Joanna Newsom did much to bring the harp into the contemporary music sphere and Jake Meadows is geared to do the same. For him, the instrument is another layer woven into his textured music alongside percussion and ethereal vocals that pulse in and out. That he spends time each year exploring new material in club shows in Ibiza is intriguing, and makes it easy to imagine listening to his songs on a balmy Mediterranean night.
Meadows has worked with many artists including Daniel Johns, Angus & Julia Stone, Art vs Science, Dustin Tebbutt and Eves the Behavior, and now his solo material is coming to the fore. A debut EP is due out this year and his first single – Echo of Tomorrow featuring Daniel Johns – is released next week: but you can preview it here.
Broadsheet: Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Jake Meadows: I grew up in a little town called Bungwahl. It’s situated on the Myall Lakes about 3.5 hours north from Sydney. I still have a studio there where I sometimes escape. I live in Surry Hills now.
BS: Any favourite haunts you can tell us about?
JM: I like to find great new places opening. The Unicorn in Paddington is an amazing bar and the newest one I’ve been to is the Oxford Circus. I really like what they have done.
BS: Can you describe your approach to playing the harp? In what way is it modern/does it break from tradition?
JM: People always say, “Wow that’s a different instrument”, but for me it has always seemed normal. I was lucky I would wake up every morning to my father playing a guitar, a piano, drums and the harp. What I do on the harp has very little to do with what other people do on the instrument. I have a good understanding of the mechanics of the instrument and an imagination. The spontaneous nature of what I do is the key. Amazing improvisers have always surrounded me, which is where I get my specialised approach.
BS: How did your collaboration with Daniel Johns on Echo of Tomorrow happen?
JM: Daniel has always been a great supporter of what I do and his vision, palette for sounds and direction is one I have the utmost respect for. We are always sharing new music with each other and he took a particular liking to some of the music I had in the vault. It turned out we worked on a whole bunch of songs for the EP. It’s a true collaboration and I always felt his influence guided it into the most amazing zone.
BS: You spend time in Ibiza each year – what draws you to the island and what do you get up to there?
JM: For me Ibiza is that perfect escape and a great place to trial new music. It’s a thriving scene that is completely different to our great scene here at home. Lots of great musical influences stem from the big dance music culture that has been there for a long time and it trickles through everything. It’s just different and I’ve played to some really engaging audiences.
BS: Fantasy support slot – any act, any era, anywhere?
JM: Nina Simone backed by the Fela Kuti band in a temple full of voodoo doctors.
BS: Apart from music, what inspires you?
JM: Driving a boat with a bottle of vodka through rough water at a high speed. I like to think I’m a pirate.
Echo of Tomorrow is officially released on March 11 but you can preview it now.
SYD only: Jake Meadows debuts Echo of Tomorrow live at A Moveable Feast, Bondi on Saturday 12 March. He will also play at the We Are Kindred show as part of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.