From her first performance in the basement of a Ramada Inn in Silverlake, to this past September when she sang for the Pope, President, and Congress at the National Mall in Washington DC, the background to singer Mindy Jones’ career has certainly changed. But her positive attitude hasn’t. The ever humble, forever grateful music artist has been at it for the past ten years, and even with accolades like being the lead vocalist for Moby boosting her resume, she’s never let any taste of fame turn her into a diva.
But that doesn’t mean she can’t sing like one. Mindy’s voice is a powerhouse of passion, natural talent and hard work. While her easy smile and infectious laugh beguile the hard work it’s taken to get her where she is today, it’s been no Sunday stroll. Mindy shared with Popover what it’s like to make music in today’s digital world, and why it’s so fun.
Do you remember when you first realized you could sing?
As a child, my Mom sang everywhere we went, all the time. If I was running late, she would sing at the bottom of the stairs “Are you ready?” from the song by Barbara Mason until I sang back “Yes, I’m ready!” and came down. Or crossing the street, she would sing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles so I wouldn’t feel so dorky holding my Mom’s hand.
So, as you can see, I grew up with music everywhere. I didn’t even know other people couldn’t sing until I was about 11 years old when I joined the church choir and my best friend at the time couldn’t because she was completely tone deaf. I was shocked, so for practice, I would sing a note and she would try to sing it back to me, and would completely miss the mark. It was the first time I realized I had a gift.
What do you love most about singing?
EVERYTHING! I love the way it makes me feel. I love the way it makes other people feel. I love it’s healing power. I love that I can’t go a day without it.
What made you decide to pursue singing as a creative career?
I’ve been in countless bands and sang on countless friends records, but it wasn’t until 2011 that I realized I had an edge—I could sing a lot of different styles of music like Gospel, Soul, Country, Indie, Choral, etc. So I decided to try to be a session singer. I started asking around and started getting referred to do commercial, cartoon and movie trailer work, and other “paid for hire” jobs around LA. And I fell in love with it! Being able to walk in a room and sound like Adele one day and Rihanna the next, after only hearing the song one time through, is kind of thrilling! Almost like playing a game.
How did you connect with Moby? What’s it like making music with him?
I met Moby for the first time at SXSW in Austin, Texas, in 2011. We had a mutual friend and he saw my band at the time, DA & The Jones, play at a bar. Well, not even in the bar, more like on the front porch. There were probably three people there, including Moby, but he must have seen something he liked, cause he asked us to be in a choir on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” the following week! As you can imagine, my answer was “YAAAAAASSSSSSS!”
The day of the dress rehearsal, he looked up at me out of ten people and said, “Mindy, will you do a solo at the end?” and the rest is history. I started singing lead for him that year and have recorded on his last album and will be the only featured vocalist on the next one coming out in 2016! I am grateful everyday for meeting him and getting the immense honor to work with him. I respect him so much as an artist, an animal rights activist and a friend.
You are also a singer and songwriter of your own right, can you tell us about the music you make?
I make whatever comes to me at the moment! I taught myself the program Ableton last summer from YouTube videos and now I write and produce everything myself. I didn’t want to always depend on others to make my music for me, so I took it into my own hands and it was the best decision I ever made.
Of course I still work with other producers and songwriters, like my duo project ADLT VDEO with the crazy talented Luke Top, but it’s nice to know I don’t have to “rely” on it anymore. It was a long and hard learning curve, but I’m pretty good at it now, and am proud to say I self-produced my latest EP “Under the Covers.” I guess if I had to describe it, it could be referred to as Electro-Soul-Pop? I just made that up.
When you’re writing new songs, what’s that process like?
It’s different every time and that what keeps it exciting! Like every musician, I’m sure, my “Voice Memos” are out of control. I get the weirdest inspirations right before I fall asleep or when I’m driving or when I’m listening to an old tune that inspires me somehow, and then I’ll sit down with all of them at the end of the day or week and piece all the ideas together.
With ADLT VDEO, Luke and I write together from scratch. Maybe he’ll come up with a cool synth melody, and I’ll start writing the first words that come to mind, and then we just build and build up the track till it’s rad. In co-writes, one of us will usually come into the session with a starting point, maybe a chorus idea or a full verse, and then we bounce ideas around until a song come out. There are so many different ways to create and I love them all!
What or who would you say inspires you creatively?
The planet earth! I know that sounds hippie or something, but it’s true. Anything from the wind through the trees to crickets against wind chimes to people on the streets to getting my heart broken to listening to other music to losing my puppy two weeks ago (at least a really good song came out of that!) to everyday life!
There’s a song in everything.
You recently had a song on “Blindspot.” How did that come to pass and what was it like hearing your song on a national hit TV show?
It was crazy awesome! I met the creator/writer of the show, Martin Gero, at a party one night and the next thing I knew, he put my song on his show! This is NOT the usual way synching a song on TV happens for me, I have an agent for that, but I guess it does really happen! I watched the show at his house that Monday night with the cast and writers ‘live tweeting’ alongside me. It was incredible and surreal. I had to re-watch it when I got home because I was so distracted with emotions.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment thus far? Have you had an “OMG is this my life?” moment?
I have them almost every day. I’m not even kidding. I fully realize how fortunate I am and think about it a lot. Twenty-five year old Mindy would never have even DREAMED of this life. But if I had to pick…
Singing for Pope Francis?! Or playing to Will Ferrell and his kids in his backyard supporting gun control?! Or singing alongside Duran Duran, Karen O and Donovan at the David Lynch Foundation’s 10-year anniversary!!? All just this year!
What is one of the biggest challenges of pursuing a career in the music industry?
Supporting myself. The music industry has changed dramatically in the recent years. It’s no secret that streaming has completely changed the game and is making it increasingly harder to earn a living as a musician. I do a lot of different work to fill in the gaps, but it’s a constant hustle. I keep going strong because I absolutely love what I do, and to be honest, I’m not really that good at anything else.
Any advice to people looking to break into the music industry?
Don’t give up! It’s hard, but can be done with the right attitude, talent and drive. Be open to anything, but be smart. Oh, and connections, connections, connections!
What are some of your favorite things to do in your free time?
I love swimming, building things (currently staining shelves I made), and watching movies. I’ve recently been trying to enjoy LA more. I live in an incredible city with a million and one things to do every day and night. So more art shows, museums, galleries, concerts, and exploring new restaurants, but mostly, hanging out with my friends. They’re pretty amazing.