Australian music sensation Jacob Lee has just released his latest single, ‘Artistry’. The songwriter and entrepreneur was originally born in Queensland and introduced to music via his father. The introduction was a successful one, as he found his niche in the alternative-pop world with his hit debut album, Philosophy in 2015.
The beginning of this year saw him play across Europe and the UK in sold-out shows, which he intends to continue in September – kicking off at London’s Camden Assembly. During this busy period, he has found time to begin launching a book of poetry, ‘Jacob Lee’s Book of Lyricism (Vol 1)’ in which he expresses some of his profound thoughts.
We were able to sit down with the eloquent up and comer and ask him a few questions.
Tell us about you, how long have you been producing music? What inspired you to start?
I’d say writing music evolved from a young obsession with words. I was brought up on the Gold Coast, Australia & was lucky enough to regularly watch my dad rehearse for shows. He’d often perform with people like Normie Rowe & Digger Revell & it was inspiring seeing the amount of time he put into his instrument. My dad gave me my first guitar, it was a lefty Takamine, & taught me the bare bones of arranging chords & writing music. Words always astounded me. I’d disappear to my bedroom & seek out interesting photos on Google images to create a short stories about. I’d run downstairs late at night & read my mum everything I wrote. She humoured me & told me they were fabulous, even when they probably weren’t. Eventually, both the passion for music & the passion of writing seamlessly fit together, & I’ve not stopped since.
The music industry is super competitive these days, was there a moment in your life that you wanted to give up on music? How did you manage to stay focused and achieve what you want?
I think I’ve been fortunate in knowing my passion from a young age. The act of inspiring emotions through words & melody has always absorbed me & I honestly can’t imagine many other ways I’d occupy my time. There’s something ethereal about developing a lyric that cracks the surface & nestles in someone’s core & I’ve not yet found anything that compares to that. I do find the music industry thoroughly fascinating & am obsessed with the business side of it all. An independent artist has equal the amount of power as a label if they’re resourceful enough & for the first time ever can grow & flourish without any limitations. Artists are able to develop branding, merchandising, marketing strategies, live show aesthetic, side hustles & of course the music, without anyone forcing them through a pipe, & that’s extremely powerful.
How would you describe your creative processes? Who writes the lyrics to the songs? Are the music and lyrics written in conjunction, or separately?
I approach writing from a place of separation. My prerequisite for writing lyrics is to locate a space far from the eyes & ears of others, where I’m able to say the strangest things in the strangest way without anyone nearby to judge. I write all ideas in the notes app & usually have voice memo’s running just-in-case something worthwhile slips out & I miss it. I usually have about three or four songs going at once, just so I have something to flick in-between when I hit a creative barrier. The creative process remains somewhat similar album to album, though the timeframes are scarily volatile. Some songs will take 30 minutes whilst others may take 8 months. I’m fortunately (& unfortunately) a perfectionist, & struggle to release content that I don’t personally consider flawless. For example, if you look at the Conscience artwork, you’ll find four miniature birds above the tallest mountain on the left. The final was sent through to me pre-birds & it felt absolutely incomplete. I asked for the addition of those four silhouettes & through subtle intricacy, the piece felt like it was ready for distribution. To me, the unnoticed elements of an artwork are the pieces that make it noticeable.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration comes when you aren’t asking for it. It’s both everywhere & nowhere for me. Through my experience with writing, I’ve found there’s a reasonable difference between pushing your intentions through a pen, vs. giving the pen freedom to do what it likes. Art was never meant to be shackled to a form-factor & I try & let whatever happens, happen. An open mind is always helpful, especially when your mind takes you down a darker route. Following the whim of my intuition has always seemed to work for me. It’s interesting, moments in life I thought would provide the most inspiration regularly haven’t, where the insignificant & overlooked moments have played quite a major role. I guess that stems back to the mind-set of the artwork. There is always something to learn in the insipid.
What’s your favourite track from the upcoming album and what other bands/artists are you listening to right now?
Donald Glover has me absolutely awe-struck every time he does anything, so I’m regularly listening to his music. I struggle to comprehend how he seems to fit 48 hours into a 24-hour day & achieve such a level of passion, discipline & composure in each of his vocations. I was lucky enough to watch his set at this years Splendour & I think my jaw is still there somewhere. NF is continuously played throughout my house, the honesty in The Search has really inspired me lately. I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t living vicariously through Mike Posner & his trek across America. Witnessing an artist abandon it all to find himself is immensely intriguing & I’m filled with joy watching through his social media. I’ve also got Logic, Jaden, The Weeknd, Tavia, Big Sean, Listener & Ed Sheeran’s No. 6 Project on rotation, as well as an occasional Joe Rogan Podcast.
My favourite track from Conscience would have to be, surprise, Conscience. It was distributed April 5 as the title track of the record & is a song I think I’ve been trying to write my entire life. It acted as a cure to my writer’s block & undoubtedly became the catalyst that shaped the remainder of the album.
What’s next for you?
To be honest, I’m unsure what I’m craving more, the release of the remaining 7 songs from Conscience, or the conception of album 3. The next single is Sorrow & most definitely the most personal song I’ve released this year. I’m dying to get back to London. I have a show at the Camden Assembly, 16th Sept, as well as 6 more shows throughout Europe, & a short 3-date Australia tour to follow. My first ever book will be published this year, as well as my usual barrage of music & lyric videos. Thanks for letting me share some words