Afro Kitty Jones Stays Bubbly With New Single …
Written by Vocalo Radio on March 30, 2020
Singer-Songwriter Afro Kitty Jones is back with the release of her new single “Bubbly” and says more music is on the horizon.
After coming to Chicago eight years ago, the local music scene changed everything for Afro Kitty Jones. With the drop of a new single, the talented musician (and recent doctoral graduate) spoke to us about the importance of music in today’s uncertain climate, a greater need for vulnerability, and her love for a classic lyric.
How would you describe your work?
I feel like my sound is not one category, but most artists might feel this way. I pull inspiration from rock, pop, and of course R&B. In this way, I really identify as a singer/songwriter first, which allows me to transcend genres. Think of me as your favorite playlist, where anything can come up on the rolodex.
What brought you to Chicago?
I am from Cincinnati, Ohio, actually. But the north side was my first introduction to the city in 2012. I came to Chicago to finish my doctorate in clinical neuropsychology, which I completed in July. Almost a year into this Dr. Afro Kitty thing, and it’s still a little surreal, this double-life I lead.
How has Chicago’s music scene influenced the work that you do?
I was really blessed with the right community from the jump. In an act of serendipity, I got connected with a studio and group of people that changed everything for me, music-wise, in Chicago. I was introduced to people like OnGaud, who is known for his work with Mick Jenkins, and others like Sean Deaux and Qari. Really taking a year to watch and learn from them all taught me a lot. This eventually lead to my first EP ‘Supa X’ in 2018, as well as opportunities to connect with people like Show You Suck, Sisi Dior, Vic Mensa, and some members of the Free Nationals.
What do you think is missing from today’s music landscape?
Versatility and vulnerability. I really am sick of the same lyrics and high hat and 808 patterns. A lot of today’s music offers an escape from reality through a world of drug, sex, and rock-and-roll … but I wouldn’t necessarily say this is what the world needs. I always hope to remain versatile and vulnerable in my music, because that’s the stuff classics are made out of.
Who are your biggest influences musically?
I am a writer before anything else, so when I listen to music, I usually have the lyrics pulled up. People like Lil Wayne, Tame Impala, Sia, Young Thug, Sza – they all influence the way I write.
What other mediums, or art forms make up part of your creative identity?
I’m a poly instrumentalist (guitar, piano, trumpet) and contribute to the production of all my work. On Bubbly, my whistling is featured. It really is top-to-bottom for me the whole way through, which allows me to play around with instrument voices. Creatively I still enjoy poetry and prose writing. I have always been fascinated and inspired by literature.
How has the COVID-19 situation affected you as an individual and as an artist?
As a psychologist, I am exempt from many of the city and state mandates for sheltering in place. Working in the health field during this scary time is certainly unnerving. It’s hard to have your hands tied while watching health resources be exhausted. I also have a family member who has been in the hospital for a week with COVID-19 symptoms, so that has been challenging. I feel like this momentary pause has allowed me greater patience with my own art, having the time to work at my own pace and really be mindful about the whole process.
How is creativity helping you to cope during this anxious moment?
Music is my medicine and has gotten me through a lot in life. It continues to be my lifeline.
What’s next for you?
A video for Bubbly directed by APJ films is on the horizon. And I have an EP that I’m cooking up. Great collaborations on there; a lot of women power on the way. Some really exciting stuff! I really hope Vocalo can be part of my release, actually.
Interview edited for length and clarity by Shelby Kluver
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