It’s not often a voice just stops you dead in you tracks and pricks at your very soul, but that’s what happened to to me when I first heard Jake Walden’s ‘Alive and Screaming’.
It’s hard to categorize his sound as Jake’s voice has so many textures, from silky smooth to rough-hewn lumber, forever capturing heartfelt emotion. He can take you from cool sheets to a gravel road, never failing to lend a hand to grasp.
There’s a refreshing honestly to the sensitive and emotive lyrics that have that rare ability to truly reach into your mind, into your very soul and transport you to different place. The son of hippies, born and raised in Northern California, he’s already building up a vast fan base, which is just as well, for his next album really does depend upon his friends and fan’s…No really, it does, literally!
Jake has chosen a novel, and some might say brave, or others risky way to get his new album off the ground with Kickstarter! Now for those that don’t know (me included), Kickstarter is a different and fun way to fund creativity, it’s a website where singers, writers, artists and other talented people put up projects that need funding, it’s then all about hope! Hope that others deem the project worthy of spending money on. However, as our very own UK Correspondent Jason Shaw found out in this exclusive interview, if the project’s target is never reached, no money changes hands!
So Jake, first of all, thanks for coming online for this little interview, You’ve got less than 10 days left on your kickstarter project to fund the new album, hows that going?
It’s funny, because of course you never really know. Though the timing seems perfect now, being in true pre-production and full band rehearsals for the album, really we should have tackled this effort much earlier in the year. Thing is, I just didn’t want to launch it until it felt right. I take very seriously what I am asking from people, and I wanted the gifts and pledge levels to feel “me”, to fit in with the theme of the album and to offer my fans/friends creative items or moments that were authentic and worthy in my mind.
And so it is….we need about 20-30K bucks to make and market the record, a bit more to tour it and we are at about 12K with two weeks to go so far. I have all the faith in the world that we will get there. People are so kind and generous and because of the way I feel connected to those who love my music, it is fitting to be able to collaborate both creatively and financially with those whom have invested so much time and energy through these three years with me.
I’m babbling, but it is very validating, very exciting and brings me a sense of real peace about a project that is so life defining, to know it will be made with no compromise, no limits….to present the best of my songs recorded to the best of my abilities to the industry and the world.
Lastly I will say that though the $500 and $1000 pledges are exciting and impactful, really my hope is to get as many people involved and “invested” in the project as possible, even if just to pre-order the album digitally…it all adds up and matters to me.
Has the fact that you’ve already reached your preliminary target surprised you?
Honestly, no, only because I am so tuned into the reality of the people who both follow and interact with what I do. I spent a year on the road, I write every day, I have played hundreds of concerts now and met so many folks on a personal level, so I had an idea in my crazy worried
mind that this was something I could be confident in. That being said, because of how Kickstarter works, where if you don’t reach your goal you get NOTHING, we had to set it at a lower number to make sure we at least got the project going, even though our true goal is two to three times that amount.
What made you decide to do in the first place?
This all started as a personal “journey” that was about the music and the faces of those I was able to touch with the songs. Though I have big dreams for the record once we make it and am open to aligning myself with a label or publishing house if it fits in order to extend the possible reach of the record, my little team and I felt that by doing this part on our own we really could follow our hearts and make the best ART possible. After that, come what may, I will have known I did something without compromise that means something to so many.
Also, originally we were going to make the record with a few large investors, but that led to many of the same issues as a record label, so…here we are…
Yep, here we are indeed, it’s going so well, but there is still time for those that want to to contribute, just visit kickstarter for more details. Now, let me take you back, what drove you into music in the first place?
I have always been an artist, a writer, an actor. Went to college to be a film actor and that’s how I got to L.A. I had always done musical theatre and tinkered on a piano but never really thought about being a singer/songwriter.
Music had always been so important to me, so holy, so larger than life, a dream and I guess I never knew I could do it. That changed the winter my heart was truly broken for the first time and
for some reason I decided to rent a piano (thanks to my Dad who gave me the money to start) and I basically spent about a year, almost two, of my life alone, in the dark, with my bare feet on the floor and the windows open learning to play the piano and getting through the devastation and loss. It was a true life crossroads, and for some reason as I opened my mouth, this voice I never knew existed in me came out, very rough but textured.
Now, having developed my instrument so much further I cringe a little at my early live recordings and demos because they were so guttural and rough. That being said, I would play a show and half the room would be crying at some point, transported to a place that made them feel. I was so raw and alive and wounded and yet as always so hopeful. Somehow the combination ended up defining me and connecting with a lot of people.
From that point on I knew I finally had found my purpose. It sounds kind of dramatic, but hey, I AM kind of dramatic…and so it is…
There is a real authentic, honest, almost tortured hero quality to your voice, that makes it so emotive to listen to. But, Where do you gather your musical influences from?
Easy one. My folks are/were total hippies and I grew up with the songs of Joni Mitchell and Dylan and Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac and SO many others in such a way that it is beyond influence, it is the essence of what I do now as a creator of music. Thing is, I am not them, I don’t live in 1970 and I have my own story, so though they are my heroes and ”inspirations” I know that what I am doing is uniquely me and I am most proud of that.
Authenticity is everything to me…being exactly who WE are is what I try to sing about and to live my life is constant search of.
And now, what artists that are around at the moment do you admire, aspire to be like, or wish they had more success?
I love SO much music. Big fan of Damien Rice, Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams. I love some country music and some pop music. I think though my aspiration is to have the career of what I think is the best female voice I have personally heard live and that is Brandi Carlile. She is brilliant in every way. She has had great success with placing her songs on T.V. and film, she had a great song actually get played on the radio (The Story) and she tours constantly to rooms of 1-3 thousand people. That is the dream. To have longevity, fans you actually know through the years and to have enough visibility to fill a nice sized theatre wherever you go.
I think you’re already on the way to archiving that! Name a couple of people that you’d like to duet with?
Stevie Nicks!!!! Natalie Maines. Brandi Carlile. Adele. Tori Amos.
Talking of duets, you did an amazing cover of a fellow Brit, Leona Lewis Bleeding Love with Bonnie Somerville, which is really so haunting and beautiful, how did that come about?
Bonnie is a nut, one of the most interesting people I know, complicated, beautiful and full of life. She has championed me for a long time and I love that woman. We share the same manager and she called me one day saying ”Let’s do a cover of Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis”…I was kind of hoity toity about it, because it was such a huge pop hit at the time and I don’t know…..doesn’t matter. That night I sat by myself and just kind of figured the song out, realizing it had the most amazing melody, that with my hauntingly beautiful thing I naturally do could be something special.
Then once Bonnie sat beside me and began to harmonize it was one of those moments, those rare ones as an artist where you realize you are a part of, in the presence of something very REAL and very special. My friend came over and we rented a nice microphone, set up pro tools on his computer and recorded it live…well the piano actually and then sang the song in the this little bathroom closet, in the dark of course. It was magic and it set in motion so much for me.
It really is an amazing cover version, well done! Do you perhaps have a particular song or songs that you are most proud of?
We Are and For Someone…
We Are because I close every show with it, and now the audience sings along and somehow everything just feels right with the world for a moment.
For Someone because, well, it is the song most people know of mine, the one that came out of me in one breathe and says all the things I guess I really needed to say at that time in my life.
Both are really powerful songs, although speaking of pride, what was it like having two of your songs on TV shows, I’m talking of course, Wide Awake on Cougar Town and Alive and Screaming on Scrubs?
First of all, it was exciting to have something tangible to share with all the people who support me. Also, it has paid my rent a few random and needed months… Danny, who is one of the producers of the show is a true fan and now friend who comes out to a lot of shows here in L.A. I know how much it meant to him to be able to find a way to get my work out there.
So when you are going into the studio?
Next month we will officially record the first note!!
Oh how exciting, on a personal note, do you think that sexuality plays a part in your music?
Honestly, not really. I really don’t identify myself as a “gay artist”. I love that to those it matters to I can be honest and share who I am, but I really try and remain somewhat neutral so as not to take away from what any fan, straight, male or female may imagine when they hear the song. You want to paint the picture with subtle brushstrokes, leave room for personal interpretation and vision. Songs from the heart, from an honest place, in my opinion, will of course have a point of view. But my life and my art are so much more than who I love. I consider myself defined by so many facets of who I am and long to be. I think what I can do to move along the acceptance and rights of gay people is done by people loving what I do simply for who I am as a human, then when they see, oh he is gay, all the sudden they realize they know a gay person for more than their sexuality, more than what makes us different…instead it is what connects us and what we share.
I believe we live in the most exciting of times and I’m proud to be who I am, for ALL of me.
Tragically there has been many gay teen suicides recently, due to bullying, what’s your advice on this?
This question is so hard. I was just talking about Matthew Shepard, about how from such a horrific act so many eyes and hearts were open and so I guess I hope the same for this time, and that these kids lives can not have been lost not in vein.
I truly believe it starts at home though. Kids only hate what they learn to hate because they are inherently good. My advice is for parents to watch what divisive hateful and ignorant things they pass on to their kids.
Most of all, I guess my advice would be to “be you”, and of course, to have enough of us telling them how being different, though lonely and hard at times will ultimately open up the world for them. They are lucky to be different, lucky to be exactly who they are. I’m so fucking sad it was too late for these kids. So sad.
Good advice there, and yes, you are right, It’s so sad, that lives have been lost through, hate, fear, ignorance, or thoughtlessness. There is help available, The Trevor Project does a wonderful job through their website and helpline.
Now, is there a love interest in you personal life, is Jake in love at the moment?
Don’t you want to keep some of the mystery? Haha……I actually am. To the
most special man I know.
Good, glad to hear it, hope it lasts a life time and beyond. Sadly we’ve come to the end of our time, so, just like always, I end my interview with a request for a secret, don’t worry, it’s just between us!
Haha, umm I started getting gray hairs at 20, and now at 30 if I don’t put some sort of color rinse on it once every month or so I have spreckles of grey hair EVERYWHERE.
I HATE coloring it, and everybody always says how much they love it on me and how I still look very very young and it blends in and blah blah blah…I pretend it doesn’t bother me, that I am not that vein….so I smile and say “thanks” but always end up back in that bathroom with that dye on my hair.
Shhhhh…don’t tell anyone. Seriously now, it’s embarrassing.
Jake is also on -
You can also keep up to date with this talented and handsome singer / songwriter and all round nice guy at his website www.jakewalden.com where you’ll find more details about his music, history and his life in a startlingly honest blog.