Private Space – Interview with Durand Jones from Durand Jones and The Indications

After their outstanding 2019 album “American Love Call”, on which Durand Jones and The Indications celebrated the soul of the 60s and 70s to perfection, the American quintet opens the door to a world of synthetic, modern soul and string-infused disco beats with their new album “Private Space”. WEST COAST SOUL talked with lead singer Durand Jones about the making of the album, their new sound, the effects of the pandemic, his musical roots and further plans.

Durand, “American Love Call” was a great homage to the soul music of the 60s and 70s. With “Private Space” you have fanned out your sound. Everything sounds more danceable and modern. Was that a conscious step, did you want to move away from the sound of your first two albums or was that an organic development?

It was definitely a conscious step. We knew that the first two albums were moderately paced, and we wanted something that would be a little more upbeat.

The Corona Pandemic has more or less pushed us all into ‘private spaces’. How did you and the band experience the last year? What influence did the Lockdown have on the making of the new album?

I can’t speak for the band fully. I was in the rural Louisiana during the pandemic, so my experience was much different from Aaron who lives in NYC or Blake in Chicago. I took the time to breathe. I started a garden. I went fishing almost everyday. And I took the time to reflect on the past couple of years. Through that I found my worth. And what a beautiful thing to realize.

You retreated to a cabin in upstate New York to work on the album. You had more time overall to write songs and work on the sound. Would you say that “Private Space” is your most mature album so far?

Yes it is more mature. I believe it is because we got to experience more of life. We are no longer kids moving into adulthood, we are full-fledged now, with all the problems and beautiful things that come with it. I think those experiences leak into the music.

Durand, you said that with your music you want people to close their eyes and forget where they are – just like Stevie Wonder’s music did for you. How important is it for you to convey a positive message with the album, especially in times of pandemic?

It’s necessary. You never know who needs a little bit of encouragement to get them through life. One of the most beautiful things about meeting people on the road, is hearing how much the music is helping them.

This positive vibe is like a red thread on “Private Space”. Was it your intention to record an album that you could dance to between the kitchen and the living room if necessary?

Yes. We all knew that everyone had a tough year, so we wanted to put something out there that would make everyone feel good.

Aaron Frazer released his solo debut “Introducing…” earlier this year. Many fans were concerned at the time that this would have an impact on the band. Did his stylistically somewhat broader approach have an influence on the band’s willingness to experiment more on “Private Space”?

Aaron has always had more power in songwriting decisions, so I’d say yes.

You said that no song made you feel as sexy as “More Than Ever”. And the Teddy Pendergrass comparison fits. Was Philly Soul the kind of music that was played in your parents’ house? What music influenced you when you were young?

There was some Philly Soul played in the house. But my grandmother listened to a lot of Nat King Cole, Donny Hathaway, Whitney Houston, and lots and lots of gospel. Those were a few of the influences I loved hearing when I was growing up in Hillaryville.

Durand, you grew up in small-town in Louisiana. You first performed as a member of your church’s youth choir. When did you discover your love of classic soul music?

A friend of mine got me into a cover band back when I was around 20 years old. It was my first legit paying gig. I was responsible for singing Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Lenny Williams, Donny Hathaway, Al Green, etc. That’s where I began to learn how to sing soul music.

Soul music in particular depends on the interaction with the audience. How much did you miss the limelight and your audience during the last year?

I don’t miss the limelight as much as I miss feeling the music. The vibrations, those moments when your ear tingles. I miss that. I truly doesn’t matter if there is one person in the audience, or if I’m singing in the bathroom, I just want to feel the music more than anything else.

You have been making great soul and R&B music for many years. Does it sometimes bother you that your music is called “retro” or “vintage”?

It bothers some folks in the band, but not so much for me. I really don’t care what people call it. I know it’s roots and I’m happy with that.

When you look back over the last six years – from the first recordings in Frazer’s basement with a four-track recorder and a karaoke microphone to “Private Space” what are the first thoughts that come to mind?

How easily this all could have been different.

What are your plans for the future? Will you go on tour with the album and maybe visit Europe?

Plans for the future are definitely to tour the ‘Private Space’ album, hopefully all over the world. While we aren’t on the road I will continue to work on my solo project that will hopefully be out next year. We hope to be in Europe next year in the fall. Keep your fingers crossed.

One last question: Why will 2021 be the most successful year of Durand Jones and The Indications?

The future is not mine to tell. All I can do is move and groove with it. 😉

Photo: Ebru Yildiz