In these dark and difficult days it’s refreshing to come across a new pop act focussed on having a good time and making upbeat melodic electro pop songs. Jack has just released his new single ‘Vibing’ and his debut EP Aquarius will follow shortly. We caught up with him to find out more about this new Cardiff pop star in the making
You have a new single ‘Vibing’ coming out in May. Tell us about how that track came about and why you decided it should be a single.
Yes, Vibing is my second single, released 15th May. It follows my first single, called Boys Want More. Vibing came about after being heavily influenced by Kesha’s early Animal/Cannibal days. I remember hearing this new pop star come along, singing songs about partying and having fun, with these huge beats, and thinking to myself I’d love to do something like that. So for years I have always wanted to make music, but I have put it off because I don’t have much confidence in myself. I know I’m not the most amazing singer ever, but what I do know is I have some talent, and I love a good song. So last year I thought to myself, ‘fuck it. Just release music. You’ll have people that hate it and people that like it, and maybe people who love it, but you’ve done it.’ So I immediately found a producer and said ‘I want music that sounds like Kesha. I want to bring back the vibe of those Animal days.’ So we came up with Vibing – a massive party song that is all about having fun! The lyrics are about leaving a boy behind, feeling confident, and feeling yourself. It’s a song to make people happy. I knew straight away it should be a single, because it’s what I want my music to be: fun, not taking myself too seriously, and making people happy.
You are known as an LGBT artist. Why is it important for you to identify yourself as such?
I think it’s important to hear songs written by artists that are honest. Honesty makes a song come alive, and I always write lyrics that are honest, that I have experienced, and that I hope others can experience, too. As a gay man, I’m writing about boys that have broken my heart, as well as about experiences I’ve had from relationships, or dating, or anything else. A lot of male singers sing about relationships with women, naturally, so I’m singing about relationships with men. In the past few years, songs with LGBTQ lyrics are becoming more prominent, which is great. It’s my way of just saying ‘this is my experience, this is how I felt, and this is how I dealt with it’, whilst also letting listeners know what they’re getting from me.
How do you think being LGBT informs and impacts upon the songs you write?
When particularly writing about love, it impacts my songs greatly. Being able to write about how hurt I was when a boy didn’t like me back is freeing, because it makes me feel better, but also puts out to the world what I went through. It’s therapy, of sorts. Equally, being able to write about forgetting a boy and no longer feeling sad is empowering. And as well as that, I write in some references that are ingrained in pop culture, that may be better interpreted by the LGBTQ community.
You’ve had a varied career so far writing books and working in TV. How do those activities compare to being a pop singer?
Being a pop singer is incredibly scary, and very vulnerable. There are people out there that have made it clear they don’t think I should be doing it. Whether it’s them saying I can’t sing, or them saying I’m brave – which is basically them saying ‘oh, your little project is interesting, but you know…when are you going to stop?’ Putting yourself out there as a singer immediately gives the impression that you think you’re amazing, and that you can hit all those high notes and have a huge range. People expect that from you, too. There’s a lot of people out there expecting me to fail or make a complete fool out of myself. Whereas when I’m writing books, I’m hidden behind words. It’s just my name on the page, but the story is the main thing, and thankfully they’ve been well received. As for my job in TV, that’s my day job. I’m there to cut my videos and get them out in time. It’s like second nature to me, whereas singing feels like I need to keep moving, and keep pushing myself.
Your music is described as ‘bubblegum electropop’. Describe how that sounds to the uninitiated.
I would describe that as music that makes you feel good. Music that is upbeat, that you can party to, and that sounds like the songs you’d hear during the summer. They’re songs that are catchy, and you can sing along to them.
Your tracks sound very polished. How do you go about putting them together? Do you work with any producers or other musicians?
Thank you! That means a lot. Most of my songs are produced by producers. I have two songs that I have made from scratch myself. On Aquarius, which is the first song on my upcoming EP, I actually worked on my vocals myself. I wanted to go with a Kim Petras/Charli XCX vocal sound, so I pitched my vocals appropriately to match that sound. I tend to have a beat sent to me first, then I write lyrics to those beats. I already have topics in mind of what to write, and I chose whatever fits best to the music. I haven’t worked with any musicians yet, but I’m hoping people will want to work with me soon! I’d love to collab with people.
Your new EP ‘Aquarius’ is out later this month. How did you approach putting the list of songs together and making it a collection of songs that fit together?
So I had plans last year to release an EP that gave a glimpse into the type of music I could make and would make, and then in the summer release an album. But obviously coronavirus happened, and a lot of my plans got scrapped. For example, I had a song planned to film in America in July, but that’s been cancelled now, so that song probably won’t come out until next year. I had to go back to the drawing board with Aquarius, which originally was going to be called ‘Young’. Aquarius was a late addition, but as soon as I wrote it I knew I wanted to make an EP that summed me up. Each track tells the listener something about me. Aquarius, which is a self reflective pop track. Vibing, which is feeling confident and showing my fun side. Boys Want More, which shows some vulnerability. Young, a wanderlust track about staying young and always keeping the fun moments. And Hey, Mr Bus Driver, a song I originally recorded in 2013, and which is no longer my sound, but it’s there to show my growth as an artist, as well as to honour the first song I wrote, recorded and produced all by myself. Everything you hear of that song I assembled together myself.
You say you are here to keep the party alive. When we can finally get back to going to live gigs what can we expect when we go and see Jack alive in concert?
Yes, I definitely want to keep the party alive. As for live concerts? I’m not sure if I’ll be doing those anytime soon! My lack of confidence in my vocal ability will continue to hold me back, so right now it’s not a priority. But never say never. If someone asks, I’ll probably be there!
Jack will know he’s made it as a bubblegum electropop star when…………………………….
Kim Petras, Charli XCX or Kesha agrees to be on one of my songs, or at least acknowledges one of my songs.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.newsoundwales.com/interviews/jack/