Get To Know Jalen N'Gonda
Ahead of his set at the Folk Forest for Tramlines 2017, Sam Briggs meets singer-songwriter Jalen N'Gonda. Get to know his soul and R&B sound in Endcliffe Park this year. For now, get to know the man behind the songs as he talks about his influences, supporting Lauryn Hill, and social media's role in today's music scene. Buy tickets here.
- What’s the start of 2017 been like for you?
It’s been cold, still waiting on spring but the music has been good.
- For people who haven’t heard your music, how would you describe it in a sentence?
It’s rhythm and blues and vibey
- Which musicians influenced your sound? And what wider influences have shaped your music?
Musicians that influenced my sound are definitely Brian Wilson, Marvin Gaye, The Beatles, Alex Turner and a few more.
More broadly, my influences include Merseybeat, Stax, Jazz and Brill Building.
- You’re originally from Wheaton, Maryland. What brought you to Liverpool and the UK?
I came here to study music but dropped out after first year and got into the music scene around Liverpool.
- Do you see any differences between American and UK music industries and listeners?
I dunno, I never experienced the American music industry really. I just did local function stuff around the DMV area (Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia).
- Where’s the most interesting place/situation your music has taken you?
Definitely Montreal Jazz Festival, supporting Lauryn Hill for two nights. That was a good one!
- How do you think the soul scene is doing in the UK at the moment?
Lianne La Havas, Michael Kiwanuka, Samm Henshaw, Laura Mvula...they are all doing really well so it must be still working.
- Which artists on the Tramlines bill are you looking forward to checking out?
- Social media is quite divisive among musicians and artists. Has the relative freedom to connect and communicate with a wider audience helped you, or do you find social media a chore with so many voices out there trying to get their music heard?
Yes, social media helps a lot because it’s used by millions of people around the world. It’s literally today’s television. So anyone at any point can stumble across your music!
- What do you have planned for the rest of 2017?
I haven’t even planned what I’m having for dinner tonight, let alone 2017...
Jokes aside, I plan to have a good time playing gigs, recording new material and having a laugh.
- Anything else you’d like to share?
My EP will be coming soon so be on the lookout.
Words: Sam Briggs
05 April 2017