There’s no business like show business
However, show business isn’t always pretty.“Of course the music industry is not as glamorous as it looks,” says July Jones: “It's a lot of hustle, and sometimes it doesn't bring you much back, but honestly, to me, I have nothing else other than music, so it's always going to be worth it. I was born in Slovenia, moved to the USA in high school, where I loved gospel, posted videos on YouTube, which got me signed to a German record label at 14 years old, and soon after moved to London, where I started building my sound as an Electro Pop artist.”
She starts her 2019 debut single "Liar Liar", a reflection of the industry, with the lines: "Pull up in your Toyota Yaris, pretend you're driving a Ferrari." She explains: “The music industry has a lot of big talkers. People will sell you dreams and make you believe they know the right people to take you to the top of the industry, and 99% of the time, it's bull****. 'Liar Liar' is a picturesque representation of how I felt about the music industry. I wanted to make it fun and catchy, while actually lyrically singing a sad reality.”
But the persistence was worth it – fast forward to one of her latest gigs and the song holds her proudest moment so far: “When my fans were singing 'Liar Liar' to me, it was the first time that had happened, and it made me so happy, I just wanted to cry.”
Staying true: Turning down prestige
Staying true to yourself demands some hard decisions, and the path to stardom is usually paved with a good amount of rejection. Even though it's the artist who's ordinarily on the receiving end of the latter, it can be the other way around. If you're asked to think of something that would give your parents grey hair, turning down a scholarship to a renowned school is definitely in the mix. Yet July Jones still decided not to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston:“I am to this day so grateful for the scholarship Berklee offered me, but it was to study jazz music. Inside of me, I knew I always wanted to do pop music, hence why I decided to turn it down and build myself up in London. I was 18 at the time, my mom was mad as hell, as any parent would be, but now she's starting to realize I made the right choice.“
“I am to this day so grateful for the scholarship Berklee offered me, but it was to study jazz music. Inside of me, I knew I always wanted to do pop music.”
The grind: From being fired as a pub singer to supporting Rita Ora
“I have performed on over 200 stages in the past three years. I took every stage in London they'd offer me. These stages, even the worst ones, like little pub stages, were vital for me. I got fired at the start for not being able to talk to the British crowd in a pub, I got fired as a pub singer! And look at me now, I've headlined 5,000 people while supporting Rita Ora. Life is so unpredictable,” she tells us about the path that molded her into the artist she is today.
Besides Rita Ora, she was also a supporting act for Shakka and Professor Green, and has performed at Pride festivals from Helsinki and Ljubljana to London and Manchester. The crowds adore her, as she’s an outspoken supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, which she says is her family. As far as becoming a gay icon in the process – she wouldn’t complain.
The creativity behind the voice: Songwriter and fashionista
When she’s not singing, she’s songwriting: “I just looove writing. Writing for other people gives me so much freedom to say things that I wouldn't necessarily say in my project, so I love that. But if I have to choose, I'll always choose my project. The mixtape I'm making is about mental health, it's so personal and so me.” The issue of mental health is something she’s often putting at the forefront: “I have struggled so much with anxiety in the past few years that I decided I wanted to be upfront with my fans about the issues I'm dealing with, hoping that it would make people feel like they're not alone in what they're going through. I want my fans to be my friends, where we can share issues and confide in each other.”
Even though she’s just getting her name out there, there are already some impressive names in her resume. To mention just a few, she's co-written a track on the new album by BTS, and has also co-written for artists like Steven Manovski, who co-produced with Sigala, and Jesper Borgen, who’s been involved in both writing and producing a little song called "Faded" with Alan Walker.
July tells her story with fearless visual statements. In her work, you can’t miss bold, strong visuals and rebellious fashion moments. She attributes this partly to a condition that about 2-4% of the population is supposed to experience naturally: “I have synesthesia, which means I see music in colors. That's why I value visuals as much as music. I think they're equally as important for people to understand my project.”
LiveScience tells us synesthesia is seven times more common among artists, poets and novelists, and among musicians, giants like Franz Liszt and Duke Wellington were supposed to have it. As well as Billie Eilish, if we go a little more current. While we can feel all kinds of emotions listening to music, July Jones makes music like she’s creating a painting.
“I have synesthesia, which means I see music in colors. That's why I value visuals as much as music.”
Looking into the future: The mixtape is coming
Reminiscing on her path so far, the advice July Jones gives to up-and-coming artists is simple: “The best lesson I've learned – and I'm still learning – is just keep going. I know it's so simple, but honestly that's the only motivation that helps me. Life is literally a journey, and if I wouldn't keep going, I'd have given up 1,000 times already.”
As to what the future holds, she proudly announces: “My baby mixtape is in the oven and literally two seconds from being finished. I'm releasing a massive single next, and then a mixtape, which I've been waiting for the past two years.”
As July says, the path of an artist is hard, but it’s worth it. If you're a musician, your profile, which is automatically updated with all your latest stuff, is probably already on Viberate. You can send it to promoters, talent scouts, and A&Rs, and use the time you'd otherwise spend updating your onepager on making music. Check it out and register to claim it.
Cover photo: James Gallant
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