THE brilliant Jacko Hooper...
has been telling me about his new single, Trust in Me Always, and what its history is. I ask whether there is more coming along and which albums are important to him – Hooper suggests some rising artists that are worth a bit of time and energy.
The songwriter talks about his E.P., Together We’re Lost, and why he took a slight break from music; which artist he’d support on tour if he could and whether there are gigs approaching – Hooper selects a great new track to end the interview with.
Hi, Jacko. How are you? How has your week been?
All good, thank you. It's a strange time after releasing a record where, all of a sudden, you have a bit more free space in your brain after all the hard work is over. But, yes, good.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Jacko Hooper. I write and perform songs with guitar, keys and vocals. I draw influence from the things around me. I find it hard to write songs that aren't about personal experience.
Trust in Me Always is your new single. Is there a story behind the track?
The song is a conversation between your automatic thinking and your logical thinking. It's the voice in your head when it's trying to convince you that you are right to be fearful of the irrational and it keeping you 'under its spell'.
It is from the E.P., Together We’re Lost. I believe it was bedroom-recorded after a slight break from music. What was the reason behind the gap and returning with this E.P.?!
I needed to take a little break and get back in the right mindset in how to release music. I wanted to put something out that I was proud of and felt represented me at this time - and I knew the only way I was going to achieve that is if I focused more on writing and less on performing. Demoing songs and finding the right balance of production and intimacy was important and I wanted to feel like I found that sound correctly with this record.
Who are the artists that inspired you growing up? Did you grow up around a lot of different music?
Funnily enough, I didn't grow up around much music at all. I don't come from a musical background. I always used to listen to the radio when I was really young and used to write poems. I discovered an album in Asda called The Album and it had loads of bands on it that I never knew existed, i.e. the ones that weren't on the local commercial radio station. I heard distortion for the first time with bands like The Vines and Muse and the dramatic and emotive nature of the music led me to wanting to put these words I’d scribbled down to melody.
As I grew up, I fell in love with artists such as Jeff Buckley, Bowie; Glen Hansard and Damien Rice and I think that's when I started to venture towards a more acoustic sound.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
I have some collaborative projects that I’m really looking forward to release; working with some really inspiring musical friends of mine on some different releases, including Folklore Vol.2, which is a label I set up. Tour plans are in the works too. I think things will start becoming public knowledge more in the spring time.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
I was invited to support James Blunt at the Brighton Centre (which is my hometown) a few years ago. There were a few venues growing up as a kid that I knew I always wanted to try and play and the Brighton Centre didn't even come into my mind. To walk out in front of 5,000 people, including friends and family, was one of the most surreal and accomplished feelings I’ve ever had in my life. The songs I was singing I were songs I wasn't sure anyone would ever hear, let alone that many at one time.
What does music mean to you? How important is it in your life?
Music is all I really do with my life. I put on shows; I release records, my own and other peoples. I go to gigs; I write music. I struggle to find time for anything else in honesty. I'm a workaholic, so I like it that way. It's my friends and family that have to hear me talking about it all the time - so probably more work for them than me.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
So hard to pick...
The album that made me want to pick up a guitar would probably be Showbiz by Muse. It was the first proper album I had really digested and I remember not being able to understand how he was creating the guitar sounds...so that's what my gut goes with.
After that, it'd probably be Trouble by Ray LaMontagne. To me, it's just a flawless record; a songwriter at the peak of his powers. Every song is so inspiring. It takes me somewhere else as a listener and makes me want to write songs as an artist.
I'll pick a more recent album for my third choice. I love Post Tropical by James Vincent McMorrow. I think the production on this record coupled by his painfully accurate falsetto creates an atmosphere totally unique. It feels like the old album style of listening from start to finish has died out somewhat in recent years. Yet, with this record, it flows like a story and needs to be enjoyed as a whole piece. I admire that hugely.
As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?
At this point, just some rest. I want nothing for Christmas. Literally, just nothing.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I think it'd have to be Glen Hansard. I remember watching a live version of him performing Say It to Me Now and it was a life-changing moment. It gave me genuine chills; to see one person emit such emotion in a performance with so little accompaniment...something clicked and I knew that was how I wanted to get my story across. It felt so honest. No bulls*it; just a guy with a guitar who wasn't holding back on a single word or melody. He lives every bit of it.
The rider would have to be a crate of Jameson's really, wouldn't it? Given the company...
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Not yet. As I say, I think it'll be spring when things are getting back into shape.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Love what you do. Be honest with your writing. We all take huge inspiration and influence from people, but your favourite artist already exists: the world doesn't need another one. Be you. It's so much more interesting.
IN THIS PHOTO: Bess Atwell/PHOTO CREDIT: @d.haughian
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I’m lucky to have a lot of very talented friends making some of my favourite music. I would highly recommend Bess Atwell, The Hungry Mothers; Paper Hawk - and today I found a singer called Chloe Foy who I’m thoroughly enjoying, My friend George Ogilvie recently brought out an E.P. too and that's been playing fairly consistently I must admit.
IN THIS PHOTO: Chloe Foy
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Oooo. In that case. I'd recommend Grace by Bess Atwell. Stunning melodies and lyrics in particular in this one.
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