INTERVIEW: Figuero Jones speaks on worldwide influences & affiliating memories with sounds
We sat-down and chatted with Sydney-based trap and R&B artist Figuero Jones, who spoke with us about connecting modern music with his cultural roots, moving his way through a bubbling Sydney scene, and making music that speaks to his soul.
Figuero Jones is warm, optimistic and possesses an abundance of passion for music. Even 3900+ kilometres away in Sydney his positive energy still emanates across the distance. “I go by the name Figuero Jones, I’m an artist that started in Perth and I’m in Sydney now. I make anything from hip-hop to R&B, I’m on that Slime shit.”
Figuero Jones was born in Sri Lanka and has lived in Singapore, Kuwait and Jordan. “I grew up most of my life in the Middle East; Kuwait and Jordan were where I spent a lot of time, almost 10 years. We moved back to Sri Lanka for a bit and then we moved to Australia.”
He describes moving to Australia as being a big influence in his pursual of a career in music. “It was a whole new environment, all new people. I was going through this journey of what type of man I want to be, and I just get dumped in this new spot and are receptive to all these new influences. I was just like “Damn, I could actually do music in a country like here” versus being in a country where they don’t have that kind of thing and it’s more merit based where you want to get into university or college.”
Figuero was 18 when he moved to Perth with his family and says if he hadn’t, he most likely wouldn’t be in the music industry and chasing his passion for musical creation.
“Moving to Perth was a huge factor in it, coming from Sri Lanka where situations are different over there, you know, you don’t have the same opportunities. Coming to this country where you have a whole lot more opportunity, you just can’t lack. You have to do something with it. [The move] definitely moulded me into who I wanted to be…I always say that Perth is the place that gave birth to Figuero.”
Figuero began experimenting with music almost immediately after moving to Perth. “I was around 18 or 19 and I was just super into my creative artistic side at that point and music was always in the conversation, but not to chase seriously or anything. I was in that phase where I was super into [music] and I had a chat with myself about what I want to do in life. I just got into it, I just went for it, started making music. It was never like an “Okay let’s do this now!”, it was more going through the motions and I just kind of got there.” He explains the way meeting new people within the music community in Perth encouraged his casual thoughts about experimenting with making music become a reality.
As time passed, Figuero began to fully experience the feelings of passion and yearning for making music.
“You see your idols, you see your favourite artists and when you’re super into it you kind of ask yourself, “Man, how cool would this be?” or “How cool would performing be?” and “What makes them tick?” and questions like that. Then you start doing it, and you kind of understand, or you feel like you understand and that’s kind of like an addiction,” he explains. “It’s so captivating, it just pulled me in.”
The world of music has not only pulled Figuero in, but pulled him across the country to Sydney.
“Sydney right now is hot, everything is out here, the whole business aspect of it. The culture in terms of the music scene and the artists is heavy right now, it’s the most dense out of the whole of Australia. I kind of thought it would be cool to come out here and see how it went.”
When I ask Figuero if his journey has been a roller coaster of emotional and professional ups and downs, he laughs. “Definitely been a roller coaster, always a roller coaster. Not even a roller coaster, you’re like, warping through space at light speed. It’s hectic, but you’ve got to ride the motions. It’s like building momentum, you’ve got to go through a down to get to shoot off,” he explains with hand gestures. “You’ve got to ride the motions, but it’s definitely happy and sad.”
Figuero stresses the importance of learning from every experience, both the good and the bad, in order to keep pushing to arrive where you dream of being.
“If you’ve got a passion for it and you love it, you’re just going to take everything as lessons and everything as an opportunity to build on and improve from,” he elucidates. “I think that’s what excites me. When I first moved here to Sydney, whatever knowledge I had had to be kicked out the door because you’re in a whole new environment now and you have to work from scratch. Sydney is hot so you kind of have to squeeze in where you can.”
Figuero describes his musical style as ‘worldwide’. “It’s sounds from all over the world, like where I’ve grown up, the cultures I’ve been influenced by and the cultures I’ve been put onto and the sounds I’ve been put onto. If you look at my phone at all the music I listen to, it’s from every part of the world and I like that and I want to bring that into my music.” He continues, describing the people behind his adoration for the rap and trap genres, saying: “For me, I love the whole Slime wave, what Future and Young Thug created. That one is very easy to connect with because the sounds they use, the melody of the track, the cadence, even the way they express the lyrics and content. It reminds me of my own culture’s music, even the melodies. The melodies are a huge part for me because it’s very nostalgic, it just takes you there. Sounds are like memories for me. Apart from the Slime sound, I love R&B and other types of hip-hop. I do really love R&B because it’s like another part of my life, as big as rapping and hip-hop.”
The decision to make his stage name ‘Figuero Jones’ came about in a very intriguing fashion. “I was writing to a beat by a Perth producer and with the first couple of beats that I was writing to this I was like, “Bro this sounds like my soul right now” and I was just in this zone and from the back of my head this name ‘Figuero’ [emerged].”
He describes the almost spiritual zone he was in whilst in that studio, and the mixture of Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ (1786) and Rossini’s ‘Largo al factotum’ from ‘The Barber of Seville’ (1816) as the opera’s character Figaro takes to the stage. “It was just a fun thing, I love that song because I’ve heard it in so many TV shows and movies and even cartoons, I think in Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes they had that. It’s very nostalgic and like I said, sounds are like memories to me so something in that beat, made me think about that memory of that song and made me think about that name and I was like “Yeah, lets rock with this one”.” Figuero explains the way ‘Jones’ had less sentimentality and intent, saying, “I didn’t even think about using Jones, but I think it just rolled off the tongue nicely, when I said [the names together], ‘Figuero Jones’. It wasn’t a big process, it just came in the moment, and I was like “I love this name”.”
“Right now, I’m trying to focus on my body of work, my projects, and coming out strong.” Figuero says he plans to drop new music sometime this year and a more specific date for his fresh releases will come with time. “I’ve been cooking up; I’ve got a whole lot of shit that I’m trying to drop. I’ve just been trying to get everything lined up nicely,” he tells me.
Looking in retrospect at his journey so far in his music career and knowing the obstacles he will conquer in the future to reach his goals, Figuero shares insight into the process of becoming a successful artist. “Being an artist is not easy, but it’s definitely rewarding for those who have that [resilient] outlook on life and have the passion for it,” Figuero says. “I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve grown into such a person, and have learnt lessons in life that I probably wouldn’t have been able to learn anywhere else or doing something else.”
2nd Photo by @blindsidehein
Interview & Words by Liv Declerck