Getting into flow and knowing when to rest with musician Justking Jones

by | Humans

photo credit: Quan Brinson

Just: Someone guided by truth and justice. 

King: A leader, preeminent in his class who leads with integrity.

These words only begin to define Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist, Justking Jones. 

Justking Jones grew up in New Jersey where he started practicing saxophone at a young age. As he’s grown and made a career from his talents, his love for music has only expanded.

“I started when I was 8. I definitely have the same love for it. But in some ways, I think I’m learning how to shift my love to different things. My love for creativity has grown even more. So now that same amount of love might be in songwriting, creating albums, really just telling my story in whatever way I can.” 

“I play the alto saxophone most of the time and the soprano saxophone. Those are the two I play the most but I also play tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute and clarinet, bass clarinet, piano and I sing as well.”

Getting through the 2020 quarantine

“I did some virtual performances from my social media pages, and with some other groups, like Summerfest in New York City.” 

At the start of 2022, he began touring again in France.  

“I was there for two weeks, touring all around the country. [They were] the first shows of the year. It was really successful, a great way to start the year.”

“I’m really grateful to be doing it again. Being at home for two years…and of course, I was in the studio a lot and teaching but sometimes you can feel out of your element, sitting at home. Traveling and being on stages, that’s truly my comfort zone.”

“Definitely coming from a place of gratitude. Creatively I like [working] with people. With a group of people or just creating completely by myself where there is no outside influence so that I’m getting exactly what I need to say out to the public. I like creating, writing from home in my home studio. But I also write a lot when I travel or right when I get back from traveling. I find that I hear songs all the time when I come back from a place that I’ve never been before.”

More than travel plays a role in Justking Jones’ music. He pulls from many different sources.

 “And from books. Books truly influence my songs. One of my songs, As A Black Man Thinketh was inspired by that book (As A Black Man Thinketh: A Guide to Self Empowerment and Black Excellence by Reggie Whittaker). A lot of things influence me. Even the Bible. My elders, like both of my grandfathers. My culture. Jamaican heritage really influences me, probably the most. I just try to incorporate my history into my creative process, just being authentic to myself. I can really say that, every time that I create I’m not leaving my place of influence and truth when I create a song.”

Knowing when to Rest

“Now I’m okay with not creating music. I used to not be okay with not playing the saxophone, writing, producing. Now I’m very much okay with closing the studio, not being in there and dealing with the rest of my life. Because there are so many other things to deal with. My faith, my family, exercise, reading. So when I’m in a creative rut that might mean that I’m putting a little bit too much faith in just creating when there are other areas of my life [that need attention].”

“One thing my grandfather always says is, ‘You come first.’ I’ve learned to put more effort into my self-care – my emotional health, my mental health, my physical health. That’s more important than anything else because that’s going to lead to creative health, financial health. That’s going to make everything else manageable.”

A Song to Regulate Emotions

“Of course, I have my songs that tug from the emotions of what I’ve experienced, songs that either come for pain or joy. But I’m really into hymns. Like full gospel hymns. I feel like those really hit different. A song like, “I Need Thee” of “Jesus Paid it All”. Those songs didn’t mean anything to me when I was growing up as a kid because I hadn’t been through anything. But the older I got the more these same songs I had always known – known how to sing, known how to play – have a different meaning to me now. I understand why older generations of people kept singing these songs for decades and decades.

His method to get into Flow

“One of the most common, I sit at the piano. If I’m writing instrumental music it will spark a melody. Or some kinds of lyrics or a song. Once I get into a vibe and I feel like I’m at a place where I really like what is being created…I stay there. I try to document it right away. I use VoiceNote, Logic on my computer. I also write songs from my saxophone. That’s happening a little less right now but a lot of my songs were written from the saxophone, outside on the street or in a park or the beach or on the plane. A lot of my songs are written on a plane. Sometimes I just sing into the VoiceMemos on my iPhone. I also write from the drums, it’s therapeutic.”

“I actually like to go outside my mind [to create], if that makes any sense. To feelings I want other people to feel. Ultimately music is for people, and I want to make them feel happy. That’s the emotion I’m going to lately when I write.”

His 2021 album – “Standing in the Vision”

“I call it affirmation music. If you look at the different titles, the songs are affirmations. The whole album itself is an affirmation. Every day since that album was released, I’ve had ‘standing in the vision’ moments. Where I see myself living the life I always wanted to live, from being a child and growing up wanting to pursue music and just pursue my dreams and goals and ambitions.” 

How to develop vision

“I think it really comes to knowing your history. Looking back into some things that have happened in your life. Things that you want to continue, and bring into the future. Things you don’t want to bring into the next chapters of your life. Because we’re really authors, composers, painters, we’re all of these things and we have dominion over the lives that we live. So take the things that really fascinate you and try to make a life out of it. That’s what I did with music. “

“I don’t have to step into anything that is not something that I have truly and actually experienced in my life. I don’t have to bite from other people’s culture, it’s either something I grew up with here in America or tied into Caribbean or West African tradition or gospel tradition. To me, that’s a blessing…to have so much to pull from.” 

“That’s what I’m trying to get to more. That’s what I said earlier about digging into your history. Getting everything that is inside of me out into the world. Just being a creative and influential person deals with having a vision and getting the things that are placed in you out into the physical realm.”

Learn more at:

Build a strong self image with Kel Cadet-Lyons

Build a strong self image with Kel Cadet-Lyons

photo credit: The Crafter’s Box Kel Cadet-Lyons, Founder and Lead Creative at R-Ki-Tekt, is the chief architect in helping people construct a strong self-image through leather goods, jewelry and tech-wear.  Originally from Nyack, NY, Kel is living on the...

How to get out of a creative rut with Eso Tolson

How to get out of a creative rut with Eso Tolson

"A place to dance. A place to relax."  According to Eso Tolson, Memphis-based curator and hand letterer, those two things may be able to bring you out of a creative rut.  "Creative ruts can be tricky. Sometimes, to get out of a rut you just need to keep going....