Ahead of his first ever show in Southampton at The Joiners, I had a very pleasant phone conversation with Barnet-born singer-songwriter Jake Morley. He was excited to be coming to our city for the first time and was delighted to be able to share little bits about his new album, which will be coming out next year.
Are you excited about the gig tomorrow?
Absolutely psyched yeah, it’s my first proper gig in southampton, I’ve played all around mainly Bournemouth and places like Portsmouth but, yeah, it’ll be my first time in Southampton so I’m really excited!
Southampton is a good crowd so I’m sure everything will be great!
Yeah, I’m sure it will!
Is it going to be quite a chilled and intimate gig?
I think so it’s just going to be just me, I’m playing solo tomorrow, but even on my own I tend to make a lot of noise, so I’m sure it will be intimate and then some bits will be more raucous.
Cool! So who is your biggest influence would you say?
Biggest influence, oh wow, that’s a tough one. It kind of varies depending on day by day, but I’d say someone like David Byrne from the Talking Heads [band formed in 1975, not
the pub in Portswood…] he’s my biggest influence. He’s absolutely fearless as a writer and he’s not afraid to really push the boundaries with the kinds of things he wants to write about.
How do you go about writing your lyrics, what do you think of when you’re writing them?
This album I’ve been writing over the last couple of years, I’ve almost finished recording it and it will be out next year, it’s an album about thinking so I’ve been spending loads of time letting my mind to kind of turn over lots of ideas; thinking about thinking and trying to find a good day to find out what a happy mind is, what a healthy mind is and what happens when it goes wrong and the mechanisms of the mind. I’ve a got a song that is like a duet with my unconscious mind and all these kind of subjects I was interested in. So in terms of how I wrote all the lyrics, it was a lot of hours, hour after hour of just allowing my mind to sort of improve upon lyrics and so on, until I thought they were done.
That’s cool! It’s very different to the kind of modern stuff that’s out there at the moment that’s not that interesting (lyrically) like One Direction, for example, who just put tracks out there without much thought.
Yeah, exactly, it’s not sort of thrown together quickly or something which, like I mentioned David Byrne earlier, he sometimes was just able to write something from instinct. Lots of great songs are just written instinctively and turning the mind off and letting your ideas just come out. But with this album all the writing has been very consciously detailed and has had a kind of very methodical process.
Do you find it’s more about the lyrics or the music for you?
Erm, writing a song for me is like meeting a new person. So sometimes you meet people in different ways, like over the phone, where you hear someones voice a bit, or you see them in a room first so that’s in the same way as meeting a song, finding the music first or an idea or a lyric, and then bit by bit you begin to get an idea of who that person is and who they are, what they want to say and what they’re about and gradually, yeah, form a song.
What is your favourite song to perform?
Right now I’ve got to say it’s this new song I’ve been playing called ‘Falter’ which is the first single I’ve been sharing from this album. It’s got this great guitar technique I’ve been working on for a while which kind of makes the guitar sound like a harp playing one string after the other…
…Yeah I watched a video it looks really cool…
…Yeah! Every time I play it I’m like a little school boy! I get full of excitement.
So how long have you been playing the guitar and singing for?
I first started, I guess, when I was a teenager, maybe 13 or so. I’d been playing loads of piano and drums and stuff but when you get to your teenage years you don’t want to play the piano you want to pick up a guitar, because you can’t exactly whip out a piano at a house party or something! So I just started learning guitar and learnt all my favourite songs and writing was a natural progression from that…
…So you are very musical…
…Oh yeah, we had family jams when we were growing up and music was always playing in our house, so it’s always been a massive part of my life and a part of my way to discover how life goes and it’s always been tied up in that.
Music is clearly very important to you and one question I was wondering about was with regards to when I read that you went to uni and you studied law. Afterwards you didn’t follow the law path and instead you’ve gone down this route, I was wondering why that was?
I was quite good at school, but music was always my passion and I was also wondering whether I had the courage to go through doing what I loved. So doing a degree was a way to meet people and grow up and incase I didn’t have the courage to go through with being a song writer, which is what I always wanted to do. In the end I managed to find that so I haven’t had to go back.
Ok, so would you have any advice for any aspiring musicians at uni at the moment?
Yeah just get off your arse! Get out of your room, meet people, and play gigs! It’s very easy these days to just sit behind the computers and think that that’s the end of it. By all means if that’s the kind of music you make then go for it, but don’t forget to also just get out and meet people and get inspiration from the world around you and the people you meet. You just never know who you’re going to meet and what will come of it, so yeah.
I’ve got some quick fire questions for you just so the students at the University of Southampton can get to know you a bit better as a person, is that okay?
[Laughs] Yeah, ok go for it!
Starbucks or Costa?
Starbucks do this like – I know this is meant to be quick, but – they do this like oats and morning yoghurty-fruit thing that is just amazing! So yeah, probably Starbucks.
Barrister or solicitor?
I would go for barrister because I like the sound of my own voice!
[Laughs] Okay, what is your favourite alcoholic drink?
That would be a large pint of Guinness!
Fair enough! Who would you most like to meet in the world?
Oh wow, I would meet… I can’t chosoe him he’s dead… I’d go for Elvis Costello, I’d like to meet him.
Summer or winter?
Oh, winter for me, yeah, just wrap up warm.
Yeah I’m the same! Who would you most like to meet in heaven?
[Laughs] Erm, does that mean I have to believe in heaven?
…No, not necessarily, you can meet them in hell if you want to…
[Laughs] Okay, well either way if it’s heaven or hell, I’d like to have a chat with Christopher Hitchens, because he doesn’t believe in heaven and he’s an interesting guy.
Finally what do you want for Christmas?
[Sings] “All I want for Christmas…” [Laughs] I would like, erm… Oh man! I would like an absolutely enormous stack of chocolate brownies! Then I’d be a happy man.
[Laughs] That’s fair enough! That’s all my questions, good luck tomorrow and I’ll be in the crowd somewhere!
Awesome! Yeah, come and say hi!
Will do! Thank you very much!
Jake Morley’s new single ‘Falter’ is out now on Sandwich Emporium Records.