After years of experience as an independent artist in Seattle, Ayron Jones has released his first major-label single, “Take Me Away.” The track’s sound is deeply rooted in Seattle’s musical history. A hard-rock palette opens the song with punctual drums and a deep, growling guitar line. But the song builds in its complexity and the diversity of its influences, with moments pulling from hip-hop and blues, grunge and hard rock.
The overwhelming feeling, though, is one of rock nostalgia turned new age. Jones is Seattle’s musical history taking on a new and contemporary form.
Developing that form has not been quick or easy. Jones has been working hard on his craft since he picked up guitar at 13. That said, music has always been a part of his life. “I can even go further back and say, like, when I started violin at age 11. Even further back, I can say going to church on Sunday.
“By the time I was 19, I was playing in coffee shops, and by the time I was old enough to get into the bars, I did playing weekly gigs here in Seattle.”
It was an obvious path to him: “Most musicians will grind in their town with dreams and aspirations of being bigger.”
But achieving those dreams is easier said than done. In talking to Jones, it becomes clear that his career is the result of talent and a lot of hard work.
In 2011, Jones got a gig touring with funk band Deep Cotton. Soon after, he had a chance run-in with Sir Mix-a-Lot in a bar near UW.
“He walks in and loves what he’s hearing, so he produced my first indie record,” Jones said. “From that point forward, we got the opportunity to open for some major acts as they came through town, got to play on some pretty big stages. Opened for B.B. King, got a chance to play with Guns N’ Roses, some pretty cool stuff.”
With a second independent record under his belt, Jones signed earlier this year to Big Machine/John Varvatos records and made his first commercial album. “Take Me Away” is the first track off that album, the release date for which is to be announced.
Transitioning to a major label isn’t always easy, but for Jones the transition was smooth. “It was just clarity and certainty that got me here. And knowing for sure what I wanted to sound like and knowing that would take me to the next level, and that came through years of work. And then I was lucky enough to have a label get involved.”
That kind of confidence is refreshing on the record. “Take Me Away” and many of his previous tracks (which are available online) are noticeably assured. To emanate the intensity and forte which Jones does requires confidence on the mic.
Environment and location are major influences for the album.
“I think my sound is a reflection of that, all the way back from the blues and soul era, which produced artists like Quincy Jones and helped bring along artists like Ray Charles, to the ’60s when Jimi Hendrix revolutionized guitar sounds,” he said. “And then all the way up to today, there’s the grunge era to today.”
Mixing in West Coast hip-hop, Jones cited Dr. Dre, Michael Jackson, Rage Against the Machine as just a few among a long list of influences.
“In terms of the context for the rest of the album, (“Take Me Away” is) definitely a sneak preview to what you’re gonna get. But some of these songs, on my record, are gonna probably lean into more hip-hop lanes, some are gonna lean into more rock lanes, some are gonna lean into blues and R&B. I guess in that sense I’m just kind of bending the genres.”
Being in Seattle – and being a longtime figure on the live music scene – it would make sense for Jones to be a little beaten down by the lengthy pause put on concerts and public events. But Jones remarked that time off the stage has been an opportunity to seize on a perspective often inhibited by active touring.
“Just to be able to sit back and kind of focus on this new release has been a bit of a blessing, because otherwise I’d be out on the road and doing a bunch of stuff,” he said. “So there’s some kind of pros and cons to it. It’s kinda cool to just sit back and watch how many people react to what you’re doing. When you’re on tour, you can’t see that.”
For the coming months, Jones is optimistic: “Hopefully, we’ll just keep rolling stuff out before things open up, and then once they do, we can already have built a frenzy and get out there and really get in front of some people. … It’s an important time.”
Jones has played Spokane before and said he’ll return.
“I will definitely make a point to stop by all the familiar Northwest hanging spots, and definitely Spokane is on the radar for any time we start opening back up and getting on tour,” he said.
Check out his new single, “Take Me Away,” on streaming services and his recent set on KEXP Radio, the recording of which is available on YouTube.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.