Over 30 years have passed since Howard Jones captivated audiences worldwide with hits like “No One Is To Blame” and “Things Can Only Get Better”. These days, he’s less interested in the traditional musical approach than he is in a complete, immersive, multi-sensory experience. With a grand scope and a hope for true engagement, here’s a bit more from Howard on the birth of his new project.
The new project, ENGAGE, sounds like an incredible scope of vision. What first stoked the imagination for a project of this scale?
I wanted the project to be based around an immersive live experience, so I started writing and imagining what people could experience at a show. I wanted it to combine all the things I love — electronic music, pop, EDM, contemporary classical ballet and dance, cinema, and philosophy. I wanted to bring these things together but it still be a bit rock ’n’ roll.
Are there examples of other multi-sensory, multimedia experiences that inspired you in this way or opened your eyes to what was possible?
I go to Sadler’s Wells quite often and enjoy the work of Pina Bausch and Ikram Khan. I also was lucky enough to see The Cave by Steve Reich which was very inspirational. Experiencing other artists who work in completely different areas, pokes, prods and gives you a kick, to become more bold and courageous.
It almost sounds like this is finally the project that can include the sum of all that you are or are interested in as an artist. True?
As I approach my 60th birthday, I feel like I really should push myself to do something out of my comfort zone to see how far I can take things. I have a 10-year plan now of new work that is all thematically linked of which ENGAGE is the first part.
Do you find that your personal interest in another “normal” album had waned? Is some of this about personally exploring and staying interested creatively?
I think that the aura of recorded music has dimmed, but as audiences rediscover their love of a visceral experience, that is the starting point for approaching any new work.
Over 30 years have passed since you first started. How have your goals as an artist changed from those early days to now?
I was driven by a desire to communicate ideas, frustrations and passions. I didn’t think about it too much when I started – it just poured out. Today I still want to do the same thing but I agonize a lot more about it all! I still want to remind people of their inherent greatness and unlimited potential, and the fact that we are all very much connected to each other.