Callum Martin has been playing and creating music since his university days in Bristol. He collaborated with a few mates in school but nothing quite clicked. Nevertheless, he continued to write and play.
After a three year experience living in Australia and traveling through South East Asia, he found an old song on his computer, ‘Cool Mama’, which he thought was pretty good so decided to give it a new life and share it with the world.
Following on from this have been four incredibly smooth singles and a collaboration with CSK under his moniker The Jones Project. We had the opportunity to talk to him via Zoom about his sound, travels and future plans.
I understand it was a bit complicated to communicate to your bandmates how you wanted a song to sound. How did you make that shift from writing with people to becoming a multi-instrumentalist?
I had a base knowledge of drums and bass, and I was a little better at guitar. Naturally, from playing guitar, came the singing, but keys I’m awful at; I can barely throw a few chords.
Going to university, and studying what I studied, helped gain a good appreciation of arrangement, and knowing where to place each instrument within a song. I really enjoy the setup I’ve got where I have an understanding of almost every instrument that’s important to me. If I have an idea, I can pick up my guitar and start recording it.
How did you land on the dreamy and warm sound you’ve got?
I’ve always been into music that is rich harmonically and texturally. It’s hard to put into words, but I really like that kind of floatiness to certain pieces of music.
I want my music to be something you can listen to whilst driving, by the beach or any kind of cliché. At the same time, I also want it to be something that's just cool to watch live. I want create music the equivalent of an aesthetically pleasing image.
So, do you think of what the song might look or feel like when you’re composing it?
I’ve got very mild synesthesia which means I can see little scenes while I’m hearing something, and that helps when I’m trying to go for a certain sound. I had a few different ideas throughout the week and the guitar’s usually the start point then, by adding different instruments, I start seeing different textures, shapes and colors.
It certainly makes it more exciting, especially if I nail the artwork, to be able to look at it and think: ‘Yes, that’s what I was seeing when I was hearing this!’
What are some influences from your past that lead to what you’re doing today?
I have a vivid memory of me leaving with my mom, and she had just bought a VHS of George Michael. I remember we had nothing in the house but this Hi-Fi System, and we just danced in an empty living room. Also, my stepdad always had ‘The Best of U2’ playing in the car.
I got into pop-punk and emo when I was thirteen by watching the Kerrang! Channel on Sky. My first instrument was the guitar so I’d listen to any bands that were guitar heavy and had an “I’m a guitarist” vibe to it. Slash’s solo in ‘November Rain’ was a big one, he’s playing outside a church and there’s wind blowing. I used to think that was so cool, that maybe I could do that.
What’s the thought process behind your lyrics?
Normally, I come up with my music first. If my intention when sitting down is to write a song, I come up with a riff, bass line or a beat first. I usually have a bunch of lyrics on my notes. I’ll pick the best ones and incorporate them to the song. Sometimes, I’ll hum melodies and start saying nonsense then slowly, I start fitting words to it.
After I have the first draft, I’ll go over them and start thinking about them more deeply to try and find a purpose. If it’s the right music sometimes I write stuff that’s really profound. Lyrics that make me go, ‘Oh Christ, I didn’t know I had that in me!’
What’s the future for The Jones Project?
I think the plan in the medium-to-long-term will be to release a five-track EP of new songs. I don’t want to put any of the old songs in there because I think that, even though I like them, there's still an experiment to see what the project will solidify into. Hopefully I’ll be able to put that out in the spring.
I want to put out a DIY music video, so that’s what next in the short-term. Also, when we’re able again, I desperately want to play live. I haven’t played with anyone else other than me in around five years so it’ll be crazy to finally be able to play with actual people in a room!
Are you thinking of getting a band together to play live shows?
Yeah, I’d like that. I don’t think it would have the same effect otherwise. I did an Instagram Live not too long ago and I did it all myself. It was okay, it was the first show I’ve done in so many years, but I truly believe the music needs a band. I think everyone else would enjoy it more. Especially as a first show coming back from lockdown, it needs that punch.
Finally, where exactly did the name ‘The Jones Project’ come from?
It really doesn’t mean anything, I have a friend named Matt Jones and he has a big beard. Once, I saw a picture of him when he was younger and he didn’t have the beard. I told him I thought it was a bit weird to see him without it and he just said: “Oh yeah, the Beardless Jones”. I liked the way that sounded so I decided to go with The Beardless Jones Project. In the end, I got rid of the beardless and here we are!