Afro-Kitty Jones Q+A: Get To Know This New Chicago Artist
Gaining a strong footing on the Chicago hip hop scene can be challenging when you didn’t grow up in the city, but Afro-Kitty Jones has shown it’s definitely possible. The Ohio to Chicago artist has quickly proved to be a musical force with the talent to really make a name for herself in the Windy City. From connecting with artists such as Joseph Chilliams, SiSi Dior and L i n u s to dropping an excellent tape with Supa X, Jones has been making all the right moves. Her smooth R&B inspired sound is full of emotion and thoughtful songwriting as well as some solid instrumentation. We got the chance to ask her about what it’s like being in Chicago, how she got so musical and what to expect from her going forward. Check it out below.
You are a multi-talented artist who plays a variety of instruments. How did you first get into music? What made you want to learn so many different instruments?
I’m a songwriter, that’s what I want to do! So in order to compose and diversify my sound, I’ve had to pick up several instruments Once you learn one, the rest are easy to pick up. Yea, as a songwriter I play a lot of instruments efficiently, but I would say I play trumpet well. Lol! Like most band kids, my first instrument was piano. I took about 6 lessons before I ran out of one of my lessons kicking and screaming, vowing how I’d never come back. Luckily, though, I got the basics down and am able to incorporate piano licks into song I write now. Like in ‘My Llama,’ the last track on my EP, I played the piano parts in the background, But, really, I am a trumpet player through and through. I started playing trumpet in the 6th grade (about 11 years old), and took private lessons and all of that. I am classically trained, but also spent a lot of time learning jazz. I was in all the bands…and yes, that means I was a band kid. I say band kid, and not band dork because at my school band was kind of a big deal, and it was cool to have talent and know how to play an instrument. I learned guitar in college. Which, in an interesting story because of how I got my first guitar…lol, which I won’t get into, but in college I started experimenting with rock influences and was in a little rock band called “Fingers,” in Columbus, OH. I played trumpet in Fingers, but was able to pick up guitar tricks and things from my band members. The band worked out well, till I Yoko Ono’d it, then also moved to Chicago for grad school. Anyway, Chicago is where I learned my final instrument, my voice.
Well, thank you. Um, yea, so as a songwriter, I try to have an artist in mind when I write, so that I can practice my craft and create something an artist would want to buy. For my tape, I wanted to showcase my writing versatility.. I did have some influences…like in “Rearview Love” it was influenced by a combination of artists including one of my favorite songwriters, Sia as well as Daniel Caesar. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear a melodic ‘bite’ from Caesar’s “Get you” in the hook and lyrical bite from Sia’s “Chandelier” in the first verse. But if I’m doing my job right as a songwriter, then you couldn’t really tell the first time you heard it. Other tracks, like “My Llama” remind me of Rihanna, “Worm Ass Niggaz” was influenced in part, by Chance, especially the second verse. My biggest influence, though, is Erykah Badu.I grew up on her stuff, and any time I’m in a writing block, I just play one of her songs and it gets me on track.
Interesting question. Well, music is about the human experience, and in my training, I’ve seen about 130 patients and they all have a unique story and piece of life to share. Sometimes their story is filled with joy and love…other times its filled with sorrow and loss. Those are the things I try to capture in my music, real life people and real life experiences, I think that comes through on the tape, and what makes music popular and relatable. I actually wrote some of Rearview love at the clinic where I work.
Ohio is the land! But, I don’t miss it too bad, only when I feel like doing country girl things like camping or shooting…I love Chicago. Chicago is the new land and definitely where I call home (sorry, mom!) Chicago influenced my music a lot, before I came here I did a lot of folk music, acoustic sets and all that. When I came here I stayed in the north side, and spent time with a lot of school friends. I was really unhappy then, it wasn’t until I made local friends and got acquainted with the city music scene, and spent some time acculturating myself in the south and west side of Chicago that I began to really understand the sound and culture of Chicago. That’s sort of when I started to pursue music in a more professional manner. I met a lot of dope artists at first by shear chance and luck—it was crazy how I met the people I did, but once I met the right folks, I was able to explore the real Chicago, you know, what was happening in the streets and in the homes of those who have lived here their whole lives. That, in turn, influenced my sound. Chicago has this avant garde quality about it—a unique style that is hard to predict. I fed into that and felt confident in developing my own sound.
You can expect me to finish my doctorate (one more year!) and more great music! I have some things already in the works, and you can expect more from Sisi Dior and I. I’m trying to work on some collabs with Show you suck, so hopefully that works out. I’ve been wanting to work with Alex Wiley for a minute, and I’ve been seeing him around a lot lately, so who knows!