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Q&A: Jacob Fitzgerald Chats Songwriting, Growth and Spacey Jane

Melbournian Jacob Fitzgerald first dove onto the scene with his 2018 single 'Adore Ya', but is morphing into a new holistic and full sound with his latest track 'Lonely' in the lead up to the November 19 release of his EP Pretend I'm Cool. We got the chance to chat to him about inspirations, musical growth, songwriting, and the work ethic of fellow Victorians, Spacey Jane.

You describe your latest track ‘Lonely’ as: Desperation, uncertainty and insecurity are the key themes floating in this track. We wanted to capture all those emotions without the negativity and melancholy type stigma that it typically surrounds. What made you want to take these negatives themes and work them into a track that is more glass half-full, than it is half-empty?

There are a couple of reasons for this one. The first being that I love juxtaposing song concepts with the way they sound/feel. ‘Lonely’ was less about making a track that is a sonic representation of loneliness and more about focusing on what that said emotion feels like… does that make sense? Who knows! Ultimately, those concepts of desperation, uncertainty and insecurity are what fuel the pace of the song. It’s energetic in that nervous energy kind of way and really serves as a cry for help upon looking inward. The chorus is sparse and powerful to represent the struggle of “why am I doing this?”… “Is it love? Or just loneliness?”
Having it sit as an upbeat track just fit perfectly. Plus, which brings me to my next point, I just wanted to make people dance. I think we achieved that!

Your EP ‘Pretend I’m Cool’ is out on November 19. What can you tell us about the motifs of the EP? Is it about telling a specific story, or more an accumulation of individual tracks? What element of the EP are you most excited to share?

‘Pretend I’m Cool’ is definitely an accumulation of tracks. Some old and some new. The bulk of them were written throughout 2020 when I had nothing to do but write and explore my creativity with all that forced time. Pieces like ‘Pretty Good for My Mind’, ‘Pretend I’m Cool’ and ‘Never Just Sex’ all came about by simply wanting to make something different and try new things. Luckily, older tracks like ‘Lonely’ and ‘Bit of a Mess’ got a chance to be fleshed out too, despite them being round for some time.
I think that’s mostly due to the fact that band and I worked closely on forming this record. ‘Pretend I’m Cool’ serves more as an introduction to a new and bigger sound. Yeah, there are still tracks that have familiar undertones, but ultimately this is a new “Jacob Fitzgerald” we’re showing. That’s what I’m most eager to share. The growth. The musicality and the energy. It all feels right and hopefully translates to listeners too.

With the news Melbourne is making its way out of lockdown, who are you most keen to catch when gigs start happening again? And what venue would you love to be able to play?

What a question! At the moment I’m down to consume literally anything, but I think Spacey Jane are taking the cake for me. I missed their show last year due to gigging myself and was gutted! I really vibe with their music and overall work ethic. They churn out bangers with every release. Seeing them live would be ace.
In terms of venues, there are so many to choose from here in Melbourne. Right now, I’d kill for a nice packed-out room at something like The Workers Club, where we can all dance and get nice and sweaty. Just to see faces in any venue would be a dream.

You put your first tracks out into the world in 2018, how do you feel your sound has progressed over this time? And do you think there were any specific influences that changed things for you?

I’ll always have a soft spot for my first releases. ‘Adore Ya’ marked the first time I recorded a track as a solo artist and was also when I began working with Brent Quirk (producer) who I’ve partnered with on almost every release since. However, in looking back, I feel that my overall sound has become so much more band focused. I have such a core unit that I truly love playing with and that really take these records to the next level. When focusing in on the drums tracks throughout ‘Pretend I’m Cool’ I can literally hear the “Reuben Hawkes” (Drummer) flair in them.
Same goes for the rest of the team, they’re in there. It’s a much more full and cohesive sound which I think has come about quite naturally. I’ve always loved big band sounds like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Huey Lewis & The News, Billy Ocean, but it just wasn’t accessible in the early days. I guess more recently artists like The 1975 and Harry Styles have played a role in forming the new direction, but ultimately it was having time to write new material and write with players in mind that made these tunes come alive.

Do you have any rules or framework when it comes to song writing? Or is it more about what comes about in the moment?

I definitely have a pattern in the way I write my material. Music and chords, followed by melody, lyrics and then the overall arrangement is usually the process undergone. But in terms of concepts, the majority often write themselves. I do have vague topics that I like and want to cover which sometimes fit and sometimes they just start a new thread of ideas. Regardless, I like to flesh out the song to its entirety. It’ll either be nothing or it’ll be something. It’s never really nothing though. That’s the beauty of making music.

What do you hope 2022 has in store for you either personally or professionally?

Touring. Recording. Releasing. Repeat.
I’ve had close to two years of “sitting on my hands” professionally which has led to lots of personal growth. So I’m over that shit now! It’s very much time to make music and play to as many faces that we can. I love what I do, and I hate not being able to do it. Here’s hoping 2022 will allow for a make up in lost time and that you’ll be seeing and hearing lots of us.

'Lonely' is out now, with Jacob's EP Pretend I'm Cool out on November 19th.

FOLLOW Jacob Fitzgerald Facebook | Instagram | Triple J Unearthed

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