider audience.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
In one of my previous bands, I supported Placebo at Wembley Arena. Robert Smith from The Cure sang a couple of songs with Placebo. Robert’s cousin randomly invited me into their dressing room so I was stood there chatting to Robert Smith whilst he was having a beer. That was a cool moment. He’s a down to earth guy actually.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Depeche Mode - Violator
I just love this album. This album is a great demonstration of how catchy Pop doesn't always have to be fun and lighthearted. This is an album to get obsessed over. Enjoy the Silence is my favourite song of all time. That riff and the chorus vocals; amazing.
Radiohead - Pablo Honey
This was Radiohead’s first album and is the perfect university album. I remember listening to this in my halls of residence and learning all the songs on guitar. Thinking About You is a particularly great song. This album often gets overlooked because Radiohead’s later work got more attention but give it some time and you’ll be glad you did.
The Night Game - The Night Game
This album was released this year. This is an amazing record because it sounds like an epic '80s Indie band but still sounds completely modern at the same time. If you haven’t heard this album, please go check it out now!
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I’d support Coldplay and, on the rider, I’d have everything from a massage to expensive whiskey, with food imported from around the world. I actually heard that Chris Martin imported fresh fish daily to have for dinner but that’s probably completely untrue. I’d also request to eat my meal with Chris Martin. I would love some songwriting tips from him.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Keep a steady stream of music coming out and, just because one tune doesn’t get as good a reaction as some of the others, don’t let it dishearten you. Find a good producer you trust and don’t be too precious with anything.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Not at the moment; will keep you posted.
IN THIS PHOTO: HANNIE/PHOTO CREDIT: Arielle Shear
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Yes. There’s enough time in the day to chill away from the music, of course. I read or watch things on Netflix, to be honest. I just finished watching Making a Murderer: Part 2 - compelling viewing.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
The Night Game - The Outfield
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