Daily Discovery is a feature that highlights a new or recently discovered artist who we’re excited about. See the rest of our Daily Discoveries here.
While it might not be the center of a commercial renaissance, R&B has spent the last few years as the playing field for some of music’s most intriguing voices (and, as ever, served as precious resources to be strip mined by the pop-minded). Beginning perhaps with Frank Ocean and Miguel’s big 2012, the last few years have seen one of the American musical traditions with deepest roots blossom in beautiful, unexpected ways.
Though Jodie Abacus hails from London, he fits comfortably into the expansive R&B bloom. Fun, occasionally kitschy, and invested in a brand of funky psychedelia—lyrics like “vampire bats trying to give advice” from standout “Halfway to Mexico” conjure the words of Hunter S. Thompson—Abacus’ music succeeds in its freedom and pervasive sense of joy. Songs like “Good Feeling” lend the impression that even a depressing Jodie Abacus song would offer hope for a brighter day, a mission close at heart to early purveyors of the blues and R&B.
Listen to “Halfway to Mexico” and watch the surreal animated video for “Good Feeling” below, and read a brief conversation with Abacus below that.
What are your earliest memories with music?
My dad was a DJ so my earliest memories was growing up when my dad played his records on his decks. His taste was really musically diverse, counting on the the fact he had lots of vinyls to play at different types of venues that catered for different genres. At home one minute he’d play a Paul McCartney song, or “Eleanor Rigby,” and the next would be Earth Wind & Fire, Cameo or Hall and Oats’ “I Can’t Go For That.” I also remember a very distinctive smell on the records too, I think that was from all the drink and smoke from the bars & clubs he played in.
What inspired you to start making music?
The joy, mysticism and fun it brought me. I was blown away by how one minute it’ll make you feel happy, then sad. The ability to just play on emotion on others and myself. The controlling of expression in this art form was wonderful to me. I think you can use it to create and destroy.
Does London feel like a hotbed for experimental creation right now?
Well it is for me, yes, but as a whole, there are also pockets of people what might not be feeling it. There are so many guys banging here, from Kwabs, Shakka, Jamie Woon & Royce Wood Jr. I actually just wrote a song produced by Royce called “Halfway to Mexico” very recently that you should check out too. It was an amazing experience to collaborate and in fact, I’m on my way to meet him for a beer or two later. Overall, the stranglehold of conformity feels like its officially off.
Where are you drawing inspiration from?
My complete honest feelings & experiences. I think I have a lot of stories to tell, if not mine then I’ll tell someone else’s. Most of my songs start with a title, then the pen goes off from there, or the notes app in my iPhone opens up and I get typing.
What’s your goal with each song?
My goal with each song is that you feel my intention, whether I make you dance, smile, cry. Whatever. It’s got to do something or else there’s no point for me, it’s like serving a scoop of slop on a spoon in a prison to someone when I really want to give you a full meal with a beginning, a middle and an end. A starter, main, and dessert. When I get goosebumps, that’s a sign for me to say that I’m on to something good. Music is a very powerful thing, and I want to forever treat it with respect and love.