Interview: Jacob and the Starry Eyed Shadows
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I grew up in a very musical family and music was just a big part of life for all of us. I began teaching myself how to play guitar at about age 10, then started writing songs and performing in my teens and just took it from there. Music was always me escape.
My other great love is football so if it wasn’t for music, I would probably still be doing that a lot more. Two very important ways of life for me. Growing up, if I wasn’t playing guitar I was out playing football.
What do you like to do when you're not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I love spending time with my family and my dogs, so I spend a lot of time at the beach with them. Where I live on the west coast of Scotland the scenery is beautiful. It’s also where I grew up so I have lots of memories and influences around me all the time. It’s a very atmospheric and dramatic part of the world. My day job is in community work which involves working with people, so that provides plenty of influence as well.
How long has your band been around?
I’m currently working solo and this current project (Jacob and the Starry Eyed Shadows) hasn’t been around for long in its current form. Although, the songs I’ve been writing on and off over the years, so the material certainly isn’t all new. Some of the songs I’m currently playing were written years ago.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Well, as I’ve already touched on, I’m based out of Kintyre on the west coast of Scotland which is very dramatic and beautiful place. We live on a peninsula next to the Atlantic Ocean. When the weather is nice, we have so many nice beaches and there really is nowhere better in the world. When the weather isn’t so good, when it’s dark wet and gloomy and you’re looking out across the Atlantic Ocean it kind of feels like the edge of the world. So it’s a very atmospheric and influential place to say the least.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
My name is Jamie and Jacob is just a more interesting version basically. In Hebrew. I’ve always loved bands that have a ‘Someone and the…so and so’s’ type name. It goes back to all the soul and Motown groups my mother brought me up on; Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles etc etc. You get the idea.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
Ooh, tough one. I would say Springsteen but he doesn’t do support acts – because why would he!? Let’s go for Bright Eyes and Dear and the Headlights.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Be yourself and go with what you feel. So write music that comes from you, don’t try to sound like someone else. Otherwise, what’s the point.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Probably just to slow down. You don’t need to live your whole life in a day.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
It’s gotta be my new song ‘We Are Everything (and that’s alright)’! Not just because it comes out next Friday 2nd of April. But it has become something of an anthem of mine. It’s a very emotive and philosophical song about life and moments. It’s very defiant. So yeah, that’s up there.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Again, ‘We Are Everything’, or anything I can improvise a wicked solo in. I often get asked to play an old song I wrote called Believe Me. I keep meaning to record an updated version of it. There’s a job for this year.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I tend to write about emotive subjects. Normally quite depressing topics. But my lyrics and melodies are often quite anthemic and defiant. So although they sound like depressing topics it doesn’t mean they’re depressing songs. I tend to have a story and idea and take it from there. I come up with lyrics and melody first and then build up from there. I used to be very impatient and go with the first draft, but I’m getting better at sitting on songs and revisiting them until they’re right. Often it can just be a vague idea or a feeling that the lyrics come from. I don’t think you always have to be able to explain songs completely. Sometimes it just comes to you. Often for me that’s where it becomes a truly expressive exercise. And then the listener can make what they want of it. Because that’s what it should be about for me really anyway.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
They’re about a variety of things. As I say, they’re mainly defiant. Defiant about whatever circumstance the protagonist finds themselves in. Tomorrow will be a better day. But just in case it isn’t, let’s live the life we want today.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
Got two singles lined up so far for this year. Firstly ‘We Are Everything (and that’s alright)’ coming Friday the 2nd of April. And a follow up set for June. And we’ll be taking it from there. The focus on the minute is on releasing singles and working towards an E.P. at some point. So follow my Facebook and Instagram to find out more.