Interview: Jodie Abacus
Born and raised in Lewisham, South East London, Jodie Abacus spent his youth consuming a wholesome diet of soul, jazz, hip-hop and funk whilst honing skills as a singer/songwriter. A period of heartbreak and illness inspired one of his breakthrough tracks ‘I’ll Be That Friend’, and the artist has since become one of the leading R&B stars in the UK. With more music and a slot at Outlines Festival promised for 2017, Tom Green-Fuller went to find out a bit more about the fast-rising star.
Your latest single ‘Keep Your Head Down’ empathises with those involved in the refugee crisis. Do you often feel a need to address big topics with your music?
I just write whatever’s on my mind, to be honest. I think my biggest strength is my writing, and I love the fact that you can write about anything. I can be writing about love, sex, food – it doesn’t really matter. The most important thing is to make it honest. I’ve always thought of myself as a deep thinker and music is how I get my thoughts across. Music can change people’s minds and it can even heal people; we all want to know how we can save the world, but none of us know how, so we each do what we can.
So are you constantly on the lookout for songwriting inspiration?
Yeah, I guess so. It’d usually be an experience from my life, and it’d have to be something organic; something I could see or something I could feel. Sometimes I’d just sit down and write a title – or even just a subject matter – and let it evolve from there.
How’s 2017 shaping up for you?
If I’m honest, I’m just glad to have made it to 2017! After that shit year, all we’ll be doing is congratulating each other for making it through! Seriously though, I just want to grow my skills as an artist and a writer. I love what I’m doing and want to be able to keep doing what I love, but go as big as I can with it. The thing with music is you’re only as good as your last song, and I don’t think I’ve written my best song… yet. I see it kind of like a dinner party; if you look at my career like an episode of ‘Come Dine With Me’, I want the narrator to be saying: “Jodie’s certainly got his shit together right now!” There has to be a certain level of quality to the music I release: they’ve got to be great… like Frosties.
And here in Sheff you’ve got Outlines Festival on the way.
Yeah, I’ve had a really busy year with festivals in 2016: I’ve done Glastonbury, Parklife, YNot, so I like to think I’m pretty well prepared for Outlines. But yeah, really looking forward to that one!
So have you started making any preparations or is it a bit early yet?
As soon as you said that I started thinking about trying out some new songs. It’s all dependent on the time we get though, really – I don’t really know the arrangements yet. Whenever I’m back performing with the boys, it’s just so chilled and enjoyable travelling around doing the job you love. There’s a good chance a few new tunes will sneak into the set though.
Jodie Abacus is on the line-up for Outlines Festival, taking place in Sheffield March 3-4. Head to www.outlinesfestival.com for more info and tickets.