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Interview with Jack Browning
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My mum played a number of instruments but aside from that my family aren’t too musical, but we did listen to music. I guess most of it comes from my Dad’s record collection - I remember climbing those CD towers whilst he was at work to try and find his Johnny Cash records…that must have left an impact!
If I wasn’t doing music I’d hope that I’d be doing what I do when I’m not doing music right now, which is working as a portrait painter.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Yeah, so I’m also an artist, and I mainly paint. That has a big influence, I think, aside from both being creative endeavours. I like to combine my paintings with music if I can, so a lot of what you hear on the record is me trying to create a soundtrack to either my own work or art that I enjoy from some amazing artists working today.
How long have you been making music?
I started playing guitar and stuck with it at age thirteen, though I’d tried before that a few times! I started writing songs around the same time, and I think that was such a crucial part of learning the guitar. My teacher and friend, Chris, has a big part to play in what I do now! In high school I played in a band and we gained some notoriety locally, and then after that began touring Europe in a few other outfits. Most of what you hear me making now stemmed from the COVID lockdown and I haven’t looked back.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I was born in London but was raised in rural Essex, which is a real ‘country’ part of England. Aside from a big folk-music tradition, I think the natural elements around it and a childhood spent out and about with friends really shaped my music and some of my tastes, too.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
In previous bands we played some amazing festivals all over Europe, and got to support acts like Jeff Beck, Joss Stone and Gregory Porter. We played to thousands and that’s always ‘the dream’, or at least I think it is for most people. Norway was a particularly memorable experience, and we were treated so well.
However, I think the show that meant the most to me was on July 28th 2023, which was a hometown show and the first performance of the record with my full-band. We sold it out to capacity, and the audience were a mix of friends and family and people who had started noticing what I was doing. People traveled from all over the country to see us and walking out to this huge cheer was such a rush. To see people singing my songs back to me was something I’ll never forget. I’m lucky that we have some amazing recordings from that show.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I’ll always have a soft spot for my friends at HotBox, just outside of London. Some of those festivals I mentioned earlier were very cool, especially Skanevik Blues Festival in Norway - we played in the middle of a fjord and when we came off stage at midnight..it was still light!
I’d love to play some of the real honky-tonks over in the States and of course, a show at The Ryman would be a dream come true.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Right now, it’d be a show at The Ryman on a bill with Charley Crockett, Tyler Childers and Willie Watson. I think that’d be a hell of a lineup!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I don’t feel like I’m in any position to be giving advice! ha BUT I would say that the sooner you can kill that voice in your head telling you you can’t do things, the better. It stopped me doing anything with my own music for over two years, and this album all came together out of that block clearing.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Kerosene means a lot in so far as it was the first song I wrote for myself back in 2020, and was my only original song for two years because of this crippling anxiety telling me I couldn’t write a good song!
Lyrically, I think You Can’t Love Me Anymore means the most because it is all about my experience and the people around me. It is the most personal of my songs, I think, and that made it hard at first to open up properly. That being said, it is my most streamed song of all time so I’m glad my experience resonated with some listeners!
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Kerosene is probably the most-requested song live. Even my brother tells me he’d riot if he came to watch me play and I didn’t play it! It was a song of mine people knew even before it arrived on the record and it is really something to play it live with the boys in the band.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
I used to think that I’d have to ‘feel it’ in order to write a song, and it was the same with making a painting. Then I heard some amazing advice from one of my favourite painters, Logan Hagege. Basically, if we waited around until the inspiration took us, we’d be waiting forever! Just clock in and get to work, and that seems to have worked best for me in terms of a writing process.
In the studio, I thrive on the collaborative effort of the band and my producer, Dan, who always has these amazing ideas and experiments to try. With my lyrics and songwriting, it’s a case of write what I know, even if it’s dressed up in a scenario which might be imaginary or fantastical.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
I don’t think I consciously try and include messages, but a song has to have something to say and most of that comes from detailing something I’ve experienced. I think that makes it relatable to people. So, when I was working a menial job and getting home tired and aching but still having to then work on my record, I think everyone has experienced doing something when they’d much rather be focusing on something else, but feeling too beat down to do it or give it their best shot. That’s a rough situation to be in!
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
The next big thing for me will be supporting Willi Carlisle on his European and UK tour in November! I was a fan of his long before this so I’m really excited. I’ve started writing for my second record and we’ll be figuring out how to move on that before too long.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Yes! Please do keep in touch. You can visit my site www.jackbrowning.co.uk for tour dates, merch and streaming the record on your service of choice. Otherwise, Instagram @jackbrowningartistmusician (sorry, it’s long!) is a great place to keep up to date on what I’m doing!