Newest Jill Jones interview
Again translated from French Jill Jones, de Paisley Pa...nt - Muziq
By Jacques Trémolin
Between 1980 and 1990, Jill Jones was Prince's "vocal lining" in the studio. In the second episode of our series of interviews around the release of the original album Originals , the co-author and performer of "Mia Bocca" evokes her memories, from Paisley Park in Paris.
Muziq: In what circumstances did you meet Prince?
Jill Jones: It was in 1980. I was a backing vocalist in Teena Marie's group, of which my mother was the manager. We were doing the first part of Rick James' tour with Prince, who had just released Dirty Mind, and it was during these concerts that we first met.
Do you remember your first recording session with Prince?
Yes. We really started working together about two years later, in 1982, and my first recording session with Prince dates back to that time. It was at Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles, and it was for a song called "Boom Boom". She never came out, although we also shot a clip for this song a few years later.
As of this time, you can hear your voice on a large number of Prince's recordings and productions, from the 1999 album to The Time, Vanity 6 and Apollonia 6, but you are not credited most of the time.Why ?
Because you were not supposed to know it (laughs) ! During this period, Prince was building an empire and he needed help with the vocal parts of the singers he was working with. Very often, it was like this: Prince called me as soon as he finished a piece, I arrived at the studio, he made me listen to the titles and I doubled their voices. I did this on a lot of songs and I think Prince liked my voice because our stamps were similar. I also had some experience as a singer, and for him, it was easy to ask me to adapt my voice according to the singers to which these titles were intended. For my part, I was not part of a band around Prince, or later at Paisley Park, and that made things much easier ...
On which titles can you hear your voice?
There are many. "Lady Cab Driver", on the 1999 album, is a good example of our vocal proximity, because I can go down very low in the low register. I'm also in "17 Days", "Baby I'm a Star" in Purple Rain, "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night" in Sign of the Times , "Shockadelica", "Eternity" and some Black Albumtitles. I also hear in the final mix of "Glamorous Life" Sheila E, in many songs from the album Apollonia 6 ... "Jungle Love" The Time , "100 MPH" Mazarati . I had also sung the voice-witness of "The Drawers" of The Time because I could sing both as a guy or as a girl, it was very fun. Another thing was quite funny: sometimes, some singers were convinced that they were on the record, while it was me who sang (laughs) ! I'm thinking of "Blue Limousine", among others ... I'm happy to be able to say all this: today, we can finally enter the multitrack tapes and prove who does what in these songs. There is no room for fiction.
In the studio, Prince was known to be a very demanding producer.Did he sometimes let you improvise your vocal parts?
Yes, absolutely! He nicknamed me his diver cliff , which meant I was able to do anything, like singing with a candlestick in the hand or upside down. "No problem, let's go! (Laughs) I remember that for "Manic Monday", I had to lie on the floor, on the back, to be able to lift my diaphragm as high as possible from the ground to sing the high note of the passage at the end of the bridge, like a singer of opera (laughs) .
The original version of "Baby You're a Trip" sung by Prince is available for the first time in Originals .How did you feel about rediscovering it more than 35 years later?
Of course, it reminded me of memories, but these memories belong to the past and I do not really like this feeling. I do not like living in the past either, even though this period was wonderful and very creative. At the time, I was 20 years old, and I kept a diary. We were living in a sort of three-way housekeeping at that time, the situation was very confusing, and Prince had managed to get his hands on it and it had inspired him a lot. It was a real weasel (laughs) ! This song is me as Prince saw me, but his vision did not really correspond to reality.
This version of "Baby You're a Trip" was recorded around 1982-83.Jill Jones, your first album produced by Prince, was released almost five years later. Why this shift?
Because I was too busy singing on the records of his other artists. I also think Prince did not want me to go away to start my own career. I also think he knew that if he gave you an album, you would soon leave him ... He was bitter when you were successful outside his universe, and that was what happened with Vanity. After his departure, hebegan to be more suspicious with his entourage. Finally, the delay of this album also came from the fact that I had signed my contract only in 1986, that is to say almost three years before the beginning of the recording, and to collect the pieces also took a lot of time.
Are all the songs of Jill Jones signed by Prince coming from this same period?
Yes, the vast majority. He had also tried to give me some songs, including "Manic Monday" and "Sugar Walls", before giving them to other performers. Another of these songs was called "Living Doll", but I did not like it too much. Prince wanted to make me a kind of pin-up, but things did not go as planned: in Paris, after the recording of the album, I worked with Jean-Baptiste Mondino and Azzedine Alaïa, and they helped me to create an image of an independent woman with a strong personality. That's what I was from the beginning, that's what I wanted to represent, but Prince was struggling with that, he was not used to it. We were far from Glamorous life (laughs) ! I take this opportunity to emphasize that I owe a lot to France. French aesthetics is refined and authentic, far from the artificial image that Prince wanted me to interpret. When I returned to Minneapolis after my stay in Paris, I became another woman. Paris changed me, and Paris changed my relationship with Prince.
Where did you live in Paris?
In the 18th arrondissement. My subway station was Chapel, I remember it very well. I bought an apartment in this neighborhood that I found very cool and reminded me a little Brooklyn in some ways.I then lived in Ménilmontant, where Edith Piaf had lived. The atmosphere was great. My boyfriend's name was Christophe and he lived in the apartment of one of his best friends who was Vincent Cassel.My life in Paris was completely crazy and had nothing to do with the one I lived at Paisley Park: I frequented rappers, graffiti artists, painters and the underground scene mixed with fashion. Azzedine Alaïa had introduced me to Naomi Campbell, but he did not want me to take her in a box because she was still a minor (laughs) ! Other people told me about their travels in India and it was a crazy, fun and intellectually stimulating time. All these people I met in Paris changed my life, I learned a lot of things and I was no longer a Prince girl .
At the time, "Mia Bocca" and its clip directed by Mondino were frequently broadcast in France. What is this song about, and why did you give it an Italian title and chorus?
We wrote "Mia Bocca" in 1982, it was the second song we had worked on after "Boom Boom". The 1999recording had just finished and we were just having fun in the studio. We had imagined the story of this girl who wanted to be the wife of one man, but who attracted lots of others without wanting to. With Prince, we spent our time watching François Truffaut's films and lots of old classics, and this situation was like one of their scenarios ... Sometimes we want to find meaning to Prince's songs, but his songwriting did not always work. like that. In this case, we just had fun both in the studio. As for the choice of Italian, the inspiration came from my father, who is of Italian origin. The problem was that he was from the second generation of immigrants and he did not speak the language very well. With Prince, we called several Italian restaurants in Minneapolis to have the correct translation of the text, because my father did not remember the words (laughs) . "Mia Bocca" was above all a second-degree song, almost a joke, no need to dig deeper ...
Was a second album produced by Prince envisioned after the release of Jill Jones ?
Yes, but after my return from Paris, we were no longer on the same wavelength with Prince. He had offered to dress-or undress me-with specific outfits and I did not agree, I did not see the point. I had started recording a few songs in London, including "Flesh and Blood," but in truth, too much time had passed and once again we were out of time. I did not want to sing these new songs either because they did not portray women in their best light.
" Baby You're a Trip" is the only Jill Jones excerpt from Originals .Would you have liked to see other clips from your album in this new project?
"G-Spot", because on the very first version of this title that we recorded at Prince in 1982, we hear it playing the saxophone. I remember very well this recording: we were in his house, he had just finished the playback and he thought he was missing a part of saxophone on this title. He sent someone to pick one up and at first he had a bit of trouble playing it, but by dint of toughness he got something out of it.I hope they will release this version someday to prove how crazy this guy was (she sings the saxophone riff and laughs) . Sometimes he played a wrong note, but he hung up and spent most of the night there.On the final version that was recorded in 1985, it is Eric Leeds who finally plays his part. Yes, "G-Spot" was really a super-title ...
Other than that, I hear a lot about Originals, especially in "Manic Monday", "The Glamorous Life", "100 MPH" and a few others, but to tell the truth, it does not affect me that much. These are beautiful memories, it was a fabulous time, but the main thing that I get from it is my long friendship with Prince and of course, all he taught me ... When he passed away, I really I soon realized that I was going to have to talk about him for the rest of my life, and to tell the truth, I find this desire to reshape and reconstitute his work a little sad. I would have preferred the world to discover the man, but I doubt that it will ever happen. Fortunately, his music still stands, good for him ...
The album Jill Jones has never been reissued since its release ...
That's right, and I think it will never happen. You know what ? Warner Bros. did not even invite me to the Originals launch party ... I do not think Jill Jones reissue is planned, and if it did, someday, I'll be dead for a long time ... You know, I give you this interview because I love France, Paris, Lyon, and everything else. It does not matter if this album is reissued a day or not. I have a girl who is also a singer, she loves music and for me, music is the most important thing right after my family. For my part, I write for magazines and I also work in advertising. I only play music for fun and I try to tell my daughter everything I've learned in my career so that she avoids the traps of the record industry. I also occasionally do some charity gigs for LGBT associations where I sing my old songs, but that's about it.It reminds me of a Buddhist quote: "When do we know when we are on the right track? When you do not want the things of the world anymore. Today, I no longer want the things of the world and I'm happy with what I have: I love my little house, my cat and my family. I am very lucky