Tameca Jones’ perspective on music-making is slowly beginning to change. And while the pandemic has certainly been the catalyst, her own personal growth is what’s currently ushering in a new era for the Austin songwriter. Not only has she discovered how vital collaboration is (she’s currently working on an album with local musician Mobley), but she’s also begun to question whether or not her current trajectory is sustainable. In other words, should she continue being an artist, or should she shift her career? We sat down with Jones to talk about that—and more—ahead of her Front Porch Session this upcoming Thursday (RSVP for the free event). Here, five questions with one of Austin’s most favorited soul singers.

What were some of your early musical influences?

I’d say the person I looked up to the most was Mariah Carey growing up. She’s like the G.O.A.T., and I love pop music. That’s all I listened to growing up: Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears. (That’s terrible because she’s not really a very good singer.) But I loved pop music and I still do. And I’m trying to make that transition right now from the soul. Because growing up in Austin…there’s not a whole lot of pop music in Austin. There is no pop in jazz. I thought electronic pop music was beneath me—I needed real instruments. But my thinking on that has changed dramatically over the years. And I’m transitioning to more track-heavy music. You know, pop, The Weeknd. Kinda soul-pop if you will.

What is your songwriting process like? Do you typically collaborate with other songwriters or musicians?

No. And I should because it’s super hard to write a song. I’m so stubborn. It’s like it’s my baby. And it’s like, no one can touch it, no one can see it until it’s fully formed—even if it takes me months. Even if it’s arduous labor that I could make easier by reaching out to someone else. I’m trying to do better about that. For many, many, many years I had this really obsessive-compulsive process where I would take my kids to school and then work on music all day. For like 5-6 years. All day. And nothing came of it but maybe like one or two songs. I thought If I dedicate myself to this, I’ll get better. And I didn’t. And I wasted so much time. I should have reached out to more people. This pandemic has allowed me to correct that behavior. I reached out to Mobley. I reached out to Walker Lukens to help me finish that “Angels” song because I knew it was a deadline. I work better with a team than I do alone. So it’s like hello, it can be easier, Tameca. Reach out and touch somebody. Reach out!

What can fans expect from the album that you’re working on now?

They can expect nothing that they’ve heard before. There will be live instruments, obviously, but it’s going to be predominantly track-heavy. Even my voice is going to be processed a little bit. I was always a purist. Like, oh I can’t have that autotune and have weird filters for my voice. But I was experimenting with different filters and processors here with these little doo-dads that I’ve bought during the pandemic and I love it. I love autotune. It’s super fun.

Before the pandemic, you performed live on a regular basis. How have you dealt with that part of your artistic expression being restricted?

I love it. Before the pandemic I had such anxiety performing. It was getting super bad. I remember when I performed at the Austin Music Awards right before the pandemic hit—I won Best Vocalist—but before I was going on stage I had a panic attack and I forgot all the lyrics to a song that I wrote. It was gross. I love performing, don’t get me wrong. It’s a rush to get on stage. I hope I can conquer this anxiety that I have during it. But I love not performing, low-key. And to not have to worry about promoting a show and expectations and just all the things wrapped in a show for me that make it an anxious event. But I don’t know. That’s super selfish because I know fans are like “Oh my God! Tameca, I love you. I can’t wait to see you live again.” Yeah, me either! It’s super selfish. But I kinda like it. It might be all in my head. You know if you see a sink full of dishes and you’re like oh my God, look at all these dishes! I don’t want to do this. I have to dry them and put them away. But when you start doing it, it just takes care of itself and you get this kind of rhythm. And you’re like what was I thinking about? This is cool. So it’s probably definitely all in my head. But, I don’t know. The build-up is what kills me.

How has your perspective on music-making changed since the pandemic?

I shouldn’t say this, but I’m trying to keep it real. This pandemic has really shifted my goals. I’m not absolutely sure that I want to continue being an artist. Like a live artist. I kind of want to shift towards being a “sync” person—like commercials, TV, movies. Like writing and selling music to companies instead of focusing primarily on being an artist. Because that world is super unfair and cold and hard. I’ve been doing this thing in Austin for ten years maybe, and it’s kind of shifted for me. It’s also a source of great anxiety. Over the years, artists have to do everything themselves. They have to be the booker. They have to be the arranger of music. They have to wear so many hats as an indie artist and that kind of weighed on me. I’m so tired. I don’t want to go back to it, low-key. But, I will if that’s what’s right. If I have it.