We caught up with Jacob William after his gig for the Coffee House Sessions Tour!
The Coffee House Sessions are a series of live acoustic and semi-acoustic performances from some of the UK’s hottest singer song-writers and acoustic musicians.
Join us every Wednesday in the Terrace bar to see newly signed artists perform live for free!
Last year we were joined by the likes of Seafret and Hudson Taylor to name a few…
How have you found the tour so far?
The tour’s been really intense but it’s been amazing. I think singing-wise, doing three shows a day has been a good experiment to see if I can do it, and I’m still singing so it’s okay. It’s been really good.
How’s life on the road?
Life on the road has been really fun. I bought Tony along, a good friend of mine, to help me out. That’s made it even more fun. I’ve got lots of really random stories about people you meet in random bed and breakfasts. Every day has been like an adventure.
I saw you’ve been tweeting about #SocialSongbook, could you tell me about that?
#SocialSongbook is basically if anybody tweets anything, I’ll sing it back to them.
Anything at all?
Anything. I’ll just invent a song like a random melody and try and make it something funny.
What is your favourite song to perform?
‘Hallelujah’. I love singing that one. I think because it’s a really simple song, it’s kind of classic. As it’s so simple and well written you can almost put your own stamp on it, it still stands up as the song it is but you can contribute something as well which I quite like.
Is that one you always want to put in the set because of that?
So far I’ve put it in the set on all shows on this tour. The set for the tour has changed and evolved quite a lot but that one’s always been there.
Does it change depending on the reaction?
I think there are some songs we kind of have to play like I’m releasing a single ‘Break The Glass’ in January so that one’s always going to be there. ‘I Hate That I Love You’ has been in there because quite a few people found that one to be their favourite. ‘Hallelujah’ is in there. We’ve done ‘When I See You Again’ because we’ve also been doing the recorded element of that at each university and trying to get people to shoot it on their phone. By the end of the tour hopefully we’ll have all of these little bits of video we can montage for the single video.
‘Break The Glass’, that’s your own song, what inspires you to write?
To write anything, it’s got to be real life. It’s got to be something real and true. The song ‘Caught Red Handed’ is pretty true and if something bad happens to you, you write about it.
Is it just from personal experience or do you write about other people?
I try to write from other peoples’ experience but I find it hard. I think it’s okay to think about someone else’s experience and invent more around it, it doesn’t always have to be 100% true, but there has to be something that I can relate to and get into.
Do you then hope that people will then be able to relate to your songs, is that another reason to do it?
I think that’s the only way it’s going to happen. I think if you want someone to relate to it the only way it’s going to happen is if you do yourself.
How long have you been doing music?
Professionally since I was 19. I started at weddings and cruise ships.
Has your music changed since then?
It’s changed a lot. I wasn’t that great a singer when I was 19. I did lots of intensive singing training between about 20 and 21. I didn’t go to university, but I knew I wanted to improve as a singer.
Do you believe that anyone can sing or not?
I was born deaf in my right ear and that was probably a bit of a hinderance. People say off the cuff that they are tone deaf, if they were really tone deaf then it shows in your speech. Most people can actually sing and for guys it’s a lot harder once your voice breaks when you’re about thirteen then it’s a whole new instrument to figure out. I think that’s why you find that a lot of girls can naturally sing.
That’s interesting. So what has the recording process been like for you? Have you recorded the single that’s out in January?
‘Break The Glass’… it takes me a few months to record a song from start to finish. I have to do it all in my own little studio at home, I put down a bare-knuckle piano part and a bare-knuckle vocal part and try and build it around that. Trying to keep the authenticity of what the original is and trying to build it up.
You said you did a video for it, what’s that going to be like?
We shot that a month ago. We connected the metaphor of breaking the glass which is about a relationship that seems like it’s stuck and the only way to get out of it is to break out of it. We took the metaphor and made it literal so there’s lots of glass. There’s a big shard in between me and the girl, it’s shot in black and white and it’s kind of classy. It looks good.
Awesome! You said as well that you worked on a film, could you tell me a bit about that?
I wrote a film called Don’t Let Go, I wrote ten songs for it. We did it all live, there’s about six other main characters in it with me. It’s mainly a story about a guy in a wheelchair called Tom who falls in love with a girl he used to know. It’s touching. It was kind of a vanity project, I wanted to showcase what I could do.
So you act in it and did the music for it?
I wrote the screenplay, I wrote ten songs and I act in it.
Which did you prefer?
I loved just being in it. I think once I’d written the screenplay and the songs I was quite happy just to give it to the director and producer and say make the best of it you can. Then I said “I’m just an actor, you can direct me and take out lines, take out songs”.
Do you think doing that has influenced your music videos in any way?
I don’t know about music videos because the ‘Break The Glass’ one is directed by someone else. I’ve learned through acting work I’ve done that every director is different so you kind of just fit into that. The girl who directed our movie, she’s my best friend so I think of course that made it a little difficult. Although I don’t think it made it that difficult, she seemed to like telling me that I was doing badly!
In terms of writing songs for the movie and writing songs just to release, do you do that differently?
I probably should’ve done but I don’t think I do. I mean, I just try and write the best song that I can and record the best song. With the film it was all very similar, we just wanted to make a really good film – entertaining, funny parts, good drama. I kind of want to do that with music too. I think if I release an album I want it to have all of those varying things.
In terms of touring do you have any other plans?
No as yet. We finish this tour on Friday then we’ll see what the new year brings.
Is there anywhere you’d really like to play?
I’d love to do an American tour. I think one of the really great things about this tour that attracted me to it was I got to go to a lot of places that I’ve never been to before. I’d not been to Leeds, I’d never really been to Scotland so we’re doing that in a couple of days. Loads of places we haven’t been, Durham, it’s been good to see them.
Do you think that will influence where you decide to tour when you do eventually? Are you going to go to the places where the Coffee House Sessions were better?
I don’t know, the Coffee House Sessions are a thing in itself so it’s not really been my tour this week. As far as fan response, that will determine where we go.
What is next for you?
Next releasing the single in January then we’re going to hopefully make an album in the next six months, based on audience reaction. We’ll shoot videos with the progress of it so they can react and then based on response we can go back and do it differently.
How much material have you got for it already?
I’ve written fifteen songs.
Do you reckon they’re all going to be on it?
I want to write about thirty or forty and then pick the best ten.
Have you chosen the sound you want or are you going to try and mix it up a bit?
No idea. Hopefully that’s the kind of thing that will just evolve when we go through the process.
What would your dream collaboration be?
Elton John. I’d love to write a song with Elton John. The songs he’s written are just timeless – ‘Your Song’, ‘Rocket Man’. There’s so many.
Any other big dreams? What is the end goal with music?
I’d love to explore the joining of film and music. Someone like Michael Jackson, he was doing his own movies in a really creative way. It wasn’t so much a film as it was a music video. I think there’s more to explore in that.
Do you think that film and music are more related than people think?
For sure. They’re a little bit too compartmentalised for me. They’re both very similar industries. Some films that aren’t necessarily good have a really great soundtrack.