NPR’s Scott Simon speaks with singer Jalen Ngonda, whose sound is harking back to the soulful R&B from 50 years in the past. His debut album “Come Round and Love Me” has simply come out.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Jalen Ngonda’s music brings us again to a time when pop tunes had been full of soul. His songs teem with longing and appreciation for that particular human being that is on the heart of a tune.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “COME AROUND AND LOVE ME”)
JALEN NGONDA: (Singing) Please give an indication that I’m yours and you’re mine. Do not preserve me guessin’ about others earlier than. Oh, come ‘spherical and love me.
SIMON: The native of Washington, D.C., is out together with his debut album. It is referred to as “Come Round And Love Me.” Jalen Ngonda now lives in Liverpool. He got here again dwelling to hitch us within the studio. Thanks a lot for being with us.
SIMON: How did you develop your sound?
NGONDA: Properly, you at all times develop one thing when you do not know you are growing it, you already know?
NGONDA: I did not get up and say, I’ll develop this sound. I simply grew up, ages 11 until to at the present time – I have been dwelling as somebody who simply loves all forms of music, however significantly music from the ’60s. And as I am rising as an individual and a musician and writing, you already know, I – that sound and all the things’s going to replicate on my writing.
SIMON: Properly, I like the best way it sounds. Let me ask you in regards to the tune and title observe…
SIMON: …”Come Round And Love Me.” All of us come round and love you? What?
NGONDA: No. You recognize, this tune is just not geared toward anybody particularly. It is simply rhyming schemes, you already know? It is like – you already know, like, while you write, you simply attempt to discover rhymes.
SIMON: The album begins with a tune a few singer inquisitive about another person. After which the tune appeared to comply with a storyline of two individuals who – not giving something away – do grow to be concerned. You are attempting to place collectively a sort of – begin to end – an endurance love story…
NGONDA: Probably not.
SIMON: …On this album?
NGONDA: No construction, you already know? It is – numerous these data that you just hear now, like, you already know, the – from entice to rap to rock to EDM, they’re all love songs, too, except they’re simply speaking about cash.
SIMON: That is a sort of love tune for some individuals. However I take your level.
NGONDA: Yeah, which is a love tune for lots of people. However…
NGONDA: …You recognize, all of them write – all of us write of the identical factor. We write about who we’re into, whether or not they’re there and if they will name you once more. I feel it is simply paid consideration extra with soul music ‘reason behind the kind of picture it has, you already know, like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke and the Marvin Gayes. They wrote essentially the most lovely love songs. So while you consider soul, you consider love songs. So I am actually simply writing a tune. And I feel love is a subject as a result of all of us – not all of us have cash and riches, and never all of us have, say, issues which might be vital, however all of us have love. And I feel that is why it is really easy to jot down a love tune.
SIMON: Yeah. Let’s take heed to somewhat of your tune “If You Do not Need My Love.”
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “IF YOU DON’T WANT MY LOVE”)
NGONDA: (Singing) Retains us shut and preserve us expensive, not simply at this time however yearly. You had been made to be a spotlight in my thoughts. But when you don’t need my love and in order for you somethin’ extra, stated should you by no means wished my love, let me know, oh.
SIMON: If you don’t need my love, let me know. Boy. Very a lot classical soul right here. Is that what songs can do generally, give us the best way to say issues which might be tough to convey out of ourselves?
NGONDA: I feel so, yeah. Is determined by the particular person within the scenario. I feel relating to one thing, if it is a deep love or a deep feeling, it is arduous to convey it out since you treasure and also you maintain it a lot, as a result of should you really feel like should you let it out and present another person that facet of you, you might get harm.
SIMON: I’ve bought to inform you, if my opinion’s price something, I do hear a suggestion of Sam Cooke – which, by the best way, no larger praise – and Mary Wells.
NGONDA: Sam Cooke and Mary Wells, they each grew up in church…
NGONDA: …Within the Black church. So, like, Mary Wells, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield to Marvin Gaye to – there’s a whole bunch of singers to checklist – Percy Sledge – all of them grew up within the church the place they had been singing in a sure approach and a sure fashion. And so I feel you may evaluate all these soul singers collectively as a result of it is a – it is only a approach of singing. However that is the best way of singing that I’ve listened to essentially the most. I’ll sound like that, too, in all probability, simply in my very own approach.
SIMON: What do you suppose you realized from a few of your listening to nice artists of the previous?
NGONDA: Properly, I imply, I’ve simply realized how these songs get crafted. I really feel like when it comes to in life, like, if I realized something from my very own peace of thoughts and well-being, I really feel like a tune can present you the methods of affection or no matter, however you study that stuff in actual life. I used to be not outfitted for heartache by listening to heartbreak songs, you already know? It was as a result of I bought my coronary heart damaged by somebody prior to now. However what I’ve realized from these songs is it is – we preserve saying it is a common language – and I suppose I realized that it is these love songs that make hits.
SIMON: Let me ask you a few tune, “What A Distinction She Made.”
What a Distinction She Made
NGONDA: (Singing) There is a woman with curly hair, high-shine sneakers and rainbow flares. There is a woman with a dimple smile that blind males can see from a rustic mile. Like waking up in the summertime to a distant solar above, she got here to me, and she or he gave me love.
SIMON: Properly, what are we listening to right here on this story?
NGONDA: It could possibly be about something you need it to be. I simply created one thing by borrowing issues I’ve witnessed in life, you already know? However I do not know anybody with rainbow flares. I do not – I’ve a few feminine buddies with curly hair. However I am not singing about them particularly. Every time I write a tune, I do not know, I do not know what I’ll write about. And what I write about is simply what comes out.
SIMON: So that you simply sit down and say, I’ll prove a tune?
NGONDA: Properly, yeah. And it does not come out magically. Like, I do not simply sit there and it – I’ll at all times consider one thing. I do wrestle some – properly, so much – more often than not I wrestle. And it is simply discovering the most effective factor you may presumably discover. Sorry. I imply, you are simply asking, what’s this story about? I am over right here speaking about songwriting 101.
SIMON: No, it is effective. No.
SIMON: It is effective. We might all stand to know extra about that (inaudible).
NGONDA: Yeah. However the tune is – it’s a story that I did – at one level, I used to be like, that is sounding like a narrative. So I saved it as a narrative, and it is only a good story.
SIMON: Yeah. If you launched this file, you wrote, it’s love that retains us collectively, particularly when expressed by way of sound.
SIMON: How is music that sort of language for you?
NGONDA: I feel music might be among the many biggest issues that people have invented, ‘trigger, you already know, it did not should be invented. We might have simply lived this – like the remainder of the animals on the earth, you already know? They only reside, they usually hear sounds, they usually attempt to survive. I really feel prefer it’s arduous to clarify. And we attempt to clarify it by way of different artists and different genres. However music has this bizarre impact on individuals the place if I had been to face in an elevator and begin whistling a preferred tune, say, “Hey Ya!” or one thing, persons are going to in all probability be like, I like that tune, you already know, or snap their fingers. That togetherness by way of music or a sound is love ‘trigger that is the one time the place you are not occupied with something about any person. You recognize, you are not occupied with what they seem like, what they’re spiritual or political or no matter beliefs are. All you heard was a pleasant little whistle of a pleasant melody, and also you felt pleasure inside for – even when it is for a fraction of a second. So that is what I meant once I stated it is love that brings us collectively, particularly when it is by way of sound, as a result of it is that familiarity of it.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “SO GLAD I FOUND YOU”)
NGONDA: (Singing) So glad I discovered you. So glad you are mine. And I’ve bought to say, I am so glad…
SIMON: Jalen Ngonda, his new file, “Come Round And Love Me,” out now. Thanks a lot for being with us.
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