Richi Jones won the 2014 Open Mic UK contestant and has been building up his fan base by touring locally in his native Wolverhampton and wherever else he can. Richi is currently at uni studying popular music and is focussing on producing and engineering. Even though he is busy with his studies, he's able to keep in touch with his fans with his You Tube channel and bring them all his latest music.
PHOTOGROUPIE: (PG) What have you been up to since winning Open Mic?
RICHI JONES: (RJ) I've just been doing lots of gigs, I was gigging before I won the competition, but I've been getting lots of cool shows since I've won the competition. I've also been working on my music to get my demos down in preparation for getting in the studio and recording my EP. I want to make sure that when I start recording everything is ready, so I'm working pretty hard on that.
PG: When is the EP coming out?
RJ: There's no release date yet, but I potentially start recording on the 13th July. I study producing at uni too, and I wouldn't let the EP come out until I was 100% happy with it. Once I have all the tracks laid down, I'll work on them myself to make them perfect.
PG: What made you audition for Open Mic?
RJ: I've always been involved in music, I've been playing the saxophone since I was 10. Since I was 12 I've been gigging up and down the country playing my saxophone, but then I had the wow factor of being a little boy. Then I started writing music and I wanted to write songs so I learnt to play the guitar and piano. I'd performed in front of people before, but I'd never sung in front of an audience. So I entered Open Mic to see what it would be like and see what people though of my music and to get some experience.
PG: They obviously liked it because you won the competition!
RJ: That was a bit surprising because the style of music I write is so far away from your typical pop song. I don't write songs which are catchy, I write songs that draw you in. It's weird because lots of young people relate to pop singers, even though I'm young, it doesn't interest me at all. It was cool to win because I knew that my music related to people.
PG: What advice would you give to other artists wanting to enter open mic?
RJ: You've got nothing to lose, so just go for it and don't be nervous - when I first went in I was really nervous. Competitions aren't really my thing, but there were a lot of people there who were writing their own music so that was good experience to see how my writing was compared to other people my age. At the competition you get a chance to play in front of large audiences and people who can really help your career - Just go in with bags of confidence.
PG: Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into music?
RJ: I don't come from a musical family or anything, the only one who was a bit musical was my Grandad he played a bit of piano. My life's been a bit weird really because from the age of 8 to 18 I was always at a professional football club. From the age of 16-18 I signed a full time football contract with Walsall and before that Wolves.
PG: That was a bit of a switch then!
RJ: Yeah! I only stopped playing last year because my contract was up when I was 18 and then I was in the Open Mic. A few months before I entered the competition I started posting videos of my music online and things started to happen for me with people responding to my music and I started getting busy with gigging. So I quit football because I realised my passion was music. It frustrated me a little bit because when I was younger playing the sax, people were asking me at the age of 13 to fly out to Sweden and Vegas to play at big events and weddings, but I had to keep saying 'no' because I was committed to my club and my contract.
PG: Which instrument to do prefer writing on?
RJ: Since I started playing guitar I don't really write any music on sax or piano. I write a lot of acoustic songs so I come up with the guitar line first then I write the lyrics around that.
PG: Who are your influences?
RJ: I like listening to people that not everyone has heard of like Newton Faulkner, Keaton Henson, Ray LaMontagne, Matt Corby, Ben Howard and John Gomm.
PG: Whats next?
RJ: I'm in talks with Future Music (the guys behind Open Mic) at the moment to get management to help push me forward so I can get EP recorded. I'm really looking forward to recording this EP so that I've got a product to showcase myself. I'm also just going to keep gigging.
To keep up with all Richi's lates music and news follow the links below