NMR Feature: Jacques Labouchere interview and new single today - 'Baggage'!
We’ve featured Swedish (but American born) based musician Jacques Labouchere a few times previously at Nordic Music Review, and the release of a his new single ‘Baggage’ seemed too good an opportunity to pass on, so we’ve not only been listening to his new song, but speaking to him about life and music, whilst trying to avoid mentioning 'The Donald' (as I know he hates to be called, which is why I do it).
You can listen to that new single ‘Baggage’ below, which was written about ‘’how we all feel after a break up over a relationship when we have no chance of escaping others emotional baggage or we have become their baggage ourselves’’.
I always like listening to Jacques new music, and once again ‘Baggage’ is a refreshingly honest and open song lyrically, where he just sets out everything he wants to say, all set to a catchy tripping melody. Take a listen here, and then read our exclusive interview with the man himself.
The fantastic cover art for the song was created by Los Angeles based recording artist, Matt Adams, of ‘The Blank Tapes’ – it was conceived, incidentally, before the current pandemic started.
NMR: Morning Jacques, it’s great to see you back releasing new music with both 'Baggage' and 'Lost Goals' . We've read about 'Baggage', so can you tell us more about your last song ‘Lost Goals?’.
''Good afternoon! Lol. Thanks so much! Well, it feels great to be releasing new music again as after my last album I had no plans to or to tour ever again really. Wanted to try out something different, be home more and get back into acting instead. Sure, I wrote “Lost Goals” when I was stuck in Hamburg on my way home from a tour of Germany. It was the same weekend of the Donald Dump’s inauguration and I was down with that news and broke as the tour didn’t break even and one promoter stiffed me. I kinda felt like what is the point in anything anymore. No matter what we protest or how we vote seems to make a positive difference and no matter how we choose to live or pass our alone time someone is always gonna judge us, so why bother putting effort into anything. What’s so wrong in indulging in whatever makes you feel good in your loneliness in order to find your way if it is not directly harming someone else?
The song is really for all those who know what it’s like to be alone and feel like giving up yet there is that love for someone that keeps you hanging on one more minute, hour, day or mile till you see their smile upon your arrival again. It is about the pain of loneliness in the in-between and how we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves or others for what they do in that time. The title somewhat describes me losing my goals but trying to hang onto them in uncertain times or maybe that it is better to lose goals and live in the now without feeling judgement or care or worry about the future.''
NMR: It’s all leading towards a new album ‘Connecting Flights’ which is due to be released in autumn, how’s that progressing? Is it all finished already?
''Yeah it does…Thanks for asking! The album is done and has been done since late 2019. I decided to slowly release it with several or maybe more singles ahead of it’s release this autumn. I am keeping the release date private in case there is a need to change it considering current events as I would like to promote it with a release gig at home in Göteborg where I am based. My plan was to follow it up with a full band tour in Germany, Spain, and UK but that too has been put on indefinite hold because of the pandemic of course.''
NMR: So, you were born and grew up in Connecticut, also lived in London and eventually settled in Sweden, I’m guessing the album title reflects in some way your journeys in life and time spent travelling?
''I was born in the northeast corner of Connecticut, but also grew up and lived in southern Virginia, outside Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and DC before and after living in London in my teens. The album title actually came to me when I was thinking of flights of immigration in wake of the migrant crisis and how we could all benefit from connecting with our history and how all of our ancestors took flight from somewhere and that we all our immigrants and we need to come together to welcome refugees more and ease the opening of more borders. Later, I realized that yeah I had made 100s of connecting flights with more or less ease and that the ease of that travel should be the same for all and reflects my thoughts about this on my travels having seen and heard what I have over the last 20 years.''
''we could all benefit from connecting with our history and how all of our ancestors took flight from somewhere''
NMR: There has always been a strong storytelling aspect to your music, and your previous album ‘Piece’ seemed to be based on quite personal stories, but I’m conscious we live in pretty crazy times, from Trump to Brexit. How have the strange events of the last few years influenced your songwriting, and lyrics in particular?
''Well, my last album, “Piece”, was based on personal stories but then again most of my songs are though I try to write them so others too can relate to similar experiences of theirs. That album was about lost loves and friends in the US and idealizing my childhood memories of New England as at the time I was set on returning to the nature there in wonderment of whether or not there was a possibility of a new life there for my family and whether or not I could return to living in the US again after so many years without reverse culture shock.
Oh, politics, I just can’t and won’t give politics or bad politicians the time of day anymore and have strayed away from protest songs like “I Found You” these days and getting too political in the mic during sets as it really doesn’t turn out well, haha, and I do not want to give them anymore gusto than they sadly have gotten already. He is NOT my president any more than I am almost certain Boris is NOT your prime minister so why listen to them or read about them more than we must eh?!
So, in answer to that, no, the bad news of the world has not had influence on my songs and lyrics which seem to continue to be about love and loss. I would say if anything that the “strange events” you mention have inspired me to write music in the future that strays away from vocals and is totally instrumental as we all are getting tired of others speaking or singing about the same bad news aren’t we!?''
''the bad news of the world has not had influence on my songs and lyrics which seem to continue to be about love and loss''
NMR: We’re always interested in whether music in the current era can really help enact change, similarly to the protest songs of decades ago. Is there still a role for musicians and songwriters to influence the social agenda?
''I do think there is still a role definitely but that it is more of the responsibility of major label artists and idols like Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift have done for example to try and influence social and or political change as they clearly have more reach and support and security. It is however entirely up to the artist to decide whether they want to join in and their artistry should still be taken seriously should it not cause it is also important we have songs that focus on other matters no matter how trivial as we all need a break again from the bad news and do not necessarily need preachers on high horses up in our faces and in our ears. Something I learned from writing protest songs and from Arlo Guthrie who too seemed to mix it up and stray from the protest songs after sometime, but yes there needs to be protest songs and there is a need if you feel the need to be heard and get that anger and frustration right the fuck out!''
NMR: We wrote 'a thing' for an Asian magazine about ‘why’ Swedish (and Nordic) music is so successful around the world and I tied myself up in knots working through all the possible reasons. I’m really interested in your view given you arrived as a musician from another country. Where do you think that global success comes from?
''Good question that I am sure I don’t have any better answer for but since you asked…. lol. I think that Sweden’s music industry became very prominent in the music business from the international success of a band that many young Swedes nowadays might not want to mention they secretly love, ABBA. At least, I secretly love them…how can you not?! Haha! Their commercial success set a precedence for other Swedish export acts to follow like Europe, Ace of Base, Roxette, Robyn, First Aid Kit, etc. Also, I think that music education in schools in Sweden is far better than that of UK and US and they have so many instruments and a lot more equipment for students to try and learn from an early age. There are so many great musicians here that the bar is set so high so when they do start to get some success nationally they are bred to be exported with a lot of cultural funding from grants or the government and major label support.''
''I think that music education in schools in Sweden is far better than that of UK and US and they have so many instruments and a lot more equipment for students to try and learn from an early age''
NMR: There’s clearly great music being released in the UK and Sweden, but the small venue live music scene in the UK is a real struggle at times, how are you finding it in Sweden?
''The same really. There just aren’t enough venues big or small and the lager venues have to accommodate international touring acts as much as possible to keep their doors open. Understandable but frustrating when you just want a place to play for your friends and fans without renting a place and taking a risk on costs yourself if you can. They try to put local bands on with support as openers as much as possible but this creates competition between local acts to draw the biggest crowds for such opportunities and makes for specific cliques of bands getting the opportunities over others who are just as great a band.
There are some venues that take risks on new acts but that is becoming less and less and now with the outbreak of the pandemic and regulations of max. 20 capacity virtually impossible to set up a gig. There are also problems with tenants of nearby apartments to venues that make noise complaints and have had some venues closed for repeated sound violations and because of the development of new hipster neighborhoods infringing on old ones and pushing out the locals. Same numbers game and boring cranky music hating money motivated meddlers I guess!?''
NMR: You’ve been a huge tourer, travelling to many different countries to play gigs, so what are the plans for this year when you release the album?
''Well, I was planning on and started to book a tour of Germany and Spain in late autumn of this year to promote the release of “Connecting Flights”, but that came to halt when the pandemic hit. I nearly put off all releases thinking that this was not a time to release music and carry on as normal in uncertain times where the focus needs to be on healthcare and the wellbeing of one another and one another’s families till a friend in Chicago who is doing artwork for the 3rd single coming out after “Baggage” reminded me that music and “these collaborations” in making music and art together “are what makes the world go ‘round!” Music keeps us together and brings us together and if not comforts us in our solitude.
''Music keeps us together and brings us together and if not comforts us in our solitude.''
We need it like food, and we need to keep making music to keep people’s hopes and spirits up. I have tried doing some live streaming events and hold my own via Facebook and Instagram every Tuesday at 16:20 CET and hope that it makes someone out there feel happier and good if possible. I am trying to stay positive for the great good and hope that this will only have a positive impact on live events and music gatherings and how venues and communities support local artists in the future when this is over. When that time comes, I hope to tour anywhere and everywhere possible with my new band I have been assembling during this time and finally get back to the US to do a tour with them there which is a long, long time coming!''