Chandler Austin Jones
I am originally from Florence, Alabama, and I am now living in Portland, Oregon.
Just see my Tinder bio.
You are a musician, artist, and all around creative person. Are there distinct moments or people in your life that you feel have helped contribute to who you are today?
Yes, we are all the sum of our parts. One of the fundamental ideas behind a lot of my work is to exist within a place where space and time not only become relative, but collide and one is transcended into a state of hyperawareness. My life has been about seeking these experiences. Hopping a train in rural Alabama. Sleeping on the streets of Paris. The hitchhiker's words to me in Colorado. Losing myself to jazz in New Orleans. These are all personal examples of these collisions. But they don't have to be so grandiose. They can be simple, fleeting moments in everyday life. A leaf hits the sidewalk. The pinnacle of conversation over good wine with great friends. It'sunfiltered bliss.
How did you get started with music?
My father is a songwriter in Nashville so I was surrounded by music from a very earlier age. I started playing guitar and writing songs and poetry around the age of eleven, always keeping a small memo book in my pocket. In middle school, I formed several terrible grunge and alternative rock bands with equally terrible band names: Eclectic 1, Countdown to Coincide, The Stoplight Dilemma. I was obsessed with Kurt Cobain and was sent to the principal's office in seventh grade for reading his biography, Heavier Than Heaven, instead of reading the bible- in bible class. I recorded my first EP in Nashville when I was thirteen, which can only be found within the depths of my childhood closet in Florence, AL.
Musically, what is your writing process like?
There is no formula, but it typically starts with a melody. I develop it further with musical composition, usually on the guitar. During this process, a theme or concept emerges from the mood of the composition and certain phrases and vowel/consonant sounds will stand out. The words are usually constructed like a poem, often taking quite a long time to write. It isn't uncommon for me to work on one verse for two months (which is the case in my newest song). It takes that long for the idea to fully show itself and for me to feel like it is genuinely created and not forced. And even once the song is complete, the idea is still in flux and adapting. I like to leave room for it to breathe. Paul Simon once said it sometimes takes him up to six months to write a song. If it's okay with Paul Simon, then it's okay with me.
When you are creating art or even looking at art, what makes something “successful” or completed?
It's important to be able to listen and understand your own intuition when creating art. This intuition is what guides you and ensures that an honest expression is executed. When I'm working on a painting, I tend to feel a strange uneasiness until it is complete. I work until that sensation subsides and it feels balanced and finished. When experiencing art, it is successful for me when a conceptual idea or mood is translated. I can look at a painting and it be nice. Well crafted, fine composition. But if it lacks the emotion, it is personally unsuccessful. That doesn't mean it ceases to be art (which is a whole other discussion entirely). It just means it failed to resonate. I enjoy art that makes me ask questions.
What does authenticity mean to you?
The idea of modern authenticity has become so misconstrued and convoluted, having been made synonymous with a particular aesthetic that is hardly recognizable from its original philosophical intent. As a result, by intentionally projecting an authentic life, it makes you genuinely unauthentic. This is not a new idea just within our millennial generation. Kierkegaard wrote that society has lost what it means to be an individual. Even Socrates says, "an unexamined life is not worth living." I believe authenticity must exist outside of a social or cultural construct, being naturally portrayed through self evaluation and intuition within the individual.
If you were to be reincarnated, what would you be?
A wormhole. The kind in space, not the apple.
Describe “the perfect day” for Chandler Austin Jones.
It would begin waking up in a large bed with the sun illuminating the room. I slowly get up and feel the softness of a large, silk Persian rug underneath my bare feet as I walk to the window overlooking the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy. The tourists are still in their beds and the accordion player is just starting to set up for the day. He complains to the street sweeper about the chilly weather. I get dressed, putting on a sweater and coat, and continue down the stairs to the bakery on the first floor. They greet me with a causal ciao, and I order an espresso and sfogliatella and sit at the round marble table by the window. Old men read the newspaper in silence.
After several minutes, a thin brunette woman comes up to my table and places a napkin in front of me. Before I can speak, she turns and vanishes out into the street. The napkin is tattered with black ink smudges, and I smooth out the wrinkles to make out the words, "Vuoi fare un gioco?" I translate it on my phone and it reads, "Do you want to play a game?" Intrigued, I flip the napkin over. A riddle. "Tool of thief, toy of queen. Always used to be unseen. Sign of joy, sign of sorrow. Giving all likeness borrowed."
I scarf down my pastry, too excited to enjoy it, and run out into the piazzale, scaring the pigeons. The air is cold on my face and my eyes begin to water as the accordion player plays the same traditional uptempo Italian tune that he plays every morning for the people forming a line outside of the duomo. My legs want to move, but I have no idea which direction to direct them. Tool of thief, toy of queen. I sit of a bench, feeling defeated. The line of tourists get longer, slowly wrapping its way around the cathedral. Children run around, laughing while their impatient parents wait in line with their noises buried into their guide books. One child grips an object in his hand and holds it over his face. A mask. I jump up and remember reading about a mask shop owned by a man who had been making them by hand for decades. I flip through my black book until I find the address. Via Faenza 72.
None of the buildings have street numbers or signage so I slowly walk around, peering in windows. An old man from behind a cracked red door appears and waves to me. He opens it slowly and I step inside. The walls are lined with masks, all sizes. Faces looking down at me, friendly and sinister. The old man picks up his small Yorkshire terrier and walks to the back of the shop...
*Sorry, this answer got away from me.* To expedite this story, the mask man gives me another riddle, sending me on a scavenger hunt through the streets of Florence, Italy. It ends at a small restaurant at night, filled with my best friends and family. We all laugh and eat pasta and drink wine into the night.
What other forms of art inspire you to make your own?
Jazz is a big inspiration for me. Artists like Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis. I resonate with the energy and flow these artists created, and the way they improvised out of seemingly total madness. They were the heartbeat of postwar American counterculture during one of the most important times in 20th century art. I am also incredibly inspired by literary movements. New York City and San Fransisco in the 1950s. Paris in the 1920s.