Feel the Funk: Catching Up With Stimulator Jones
by Shannon Jay
Fresh off his first Stones Throw release, Samuel Jones Lunsford (his middle the root of all his personas) is flying high. He's on tour promoting the record full of funky slow jams, and told Popscure all about his road to his new sound. He'll be playing at Charlie's on Saturday alongside Hampton Road's best R&B and rock & roll, the perfect median for Lunsford's sound.
How'd you first become interested in playing music?
I was raised in a musical family with an older brother, parents, uncles, and grandparents who all played and sang. There were instruments all around my house growing up and music was constantly being played or listened to on the family stereo. It has always been a huge part of my life since I was born.
Since you started out as a DJ, what were some of your favorite songs that made it into most of your sets?
I first started DJ'ing at friend's birthday parties around 1996 when I was in 6th grade using a primitive setup consisting of a boombox and/or CD Walkman plugged into a guitar amp. I had the DJ Kool "Let Me Clear My Throat" CD Maxi-Single and definitely played that every single time.
How did funky beats break out of the bluegrass-heavy music scene of your hometown of Roanoke? Is there a solid soul scene or something that needs to be brought to the forefront, you think?
I was always in my own world quite separate from my surroundings - when I was growing up I paid much more attention to what was on TV or radio than what was happening around me locally - I also devoted a lot of time to discovering and devouring tons of different albums. So I was way more influenced by things outside of my hometown. There are certainly a lot of talented musicians and singers of all sorts of genres in the Roanoke area though.
Stimulator Jones is much softer than the raps of Joneski, what different sides of yourself are you trying to work out through each persona?
I had spent so much of my life focusing on creating within the framework of straight-forward traditional hip hop, the Stimulator Jones project was intended to be a vehicle to challenge myself to branch off and expand upon the sounds I was crafting as Joneski and stretch out beyond the basic format of sampled beats, 16 bar rhymes, and scratches and to incorporate more melodic elements, singing, live instrumentation and radio-ready song structure into the material - yet still having it all be filtered through my knowledge of and experience with loop-based programming, DJ'ing, crate-digging, and hip hop culture.
Said you studied a lot of producers and artists in lieu of your debut, "Exotic Worlds and Masterful Treasures." Which eras and artists were the most influential?
As far as this album goes - I was influenced by a lot of heavy hitters from various eras like Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, DeVante Swing, Prince, Jesse Johnson, Ernie Isley, Chris Jasper, Barry White, Kool & The Gang, Dam Funk, Daz Dillinger, DJ Quik, Roger Troutman, Keith Sweat, Mary J. Blige, Yvette Michele, Teddy Riley, Aaron Hall, Jamiroquai, Michael Jackson, D'angelo, Beatminerz, Ohbliv, DJ Harrison, Tuamie, and many others...
What's the ideal setting or scenario you imagine the record being the soundtrack to?
Dreaming, wishing, longing, fantasizing, dancing, loving, cruising, vacationing, chilling, smoking, sipping, tripping, exploring, adventuring, celebrating, barbecuing, hooping, crying, laughing, moving, grooving, balling, bouncing, rocking, skating, rolling...
How'd you get picked up for Stones Throw and first link up with Peanut Butter Wolf?
In late 2015, Sofie Fatouretchi, a wonderful DJ/producer/musician and former employee of both Stones Throw and Boiler Room found my music online and contacted me out of nowhere to ask if I'd be interested in contributing some material to a compilation album she was curating for Stones Throw ('Sofie's SOS Tape'). I sent her a folder full of tracks including "Soon Never Comes" which she ended up selecting for inclusion. Apparently Peanut Butter Wolf really liked the song and she put me in touch with him. We had a phone conversation and I ended up coming to LA to meet him and the Stones Throw fam. We hit it off and by the time I flew home we had agreed to work together on releasing some more of my music.
From picking up "My Vinyl Weighs A Ton" back in 8th grade to having PBW help you record, how does it feel and is it how you might've expected?
It still feels kind of like a dream, it's wild to think of the trajectory from listening to that album on my boombox up in my bedroom to now being a part of the Stones Throw roster and a friend of people that I've admired and wished I could collaborate with for years. I'm incredibly proud of this accomplishment, but I still have a lot of work to do and I've got to keep growing and pushing myself forward.
What's next for the newly signed Stimulator Jones?
A US tour in October, an EP of some tracks from the 'Exotic Worlds' sessions that couldn't fit on the record, a new album from my rock & roll band The Young Sinclairs, and a self-published book of some utterly insane and hilarious stories and twisted humor I wrote when I was a kid.