Since the age of 7, Jake Kelly has had a strong relationship with writing and recording music. He played flute in ensembles as a child and the guitar as a teenager. Putting his knowledge of the guitar together with his passion for singing and songwriting, Kelly began creating a refreshing brand of acoustic folk. We chat with Jake Kelly (JK) about his new EP The Mandolin Tapes, moving to Germany and singing in the shower.
OSR: What made you decide to become a musician?
JK: Music has always been in my life and from an early age I’ve romanticised performing, writing and recording music for an audience. I think the seemingly free and lavish ‘rock star’ lifestyle first drew me to it. Now, however, I simply love expressing through the writing, recording and producing. Why not try to have some level of success with it?
OSR: Can you tell us about your new EP The Mandolin Tapes?
JK: The Mandolin Tapes is my second EP and it’s about moving from Ireland to Germany, and more so into a new phase of my life. It’s about realising I needed to get out of a rut and focus myself onto progressing rather than wallowing in self-pity at the bottom of a bottle. It helped me let go of some negative emotions and move on.
OSR: What was the recording and writing process like?
JK: It was a much more defined process than my first album as I didn’t want to just compile random songs together. I wanted to plan and create a coherent final product of new songs. As a result, this felt more like writing a concept album. I would think of lyrics or phrases throughout the week, then put them all together. Sometimes I’d write some notes on what I wanted to write about in the morning, then think on it throughout the day so that I could be more purposeful with my words.
As for recording, editing and mixing, I sat in my room for hours and hours getting the perfect takes and building it all together. I isolated myself while recording, mostly to keep myself out of the bar, and focused on something productive. It worked! It was a very cathartic and freeing process.
OSR: You wrote the EP after moving from Ireland to Germany. How do you think this change has affected you and influenced The Mandolin Tapes?
JK: The Mandolin Tapes wouldn’t have happened without the move because when I got to Germany I only had my mandolin and recording equipment. I had only played around on the mandolin before and I certainly wouldn’t have considered a whole album with it. So, in that sense, the move had a huge influence on the EP. Of course, the move also brought about some feelings I had to navigate and forced me to think about what I want to do with my life.
OSR: Do you believe a person’s environment plays a role in their music?
JK: I think it can, especially if you spend a lot of time playing with others in your environment. However, I think it depends more on what you listen to. To be totally honest though, I’m not really sure!
OSR: What do you want people to take from the EP and your music in general?
JK: I suppose I want people to know that it’s okay to feel low and struggle through portions of your life. Also, it’s healthy to express yourself, especially during these times.
OSR: Why did you decide to move to Germany and what do you miss about Ireland?
JK: I struggled at college in Ireland and eventually came to the decision that it wasn’t for me. I wanted to live a freer lifestyle and focus my effort into making money doing things I love – music, art, entrepreneurship, etc. At this time, my parents were moving from Ireland to Germany themselves, so I moved with them.
I miss everything about Ireland. I miss my friends, the food, the bars, the snow sports team and so much more. I’m still glad I moved as it helped me aim my life in a better direction and I’ve made new friends here. Life isn’t just about where you are and who you are with, it’s about what you make of it.
OSR: Which do you find more challenging – melody or lyrics?
JK: Probably melody; although I find them challenging at times. I’ve been writing for a long time, both musically and non-musically, so it comes more naturally to me.
OSR: Do you sing in the shower?
JK: I don’t, just because I like to have cold showers. I get in and out ASAP. I sing when I skateboard or cycle sometimes. I usually sing whatever I’m listening to, but occasionally I’ll try working out the melody for lyrics that I have written down on my phone.
OSR: Which is your favourite day of the week?
JK: Definitely Friday. I don’t work any more on weekdays than I do on weekends, but most people are in a good mood on Friday. People are generally out and about, so I feel like Friday vibes are always pretty good.
OSR: What advice do you have for independent musicians in today’s social climate?
JK: Firstly, I’d say to ask someone a bit more experienced than me! With that being said, I think the most important thing is to be patient and understand that even though it’s impossible to predict how you will achieve success, it will happen if you stick with it.
Keep releasing good music. Experiment musically. Experiment with how (and how often) you put yourself out there. Things will eventually click and fall into place in some form. From there, you can figure out how to grow and maintain whatever methods work for you.
OSR: What is the best review you have ever received?
JK: The best review I got was from a close friend of mine. She said that she cried when she listened to songs from my first EP. I hope people feel something when they listen to the songs, and it meant a lot that she resonated with them in such a profound way. I felt bad that I made her cry though; that’s not exactly what I’m aiming for.
OSR: What is next for Jake Kelly?
JK: I have another two albums in the works, so, hopefully, they will come out soon enough. At least one of them should be released this year and perhaps some singles. Non-musically, I have some entrepreneurial projects I’m working on, so you might come across those at some point if they are successful. If not, then forget I mentioned them!
OSR: Do you have a message for our readers?
JK: Love yourself and love others! Thanks for supporting me, if you do! If not, that’s chill too. That’s all I’ve got for now. Cheers.