Jax Jones on new music with Fireboy DML and D.O.D: "I'm craving the opportunity to speak"
Jax Jones is on a journey.
After scoring an eighth UK Top 10 single last year with the MNEK-assisted Where Did You Go, and garnering weeks of steam on his juddering Calum Scott collaboration Whistle (which peaked at Number 14), Jax has two brand new singles that signal where he's going next as an artist.
First and more surprising is the more acoustic-based sound of recent single Me and My Guitar, featuring a verse from Afrobeats superstar Fireboy DML. Most eye-catching of all, though, is that this is the first track that Jax has ever sung on.
And out today is another rammer, Need You Now, a team-up with DJ on the rise D.O.D, who is currently heating up the Top 20 with So Much In Love.
We caught up with Jax to discuss what's next, and you can read his tease about all the solo work he's done with Little Mix's Jade Thirlwall here (drop the tracks!)
I know the term 'your most personal release yet' is overused a lot these days...but I think Me and My Guitar is definitely your most personal single ever
I hear what you're saying. Sometimes people do release personal work, but it doesn't slap. It was really important to me to make sure that it was still a bop. That's my job!
And it's a bop without diluting the message of the song
Oh yeah. It doesn't remove the seriousness of talking about certain issues like mental health. You can be personal [without sacrificing musicality]. I always think back to Hozier, Take Me To Church was incredibly personal, but it was still a banger. Mine's bit more on the nose than that, but for me as a dance artist it was quite a big jump. Where I am in my life now, I look at the music around me and I'm craving the opportunity to speak. Other genres allow you to do that, because you can sing it yourself. There's quite a lot of sadness in the lyrics, I talk about not always liking the place you're coming from.
And how sometimes the place you come from can hold you back
But it also makes it who you are! So, on the surface it's quite sweet, but there's layers. People can see different parts of me now. It's been very cathartic [to release]. But I feel like anyone who works in the media has to take those risks [to leave where they came from]. Whether you're an artist or a journalist, you always have to take the non-traditional route.
Yeah, you've got to go and take that risk for there to be rewards
Exactly! Some people, of course, they have the perfect set-up [back home] but I was actually quite lonely. And then I found a new family, doing what I do. And that's something I think you find a lot in dance music [it's a form of chosen family].
Speaking of dance music, this new music is unlike the dance music you've released before
I've been finding stuff a little paint by the numbers recently! I've been doing this for 8 years now, and at the end of the day, it's important to me. I've noticed a lot of kids are just checking out my old stuff. It's a new generation, so the breadcrumbs that you leave [in your music] are important. Because you are shaping people's tastes. When I think of the dance music that inspired me, it's like Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, Fatboy Slim...there's a reason why we still talk about them. They had a message, they were doing something different and it was brave! And that's really, really important to me.
You sing for the first time on Me and My Guitar and it reminded me a bit of when Calvin Harris stopped singing on his tracks and started just producing - it was viewed as a real risk at the time
Yeah, I think I'll be the same. Sometimes he still sings! But, yeah, it's very similar in Calvin in the respect that I can dream up [a track] and do whatever I want with it. Diplo works a lot like that, too.
How did you get Fireboy DML involved in Me and My Guitar?
We sent the song to Fireboy and his team, and he really connected with it. He had a similar start, he used to hang around with his friends and play the guitar, and that's how he started making music. I started writing songs at 13 and would basically just jam with my friends. So the guitar was a huge part of his life growing up, and I think he wrote a really amazing verse. I love his lyrics about leaving his Mum and Dad, he said that anyone [who wants to pursue a similar career] has to leave Nigeria.
We're still waiting for your second album, the follow-up to Snacks...
I've got the records! I've essentially written the album. I'm in a good flow with it. Maybe early next year?
You could call it Snack2, but with the 2 instead of the S
I like that! Or you could call it A-la Carte...
Jax's new single Need You Now with D.O.D is out now