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Scout Beck

Jake McRae
White Sofa Songs interview

Scout Beck, Editor

This EP release from Manchester singer songwriter Jake McRae is worthy of attracting more than a little attention, standing as a distinctive and refined collection of songs.

White Sofa Songs - with band The What Went Wrongs - is an emotionally raw and musically ragged record that is accessible and absorbing.

McRae has landed with a distinctive voice. The vocals are at the forefront of this four track EP and his delivery is clear, direct and engaging.

The singer cites Frank Turner as an influence and you can hear why. It's not instantly obvious in the sound but there is something about the immediacy, the unvarnished quality of McRae's performance that can be traced back to Turner. Sonically the playful indie jangle of The View and hoarseness of Kyle Falconer is more apparent, lacing as it does through every song and their tales of acutely real life.

None more so than EP opener No Socialite. Upbeat, high tempo and witty, 'A socialite with very limited skills' McRae forges through the track with an infectious abandon.

Struggling is a standout, ragged musically, ragged emotionally. 'I'm starting to lose control now, I'm starting to lose face' McRae sings to an easy wearied musical flow.

Coffee is melodic, the vocal strained and tense, bringing an awkward encounter to life. Naked is as bare as the title suggests, McRae exposing his desire with unrestrained vocals and thumping accompaniment.

We caught up with Jake to find out a little more.

Can you tell me a little about your background?

'I grew up in a few different places, from Dublin to Plymouth but I've always had some sort of home in the North West, I've always been intrigued by bands and decided pretty early on that's what I was going to do'

How long have you been performing?

'I've been in and out of slightly different bands for the past couple of years, however since the release of the EP, myself and The What Went Wrongs have only really been gigging about 3 months'

Who are The What Went Wrongs?

'The What Went Wrongs are a collaboration of musicians. Some who worked on the EP such as Aidan Reece (lead guitar) along with his brother Ethan Reece (Drums) as well as a good friend of ours Jordan Davis (Bass). The What Went Wrongs refers to the theme of most the songs written rather than implying they've gone wrong'

How do you work together?

'For the songs on the EP, it was more a process of trying to get them to a stage where we were happy with them live, so we tweaked a lot. Yet for more recently written stuff it's always different, one day I may have a full song written for us all to have a look at or work on, other times we might all really like a riff Aidan comes out with and work around that.'

How would you describe your sound?

'I like to think we're very lyrically driven, however a lot of our songs progressed from me sat in a room with an acoustic guitar into what you hear now. We like catchy riffs on distorted guitars and tight drum beats, a lot of the time we get compared to like Jamie T and early Libertines styles and they're both fucking ace so I'll take that'

What inspires you lyrically?

'Most of my lyrics just come from personal experience, these topics are written about often such as bad nights out, break ups, general confusion. I like to think I've got a balanced way of looking at things so when there's an event or an incident I want to write a song about I try not to always write from my point of view.'

Who has most influenced your sound?

'The person who has most influenced our sound is Frank Turner, now I don't think our songs and his are particularly similar but it was his writing style and listening to his work for the past 5 years that has got our sound to where it is now'

Who do you listen to?

'I'm the type of guy who listens to an artist by album, I'm big on the aforementioned Frank Turner's earlier stuff, I like The Cribs, Bloc Party, The Strokes, The Clash, Oasis, The Cure, The View.'

What can you tell us about the EP?

'The EP is a pretty solid look at my life and the life of others around me at the time, it's features four tracks, No Socialite, Naked, Struggling and Coffee. It basically documents all the things that went wrong for me in the past six months in terms of recreation, relationships, and how I perceived surrounding people.'

Can you describe the process of making it?

'It was a weird time for me, as I recorded it throughout part of my last year of A Levels whilst at college full time, dropping out wasn't really doable although it was considered. For a few months I'd do college through the day and then be in the studio all night. Luckily I had a producer from Suff Studios who made excellent coffee when I was nearly falling asleep on his sofa. Matt Heap is one of the best people in the industry I've had the pleasure to work with and would recommend the studio to any artist.'

There's a lot of feeling in your music - do you write from personal experience?

'Always, I only ever write from personal experience yet try and make the lyrics open enough that it's relatable to the listener'

What has inspired White Sofa Songs?

'The frustration of being in a band for years prior and not being able to write and play the songs that I wanted. That sounds controlling but I've always been pretty clear minded about the sound I was going for and could never achieve that till the writing of White Sofa Songs'

'Struggling' in particular is agonising - do you find writing and singing like that easy to do? Is it cathartic?

'Yeah I find it natural, I'm not the most closed of people, any particularly difficult incident that's happened to me or someone near me has somehow always come with the tag line "it'll make a great song though". Struggling isn't even written how it sounds. It's from the point of view of somebody and the song is about me and where I was rather than to an ex or whatever'.

What have been highlights for you so far?

'Just getting things off the ground and running for me has been massive, BBC introducing taking an interest so quickly was massively reassuring as we weren't really sure whether the EP was shit or not for good few months after we recorded it early this year.'

What's next for you?

'At the moment myself and the What Went Wrongs are really enjoying gigging to as many people in as many places as possible so we'd like to continue with that. We've got a second EP ready to be recorded in the studio however when we do that is yet to be revealed'

Jake will play at Bootleg Social supporting Clint Boon on Friday September 11