NEW ALBUM: Q&A with Jake Thistle
Q: Tell us a little about what led to your new album, Down The Line.
A: I’ve been wanting to get more original music out for a long time. I had a deal in place with a major studio for a full, professionally-produced EP that I was going to record with some great musicians in the Spring, and I had some amazing offers to record at other studios with some of my heroes that I was looking forward to—then COVID happened, and those things had to be put on hold for now. COVID affected everyone in the music industry, unfortunately. But without live, in-person gigs and so many people asking for originals, I still really wanted to get something out. The world needs music more than ever. So, I thought about what I could personally do to make it happen. I wrote some songs that I thought would work with my production approach, and…the result is Down The Line-- which features 12 original songs.
Q: Do you still plan to record in the studio?
A: Yes, the offers I had are still open, but we need to wait for the effects of the pandemic to get better. I have a wide range of songs, and some I think would better for a full band with a studio. I write all the time, and I’m very much looking forward to getting in the studio for the next album even as I’m just releasing this one.
Q: Why not wait for the studios to reopen?
A: I really wanted to get music out now because you never know what the future will bring and because it was a challenge. Obstacles always happen, but the world doesn’t stop spinning. So, I focused on a set of songs that I thought held together thematically and would work well recording this way. The result, I think, is along the lines of an Americana sort of vibe for this particular album.
Q: How did you approach the new album, technically?
A: I knew that I’d be recording this entirely from my home studio because of the pandemic, and that I’d be focused on the instruments that I could personally play and have available. I’ve never been one of those musicians who likes to sit in front of a computer—I like to play music— so I bought a new soundboard that allowed me to record and mix tracks right on the board. From what I understand, the way that I approached this album is very rare these days, but it felt more organic to me. In addition to arranging and recording every instrument myself, I didn’t use any computer-based enhancements, instruments or sounds. Basically, what you hear on the album is what you would hear live if I could play every instrument at once…haha.
Q: How did recording that way influence the sound of the album?
A: Well, I know a lot of talented people that I would have played with in a full studio. I could have tried to get some of them to send me tracks to include on the album, but that would have required the computer and DAW software, which I wanted to stay away from for now. So, I made a conscious decision to do everything myself, which meant that certain instruments would be naturally prioritized. For example, while I do use percussion in these recordings, you won’t find the album to be very heavy on drums as I don’t consider myself a drummer at the moment…haha. It’s possible that some of these songs might get a different treatment in the future, which could be fun and interesting. The result is, I think, a different kind of sound that is understated, but more than a solo, acoustic treatment. I hope people like that balance.
Q: You did this all on your own?
A: I never feel like I do anything all alone, because I’ve been so fortunate to know a lot of really supportive musicians that have taught me so much over the years. While I did all of the writing, arranging and recording myself, I’ve definitely been lucky enough to have other professionals listen and give me thoughts as I’ve worked on this project. And, Thomas Gilbert, who I never met in person but have learned a LOT from, was kind enough to help with a few production things, which I really appreciate. Really, everyone I’ve played with and learned from is represented on the album in some way— unless one of them reading this doesn’t like it, in which case please don’t blame them…haha.
Q: What have you learned by making this album?
A: Well, I have an even greater respect for the people behind the scenes of the album process, because it’s not easy. But the process reinforced how much I love to write and think about music. I’m 16 now, and I feel like the more I play, the more people I play with, and the more I push myself will make me more versatile and able to do more in the future. I have a better understanding of how things fit together than I did before I started the project.
Q: Anything else you want people to know?
A: First, I really appreciate everyone’s support and the fact people are interested in my original music. If it wasn’t for so many people asking so frequently, I might not have been inspired to tackle this project solo during a pandemic. But I’m glad I did it, and I really hope that the people interested will appreciate the album for how it was produced and the spirit in which I wrote and put things together. To everyone reading this, thank you for taking the time to support music in general, and for following along with my music journey. I appreciate all of you and can’t thank you enough. More than anything, I hope you enjoy the album, and I’d be really happy to have your feedback once you’ve heard it.
Q: How can people buy the album, is a physical copy available and will it be on music streaming services?
A: There are two ways people can get the album. At launch, I’m going to be doing a special, ticketed virtual live show to support the album and there is a VIP ticket that will include the show, the full album download, a download of the mastered, live acoustic versions of the songs from the show, and a signed setlist (tickets available here). I think people will like that—at least I hope so…haha! Of course, people will always be able to buy the standalone album on my website, as well. For now, the album is available in a downloadable format. Since people have asked, I’m looking into whether I can offer a way to get a CD on demand, but that option isn’t available quite yet. Songs from the album will be added over time to the streaming services, but I wanted people to be able to enjoy the album as a whole before putting that out there. So, for now, I think the best way to get the album is through the show, and otherwise through my website. Thank you for supporting both my album and original music, in general!