“Loss and its aftermath, mortality, the finite nature of love…”
LA singer/ songwriter JAKE NEWTON describes the inspiration behind his new album Kill the Past. We talk with Jake about the album, and what makes for engaging music. [Continue reading…]
“Even while trying to write pop songs these things would leak through the walls and find me…”
Q. You grew up in the mountains of Yosemite. Do you think in some ways this made an impression on your songwriting?
A. “Being so isolated in the middle of nowhere I didn’t get to hear a lot of popular music growing up. We had my parents’ record collection that consisted of a lot of 60’s and 70’s folk music. Being in the mountains gave me more of a circumspect way of viewing the world when I moved to the city. A lot of my early work revolved around not being able to engage my surroundings — a symptom of someone living in Los Angeles who was raised in a town with no stop lights, parking meters, freeways, or notable crime to speak of.”
Q. Tell us about your new album Kill the Past.
A. “Kill the Past was made with my friend and longtime collaborator Justin Glasco. We really wanted to capture the performance of these songs with a live band. Very early on we decided we wanted to track to tape. Part of what that process allows for is keeping musicians honest. If there are tiny mistakes that emerge during the tracking we simply can’t take it out digitally. We’re forced to show the warts and all.
I don’t know how to quantify what it is that makes a live band what it is, but people know it intuitively when they hear it. I had phenomenal players who could work with shorthand with each other, making intuitive leaps before anyone said something. It was like watching a flock of birds in mid-flight stay in absolute synchronous formation.
The overarching theme of the record is loss and its aftermath, mortality, the finite nature of love. I had lost a few people in my life to tragedies of varying circumstances in the year and a half leading up to this record, so my head space was set squarely in the midst of hard questions like, “why them?” and “How much time do I have if they’re already dead?” I really was spinning. Even while trying to write pop songs these things would leak through the walls and find me.”
Q. Where are some of your favorite venues or locations to perform?
A. “I Love the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, Lestat’s in San Diego, Rockwood Music Hall in NYC, I love going to the Pacific Northwest for the weather and the people.”
Q. Do you feel your music is more about: (1) expressing yourself (2) giving a message, or (3) entertainment …Or all 3?
A. “That’s a hard question to answer, I think it changes day to day. All three of those elements need to be present in order for it to be engaging. If you’re all about message then you’re just a soap box expunging your beliefs in a dry dull way, why don’t you just give me a pamphlet instead of making a record?
If it’s only for self-expression then the songs sound like your reading from your diary with a guitar in your hand, self-expression alone is simple self indulgence.
That being said, if music is merely meant to entertain it will only last as long as it is new. I began my career as a very self indulgent writer and have slowly been able to incorporate the other two.”
Q. If you could perform with one specific artist (from the past or present) who would it be?
A. “John Lennon, he had this dual personality, part soft hearted spirit, part viscous punk ready to kick someone’s teeth in.”
Q. How would you define success in the music industry?
A. “You can get there from many roads, but I suppose success would have to be paying your bills making the kind of music you’re proud of.”