Jake Houlsby Takes on the Human Experience
As a man who has a lot to say, and has a beautiful way of saying it, Jake Houlsby and his tender music quickly found their way into my heart. With a hauntingly simple combination of guitars and vocals to create a folk soundscape that speaks to the human experience, Houlsby’s textured songs inspired me to find meaning in his music beyond the words and to reflect on “the calm before the storm.”
I reached out to Houlsby to learn more about his enriching work, and this is the wonderful insight he provided.
- How did you know music was your calling?
- It’s funny in a way cause I never really thought about it so much as just did what intrigued and excited me and that brought me to where I am today. I think I’m just a massive fan of music, first and foremost. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, for better and for worse, so, growing up, music was my friend and stimulant as much as anything and, along with my family, it’s been the one constant in my life.
- You released your EP “Yannina” in 2015. Do you think your musical style and voice have changed since then, and if so how?
- Yes, definitely. Back then I felt like I was honing my songwriting skills and that was my main focus but, as I’ve grown, I feel like I’ve become more confident with my songwriting to allow myself more time to hone my producing skills. When I write now, I’m thinking of what can be done in the context of the studio as opposed to what can be done in a typical performance. I see the song as the person and the production as the clothes that person wears. My tastes are always changing too so I guess that’s what keeps things in a state of flux.
- Ford used “Howl” in an advertisement back in 2017, and it was pretty life changing for you. What was that experience like, and how did it impact your music going forward?
- Yes it was! At the time, I was doing 5 or 6 cover gigs a week to make ends meet and to pay for studio time/fund my original music but I felt like I was burning out and getting into a rut with my musical development so it allowed me a little breather and a chance to reset which was a real blessing.
- What/who is your biggest inspiration when you’re writing music?
- It might be a corny answer but I guess just the human experience. I feel like I come from the Joni Mitchell school of songwriting so it’s kind of about feeling a way and getting that down as a means of processing those feelings. Songwriting is kind of a dark art but it’s just about fumbling about and trusting your instincts until the song is formed enough to tell you where it wants to go and what it wants to be.
- If you could go on tour with any musician or band, who would you pick for the dream tour?
- Probably Sufjan Stevens just cause I think he’s super interesting and clever and his fans are awesome and I’d get to watch him perform every night!
- What was the biggest thing that happened for you in 2018?
- Probably turning some of my house into a studio/recording space and really diving into the technical side of things. It’s something I’d always wanted to do and I’d dabbled in it for the last 5 or 6 years but I never felt fully proficient so I bought like 5 books on recording and what not and went to town!
- What are you most looking forward to in 2019? For yourself or otherwise?
- To be honest, I’m really just looking forward to getting new music out and putting a set of songs that I’ve had written for a quite a while now to bed.
- How has writing music changed your life and how you see yourself and the world around you?
- Well, everything I have right now, I owe to music in some way or another so it’s given me literally everything. My favourite songs and artists are like my friends so I guess writing music has made me feel closer to them and feel part of the culture myself. I see the world now as just a giant organism and no specific individual as significant compared to the entirety and significance of the thing they’re contributing to.
- What’s something that you’ve always wanted to be asked in interviews but haven’t been asked yet? Now’s your chance to answer it!
- Ah I dunno! For some reason all I can think of is ‘what’s your favourite food?’ but that’s not even a question I wanna be asked! It’s Chinese food though, for the record.
Much thanks to Jake Houlsby for taking the time to answer these questions! We look forward to seeing what the year will bring for this talented, introspective artist.