JS Ondara is a gifted singer songwriter who recently signed to Verve Records. He has opened for bands such as First Aid Kit. He is about to embark on his first headline tour. We caught up with him when he was in London just before his Radio 2 session.
Welcome to London, hope you are well. Thanks for taking time to speak to us today. So, the deal is five questions, 5 mins. Here goes ..
Your new album ‘Tales of America’ capture your reflections on moving from Nairobi to Minneapolis. What have you come to cherish most about Minneapolis?
The winter. The winter is so harsh, it’s a tough time. It forces you to learn lessons about life. It forces you to learn that sometimes on life, things can get extremely difficult and unpleasant. But, with enough time, the sun eventually rises and things get warmer and better.
Tell us your recollections of that first day in the studio, when you began work on the album with respected producer Mike Viola?
I walked into the studio and the whole of the first day was very surreal. Recording in the same room where ‘Pet Sounds’ was recorded. A lot of history inside that studio. Just knowing that this record is finally coming to life after many years of dreaming about it. It was a very surreal and emotional time.
Tell us the story behind the tracks ‘Television Girl’.
It was partly inspired by a person I knew. This song is also a reflection on how we sometimes are drawn to things that are essentially bad for us. Whether it’s a love interest or a President, whatever it could be. Sometimes we are self destructive as humans and we are drawn to things that are terrible for us.
Five words that capture your approach to life might include …….
History, stories, science, romanticism and recklessness.
You’re about to do your first headline tour around the US. What are most looking forward to as you travel round sharing these new songs?
I am looking forward to bringing this record to life, sharing it with a live audience. It’s my first headline tour, so it’s a different experience. You create this record and then you’re in a room full of these people who you can tell the stories to. It’s more personal. It’s a very spiritual experience.