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Q+A With Jack Bratt

Hot off the back of winning the prestigious Grant McLennan Fellowship in 2019, beloved Aussie rocker Jack Bratt has released his brooding new single Spades, a study in over-thinking, out today, and accompanied by an intimate live video. Jack took some time out to catch us up on things in his world.

H2Z: Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with Hear 2 Zen, what have you been up to today?
JB: Thanks for having me! Today has just been a very basic one, much like the last couple of weeks in isolation. I’ve taken my neighbour’s dog for a walk, made a coffee for my fiancé and had some lunch, that’s it so far!

H2Z: Tell us about yourself, how long have you been performing/creating music for?
JB: I’ve been playing in pubs since I was 14. My dad is a professional musician and once I began learning how to play guitar, I was sort of up to speed enough within the first year or so that I could start playing in a duo with him. I started writing songs right from the beginning, the development of my musical ability and my song writing have always gone hand in hand

H2Z: Who are your greatest inspirations?
JB: There are so many musicians who continue to give me inspiration, I guess anyone who is just writing music that is honest and interesting. People like Joni Mitchell, John Frusciante, Jeff Buckley, PJ Harvey, Frank Ocean. 

H2Z: How do you create music?  Are you lyrics/story driven, or does the music/melody come first?  Explain your process. 
JB: Song writing really is one of the most amazing artforms as it can materialize in such a variety of different ways. There’s no real formula. Lyrics can come first and then be put to music later, Or visa versa. Obviously, my favourite way is when the words, melody and music all come together as the same time right from the beginning, it can happen so quickly and it’s an exciting experience when it does.

H2Z: What has been your greatest challenge so far in performing/creating music?
JB: I think just being honest as a song writer. The minute you start holding back the song really does start to suffer I’ve found. It’s hard to be vulnerable in music but it always has a really rewarding result.

H2Z: Tell us about your new release, how did it come about?
JB: I had a few years off from writing songs after my last band broke up. I was just playing guitar one day and ‘Spades’ came along almost fully formed. I’d been thinking about the subject matter for a few months and it’s like id been subconsciously putting it together, and it was just the right time to sit down and get it out.

H2Z: What advice do you have to artists who are just starting out?
JB: Just enjoy the process, be prepared to fail over and over but learn from it. Never stop learning or trying to develop your craft. The thing I love most about music is you can never finish it, it’s endless, so there’s always something new to discover.

H2Z: Tell us your favourite Zen practice.
JB: I could absolutely use some more Zen Practices in my life, for me nothing really beats a nice walk, or playing guitar for a few hours.

Spades is a dark, moody track, and will be an exciting release for fans of anthemic legends The War On Drugs, Kingswood, Holy Holy, The Rubens et al.  Expert guitar reigns throughout, while Jack’s unique, cutting vocal sits within the bed of sound, with sharp, affecting lyrics.  Speaking  of the inspiration behind the track, Jack explains, I’m a classic overthinker, and Spades is a bit of a snapshot of me over-analysing everything.  It’s a lot about comparing where I’m at in my life to my friends and family, thinking about whether or not I’m where I should be compared to, say, when my parents were at the same age.” 

Such a close, vulnerable track requires careful treatment when it comes to live performance, and the accompanying video for Spades will give goosebumps to anyone who presses play.  Directed by Clint Lewis of Red Tape Pictures (Tim Rogers, The Church), the black and white, artistic video depicts a solo rendition of the track, which allows Jack to accurately portray the significant nature of the subject matter in this song, as he says, I just wanted the video to be simple.  Playing this song solo, not in a band setting, is a pretty vulnerable thing.  When I walked into the room for the first time and saw the pillars and the stained-glass windows, I knew it was going to be perfect for the song.”

Jack Bratt, who still hopes to head to New York City in June for a three month artist residency thanks to his recent Grant McLennan Fellowship accolade, also holds high hopes that he’ll be able to play a run of intimate shows while over in the US.  With a lot of uncertainty around Covid19, Jack’s plans are a little up in the air, but he’s got a great attitude about his year ahead, enthusing, “While this is obviously a pretty distressing time for all of us, I’m using the time wisely by writing a lot of music which I’m  excited about. And I’m planning on still heading to New York as soon as the travel bans have been lifted.”

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