The Hanged Man
AQUARIUS is my first album.
My “altar-ego” Jomama Jones has recorded six albums, including the most recent, ATEN, which formed the basis of our most recent project, ALTAR NO.1: ATEN, released in 2021. But this is the first full-length musical project drawn from my own journey. AQUARIUS is the seed of its own evolving transdisciplinary experience that weaves autobiography, history, speculation, and Afromysticism. ATEN and AQUARIUS are siblings, and I’m thrilled to partner with Oregon Shakespeare Festival through QUILLS FEST to offer my first exploration of the new material for the public.
I asked my songwriting and production collaborator, the extraordinary musician Josh Quat, to join me in Idyllwild, California for two weeks this Summer for an immersive creative trip. We emerged with an album of ten original songs rooted symbolically in a series of cards pulled from the major arcana of the Tarot. Whereas the ATEN project had explored the vastness, power, and mystery of the solar system, tracing its impact to the personal, AQUARIUS means to look at the subtle interior spaces of the personal and seek within them the energetic threads that connect them to the movement of larger bodies of history, culture, and time. The opening track to the album laid out the journey of the whole. We call it, The Hanged Man.
Most everyone I know has undergone a tectonic life shift in the last few years, including the impacts of the volatile politics of the U.S., the COVID-19 Pandemic, the consistent rise of violence, the fight for justice, and the fight against the rise of fascism, and… and… and… On a personal level, I hit a crossroads as an artist, an educator, a citizen and found myself navigating several huge losses (including my mother, my beloved mentor, Robbie McCauley, and my inspiring singing teacher, Barbara Maier Gustern), amid calls for radical change (which I answered), and accepting invitations to move toward new pathways - but first - I felt an unambiguous sense of being pulled up and out of my comfort zone, my regular life, my old aspirations and stayed beliefs. In consultation with a brilliant tarot reader with whom I’ve worked for some time, she pulled The Hanged Man and laughed, knowingly, “you’re on the bench, kiddo!” What did it mean to have my world turned upside down as the world turned upside down? This is our response to this question and this experience.
Behind the Scenes ~
The Team ~
I am a collaborator. Although I have temperamentally been described a lot as Mr. Spock, I love to trust the current of inspiration that arises spontaneously among daring collaborators. And I love to cultivate collaborative relationships over time on multiple projects. And so, in addition to this latest work with Josh Quat, I invited my brilliant co-conspirator on the ATEN project, filmmaker Nicolas Savignano to play again. And I am thrilled with the meeting of his meticulous aesthetic vision with the spell of this song. We hope this journey speaks to you in some way.
Daniel Alexander Jones
Creator, Songwriter, Performer, Costume Curation
Daniel Alexander Jones exemplifies the artist-as-energy worker. His wildflower body of original work includes plays, performance pieces, recorded music, concerts, music theatre events, essays, and long-form improvisations. He explores the esoteric and the everyday through his own distinctive dramaturgy. Daniel is a producing artist at CalArts' Center for New Performance & is a TED Fellow. His awards include a Doris Duke Artist Award, Alpert Award in the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN/America Laura Pels Foundation Award in Theatre, and a 2022 Idea Award in Theatre. His books Love Like Light, and Particle & Wave (with Alexis Pauline Gumbs) are available from 53rd State Press.
Director, Designer, Editor & Cinematographer
Nicolas Savignano is an Argentinian filmmaker based in L.A. He has a Master's in Fine Arts from CalArts, where he now works as a Multimedia Artist. His work expands from directing live-action, to animation, music scoring, visual design, special effects, and immersive filmmaking.
Songwriter, Musician, Producer (Song)
Josh Quat is a musician, songwriter, and producer with a diverse range and wide variety of influences. His self-produced debut EP "These Little Dreams" was released in August 2021, with all the songs written and recorded in several cities throughout the US during the pandemic. In addition to writing and releasing solo music, Josh previously fronted Brooklyn-based rock trio The Kristys, who released their self-titled album back in 2016. Additionally, he has co-written and produced two albums for “soul sonic superstar” Jomama Jones - “Anew”, which was released in 2019, and “Aten” in 2021. He also contributed songs and performed in the off-Broadway show “Black Light”. Stay tuned for more upcoming music releases and collaborations!
Onset Photographer: Angel Orggi
Costume Designer: Nan Zhou
Onset Producer: Chengqing Zhu
Website design and development: Komal Jain
Additional development support: Yatharth
Typefaces: Baseteleur by Keussel and Happy Times at the IKOB New Game Plus Edition By Lucas Le Bihan from the Velvetyne Type Foundry
Originally commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare Festival as a part of Quills Fest.
Special thanks to the Bret Adams and Paul Reich Foundation’s VIVACE/IDEA AWARD IN THEATRE which supported the development and recording of the AQUARIUS album.