We were lucky to catch up with Mr Jack preceding his forthcoming release, ‘Songs for Introverts’. Read our 2018 interview below:
Hi Mr Jack, Tell us about yourself?
I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and moved to the US about 18 years ago. Although surrounded by music all my life, I never understood it was a passion: I discovered the guitar around 2003, and began recording with a 4-track cassette recorder a few years later. The “Mr Jack” brand was created in 2007 to indicate my varied interests. (Ironically, those interests did not mention music at the time.) I began recording my own songs from 2008, though often composing with specific musicians/voices in mind.
Your latest album ‘Songs For Introverts’ is brilliant, what is your songwriting process?
Rarely, an idea can occur as a complete song with instrument parts and some lyrics. Most of the time they begin with a drum rhythm, or a melody that appears and gets stuck in my head. In those cases, I record and build on what occurs. As I work alone, I will look into some mixing and balancing issues early, which means frequent listening breaks until the track is arranged to a suitable point. If suitable for the composition, lyric syllables or inspired imagery will start to emerge over the listening breaks, if they didn’t precede the melody.
What is the best gig you have ever played?
Years ago, I was briefly a founding member of a Portland, OR band called “Waiting On Jane.” We played two gigs, and the last one is a cheerful memory of a small bar with maybe 15 smiling faces in it.
Tell us about your latest release ‘Songs For Introverts’
“Songs for Introverts” is primarily an introduction to my musical style, itself a hodge-podge of influences. The songs feature a driving bass melody and kick rhythm, with accents inspired by rock, Jazz, and Afrobeat. The title is both a nod to my personality and an indication that the songs are little experiences in which the listener can revel. All the songs were recorded this year, though the oldest lyrics (Yucatan Man and Coffee Mornings) are between 9 and 10 years old.
What is a memorable, funniest gig moment?
That would likely be the first “Waiting on Jane” gig, where we realized we’d mainly be playing to a running track. And perhaps, occasionally, to the runners who would pass by us. Pretty sweet first gig though.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
I would “want” it to make them feel great — happier, refreshed, inspired, brave — so that they can listen to it again. But the beauty of creating art is that one never knows how it affects the beholder: I am often delightfully surprised (and always humbled) by my fans’ reactions.
Who are your musical influences?
As a child, I was exposed to my dad’s unusual collection of vinyl LPs, many of which were just collections of hits from stars like Eric Clapton, Shirley Bassey and The Beatles. This might be why, in later life, my musical influences were often songs and not musicians. As I grew older, Afrobeat (pioneered by the late Fela Kuti) influenced my rhythmic sense; I also have great admiration for John Mayer, Steely Dan, Hall and Oates and … well, you can see where this is going.
Who are your non-musical influences?
Here I hesitate, because there’s that concern of leaving out something/someone important. I admire the work of Isaac Asimov and Alan Watts, whose influences precede my sojourn into the music industry. But since beginning that, I feel compelled to express gratitude to the countless people — producers, artists, even lawyers — out there who have freely shared their experiences, and from whom I have been learning continuously in recent times. (Rick Beato and Warren Huart, I’m looking at you.)
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
I cannot pretend to be an authority on this, but I’m aware that entering the industry is, shall we say, more competitive than it once was. Streaming industries have altered that landscape in ways that are still being litigated, and this all influences a musician’s ability to earn a living off music. In my experience, the biggest obstacle was accepting that I might never make a living off my songs. Once I made peace with that, it became easier to make music!
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
Ask yourself: if your music career ended next year with nothing to show except your repertoire, would it have been worth it for you? If the answer is yes, you’re as ready as I am.
Thank you for joining us today and giving such an honest and in-depth insight into yourself. ‘Songs for Introverts’ will be released on 11/11/18, check it out!
If you would like to hear more from Mr Jack please check out:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mr-Jack-1293379684129114/Mr Jack