I first took notice of Ples Jones when both Jeremy Sylvester and Roy Davis Jr. mentioned working with this Pittsburgh native. Ples Jones has worked and learned from other big names such as Stonebridge, Crystal Waters and the Basement Boys. With a decade of work behind him, his creations range everywhere from House to Hip-Hop, R&B and anything with soul.
Ples Jones: A 5 Mag UKG Mix
Ples Jones: A 5 Mag Interview
Ples, it’s such a pleasant discovery to find someone that makes music near and dear to my heart! Can you tell me about your background? Are you a Pittsburgh native?
Thank you Czarina! It always puts a smile on my face when I can make people happy and feel good with my music! I was born and raised 40 miles south of Pittsburgh, in a small town called Brownsville. It’s primarily a blue collar town, a slower pace than the city.
I started my love for music in school, playing the saxophone until high school, and then my music teacher put me on to the Ensoniq ASR10. I fell in love with that and sampling, and my music production career began. I moved to Washington, D.C. to meet and learn from the upcoming House scene there, then moved back to Pittsburgh, where I basically just kept honing my skills. Then in 2004 I went to the Winter Music Conference by myself, not knowing a soul, because I wanted to see if I had what it took to be a pro. Originally I was taking House, but my engineer messed up my demo so I ended up taking my R&B demo down. I entered the Listening Booth where I received a standing ovation after playing my demo. At that point I knew that I was ready.
What is the House scene there like and how did you get so much of your Garage influence? I also see you’ve done some downtempo and Hip-Hop!
As with any metropolitan city, the airwaves are dominated by an open format style of music. But Pittsburgh has quietly come into its own with House. It has many diverse styles, but Deep House and Techno rule. It’s not uncommon to have two or three events going on every week at various clubs, bars and lounges, which is an awesome thing. As far as my Garage influence, I was a big fan back in 2005 at the WMC, when I saw a female DJ AnnaKiss spin at a competition, so I’ve been following it ever since and also listening to different mix shows for inspiration.
And yes, R&B and Hip-Hop are my roots, so its only natural that my first tracks I ever did were R&B. I grew up listening to Al Green, the Isley Brothers, and D Train to name a few.
Tell me how you connected with Jeremy Sylvester and Roy Davis, Jr.? Who else have you been working with?
I started talking to Jeremy back in 2013 on Twitter, told him that I was a big fan and we became friends. Then last September I sent him over a five track demo, he absolutely loved it and we released it in October. (That was The Euphony EP.) I met Roy in 2005 at the WMC at a music panel. I let him listen to my demo CD, and he heard the potential. I made it a point to talk to him at least once a week (even when he didn’t want to!) to pick his brain for advice and pointers, and to show that I was driven. After that our friendship just grew into a brotherhood.
I have also had the privilege of working with Kaye Fox, who sang on J Coles’ latest album.
That’s an inspiring story about you remixing a Stonebridge track with Crystal Waters’ vocals… Can you tell us again here in your own words?
Sure! Back in 2012 I met Stonebridge on Twitter, and in 2013 met him at one of his shows in Washington, D.C. We became close friends after the meet and in one of our regular weekly convos, I asked him to send over the acapella of Crystal Waters’ “Be Kind.” I told him I wanted to give it a try, even though the remix pack was already out. He sent it over, I went to work non-stop and then I sent it back. I was nervous and didn’t sleep wondering whether he would like it or not, then a few hours later, he messaged me, “I lied, I listened and I love it!!” He and Crystal loved it so much that he released it as a separate remix all by itself, and that was my major push as an artist from a Grammy-nominated DJ/Producer and Grammy-nominated Vocalist.
Did you take a course with Point Blank Music School, and that’s how one of your release of “Deep Bleu” came about?
Actually no. I had entered a remix competition on their website Plugged IN but instead of posting my remix, I just posted my original tunes on my page and Decland McGlynn, their label A/R messaged me asking if I would be interested in releasing the tracks on their YouTube record label. I agreed and released a two track EP called Soul Introduction on December 2016, and thats where the song “Deep Bleu” came in. The song actually is a few years old, and it was named after my old DJ name, DJ Deep Bleu.
So where have you been playing and where can we find you in this next coming year?
Primarily in Pittsburgh, at Mr. Smalls Lounge, Millvalle and Remedy Lounge over in Lawrenceville. On March 10 I will be having my release party for Soul Introduction there at Remedy, going to do it BIG with the deep and funky sound. But it’s time to spread my wings, and head westward and beyond, so you will find me in Chicago, LA, and Europe. Dates to be determined.
UKG2.0: Originally published in 5 Magazine Issue 143, the second of our three issue series dedicated to the sound, the artists and the timeless influence of UK Garage and featuring Todd Edwards, MJ Cole, Ples Jones, Snazzy Trax and more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full Access to Real House Music for only $1/issue twice per month.