Known for his intricate ability to capture the delicacy of human emotion, Gold Coast’s quiet over-achiever Jacob Lee is one artist you should keep your eye on.
If 28 Million Spotify streams, 20 Million YouTube Views and the establishment of his own brecord label weren’t enough for this self-signed artist, Lee has decided to release what is set to be the most intimate music video of the year for his current single, ‘I Belong to You’. We chat to Lee following its release.
So you’ve just released title track, ‘I Belong To You’, which has gained a great deal of attention since its release… Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to write that song in particular? Was it drawn from personal experiences?
I’m still slightly overwhelmed by how well ‘I Belong to You’ has faired internationally… It’s already been considered the most intimate wedding song of the year which has blown my mind and more often than not I wake up tagged in a wedding video that has the song implemented. Analysing it, I’d say the reason this track is resonating with such a broad audience is because it was written from a place of absolute sincerity. Originally, ‘I Belong to You’ was a piece set solely for my brother’s wedding, to act as a surprise after speeches at the reception. My mother had been asking me for months to try and conjure something personal for both Luke and his fiancé Eva. It wasn’t until two weeks beforehand where I finally figured out exactly how I wanted to portray them and their love.
‘I Belong to You’ was written from my brothers perspective, standing at the altar as though no one else was there. The entire song is a description of the moment – feeling the aura of family and friends, embracing the nerves and emotionally preparing for the next step in their lives together. Love songs in particular were never a strong point of mine, but ‘I Belong to You’ is now the fourth song I’ve released that illustrates a sense romance and coincidentally, I’ve just finished writing the fifth today…
Check out the track below
How did you get into singing and songwriting? Have you been at it your whole life?
I almost feel as though singing & songwriting was deliberately placed within my DNA. It’s all I’ve ever done and has intrigued me for as long as I can possibly recall. As I’ve matured, the obsession with songwriting has expanded outward to literature and I’ve found that I’m now doubling down on becoming an established writer, rather than just a writer of songs. I count myself lucky in that I’ve always had somewhat of an aptitude for writing, as well as an undeniable passion toward it. In this day and age, once you reach a certain level of influence as an artist you’re inevitably granted further insight into how people think. The internet is a method of direct communication between artist and listener and that’s a significant tool for someone like myself. It’s fascinating getting to know what people genuinely want to hear, what they’re struggling with and what they feel like they need. It’s become evident that people definitely do rely on music for improvement in mood, to escape reality, to hear foreign perspectives & now even acquire knowledge. I hope to provide each and every one of those things amidst the music I produce.
Were you surprised by how quickly your new song and videoclip gained popularity?
Yes. My thoughts when I decided to release ‘I Belong to You’ and ‘With You’ at the same time was that ‘With You’ would be the primary single. I even organised for the Music Video to come out one week before ‘IBTY’. I’m unsure why, but I was convinced that ‘With You’ would be the more prominent track. It became evident quite quickly that I was 100 per cent wrong! As soon as ‘I Belong to You’ was released it sky rocketed past ‘With You’ in just a matter of days, and leaped even further once the Lyric Video & Music Video were released.
This year alone you released two beautiful love ballads this past June “With You” and “I Belong to You” which are very emotional and approach love in very different ways. Do you try to write about themes and topics from different perspectives? Were these hard songs to craft?
As mentioned briefly above, ‘I Belong to You’ didn’t come to me immediately – though when it did, I wrote 95 per cent of the song in just one sitting. ‘With You’ on the other hand took quite a few months to reach completion. I remember holding close the line “I’d travel the world with you, cause I know where you’d go”, for at least two months before any other section of the song came to life. Eventually, I haphazardly began experimenting with a new fingerpicking chord progression that I felt would represent lyrics of love extremely well. I took my short phrase & developed the entire song around that… What’s interesting is that the concept to write about my future daughter was never on the cards & it was just one slip of the tongue that completely changed the trajectory of the piece. I remember sitting in my garage playing with rhymes and words and subconsciously sung, “If we have a daughter, I’ll make sure she knows”. It was at that exact moment where the song skewed completely & I spent the next few months pondering what I would then say to her.
Who are some of your inspirations and main influences?
Myself five years from now.
You’ve said in a previous interview that ‘most artists treat songwriting as a direct outlet for their emotions, some sort of therapeutic experience or release, I endeavour to do the opposite’. How do you go about doing this? Is it a conscious choice, and how do you go about creating the your music?
A great question! I’ll try to make the answer concise…
As I’ve mentioned quite a bit in the past, my songwriting is generally subconscious. When I said that I endeavour to do the opposite, I mean it in a way of drawing my emotions inward. I’ve made the choice to dwell in my experiences, whether painful or beautiful. I then try & extract what I can from the emotions felt. I’ve never really felt as though my ‘stored emotions’ have hindered me or cluttered my mind. They’ve alternatively become the fuel that’s inspired songs like ‘Breadcrumbs’, ‘Oceans’, ‘Demons’ or ‘I Just Know’.
Your music has delved into multiple genres – electronic, acoustic, pop, rock, and folk – what importance do you place on creating music of all types, and not being held to one specific genre?
To be honest, genre is a word that rarely enters my mind. When I write music, the message is all I care about, which ultimately shapes the sound to follow. I endeavor to make people feel a certain way through my & lyricism and melodies – so, if a song is lending itself to a folk / country vibe or perhaps a heavier electronic, sub-bass style, I’ll just run with that. If I were to provide one piece of songwriting advice to a musician reading this, it would be to trust and follow your intuition. It will never, ever guide you down the wrong path and you’ll be so much more stoked with the final product.
Every one of my songs is written on an acoustic guitar, and sometimes I implement my loop station. Apart from writing lyrics and vocal melodies for other artists I’ve never been known to co-write.
If you could play any stage or show in the world, what would it be?
Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. I’ve never seen a stage half as beautiful.
Just a quick question about the skull imagery involved with your branding and being able to be interpreted a number of ways, is this something you think you’ll continue doing?
The skull is a theme that will remain strong through my ‘Philosophy’ album and then most likely never be seen again. I like to consider official song artwork as something that could be displayed in a gallery, as well as something I’d like to have hanging on the walls of my home in the future. As a quick description to those wondering, the skull represents the location of intellect. It’s a piece of imagery I believe can be interpreted in both a dark and light setting and has been quite the topic of conversation, especially for the most recent love songs.
Where do you hope to take your music… you’re still so young and have a bright future ahead so what’s on the horizon for you?
I’m 23 and feel as though I’ve not even started yet. I’m planning on releasing another 20 songs this year, four more for the album, 10 acoustic sessions and a remix package with DJ’s I’ve developed friendships with over the years… I’ve at least 10 more video’s to come and am jumping on tour with Sheppard until Oct 13th with a 14 day break in between to climb up to Everest base-camp with my girlfriend. Album number two is almost complete and I’m chipping away daily on my first book. I don’t have a management team and decided to start my own label this year titled ‘Philosophical Records’. 2018 had me travel and perform through America for three months, tour the UK / Europe with Una Healy & explore Tasmania. I’m just days away from my final headline show of the year, and after I write this sentence I’ll be picking up my acoustic to wrap up my new song, ‘Artistry’. I recognised earlier this year that the journey is in fact the destination, and the fulfillment of myself and all those around me is the most important aspect of life. If I can see those around me happy whilst chasing my visions, I’ll never need anything else.
Thanks for having me Forte Mag x
Check out his Spotify below.