Howard Jones could still be releasing music long after he’s gone as the synth-pop star reveals he’s working on an AI version of his voice.
The musician, 68, embarks on his 40th anniversary tour of the UK this month, coinciding with the release of his latest best-of, ‘Celebrate It Together – The Very Best Of Howard Jones 1983-2023’.
That collection includes classics from across the decades, including hits such as Like To Get To Know You Well, What Is Love?, New Song and Things Can Only Get Better, and as he grapples with new technologies there could be centuries of Howard Jones hits to come.
Speaking in the November issue of RETROPOP magazine, Jones discusses his work with AI, sharing: “I want to create choirs with it. That’s always my thinking: How can I use these things in a way that will excite people?”
Although musicians such as Nick Cave and Sting have spoken out against artificial intelligence, Jones says we should embrace it. “I remember when everybody was freaking out about sampling,” he smiles, “which is laughable now, isn’t it?
“Just look at what people did with sampling and the creativity that came out of it. I even had it with synthesisers, where they wanted to ban me from the Musicians’ Union because I was apparently putting people out of work.
“With AI, obviously some people are going to use it to rip singers off but as artists we should think of it as a new tool. Let’s use it in a brilliant way to create even more exciting and interesting music, and let’s not be afraid of it!”
In the meantime, he’s working on another project, a brand new studio album, which features his own vocals and is set to be called ‘Global Citizen’. “Hopefully it will be ready for next year. I can’t guarantee that because sometimes I get very wrapped up with making albums and it takes me way longer than I thought, but that’s the plan,” laughs Jones.
Since the mid-1990s, Jones has been putting out music on his own Dtox label and although his more recent recordings haven’t been as successful as classics like ‘Human’s Lib’ (1984) and ‘Dream Into Action’ (1985), he’s maintained a strong fan base who he keeps in mind while writing new material.
“I realised that the newer albums weren’t going to travel in the same way that the early albums for Warners did because that’s the nature of pop music,” reflects the musician. “You have your spotlight and then you move on.
“So when I’m sitting in the studio, I’m really thinking, ‘What is going to be relevant to their lives now as we grow older together? What’s the subject matter with the lyrics?’
“Obviously I’ve got to please myself when I’m making the records, but at the back of my mind I’m thinking, ‘What’s going to be the most thrilling for them?'”
And when it comes to the tour, fans are sure to be thrilled as Jones hints he’ll be playing all the classics and more besides. “It’s difficult to cover the whole 40 years and I don’t know how many hours I would need to make everyone happy,” he grins.
“I’ve got all these radio hits that people want to hear and it’s a nice problem to have, but if I don’t play them people get really upset!”
Interview: Simon Button
Read the full interview in the November 2023 edition of RETROPOP, out now. Order yours or subscribe via our Online Store, use our Store Finder to locate your nearest stockist, or get Digital Copies delivered direct to your devices.