London-based group J & The Rest have recently released their new single, ‘Kisses on the Mirror’.
Kisses on the Mirror is an inventive play of contemporary R’n’B and pop influences with striking soul vibes.
The powerful lyrics about a love’s rejection merged with these addictive melodies makes this single the perfect summer anthem!
Their distinctive sound almost hints the styles of The Weeknd, Zayn, Jungle, Yes Lad, and Jay Sean. This highly addictive single is now available on Spotify.
Formed in 2015, the quartet began their musical journey when frontman Jamal ‘J’ Alexander met his friends John Bird Jr. and Louis Querelle at Leeds Metropolitan University and banded together with drummer Ricky Russell.
Their debut single, 4AM Again, which was inspired by Prince was released on 25th May. Watch their acoustic version of 4AM Again below.
I interviewed singer Jamal ‘J’ Alexander and drummer Ricky Russell about their new single, performing with Tinie Tempah and Robin Thicke, and their next steps.
Prince inspired your debut single, 4AM Again. Who are your musical influences for your second single, Kisses on the Mirror?
Jamal: It would be hard to say, because we went into the first session on that song with a completely open mind and no ideas of what kind of song we wanted to make. So, what you hear is just how we felt that day!
How long did it take to construct Kisses on the Mirror, and what inspired you to write these lyrics?
Jamal: The finished product actually took almost a year believe it or not – from first session to finished master. We kind of pieced it together over the course of the year and various sessions. The lyrics are actually inspired by real events! My friend actually did wake up after having been left in bed by a girl, with just a note left on the floor!
“If heartbreak makes these guys dance so hard, would it be cruel to ask for more?” – Popdust
Were there any clashes on how parts of the song should sound?
Jamal: We very rarely clash when it comes to creative direction, we’re lucky in that respect. Our creative style is very off the cuff, whatever happens in the moment we like to lay down straight away and go with our very first ideas. Obviously we fiddle slightly to make the initial idea better, but the general feel is normally decided in the first half an hour of the session.
What has been a surprising response to your new single?
Jamal: The reaction to the single has been generally very good! There will always be people who disagree and have their own musical tastes but that’s what makes it interesting. I don’t think we’d like it if 100% of the feedback was good.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing together?
Jamal: It’s constantly evolving. Every studio session feels different, and I suppose the main thing that evolves is our studio technique, and our go-to headspace for coming up with lyrics. There’s always room for improvement in those areas in my eyes.
What do you think of the changing music industry and the various platforms for putting your music out there? Any innovations you’re looking to harness?
Jamal: It’s quite literally a jungle out there! The music industry relies heavily on things like social media these days; we’re doing our best to keep up with the demands social media puts on us! We’re big fans of Spotify, as they’ve completely changed the game over past couple of years. We also want to really harness the power of Facebook video as well.
“GOOD VIBES THAT YOU CAN FEEL INSTANTLY THROUGHOUT YOUR BODY WITH THE ADDICTIVE GROOVES, THE POSITIVE ENERGY, AND THEM BEAUTIFUL MELODIES” – MUSIC AND RIOTS
Your music fits with R’n’B and pop with some soul vibes. Describe your music in four words.
Jamal: Never. Stay. In. Boxes.
What do you like to do outside of music that influences or contributes to your creativity?
Jamal: We’re social butterflies! Everything that contributes to our music (outside of music) I’d say is all from our personal life experiences and events.
Pick three artists that you’d like to collaborate with.
Jamal: D’Angelo, Pharrell and Dua Lipa.
Jamal, you come from a musical family. Does your background help with the sound you want to make with the group?
Jamal: Yeah I suppose it helps a little, you can’t ignore where you come from. But I’d like to think I’ve developed my own sound!
Where’s the best place you’ve gigged at?
Jamal: The best place would have to be Eden Roc in Cannes for a private party – it was incredible.
Public performances can be fun and nerve-wracking. How do you deal with nerves?
Jamal: I think we all deal pretty well with nerves but when they do show up, you just have to get in character and pretend you’re a veteran and nothing can scare you anymore. That’s always worked for me.
You’ve performed with Tinie Tempah and Robin Thicke. What did you learn from performing with them?
Jamal: These were crazy experiences for sure! I think the biggest thing we learned was that those guys are still just people – they still go through the same rehearsals and preparation and nerves that we go through, and if they can do it, then so can we!
Did you run into people you didn’t expect?
Jamal: Yeah that happens sometimes! Just depends what kind of gig you’re on I guess. More often than not though, there’s no joy in that department.
You’ve done a couple of YouTube covers: Crusin’ by D’Angelo and You Make Me Wanna by Usher. Why did you choose these songs?
Jamal: Well, the Usher cover we decided on because the song ‘You Make Me Wanna’ turns 20 years old this year, which is crazy! But it’s also an awesome song. The other one is actually one of my favourite songs. D’Angelo is one of my hugest influences so it always feels great doing anything of his.
Is there a go-to song you all like to play?
Jamal: There are literally so many songs we like doing but one go-to classic that we always love doing is ‘Pretty Wings’ by Maxwell.
“AN ADDICTIVE GROOVE THAT INFUSES YOUR BODY WITH FEELINGS OF POSITIVITY” – UNSIGNED MUSIC AWARDS
If you were to travel back in time, name some words of advice for your younger selves.
Ricky: I’d probably tell myself to play the harmonica to avoid years of having the most to setup and pack down at each gig….Just playing! I think I’d just tell myself not to take things too seriously. Life seems to work itself out but sometimes when you’re in the middle of a challenging situation you tend to forget that.
Is there a motto or any advice you live by?
Ricky: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”
What’s the next step?
Ricky: We love writing and performing music. The aim is to do so for as long as possible and to reach as many people as possible. Creatively we’ve got a lot more to offer and we’re looking forward to sharing a load more great music with everyone.