With all the hype surrounding the Good Vibes Festival happening this weekend, we are excited to introduce you to another riotous local act.
Meet Ryöt Jones, an eight piece band of multicultural and multi-talented people with dynamic music to bring colours to your life. The band consists of Deo Karmawan (guitars), Izzy Azhar (bass), Aaron Gideon (drums), Eddie Askari (keys), Clifford Tan (saxophone), Jazmi Jamaluddin (saxophone), Payung (trumpet) & Kyren Thomas (lead vocals).
Describing their music as ‘festival funk’, the band sets itself apart from others in the music scene by playing funk jazz. “It’s not a specific genre that actually exists, we just say we make music. The reason we call it ‘festival funk’ is because it’s dance-able, it’s fun, and it’s colourful,” explains frontman Kyren.
Formed in early 2016, the band garnered rave reviews and public attention from their energetic performances. They have been making their way into the market by playing live gigs including at Artebar, Laundry, and Merdekarya, finally gaining the recognition they deserve when they won Live House’s Rock the House talent search and becoming a top ten finalist of Tiger Jams.
We met up with Kyren, Deo, and Izzy to talk about being a big band (literally), some of the tracks for Good Vibes Festival, and who Mr. Jones really is.
Having a pretty big band, what are the challenges that you face? Is there any rule that you guys adhere to between the members?
Deo: Honestly, it’s leadership. It’s really hard because we have eight different individuals, different unique sets of thinking.
Kyren: The toughest part about having a lot of members is the egos that are involved. There are eight different individuals who play music and create, and when it comes to creating something, everything feels like it belongs to somebody.
Izzy: Having a lot of people, I think getting their time is quite tricky as well. Because whenever we want to set rehearsals, or a shoot
D: And interviews
I: Yeah, there’s like eight of us, so eight of us have to all agree on the certain date and time. It can be quite tricky.
What about songwriting and producing? How do you delegate that between yourselves or is there a certain member of the group responsible for writing songs?
I: We have our own kind of like, broken system. So basically, at 5 or 6 am we get voice notes from him (Kyren). He just thinks of like just a chorus line or like a hook or a little riff, so then the next practice we will polish our own stuff first, and then if we have time, we mess around with his voice notes from 5 am and see where it goes.
D: Before we get to the studio, I personally prepare everything for a song. The bass has to play this, the drum has to play this, you know? Sometimes we have songs like that also. But most of our songs are just jams.
K: I think the favourite thing for all of us is how songs come about isn’t as structured as like “You write, we play”. So there are times where Deo prepared like ‘On My Knees’, the chords and all that, so when we came in to work together, we brought that into life. And then there are songs like ‘Dancing Shoes’ which happened in like 10 minutes, the initial structure of it was so random. Then there’s a song like ‘Mr. Brown’ which happened with us just jamming. We were like “Hey that’s really nice, that could be a song.” So there are so many different methods of making music, in fact it doesn’t have a solid structure.
D: And that’s the best part of having a band actually. That’s the art of it.
So are you guys working on any new projects?
K: The singles. We’re getting the singles done. That’s been taking a while. But it’s okay. We’re not in rush. We take a lot of pride in our work, in our music. So at the end of the day, ‘Dancing Shoes’ has been a progress, it’s almost there. I would say 60-70%. So it’s almost done. Then for us, packaging is very important. We have the rough plan and rough structure for everything. So it’s just about trying to get it done perfectly because that’s for us, is the most important thing.
D: So the next project is our single. It’s called ‘Dancing Shoes’.
Will there be any newer songs that fans may not have heard yet, that you might be playing at the festival?
I: I think it’s going to be ‘Couple’ actually.
K: Yeah, ‘Couple’ definitely. ‘Mint’ will be the other one. We’ve only played ‘Mint’ twice. Urbanscapes was the premier of that song, and then Waikiki. So yeah.
How was your reaction when they called you guys to perform at the Good Vibes Festival?
K: We actually wanted to play Good Vibes last year but we were only three months old at the time when they announced the line up. So we were like “What if we made this Facebook post #RyötJonesxGoodVibes estival, #GetUsOnIt and ask people to share it.” And we all asked people to share it. I think we got about 236 shares.
And then they emailed us saying like “Hey guys, sorry the line up is already finalised. But we have a pre-sale ticket show at A Sunday Affair”. And that was a show we always wanted to play as well. We were trying to get as many shows as we could. We were like okay, kill two birds with one stone.
So when we played it, I still remember because at first it was sparse. We went onstage and Aaron told me “Tell them we’re not gonna start until they come to the front.” So people started walking to the front slowly and we turn around and we were like “Let’s go.” 1,2,3 *drums* and the boys hits the horns and I saw everyone who were sitting at sides, just got up and started walking towards the stage. Front to back, packed. They were dancing to us.
After the show, the guys from Good Vibes told us like “We should get you on next year.” When the email came in that we got it, we were ecstatic. We were like “Whaaat?” For us, it’s always been something we wanted to do, it has been in our bucketlist. We got it within the same year of being formed, and that was everything.
D: Good Vibes is a platform that we’ve never played. We’ve never played on a huge stage.
K: We’ve got mad ideas. We’re working towards the big stage. The second we get the biggest stage, we’re going to do the craziest thing possible. So the problem for Ryöt Jones when booking shows is that we have so many members. There are eight of us minimum. So when we got the main stage at Good Vibes, we were like, “Guys can we bring 14 people?”. They were like “What?” “Can we bring 14 people?” “Why 14?” “We wanna bring Ryöt Jones’ big band.” “Aren’t you guys already a big band?” We were like, “We wanna be a bigger band!”
D: So there’ll 14 of us onstage for Good Vibes.
Last question, where did you guys get the name Ryöt Jones from? What does it mean?
I: Basically it’s an alter ego for Kyren. It doesn’t seem like it but Kyren, before he goes onstage, he’s actually pretty nervous. He gets lots of stage frights and everything. And when he performs with us on stage, he almost changes to someone else, so that alter ego is Ryöt Jones.
D: He is Mr. Jones onstage.
K: It’s the idea of being on stage, you can be somebody else on that stage when you’re performing. It’s a fictional character. I spelled it with a ‘y’ because my name is ‘K-y’. That’s why it’s ‘R-y-o-t’. So that’s how Ryöt Jones came to be. That idea that all of us, on our worst day, on our best day, on days when we feel like it’s not good, onstage we are Mr. Jones. You play like you are Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones is not just one person. We are Ryöt Jones. We are all a team.
D: We also make the audience Mr. Jones. When you watch us, you are Mr. Jones.
And there you have it. Even from the interview, we could see these guys are overflowing with energy and they certainly know how to let loose and have fun. Every performance is a different experience with Ryöt Jones, as Deo put it, “It’s a momentum, whatever happens there, on the stage, is only for that time.” So folks, put on your dancing shoes and get ready to ryot with Mr. Jones at the Good Vibes Festival this Saturday, 12th August at Genting Highlands.