A raw and rare talent, Jordan Rakei has been making waves internationally with his refreshing, modern take on jazz and hip-hop influenced soul. A multi-faceted artist, Rakei switches with ease between his various roles as a musician, producer, singer and songwriter; enchanting audiences with his powerful and captivating live performances.
After the release of his critically acclaimed second EP, “Groove Curse”, Rakei landed on British soil from his native Brisbane and hasn’t looked back. After selling out all four of his headline shows in London, he has gone on to play solo shows across Russia, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Dubai and scored a personal invite to play Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide stage at 2015’s On Blackheath Festival.
Catching the attention of perennial UK electronic chart-toppers, Disclosure and Sam Smith, further expanded his fan base and reputation as a talent on the rise. His co-written track “Masterpiece” went on to close Disclosure’s Grammy-Nominated sophomore album, “Caracal”, alongside featured artists Nao, Gregory Porter, Miguel, The Weeknd and Lorde.
Kicking off 2016 with a sold out AUS/NZ tour, followed by UK supports for Caracal-comrade NAO, fellow soul-man Jamie Woon and Fat Freddy’s Drop – not to mention headlining Annie Mac Presents live series – it is set to be a huge year for Rakei. With a captivating debut album “Cloak” just around the corner, he is one to keep a close eye on.
What are your earliest memories of music?
Singing with my Mum in the car on the way to Rugby training when I was 5.
Who were your musical influences when you first started out?
My parents music had a massive influence on me. Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Bob Marley.
What was your first big break as an artist?
Australian radio played my first song I wrote, for the first time. That was monumental at the time.
What equipment did you first use compared to what you are using now?
I used an MPC 2500, a terrible Midi Keyboard and Fruity Loops. Now I have an amazing collection of musicians, a studio at disposal and a better Midi Keyboard haha.
What was behind your decision to move to London?
I wanted to push my boundaries personally and musically. I was too comfortable and wanted to start over.
Being from a small city like Brisbane how have you found living there so far?
It’s amazing. A very cosmopolitan city with so many different vibes. The only thing I don’t like are the commuters. They NEED to chill.
What do you most miss about Brisbane?
The weather, the coffee and my friends and family.
You managed to feature on Disclosure’s last album how did that happen and what was your experience working with them?
They reached out personally. That’s always cool when something happens organically like that. They were great to work with. Open for new ideas and we were all willing to be honest in the session. Was a great learning experience.
Your debut album “Cloak” is out soon what do you want listeners to take away from the album?
I want them to understand that they can overcome the other voice in their head. They can do it. I did.
What was the recording process like for this album did you approach it differently from your previous releases?
I didn’t necessarily approach it differently, I just had an improved set of skills and a wider knowledge of different production techniques. It naturally grew from bedroom producing to working out of a studio.
What inspires you to make music?
It’s really really fun. That’s all I care about. I don’t make a song to make a song. I make it because it’s fun. VERY fun.
You produce, play instruments and sing what do you most like to do?
I love producing the most. It’s like problem solving. You start with a song and you need to make it unique and interesting. Sorting that out is the fun part.
How would you describe the Jordan Rakei sound?
Groove based soul and post-apocalyptic jazz.
What are you currently listening to and are there any new artists in your playlist we should be on the lookout for?
All I have been listening to is the new Radiohead album. It’s deep. Very deep. And incredibly sad and powerful lyrically.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Writing the outro and mixing “Talk To Me”. I had so much fun that day. Only those in that studio will ever appreciate that.
What advice would you give to young aspiring artists?
If you are considering another career choice, don’t do music. I’ve always had no doubt in my mind and if you ever have a slight of doubt, this industry will break you. Be honest with yourself. Do it because it’s fun. Don’t actively “start a career” in music. I never have. Keep making songs and people seemed to like them. That’s what music is. People always seem to turn it into some sort of business and that takes away from it. Be strong and trust your instinct.
What does the future hold for Jordan Rakei?
Making music with friends and enjoying my life. I’m a simple guy and this is what I enjoy most. Creating something from nothing is very special and will always be exciting for me.
What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Not going to sleep when you need to finish the last lyrics to the chorus. Waking up early and catching the long train to record one guitar part. Doing it yourself. Not relying on others.
Interview by Duggs