We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Michael, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
One that I think about a lot is the old adage “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

I think the first major implication is that in this sentence “love” and “work” are mutually exclusive. Work has a negative valence here: it’s clearly something to be avoided or spared from, and “loving” is a relief or an antidote to it. But I think in general all the best things in life take quite a bit of work, and do forever! The more I love something the -more- I want to work for it. I think this adage overlooks the positive potential of work: we can labor and create and have those be positive forces of meaning in our lives, rather than obligations that rob us of an otherwise enjoyable life.

To borrow from Hannah Arendt, “work” is really one of the main things we have to navigate the human condition. Just because you love something however, doesn’t mean that you’ll never have negative feelings about what you’re doing. It’s not a question of “good” or “bad” as much as it’s a question of intensity. Work only feels like a negative activity when there is a lack of intensity towards it.

I guess if I had to rewrite it I’d say: “Do something you love and work will intensify your life.” I guess that’s a bit of a mouthful.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It might seem oxymoronic, but as a percussionist I find myself more and more interested in gentleness. Anne Dufourmantelle has this amazing passage where she describes gentleness as “accepting something in its insufficiency”, which just floored me. I think that as a percussionist I generally hit things, and upon hitting things the sound goes away unless I repeat this action. It’s hard not to look at this practice through the lens of care, how something like music and sound can be so ephemeral unless you renew it, retain, reproduce it, etc. If there’s something I pride myself on in my own practice its the care I bring to engaging objects gently. I find I learn more about myself as a player and a listener this way than when I play loudly.

My progression has been somewhat typical I think for someone with all the privileges I’ve enjoyed. A middle-class son with supportive parents is a lucky situation to be born into. The adversity I’ve faced has largely been a factor of my own mental health (almost certainly genetic but definitely exacerbated by the state of the world) and gender. Percussion has been an amazing way for me to explore these issues and work through them on an aesthetic and affective level before bringing them into an ethical or political sphere. Percussion and music has intensified my life, you could say.

If there’s anything the world should know, it’s that music suffers from much of the same cultural issues that other things do: repressive systems of knowledge, racism and sexism, etc. But I think that music can be a wonderful site of cultural engagement, and engagement that can be geared towards equality and decolonization. That’s what my practice is ultimately aimed at I believe: how can we learn to live with each other?

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I must confess that I’ve only lived in SD for a few years, and one of those has been spent in quarantine, haha.

Still, I love the Hillcrest/North Park area. CJ’s is a wonderful dive bar on Washington St, Izakaya Masa is delicious, etc. It’s hard to walk too far in that place without finding something amazing.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Without a doubt my parents, David Jones and Marti Peterson, for having always been and continuing to be unwaveringly supportive in everything I do.

Website: https://www.michaeljonespercussion.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kingmouthjones

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beatman37

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCYEnHnr4kJ0QGMzPdr9Cow

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