Howard Jones is often referred to as one of the “Great Voices of the 80s.” He prides himself on challenging his skills while recreating and reshaping his music. His new show “Engage” is a multimedia masterpiece. He has included music, video, lights, color and even smartphone apps to bring the audience inside the experience. Mr. Jones is performing to a sold out crowd at The Triple Door in Seattle. Maybe that means he will return again soon.
Earle Dutton: Tell me a bit about your new show?
Howard Jones: I wanted to challenge myself with something I hadn’t done before and take a different approach to a new piece of work. I thought, what’s the thing that people love doing more than anything at the moment? Go to shows. So, I designed the work around the idea of a live show. I added in lots of visuals, the drama, color and excitement that you would get in a live show. Instead of sitting down to write ten songs, I decided to write six or seven really good pieces of music that would really suit the premise. I wanted to use all of the influences and elements that I have loved over the years. I added Pop music, Classical, film, contemporary dance and even ballet in there. I really want it to engage the audience and make them feel like they are part of the show.
ED: How would you describe your music?
HJ: I don’t really think it is comparable to anyone else. I think it is quite unique, actually. I think the “Engage” show is a very multimedia style piece. I think it is important for me to keep pushing myself forward and challenging myself. The show is very Howard Jones and where he is right now.
ED: Do you still perform your older hits like “No One Is To Blame”?
HJ: Yes, it is really important to play the big songs of your career. People get very upset if you don’t play them. The challenge for me is to keep reinventing it so that I can really sing it with the same sort of commitment and excitement. I always try to tweak the songs, the arrangements or the sound. For instance, Cedric Gervais just did a big House music remix of “Things Can Only Get Better”. That stuff sort of keeps the songs alive and interesting.
ED: Are you working on any new projects?
HJ: Oh yes, I am working on new project for the end of next year which is going to be an Orchestral based series of concerts. I am going to reimagine some of my favorite songs that I have written over the last three decades and perform them with an orchestra. I am just at the early stages of planning that project. It is similar in a way to the “Engage” show in that it sort challenges me to try new things.
ED: What is your favorite song right now to perform live?
HJ: At the moment it is “Hide and Seek” from my first album. I have gone back to playing it in a very electronic way. I use lots of textures and layers. I also add in lots of harmonies. I am really enjoying playing that one. I start at the piano so it sort of starts acoustically and moves on to the big electronic sounds.
ED: Do you have a message to put out there for youth?
HJ: Yes, if you want to be an artist, it is going to be a difficult road. You have to be prepared for trouble and strife. If you go in there expecting that; then you can go through one by one overcoming them all. Don’t take “NO” for an answer. Just keep working at it and really apply yourself. It is a process to overcome it every day to get where you want to be. Just go for it.