Jake Adams discussing latest project JAEKO and growing up in and around the music of The Wildhearts
Jake Adams: we discuss Jake’s relatively new but productive career up to his latest project JAEKO, his wealth of side projects, how Covid19 and lockdown has affected his writing process and growing up in and around the music of The Wildhearts.
How’s today been for ya?
JAEKO: Yeah, my day’s been great! A bit hungover but got up and did some music and a little workout. What have you got up to today?
Busy as always… I’m currently listening to Cardiacs’ ‘Heaven Born and Ever Bright’. You a fan?
JAEKO: Oh nice! You gotta love Cardiacs – who doesn’t? Been brought up on them!
Yeah they’re hard not to love.
Has the current situation regarding Covid19 and everything that goes along with it altered your writing process and subject matter of the songs at all?
JAEKO: Being in lockdown has really helped me with my writing, it’s made me discover new layers I didn’t realise I had. The writing process has been the same but the subject has been way more thought out, and has made me write about a lot of things that I wouldn’t normally write about. I had a massive writers block before lockdown, so it was perfect timing for me. Overall, lockdown has been a blessing in disguise.
That’s great to hear. At least something good is coming out of the current situation we find ourselves in. Are you able to record at home then send the recorded files on to a producer? I believe Dave Draper had a hand in producing the JAEKO track ‘Colder Than The Sea’ which you currently have online?
JAEKO: Yeah I record at home a lot but there’s nothing like recording in a studio as that’s when all my ideas are growing the best. But for initial ideas, I’ll always get them done at home!
Yeah, I recorded ‘Colder Than The Sea’ with Dave Draper. That song was actually recorded a few years ago but never made its way to getting released. Dave Draper is a musical genius, so I’m very excited to be going into the studio with him soon! I’ve also been working with Andy Brooke recently, also a fucking genius. I’m very lucky to be working with the people I do.
How do you normally get over writers block? I find going for a run benefits me with a wealth of ideas that previously were locked as far is writing is concerned. Or is it just a case of waiting for the ideas to materialize themselves?
JAEKO: Writers block is a weird one for me, I either get writers blocks because I just can’t get into the writing vibe or I’m just too busy to sit down long enough and get some material down. I’ll usually go for a run or even have a cheeky spliff. I work best when I’m inspired: either the environment or a subject to write about. I can go from not even being able to write one song, to being able to write a mini album in one night. It’s a weird one!
What bands/artists do you listen to when you’re not making music yourself?
JAEKO: I literally listen to everything… I hate when people say that but I literally listen to everything. Recently I’ve been really into Cuban Jazz, like Dizzy Gillespie. UK Punk, like Slaves and Bob Vylan. And last but not least a lot of psychedelic chilled music like Mac Demarco or King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. My music taste is constantly changing. Last week I was listening to a lot of metal and UK hip hop. It really depends on what type of week it is!
An eclectic taste indeed! King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have released a billion albums over a few years I believe. All the music you listen to no doubt bleeds into the music you produce in some way, even if subconsciously.
JAEKO: Aha thank you man. Appreciate you saying that, a lot of what I listen to definitely bleeds into what I write and I never usually realise until I listen to it back!
You’re only nineteen but can you talk me through your musical career so far? I know you started with Alive With Eyes which you described as new wave punk rock. The ‘Landmine’ EP is cracking by the way! Unfortunately I missed Alive With Eyes at Camden Rocks 2016 but caught you there last year at Dingwalls Canalside. Your sound seemed to have radically changed between these two gigs?
JAEKO: Yeah, Alive With Eyes was my first band which was very simple straight forward Punk. When Alive With Eyes finally called it a day, I then moved on to a few other bands which took in all types of genres and sounds. I think that whole phase between Alive With Eyes to JAEKO was a massive part in time where I really found my sound and what I wanted to do with music. I was in Indie bands, Hip Hop bands and Rock bands – which I think all take a role in the material I write for JAEKO now. Compared to Alive With Eyes, JAEKO has a completely different approach musically. It’s crazy to see the difference in 5 years: I’m excited to see where I’m at in another 5 years!
I can’t find any evidence of JAW$ online – can you talk me through the sound and idea behind it? I’m sure I saw footage of a gig you played in a pub but can’t find it as of now.
JAEKO: Ah yes, nearly forgot about that one! JAW$ was born when two members of Alive With Eyes had to put some other things as a first priority for a few months. So then that’s when I started JAW$. It was always more of a project than anything. It was done with a few mates but I had so much fun doing it. It also really helped me get out my comfort zone when it came to songwriting.
So is there footage anywhere or am I imagining it?
JAEKO: Yeah, I’ve seen footage around by people who filmed at some of the gigs. We only did about 15 gigs together, so it’s always lovely when I get shown footage from that part of my life in music.
What prompted you to go solo?
JAEKO: I love being in a band but I could never find anyone who was committed and wanted it as much as I did. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with some amazing musicians but if I carried on making bands I’d still be trying to find band members who wanted it as much as I do. I think it’s my age though, I definitely want to be in a band at some point in my life but before I do that I really want to make something of JAEKO. Right now, I prefer the way JAEKO works.
I know you don’t like comparisons and I guess you will keep evolving as an artist but Jamie T and RatBoy spring to mind when listening to JAEKO. Your voice isn’t far from Jamie T’s either. Do you listen to either of these artists?
JAEKO: Aha yeah, I get that a lot. I used to be a big fan of RatBoy back in the day, maybe that’s why I get that comparison a lot. I think RatBoy and Jamie T are class artists so I always take it as a good thing, but hopefully I evolve to a point where I can establish my own sound as an artist, where I’ve stapled the JAEKO sound.
Do you see JAEKO as an organic project with many sounds and styles under the banner, or if you have ideas that don’t fit JAEKO will you start another project/band alongside it?
JAEKO: Although I definitely think there’s a line where something would become another project, I don’t want there to be a limit on what JAEKO can sound like – I want to always surprise people with what comes out next. My sound and vision for JAEKO is constantly evolving, so I’m excited to see where it’ll be in a years’ time – let alone five years.
Could you please talk me through the four JAEKO songs you have online: lyrical content and the style of the songs perhaps? You have a great lyrical flow… I hear a lot of anger and aggression in ‘Cold Heart Killer’, ‘How You Living’ and ‘Colder Than The Sea’. ‘Sometimes’ is sublime in its mellowness although still with a heavy subject matter.
JAEKO: ‘Colder Heart Killer’ is about a relationship I had which turned pretty sour, so that’s where the song title was inspired from… the song lyrics then continue this theme. ‘How You Living?’ is about being on top of things no matter what’s going on in your life. This song is all about staying cool, calm, collected and focused through the landmine in my head. The title “How You Living?” is almost a reminder to keep on top of things in my life. ‘Sometimes’ is all about chapters in my life that have proved to be very tricky, upsetting or hard. This song covers all of these phases in my life. These lyrics are written in a very vague and open way so they can relate to anyone who may be going though hard times. Everyone is going through their own battle everyday, so this is a song that tackles what anyone may be going through, not only me. ‘Colder Than The Sea’ is about a relationship where I was very conflicted in my choice to stay in that relationship or leave and also the problems occurring in that relationship. Through the duration of the song it’s basically my battle in what to do with that relationship.
You said in a previous interview that you hope to get an album recorded before the end of the year, to be put out on physical format as well as digital. Is the physical format important to you? By the way I still buy everything on CD and occasionally vinyl.
JAEKO: At this point for JAEKO I’m focusing more on the digital side of it as I’m only putting out singles right now. When an album is recorded, I’m definitely going to be making physical copies. I’ve always loved a physical copy of an album, so it’d be great to finally make one of my own!
I know you’re only nineteen but what would you say are the best and worst moments so far in your musical career?
JAEKO: Oooh… hard question! I think gigs would have to decide this. I think my worst musical experience would have to be the time I played Indie music at a bikers festival – that was an interesting experience, ha-ha. I think my best experience would have to be my first headline gig: now I’ve had a few it doesn’t have the same buzz as it first did, but at the time it was great. In all honesty I don’t think I’ve had my best and worst musical experiences yet. I’m only at the start of my career so I’m actually very excited to see what these will both be!
A question from my good friend Kerry (Ten-Pin) Bowler: have you ever considered collaborating with Jazmin? (Jazmin Bean is Jake’s sister)
Aha good question! I think it’s definitely on the tables. I think it’d have to be the right time in both of our careers. I think it would be a great crossover of music styles. So definitely on the tables at some point!
May I ask you a few questions regarding my Wildhearts’ book Zealot in Wonderland?
JAEKO: Yeah, sure mate.
You’re mentioned running around onstage and hitting the cymbals at a Wildhearts’ soundcheck before a gig in Oxford April 2007. I guess you must’ve been six or seven? What memories do you have of going on tour with The Wildhearts?
JAEKO: I’ve been to so many of my dad’s gigs and tours. I don’t even remember 2007. What I remember concerning the tours I’ve been on is how much fun I always have. Especially the most recent tours where I’ve been old enough to be able to know what really happens on tour. The crew and the band are all such lovely people and are always so welcoming whenever I jump on board.
I remember seeing you onstage at Ginger’s Birthday Bash in 2011 guesting on ‘Vanilla Radio’. You were playing guitar and Jazmin was singing. Was this your first time onstage? If so, can you remember much about it and how it felt to be in front of a crowd?
JAEKO: Aha, I think I was even younger when I went onstage, but that definitely was an amazing time for me! Felt great going onstage and definitely sparked my interest in music.
Do you think growing up around such a lifestyle and the musical background of your parents had a profound effect on you regarding your musical direction so far?
JAEKO: Oh definitely, I wouldn’t have been a musician if it wasn’t for both of my parents. They have both inspired me so much to be the person I am today. Without this sounding cheesy the music definitely runs in my blood. So it was inevitable.
Is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t covered?
JAEKO: Hmmm… maybe other side projects?
Please tell me about them.
JAEKO: Well, I’m starting this new platform called Tuff Cookie which is basically a platform in which me and a mate of mine write tunes for all different types of artists. From Hip Pop, Punk, Jazz, Rock, Soul – literally everything. We will then record these live in different venues and spots and put them on YouTube. Every two months these will then be released on all streaming platforms as an EP. Im also starting a clothing company called YELA, which takes weird art to modern clothing.
Christ on a bike you’re keeping busy. This all sounds awesome!!!
Ok, I guess that concludes the interview…
JAEKO: Really nice chatting to you.
Likewise mate. Keep it cool until next time. Valor…
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