- Honest Jon’s
- London, UK
Artwork borrowed from a painting by Tschabalala Self.
CF: How and where was this mix recorded?
First of all, and without being adamantly disrespectful to your question, there is no such how-and-where, when there is that momentum of immediacy. It’s now or never… my body language, which does function and reacts as an instrument, immersed me to create this mixtape. As you’ve already noticed by listening to it, my goal was to have fun, and thereafter, hopefully, reach an amount of public, the sound of (a) beauty was already there on my mind, therefore my satisfaction consisted solely in performing and gathering all the soulful musical elements. Pure bliss charged with creativity.
CF: How did you get involved in music? When did you start collecting records and how did that lead you to where you are now?
I was sheerly encouraged in Freetown, Sierra Leone, without even realizing it. I did encounter some individuals, later on, close friends. We were determined to hang out after finalizing our duties (I used to vend kerosene in the streets, at the tender age of seven years!!). We made a tam tam instrument out of nothing. Let me be fair with you, imagination runs from zero to 100% when you cannot afford an established economical lifestyle.
Regarding my incursion into hoarding or collecting, I did commence by observing my dad’s little collection (including those priceless western African tapes, mostly the palm-wine genre) which I still have. To some extent, I have to admit though, my collection is way more profound and bodacious, in terms of diversity. On the other hand, TV soundtracks and FM radio were another major influence back in the 80’s. St. Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues, WKRP in Cincinnati used to be a few of my favorite soundtracked TV series.
CF: What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about working in a record shop?
The best you can do to yourself when you are working in an independent record shop is learn to be humble, respect and be respected, and last but not least, accumulate knowledge, since it is akin to a culture passport, a hidden treasure on your brain you shall share endlessly. On the other side, the darkest angle is the unnecessary humiliation by the clientele, which might submerge you into a total void. Without energy to step forward. however, from a philosophical point of view, that’s the challenge you have to cope with, keep evolving no matter. there will be always someone willing to soak your energy. It’s a matter of holding onto the existential balance between the good and the bad, ”le bien et le mal” (Guru feat. Mc Solaar)
CF: Are there any other shops around the world or any special places to find records you would recommend?
River Records, on South Highland Street, Memphis, Tennessee. The owner, the beloved Jerry Gibson, caucasian, living in an African American (or black American) borough, was shot by an irresponsible youngster (unfortunately a black boy). ‘You rob and kill’ is the daily bread, the recurrent frustrating scenario of social desperation and anger.
River Records was packed with everything (soul, jazz, ragtime, r&b, hip-hop, blues, collectible comics and so on), mostly originals. You could also encounter some mice marauding, being snatched thereafter by the owner’s cat. The only inconvenient: the dust. the whole building was miasmic. I could not afford to linger for an amount of time as I’m highly allergic. Overall, i had nothing but fun. My ex-girlfriend, a Memphian citizen, and born-gifted fashion designer was ecstatic. She was shocked by the place, but she loved it!!
CF: What do you normally listen to at home? What are 3 of your favourite albums past or present?
I listen to what I regard good music shall stand for. from the past I would choose:
Waldemar Bastos -Pretaluz (1998)
Edmond Mondésir – Bèle, Tradition et Creation (2012): a distinctive figure in Martinique, Edmond Mondésir is a professor of philosophy and member of Belènou!
Djavan – Djavan (1978): his very first album, an imminent masterpiece, poetry in motion, a musical symphony of sensitivity, and my companion while I was sojourning South America in 2005
Three records from the present:
Rosalía – Los Ángeles (2017)
Anouar Brahem – Blue Maqams (2018)
CF: What do you like the most about living in London?
Since I’m a photography aficionado, I enjoy observing people’s features. I tend to have this big gleeful smile on my face, childish somehow, I cannot help being curious. Another aspect I fancy is the food from different countries (I prefer Barcelona though, the quality and selection surpasses even those expensive neighborhoods in London trying to show off).
CF: You only recently stepped out of your comfort zone and started playing gigs in public. Where can people see you in the near future and what can they expect to hear?
At the moment, you will see me at Brilliant Corners. Step by step, I’m not in a rush. Don’t expect anything grand, just come around and I will surely delight a few. I will doubtlessly transport people into another dimension of sounds, rather than the regular urban grooves. You have to break that ordinary routine, be adventurous, make mistakes!!. We, human beings, are made of imperfection. It’s an honor and blessing to be imperfect. Expand your mind, therefore embrace your soul, conjoin both of them as a unity. My good friend Zakia pointed out recently: you are going public now Abu!! (and she started laughing, cheeky gal!!)