Interview: Jason Singh sets a goal
Renowned singer/songwriter Jason Singh is opening up his Melbourne home studio to illustrate what happens when the studio light goes on, as part of his latest venture, The Jason Singh Project. Setting himself a goal of delivering six singles in 12 months, Jason will write, produce and release a new single every eight weeks. We speak to him to find out more:
Hi Jason, Thanks for taking the time out to speak with us at Something You Said. Your venture reminds me of Sufjan Stevens and his 50 states project and his attempt to write an album for each of the states in America. Your target is a little bit more modest and achievable but it doesn’t come without its time constraints. How did you arrive at the number of six tracks over 12 months?
I just had a guess really and evened it out over a year to see what would be able to be done. Initially I was going to go with one every six weeks and thankfully I didn’t because I just made it with the first song and we are only one song in. That whole time throughout the eight weeks, life doesn’t stop. I’ll still be doing all the shows I am doing, being a father, a husband, a provider and still trying to have a life as well so I am glad we came up with six songs in 12 months.
Will you be focusing on different genres as you go so as to give yourself a greater breadth of choice and possible tracks to meet your self-imposed target?
Absolutely. The reason I wanted to do it over a year was because initially I planned to do an EP every season and select the songs of that season. I figured Springtime would be more pop orientated, Summer could be a little more dance party like, Autumn a little rock orientated, leaves falling off the trees and Winter a little more ballad like, but I figured the songs would reflect the seasons anyway because I am not going into a catalogue to pull songs out. I am writing at the time so the songs and the seasons of where I am in the year would shine through.
You have taken a holistic approach to this project and are working on every single element that is involved in music. What elements do you find to be easy, free flowing and what elements cause you the most difficulty?
Well so far on the first one, the writing of the song was the easiest part because that is what I do and the performing of it in the studio but also doing video entries and editing videos and stuff like that. I am really showing people the back end of what goes into putting a song out for an independent artists. I would say more of the online and multimedia stuff is a little harder for me to get my head around rather than being a song writer because I have been doing that for 20 years.
Have the free and easy platforms such as Soundcloud made it easier for you to reach out to a larger audience and similarly be inspired by a wider range of artists also using such formats?
I have actually. I am still getting my head around all of them because there is that many, it is tough to learn it on the job, so to speak, but right now I am going with Facebook and YouTube. I have a network of people but it’s also about their networks and networking with their networks and hopefully we come up with something that is great enough that it can be shared throughout the world. I am more than happy to give the tracks away for free, it is all about people getting into them and sharing the journey.
By allowing people the chance to see all aspects of music from concept to final cut, are you hoping to demystify the process and ultimately encourage more people to give it a go?
Well I haven’t really thought that far into it but it will turn some people on and some people off because I am giving a warts and all display of what it takes to put a track together. I know there are a hell of a lot of artists around the world right now who just walk into a studio with their record company, are handed a song, sing it and then they get out and that’s it but when you are a singer/songwriter/performer there is a lot more heart and soul and a lot more passion that goes into making a song. The whole concept for me was to be able to do it on a small budget and from home and still make it sound like it could have come out from anywhere on the planet.
On a technical level, what is your studio kitted out with?
Basically I have a Mac, Pro Tools. One piece of equipment I love using is Native Instrument machine, it is a modern sounding drum machine, I have some good microphones. It is pretty basic really. What we are doing is taking basic equipment and using it to its full potential. Say for example with Taxiride, we recorded that in the biggest studio on the planet, over three to six months and it sounds like it could have been recorded at home and mixed/mastered by a friend.
Being based in Melbourne which has a very vibrant music scene. Have you found it to be a competitively beneficial environment that helps you push your own artistic boundaries?
I don’t feel like I am in a competition with anyone but myself. I am always trying to better my own work and not really paying attention to what anyone else is doing. There are so many people in Melbourne and the world making music that if you start looking at it like a competition, you are probably going to lose but if you are competing against yourself you only have to better yourself. I have been doing this for a while now and it is time to prove to myself that the first few successes weren’t a fluke. I wanted to do this because I wanted to do something where people were involved and interested in the whole process, not just the glossy end product.
You are a tireless musician having performed over 250 shows in the last 12 months alone, how do you maintain the quality when balancing the quantity?
I don’t know (laughs). I was just saying earlier to a friend that when there was 42 days left (into the first cycle), I looked at my diary and I had 32 shows to do in that 42 days and still be a father and a husband, get this track out, write and record the whole thing and make all these videos. Luckily I have my friend Adam Surace to help me with the production as I am able to give him parts and he is able to send them back to me in a much better way. When I started playing music again after Taxiride, I had the mentality that if I wasn’t playing, I wasn’t a player and then it just snowballed into five or six shows a week. Just last weekend we did 10 shows so we are flat out. It does a few days to recover, kids jumping on you at 7am after you got home at 3.30am and then it takes till Tuesday for me to come good again. I complain about it but I love it a lot and I love what I do.
What have been some of the standout shows for you and why?
Well I try and make sure that every show has something to be remembered by whether I am applying at a little local pub or a big stadium. I have kind of done everything from Wembley Stadium to weddings. I will play anywhere if people what to hear me play, that’s where we will play. We try and make a really big sound for two guys. We have loops, I play bass and guitar and Adam plays loops, guitar and drums so we make a huge sound out of a small set up.
During your many years of touring and performing, you would have encountered some strange and impressive characters. Were any words of wisdom spoken to you that still resonate with you and have helped you throughout your career?
There are a few. One is that you meet the same people on the way up as you do on the way down and that has been something that is incredibly true to me. You’ve got to be a good dude, you have to be a good person, worry about that first and everything else will fall into place. It’s a very true piece of advice.
What does music give you that nothing else does?
Freedom of expression that you can’t really get from somebody else. You can tell something the same lyrics from a song but when you sing that song it is a whole different interpretation of what you are trying to say. It’s the ability to say what I really mean.
The first single from The Jason Singh Project, QUICKSAND, is out now. Find out more on Facebook.
Interview by Courtney Dabb.