By Vasco Dega
JAKL delivers emotional indie-pop bliss with his stunning debut single Hear, out now via Lookout Mountain
What was the first album you bought?
The first album I was given was Grace by my older sister when I was about 12. She told me to listen to it as I was good at singing but sang like a robot. Harsh but true. The first album I bought was R.E.M – Automatic For The People. I think it was a special anniversary one with some extra tracks.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations and why?
My dad is an opera singer and has definitely been a huge inspiration to me. As a kid I used to love tagging along his rehearsals and performances all over the world. At home we listened mostly to classical music and jazz. I was also choral scholar so I think the rich choral harmonies and operatic drama has definitely found it’s way into my music. As I got older I found artists like Jeff Buckley, John Martyn, Joni Mitchell, Radiohead and later Bon Iver, James Blake and SOHN that I really loved. I remember playing Jeff Buckley’s album Grace to my dad at about 15 and saying, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t want to be an opera singer anymore, I want to do this’
What are some non-musical inspirations that motivate your music?
I generally write about the things and people in my life. But I’ve always tried to keep the lyrics open to interpretation and abstract rather than completely literal. That way people can connect with the emotion and whatever that means to them. I read a lot too, I am really dyslexic so my mum used to set me and my brothers reading challenges. We all love reading now and I still set myself challenges . I read the complete works of Hemmingway a few years back, then the BBC’s ‘100 books to read before you die’. I’m now halfway through a new challenge of reading 50 Prize winning books.
Tell us about your new single ‘Hear’?
I wrote it to my dad. Earlier this year he was admitted to hospital with Covid and within hours placed in a coma on a ventilator. It all happened so fast and as a family, we felt completely powerless and unable to help. The doctors had told us to expect the worst and two weeks later he was still unresponsive. Unable to wake him from the coma they suggested playing him recordings of his own past operatic performances that might help trigger a response.
Whilst putting these links together I wrote, Hear and recorded a video of myself singing it. This was played to him constantly and after a few days he woke up and went on to make a full recovery. When I spoke to Dad for the first time after he woke up he couldn’t remember anything from the illness, hospital, or ambulance but he sang me the melody of the song and said that the music was the one thing he remembered from his time in hospital. We’ve all been separated over the past year and at the heart of this song is the question of whether a really strong feeling or emotion can transcend that distance. I don’t know if this song helped my Dad wake up, but I do know it reached him when nothing else could and that in itself is worth everything.
What have you got lined up the rest of the year (2021)?
I’ll be sharing more new music and in September I’m heading out on tour across the UK with Wildwood Kin. And before that, I’ve got a couple of projects I’m working on. Scoring the music for a documentary and a choir collaboration with sound artist Yuri Suzuki coming out on MSG records.
Live dates supporting Wildwood Kin – Tickets here
Tue 31 Aug London Omeara
Wed 01 Sep Manchester Deaf Institute
Fri 03 Sep Newcastle Cluny
Sun 05 Sep Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tue 07 Sep Southampton Joiners
Wed 08 Sep Brighton Chalk
Thu 09 Sep Bristol Fleece
Sun 12 Sep Exeter Phoenix
Sat 25 Sep Swindon Christchurch