After releasing singles for five years and traveling with musicians, Thievery Corporation, hip-hop artist Racquel Jones is gearing up to release her first full-length record, IgnoRANT, very soon. She took the time to discuss it, her other art, and her bright future in the music industry with me over the phone. Be sure to also check out my single review of “Sacrilege,” which came out last month.
Did music play an important role in your life growing up, or is it something that blossomed later on?
“Music has always played an important role. It’s very much a part of my life. It’s been there everyday, and has always been really relevant.”
Who would you say your most profound influence has been, when it comes to music?
“Life is always the biggest piece — everything I see and feel influences the way I approach art. More specific people would be Bob Marley and Amy Winehouse. When it comes to other artists — Van Gogh, Salvador Dahli, and others. Those are just a few that come off the top of my head.”
As someone who has explored other artistic areas, like poetry and painting, how do each of them influence your music, and what do you think sets music apart from other art forms?
“Poetry has influenced my music because it is the music. All of my music is poetry, the difference is in the music behind it. Other art has influenced me, because everything I hear is very visual, and vice versa.”
Would you say you have a preferred form of art, either for self-expression, or just because it’s the most enjoyable?
“I don’t subscribe to the idea of comparing forms of art. I’ve always felt that they’re intertwined, together. I’ve always been told to choose one, and I’ve struggled with that, or trying quantifying them. I don’t choose one, or prefer one over the other.”
You’ve been releasing music for a while now. And touring with others as well. What made you decide now was the time to release something bigger, and explore a full solo album?
“So I was always a solo artist, but had the privilege of touring with the Thievery Corporation. It was never like I was part of the band. I was simply featured and was honored to be a part of it. I’ve always just been a solo artist. But I really wanted to perfect my craft and my sound before releasing an album, and this is the final result of that.”
What would you say your main goals are as an artist, looking ahead two or three years?
“My first goal as an artist is to just be creative and expressive. In terms of my personal goals, I’d like to say something that’s super impactful and that makes a difference for the better. Both for this generation and for those that come after it. I want to make important art that matters.”
Of course nowadays people are really opening up the discussion about race, and the history surrounding it. What caused you to target the topic of religion specifically in “Sacrilege,” something that has sort of flown under the radar this past year?
“That’s basically the reason. No one likes to talk about it. Which is mind-boggling to me, because it’s entwined in many other important, popular topics, like politics. That taboo element makes people scared to touch it, but we all know the very destructive things it has done and what it is doing as well, so that’s why I wanted to talk about it.”
I know you’ve been a part of music videos before, but what was it like working with Alex Di Marco, who has a pretty storied history with the format?
“The music video concept was a collaborative effort between Alex and I. It was dope to see all the artists collaborating, seeing us all work hard to make it together, and it was a really great experience.”
Do you look to other musicians and artists for influence, or do the influences just come passively throughout the years?
“Once again, I’m influenced by everything that I see and hear, which includes hearing and experiencing other artists. For this project particular though, I wanted to make it my own and be able to create a unique sound, so I didn’t want to be listening to other artists while I was making it.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add, either about your recent single, upcoming album, or anything else, really?
“For the record — for IgnoRANT, I had a few different approaches. I wanted to approach each track like it was its own piece that could stand on its own, outside of the record. For the concept, it’s about stereotypes — discussing and disproving them. Then, another part of the record is the visual side. Outside of the music, I’m going to be creating an art exhibit for it, which goes together with the music.”
For the art exhibit, where will that be shown? Do you know yet?
“Right now we’re looking at where exactly it’ll be — LA or Miami or both — but we’re still working on the pieces. The album is done, but the art isn’t yet. Of course the Corona Virus plays a big part, so we’re just crossing our fingers while we wait to see how it plays out.”