Today, Ugandan singer-songwriter Jon Muq announces his debut album Flying Away produced by Dan Auerbach, set for release May 31 on Easy Eye Sound. His new single “Shake Shake” is a joyous afropop-inspired dance song accompanied today by a music video from noted director Robert "RoboShobo" Schober (The Killers, Green Day, Hermanos Gutiérrez).
“Shake Shake” is a perfect introduction to the ebullient Jon Muq, buoyed by a sense of purpose in his songwriting and performing, and inspired by his upbringing in a surrounding village of Kampala, Uganda. The song blends lilting beats, rhythmic finger picking and Muq’s warmly vulnerable and melodious voice… as well as Muq’s simple invitation to dance.
Says Jon Muq: “Growing up around over 50 tribes that had different kinds of dances, each tribe focused on a specific part of the body when dancing, and the joy was endless. That moment of joy and happiness will always be yours, as long as you can “Shake Shake” what you got.”
The announcement of Muq’s debut album follows an already storied, nearly Odyssean journey from Kampala, Uganda to Austin, TX – and he’s already opened for legendary performers Billy Joel, Mavis Staples, Norah Jones, Corinne Bailey Rae as well as signing to The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach’s prominent label Easy Eye Sound.
When Muq was a kid in Uganda, dealing with issues like food scarcity, he found his cousin's CD of “We Are The World.” He listened to the track every day, learned every note, imitating all of the different singers on the track like Stevie, Michael and Lionel, and learning to sing in English, and even learning to write in English (one of his songs is inspired by a Cyrano De Bergerac moment in which Muq’s English letter helped his friends’ lovers heart back).
He would sing in the streets of Mutungo – a village near Kampala – singing Western songs and hiding in the shadows at night, too shy to reveal himself as the mysterious singer, but all the while practicing. One day he happened upon two musicians with a guitar rehearsing for church. That guitar changed his life, leading him to a local hotel gig, as well as performing for homeless children in the streets of Mutungo, all rehearsal for his future.
A video of him performing in the streets made its way to Norwegian Cruise Lines, who were seeking job applicants in his hometown. “They saw the video and asked me if I wanted to sing on a boat.” Said Muq, “This was like a city on the water. I couldn’t believe it would float. My friends thought the pictures I showed them had been Photoshopped.”
This led him on the beginning of many more adventures, eventually leading him to Austin, TX where he has become ingrained in the local music scene.
Soon, Muq caught the attention of Dan Auerbach, who signed and started developing with Muq his debut project.
They’ve been in the studio, and the debut record is sure to be a major statement from a young artist who is sharing his diasporic influences, raw talent, and optimistic outlook with audiences.
“I never expected it to work this way. I never said, I’m going to get a job at a hotel. I’m going to get a job on a cruise line. I’m going to work with Dan Auerbach. Everything happened because I was following sound. I was chasing it. I was just singing.”
US TOUR DATES
Feb. 10 Austin TX 04 Center
Feb. 13 Houston TX McGonigels Mucky Duck
Feb. 20 Los Angeles CA Hotel Cafe, 7pm
Feb. 22 Kansas City MO Folk Alliance
March 1-7 Miami FL Cayamo Festival
March 13 Austin TX Continental Club SXSW, 10pm
March 15 Austin TX SXSW
April 8 Washington D.C. Pearl Street Warehouse
April 11 New York NY Rockwood Music Hall
April 13 Philadelphia PA World Cafe Live
July 5 Marshfield MA Levitate Festival
Flying Away Track Listing
2. One You Love
3. Shake Shake
4. Lucky Love
6. Love, Love, Love
7. Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying
9. Hello Sunshine
10. Dark Door
11. Flying Away From Home