It took several years, but the R&B quartet 112 has finally answered the call that fans have been asking for as all four original members are back on stage together. Daron, Mike, Q, and Slim kicked off the For the Fans Tour earlier this summer. However, one fourth of the award winning group is multi-tasking, working on the follow up to his first solo album Uncensored.
Multi-platinum singer, songwriter, musician and producer Daron Jones is focused on rebuilding the 112 brand and giving fans the reunion they have been demanding, but he’s also going a step further by going through a reinvention period with his upcoming project appropriately titled Reinvention. He says “Reinvention is taking something familiar like the 90s R&B sound that I’m known for and making improvements on that and evolving.”
The Grammy Award winner has an extensive résumé under his belt. He’s the CEO of his own label, DPS Productions. He’s also responsible for songs like Keyshia Cole’s “I Should Have Cheated”, as well as a string of chart-topping hits from artists such as the late great Notorious B.I.G., R. Kelly, Usher, Jamie Foxx, Pink and of course, 112.
Soultrain.com caught up with Daron Jones to discuss performing again with 112 and why he’s reinventing himself personally and professionally.
Soul Train: You‘re still pushing your solo projects, so why reunite with 112 now?
Daron Jones: It was really a demand from the fans as far as the group, so right now we’re just doing the For the Fans Tour. I guess an official reunion would include an album from the group, but I can’t say that’s what’s happening right now. We are together touring as a four man band, for the fans. It’s not really official right now; it’s just spot dates because it’s a re-branding effort and building the confidence among the fans and promoters. Over the past few years it’s been a lot of different situations where 112 was being promoted as performing live and it wasn’t the whole band, so that’s the process that we’re going through now. As for my solo album, I’m still pushing it, it’s still going down. I don’t have an official release date for the album, but I am releasing some singles that are available for purchase on iTunes. It’s still a positive look because I still get to perform my records at the 112 show, so it’s all good.
Soul Train: What can fans expect to see during the 112 show?
Daron Jones: They can expect all of the classic 112 music from the 90s and beyond. Our biggest era was from ‘96 until 2003, so we perform a lot of those classic songs within the show.
Soul Train: What do you think is the key to 112’s longevity? All y’all had to do was tweet that you’re on tour and folks went crazy. What is the reason that keeps the fans around?
Daron Jones: It’s a brand; when you work to build a brand and establish a brand, then it never really disappears. Once the public wants something, the want doesn’t just go away. We spent 20 years building 112 into a name that people respect for quality music and quality showmanship, so I don’t think it’s amazing that people still want it now because it never really went away. I mean the members, we had our differences, but the brand and the quality has always been there and never dissipated in my mind.
Soul Train: Do you think the demand was increased because of the way the music industry is today since people say music is lacking in the lyrical content and they want to go back to the 90s when music was better?
Daron Jones: No, I just think we have a fan base. I think it’s literally that simple. When you work a brand for that long and you release music and sell a million records, those fans are still there. When that brand appears to where it’s visible to those fans, they are going to come and support it. I don’t think that the music industry lacks substance now. I just think that it’s a new generation, and they have a new way of expressing the same sentiments that we were expressing back in the 90s from a hip hop standpoint and R&B standpoint.
Soul Train: So you don’t think there’s any validity to the statement that R&B is dead?
Daron Jones: No, I don’t think that’s true. I think there are a lot of great artists that are still holding R&B down, from Usher to Jazmine Sullivan to Miguel–and those are just off the top of my head. There’s a lot of great R&B in the marketplace, so I don’t understand when people say that it’s dead. I think Chris Brown is an incredible artist; same for Usher, Beyoncé, and Miguel, and what they are doing for R&B is incredible. I don’t think I’d be able to even name all of these people if R&B was dead or even near dying. I just think that your favorite artists make albums, then they disappear for a minute, then they come back and do another album, that’s just how it goes. On the business side of things, artists can’t chose who a label is going to focus on, and that’s the side of it that the fans don’t see. For example, if the record label decides to focus this month on Soulja Boy, Rick Ross or whomever, the artist doesn’t make that decision–the executives do. So if you see them all over the place, it’s not because we made that choice. Even though we’re still making quality music–you can go to iTunes now and see all of my music–but if the label has decided that I’m not the artist that’s going to be spinning 60 times on BET or 100 times on your local radio station due to executive decisions that’s not my call.
Soul Train: Well, what about the artists that take the indie route like you? You have your own label so does that problem still exist?
Daron Jones: Well, as far as mainstream goes, there is still a battle for that. As an independent artist, I’m the small guy, a small fish in a big sea of big sharks. So as an independent artist, it’s just more to it than what the naked eye can see.
Soul Train: So let’s talk about your new music, your second solo album Reinvention. Why that title?
Daron Jones: The definition I roll with for the word reinvention is to take something familiar and make an improvement on it. The album is about personal improvement in my life, and as an artist and businessman. So that’s what reinvention is to me. Taking something familiar is just really the 90s R&B sound that I’m known for and making improvements on that and evolving with the sound that people know and love me for. Over the years, I’ve been able to take that sound and express it through other artists, whether it was Pink, 112, Jamie Foxx, or Keyshia Cole, but it’s the same sound and my own personal view and my own personal expansion with the sound.
Soul Train: What’s your five year goal?
Daron Jones: Well, right now the goal for me is just to continue to spread the music. I want to continue to make music and get it to as many people as I possibly can. I can’t really say what a 5 year goal is, but I know for me for the rest of my life, I just want to keep making quality music, and keep growing my brand and making it into a household name.
For more information follow Daron Jones on Twitter @DaronJonesMusic and for updates on 112 follow @Official112.
Shameika Rene’ is a journalist of all trades. She can usually be found producing television news and writing for various websites such as Charlotte Vibe, Creative Loafing, or her own site, www.themofochronicles.com. She’s also a special guest contributor on The Social Hour on Urban Soul Radio. Follow her on Twitter @mofochronicles.