Last week, when Gold Coast singer-songwriter Jacob Lee released his latest single Suitcase, we were immediately immersed in his sprawling and emotional sounds.
It’s the latest in a string of consistently great singles from Lee, and is taken from his debut full-length album Philosophy. So we caught up with the artist himself for a run-down of each track from this incredible collection of songs.
Fresh off the release of his latest single Suitcase, Gold Coast singer-songwriter Jacob Lee runs us through each track of his debut album Philosophy.
Demons was the debut release for my label Philosophical Records and was written in about 45 minutes. It’s a notably darker piece than most of my previous releases, and touches on the harrowing reality of betrayal. I wrote this one in my garage, as isolated as possible, loop station by my feet, acoustic in hand, accompanied by a new Strymon Flint, OC-3 and old, dodgy microphone. I’d looped a droning vocal over a basic, percussive beat with a bass line I felt had potential. The lyrics came to me instantly and I still recall the profound adrenaline that soared through my being as I pieced together the arrangement.
The chorus lyrics; “I thought my demons were almost defeated but you took their side and you pulled them to freedom” have had a sincere and overwhelming impact on people all over the planet, and I’m still trying to figure out how to comprehend that. Almost daily I’m told that Demons has become the saving grace for young and old alike… and as beautiful as that may be, it’s a bittersweet feeling for me. How is it that a song dwelling amidst its own despair has become so relatable? And why is it that so many individuals are physically unable to articulate the words to describe their sorrow? I think into these questions regularly, especially as I skim across the faces of those that sing along with me during my performances.
Oceans is a track I’d describe as therapeutic. I wrote the chorus first, sitting behind three doors shut to the outside world, making futile efforts to silence the bustling noises from the living room. I was messing around with a brand new chord progression I’d discovered recently, and was trying to locate some form of creativity amidst the self-inflicted doubt that plagued me at the time… to my surprise, sitting in what I thought was the centre of my songwriting drought, came three variations of the same chorus. The adrenaline that greeted me as I wrote Demons poked it’s head again, and for the first time in about 4 months, I felt excited that perhaps I was writing something decent. Oceans quickly became the second single for Philosophy and is personally the most important track I’ve ever released. It was the literal and figurative turning of a chapter, and as profound as it may sound, taught me that there was more to myself than I knew.
Where the two songs above took a total of 45 minutes / a few days to complete, Black Sheep (which was originally titled Anybody Else) took a grand total of 8 months. The lines “at 22 years old, they’re telling me I’ll never make it on my own” were all I had for who-knows-how-long, and the longer it took to conjure additional lyrics, the more I embraced the song as a challenge. Black Sheep delivers a message that’s not so subtle. It touches on my journey thus far in the industry and explains that I’m capable of growing and thriving as an artist without any biased external assistance. I wrote it at the age of 22 and used verse 2 as a way to manifest my future. I spoke of where I would be at 23, and to my welcome surprise, it all seems to be coming true.
Possibly my favourite song to perform live, Cursed was written from the perspective of someone with Schizophrenia. It emerged from a subconscious place and was another track that found itself finished within its first session. Only realising the similarities to my song Slip after its release, Cursed has become a track that appeals to individuals not just suffering from mental illness, but insecurities, anxiety and depression. Originally, I wanted to place Cursed as a feature piece to my second EP Clarity, though unfortunately didn’t have enough funds at the time. Cursed has now found itself to be the fourth release on my debut album Philosophy and I think it adds a nice variety to the record.
With You was written for and about my future daughter. Originally it was to be a song for my brother’s wedding day – a piece to speak of how much he and his bride adored travelling the world, touching on how much they’d accomplished together as a couple. It was a nice thought until the line “If we have a daughter, I’ll make sure she knows” came to be. I remember sitting in my garage moments after I’d written that lyric, pondering whether to ditch or follow it. I chose to follow it, and now my third love song, With You, exists.
I Belong to You
I Belong to You is a song written from the perspective of my older brother, Luke. Seeing as the piece I’d written prior took a drastic turn to the left, ending up about a daughter I don’t even have. I was faced with yet another empty slot for the soundtrack to Luke and Eva’s wedding day… as an empathetic writer, I generally find comfort in writing about other people, and it wasn’t until I decided to write from Luke’s perspective where the song came to life. I pondered over the thoughts he would be having at the altar and what he might be feeling as she walked down the aisle. It helped, and I finished I Belong to You in about 5 hours. This particular song has without a doubt been the most well-received track on Philosophy, and since its release in June, has walked brides down the aisle all over the world.
The version of Nevermind you hear today is actually quite the opposite of how it was written. Nevermind was written for a friend of a friend who was suffering from depression and was much slower than the pop tune you hear now. During production, we discovered the potential for a more upbeat, soulful vibe and decided to run with it. Being more of an album track, I felt that it added that positive energy seemingly lacking in the other songs. The released version of Nevermind is intended to be an anthem for people who find solace in it. The acoustic version is more of an intimate message.
Suitcase describes the shadowed reality of a long-distance relationship. It was a song never intended to see the light of day – written in one sitting and left among my voice notes for over a year until it emerged during pre-production. During the final day of pre-pro, I was asked whether I had one more song to take the album to double digits. After diving far into the past, I pulled out Suitcase, and from that day forward it was resuscitated and renewed to fit into my updated sound. Bringing this track back to life helped me realise that sometimes artists get too close to their own songs and lose perspective on their potential. From being a track I thought was an absolute throw-away, to now becoming one of my favourites on the album, I’m thoroughly excited for the world to hear it.
I Still Know You
I’d prefer for you to just hear this one.
This one came to me last year in America. I’d recently wrapped up a tour with a Utah based band and stopped in L.A. for a few days to meet up with a young songwriter I’d discovered online. I arrived at his door and found a note explaining that he was out, but I was welcome inside. I strolled into his living room, pulled out my guitar and the first verse of reality found itself on paper within minutes. Over the coming months, I penned the rest… it was a song of eleven verses until I entered the studio and chopped it down to four. In short, Reality is a song that gives a voice to Mother Earth, and I’ve never held so much anticipation toward the release of a track.