We recently learned of a new singer with a very powerful voice and compelling stage presence. In a similar fashion to fellow Texas singer (and one of our favorites), The Suffers’ Kam Franklin, Tameca Jones is set to blow up. We were pleased to be able to chat with her about her recent work with Gary Clark, Jr., her singles, “Sandman,” “Hot and Bothered” and “Head Over Heels” and her EP, Naked. As you will see from our discussion, this sister, who is making the transition from primarily being a cover artist to performing original material, is headed in the right direction and will surely be a force to be reckoned with. Her sexy, driving voice is reminiscent (although different) of another Texan, Erykah Badu, mixed with certain tonal accents like Amy Winehouse. We really look forward to hearing more from this artist.
1) soulhead: Austin – Tell us about how the Austin music scene has shaped your sound? Did you find it difficult to make your way in a town that has not historically been associated with soul music?
Tameca Jones: I used to watch people like Gary Clark Jr., The Greyhounds, and Bob Schneider all the time. Gary and the Greyhounds inspired me to make original music and showed me that it was okay to be soulful and unique. Bob Schneider helped me realize how important it was to be a good songwriter and really feel the words coming out of your mouth. He also showed me that it was okay to tackle different genres and not stick to what your fans want you to do. Some people want me to be Erykah Badu or Sharon Jones. They want me to be in a box. I can’t live like that. If I can’t feel what I’m singing, I can’t sing it.
It was pretty difficult to find my way up the ladder. Austin isn’t very diverse when it comes to soul music, but that dearth has also worked to my benefit. I’m not a blues guitarist or an indie rock band. I’m a black female soul singer in Austin, which kind of made me a unicorn when people and Austin media finally caught on. Finding my way up the Austin music ladder has been arduous, but I knew if I kept climbing I would reach the top eventually.
2) soulhead: You have done several covers from the rock world including covers by Elton John and Jimi Hendrix. Talk to us about your creative process and how you approach putting your spin on these classic artists’ music
Tameca Jones: I love transforming rock and pop tunes into soul songs. If it is sexy and has a groove to it, I’ll figure out a way to flip it. One of the first songs I ever covered was “Miss You” by the Rolling Stones. It is such a funky, sexy song. It has been hard for me to add new covers to my set because they have to make people scratch their heads. I’m not gonna cover Al Green or Aretha Franklin because that’s already been done. My mind needs a challenge. I’d do a Garth Brooks cover before I’d cover another soul singer.
3) soulhead: You have a very diverse band. Tell us what qualities you look for when you decided who to work with?
Tameca Jones: I look for musicians who can make me feel something. I look for players who respect my vocals and the music. I’m not fond of a lot of musical masturbation. I’m not a fan of jazz chords, different voicings, drum fills, mastubatory guitar and bass licks. I want people to play the song and make me feel good because if I’m not happy, no one is going to be happy. People who play with me have to be diverse because I love rock, pop, electronica, and soul. I’m a little hard to satisfy.
4) soulhead: We really love the track “Sandman” and how emotional you seem on it. Can you give us a bit more background on what inspired that song?
Tameca Jones: Aww thanks! I wrote that song after I saw my ex-boyfriend with another woman after we broke up. It was excruciating seeing him move on so quickly. It took me a long time to get over him because I saw him around a lot. Sleep is definitely something you lose when you’re in any kind of pain. So, I wrote the song to the Sandman because I was drowning in the sand he ineffectively kept throwing at me.
5) soulhead: What 3 artists do you listen to that your fans would be surprised to know?
Tameca Jones: Tears for Fears, George Michael, Nick Jonas. I’m a huge pop freak. I also love British music.
6) soulhead: If you could sing a duet with any artist dead or alive, who would it be?
Tameca Jones: Amy Winehouse, her songwriting and vocal style are everything to me. She was so raw. I’d just love to be around her to soak up her swagger.
7) soulhead: What do you do to relax?
Tameca Jones: When my backyard isn’t plagued by blood thirsty flying vampires, I like sitting out there at night to look up at the stars. I also like playing basketball with my daughter.
8) soulhead: What food is your guilty pleasure?
Tameca Jones: Cold Haribo Gummy bears. I always loved Haribo gummy bears, but one day I had a session with legendary photographer Dan Winters, who showed me how amazing the candy is if you put it in the fridge. I go through three bags a month now.
9) soulhead: Is there a song from the last 3 years that you wish you had sung first?
Tameca Jones: “Love On The Brain” by Rihanna. I wish someone would’ve wrote and produced that song for me. She absolutely kills it of course, but that throwback style is something that gets my nips hard.
10) soulhead: What song from your EP do you enjoy singing the most?
Tameca Jones: I enjoy singing “Let Me Be” because it has that sexy sway roller skating chill vibe to it. It turns me into this sexy smoldering chanteuse. I get to moan and play a role.
Check out some of her music below:
“Head Over Heals”
Check out a couple of her live performances:
“Let Me Be”
“Benny and the Jets” (Elton John Cover)