In 2009, Stealing Love Jones' frontwoman, Esjay Jones, left South Africa to further her music career in the States. This week, she returns to SA for a whistle-stop visit and national tour. Rolling Stone chatted to her to find out what she's been up to and how America's been treating her.
In a 2010 interview with the SDGLN you were asked what prompted you to leave South Africa for America and you said: "In South Africa I have hit the roof of sales for a white rock artist. Without crossing over to Afrikaans or adult contemporary, my next step was America and I absolutely love it here!" That was two years ago and now you're on your way to SA for a steady tour of 8 gigs starting this week. Do you still feel the same?
Ha! Great question for a very tired 1am brain here in LA. I guess I have changed considerably as a human being since being based here in LA. I have learnt more than I could imagine and have been humbled incredibly. I absolutely knew that I wanted more than just a music career in South Africa and so I had to give up everything I knew to fulfill my destiny. I am very happy being a songwriter for the world's biggest pop artists but I need to come back to South Africa and love the country and people who made me and gave me my first set of wings to be flying over here in the USA. I don't wanna be a huge rockstar... just really want to have a great time with all my fellow SA music lovers.
What's the difference between the local Esjay SA fans knew three years ago and the Esjay who has toured almost every state in America since 2008?
Well, I actually haven't been performing over here in the USA that much. I am actually signed to Beluga Heights as a songwriter and producer for top 40 artists over here. It's pretty freaking amazing... I get to do what I love and see a huge artist perform what I created! I'm exactly the same person... just maybe a little more business savvy and less chaotic.
Songwriter for the world's biggest popstars? Please tell us more!
Oh yes... I got super-lucky! Worked my ass off and decided its better to write for huge artists rather than try and compete with them. This way I get to work with the world's most talented (and not so talented) musicians/rock stars/pop stars and get ridiculous cheques! It's just too good to be true! I'm very blessed!
You have worked with Sean Kingston, Akon, Rihanna, Shakira, Jeffree Star, Alex Da Kid, Alien Ant Farm, The Underdogs, Hook N Sling, Semi Precious Weapons, just to name a few. Of all these artists, what was the most fun you had on one of these projects?
You know, working with The Underdogs and Pia Toscano had to be one of the most amazing experiences ever. You don't realise the level and standard of musicians, producers and singers until you get to the USA. Seriously, I was completely humbled working with people that have over 50 gold records to their name and have written and produced songs for Whitney Houston to Chris Brown. In saying that, working with Alien Ant Farm on their new record was also just a hands-down all-round great experience and crazy fun!
When's that record (AAF) due?
I think the record is due out early next year... their new stuff is great, I'm looking forward to seeing the boys back in action and maybe even convincing them to come to SA with me on the next tour.
I don't know if you heard, but The Parlotones are also relocating to the States. Do you have any advice for the guys?
Well, if they have some cash behind them they are good to go... starting from scratch is really hard with the exchange rate and all but I think those boys know what they are doing;) I hope my loft will be full of Parlotone boys at all times! Yay!
"Made In RSA" tour dates:
Thurs 1 Nov – The Bohemian (Richmond, Johannesburg ) supported by Holly & The Woods
Fri 2 Nov - Live-The Venue (Durban) supported by The Black Cat Bones
Sat 3 Nov - Route 56 Festival (Kokstad) also on the bill: Shadowclub, Southern Gypsey Queen, Black Cat Bones, Shotgun Tori, Wonderboom, Absinthe
Fri 9 Nov - Ragazzi (Long st, Cape Town)
Sat 10 Nov - Studio 7 (Cape Town)
Sun 11 Nov - Brass Bell (Kalk Bay)
Wed 14 Nov - Arcade Empire (Pretoria) Supported by Gareth Wilson