For an artist trying to make waves in an era in which literally anyone with the right motivation can upload a 10-track album on soundcloud, make beats on garage band or become famous on YouTube, it can be expectantly difficult for one to discover their own creative identity among thousands of others trying to do the same. It’s a struggle to get to the top. But after all, it’s how you approach that struggle that will determine how well you overcome it. Many crumble under the pressure to stand out from the crowd, their soundcloud and YouTube accounts becoming a final resting place for their artistic expression. Others, however, take a route less trodden upon but remarkably simple: Just, go with the flow. Like I said, simple right? Jake Semple, known artistically as Jakeson, is an artist that seems to hail from the latter path, and it shows in his music. His art sounds like it comes from a man who doesn’t yet know how he wants to define himself, but is having a hell of a lot of fun finding out. Flitting effortlessly between grime, house and drum and bass as both a rapper and producer, Jakeson is proving himself to be an artist without restrictions…
As I type this I’ve got ‘Fire’ playing for maybe the 10th time today, crazy track!
Cheers, glad you like it!
Well we’ll definitely get into that track in a bit more detail, but first I thought I’d ask you something that introduces everyone, who may not know, to you as an artist. It’s clear you’re pretty multi-talented, you produce, you’re an MC etc. How would you define yourself as an artist, and what would you say is your purpose or mission statement as that artist?
That’s quite a difficult question. I’m still trying to find my own sounds, I’ve been experimenting with different genres recently, but I would say that I’m versatile. My mission statement as an artist is to make music that I enjoy and like, and if other people like it then I’m doing something right!
It’s interesting that you mentioned exploring with different sounds. I found when looking through your work that you’re not someone to restrict yourself to just grime or house or drum and bass, but instead create a kind of hybrid of all of those within your music. Was that intentional, or is it just a natural extension of the passion you, as a music fan, have for these different genres?
I think it’s definitely to do with my passion for music, usually when I sit down I’ll build a track bit by bit and then if I think of something that might sound good, I’ll try it. I usually test out different ideas, and the one that will make it in the track is the one that gets me the most gassed, if you get what I’m saying?
Yeah, absolutely. I liked what you said about choosing the idea that gets you the most hyped. I guess being a fan of the same genres you’re working within kind of makes you your own audience, if you know what I mean? If you’re getting gassed over an idea, there’s a good chance your audience and fan base will too.
Yes definitely, and hopefully!
Let’s talk your humble beginnings, it’s obviously a big decision when you decide to invest time and energy into a craft the way you have. When did you start making beats, and at what point did you say to yourself “Ok, I’m really going to give this a shot”?
Yes, definitely. Well, my Dad was a sound engineer, and he sat me down in front of a Reason, a Digital Audio Workstation, which is the software I used to make music when I was four, and I’ve just been doing music ever since. I’ve only ever really become serious about it in the last two and a half years, ever since I started at DMU!
What do you think it was about starting university that encouraged you to start taking music seriously? What do you study?
I study music technology, and just people involved with my course really, both students and staff. They helped me realize that I was good at it, which then encouraged me to take it more seriously. I wouldn’t say it was just them who encouraged me. My family, friends and colleagues at HQ Recording definitely have something to do with it too.
Great stuff. So on this track ‘Fire’ you’re combining both your talents as an MC and a producer. But going through your earlier work, it seems you’ve been more focused on the production aspect than the rapping. Do you consider yourself a producer first? How did it feel stepping in front of the mic, and how did it compare to making beats?
Absolutely, I’ve been producing longer than I have been rapping. It felt good, I’m kind of used to it though, as I’ve been recording myself since I was about 15, this is just the first time I’ve properly released a track with my vocals on. I don’t think you can compare the two to be honest, they’re two different pictures of the jigsaw.
Definitely. Were you nervous about releasing a song with your vocals on, or were you just excited for people to hear something they’ve never heard from you before?
I was excited, because not many people knew that I spat, it was nice to surprise some people!
The response looks like it has been pretty dope as well!
What can you tell us about the Easy Jakeson EP? I was listening to some of the previews and snippets on your soundcloud and it sounds mad. Some of those beats could kill a man! And you also hinted it may not be grime?
Haha thanks man. I can tell you that it’s mainly going to be bass music, but with elements of other genres in the mix. The grime will come back later in the year, with maybe a few little tracks here and there.
Awesome. Do you have a release date in mind?
Not yet exactly, there’s still some finishing touches to be made. I aim to have it out there over the next few months, hopefully.
Looking forward to it! So lastly, I just wanted to ask you about grime in general. It’s always had an important place here in the UK and is firmly ingrained in our culture, especially that of the youth, at this point. But it seems as if, since Skepta dropped Konnichiwa, the US are taking notice in a way they hadn’t before. As a lover of the genre, as well as someone working within it, how do you feel about how far Grime has come and the impact that it’s making?
I think it’s great how different countries are now listening to it and the fact that it’s becoming more accepted by the mainstream, it’s definitely benefitting the scene as a whole, and giving grime artists that aren’t from London a better chance to get noticed.
Bro, I appreciate you taking the time from your day. Keep doing your thing; I’m looking forward to hearing what’s to come!
No worries, likewise. And cheers, man, I’ll keep you in the loop!