J & The Rest is the result of a series of happy musical coincidences. Frontman Jamal was raised in a musical family, but had never fully considered a career as a vocalist. While he studied music tech at Leeds Met, he left the course feeling that the path was not what he expected. However, his friend invited in to the studio one day to jam, where he met their uni mates John and Louis. The three clicked musically and, after their friend from the live circuit, Ricky, joined them on drums, J & The Rest were born.
MG: J & The Rest, who is who?
JAMAL: It's pretty much all in the name! Haha. There's J, me, the frontman, then there's the other guys - Ricky (drums), John (Bass), and Louis (Keys).
MG: J, did you piece the project together?
J: Well kind of...myself and an old member of the band (who is now off being a successful solo artist), decided to put the project together when we were broke and decided we would play some weddings and stuff to earn some extra cash!
MG: How did you find The Rest?
J: Well The Rest are a combination of Uni friends and awesome musicians we knew from around the circuit. Pretty much as boring as "Hey man, wanna be in my band?...Yeh ok."
MG: Who has the creative control of the group?
J: Ha, its a dictatorship! No, I'm joking. It's genuinely is a team effort in this band creatively, as most of the time we're all in the studio sessions together. I guess you could say ultimately though it is me who pulls the trigger on final creative decisions.
MG: How do you work together as songwriters?
J: There isn't really a set way of how we do it, it changes over time in the studio. Somedays I focus more on lyrics and other days it might be John, for example, who focuses more on the words as I'm more invested in the music side in that session. Everyone plays as many roles as poss.
MG: Who would you say are your key influences?
J: I'm personally influenced heavily by Prince and Michael Jackson but also grew up listening to a lot of Hip Hop and RnB. So it would be hard to pinpoint exactly where we draw most influence from. Each member has their own personal influences and they bring it to our messed up melting pot of J & The Rest flavour!
MG: Your sound has a retro element married to a contemporary edge. Was that a conscious decision?
J: No! We go into the studio and literally make music as if we're just making it for just ourselves to listen to. Whatever comes out the other end is just what we thought sounded great at that moment in time. We literally never try to fit into a certain pigeonhole, but at the same time we don't try to avoid any either.
MG: If you had to choose your own comparisons, who would they be to?
J: I hate doing this! If I was forced, I'd say somewhere in between Prince, Justin Timberlake and Friendly Fires.
MG: The track '4 a.m. Again' heads up your debut EP. Give us 5 words to describe it...
J: Just. Your. Cup. Of. Tea.
MG: Which song are you most excited to hear?
J: To be honest, I was really looking forward to '4am Again', but now I'm super excited for our next single. It's a banger!
MG: You're known for your striking live sets ow difficult was it to capture your live energy on record?
J: Not very hard, if I'm being totally honest. When we're recording, I always have live performance in mind anyway, so we try and stay as true to the live sound as possible. We just have to find the happy place in the middle.
MG: And finally, if you could perform at one venue anywhere in the world, which would it be?
J: Most people would say something like Madison Square Garden, which would be awesome, but I think it would have to be somewhere weird like the Sydney Opera House or something like that! Just to be different.
J & The Rest's new single, 'Kisses On The Mirror' is out this Friday. To find out more about the band, including news on their upcoming EP and future live dates, check them out on social media.