Following on from the release of his highly-praised sophomore album 'As I See It' last year, US singer-songwriter Jacob Rountree makes his eagerly-awaited return with his sweeping new single 'First Avenue'.
Capturing more of that warm and tender folk-inspired aesthetic he has been cultivating for himself over the years, 'First Avenue' makes for a wonderfully rich and breezy listen. With his bright and uplifting vocals layered across a diverse and dynamic production throughout, he is returning to the fold with one of his most innovative outings to date here.
So with the new single available to stream now, we sat down with him to find out more about his origins and what has been inspiring him most over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
I first fell in love with guitar. Although I initially started learning the piano at a young age, it was rather rigid and forced. I felt as if I was merely doing what I was told. A few years later upon discovering guitar, it was a very different experience where I was excited for every practice session, loved to find new music to learn, and really just made it a part of my daily routine out of personal choice.
What kind of music did you love when you were younger?
I have loved all kinds of music since a young age! I always had an affinity for soft rock/ singer songwriter type styles, but would rotate CD’s as diverse as Bob Marley to Ozzy Ozborne.
What was the first album you remember owning?
I believe the first album I owned was AC DC's Back In Black.
What is the one song you wished you could have written yourself?
That's a tough one! I might have to go with “If We Were Vampires” by Jason Isbell. That’s one of the most powerfully ingenuitive love songs I have heard.
Do you have any habits or rituals you go through when trying to write new music?
I wouldn't necessarily say I have intentional rituals based around songwriting because I do like to keep it evolving and rotate the source of inspiration I get for the music, however I do have a procedure that tends to work best for creating music. I usually have a collection of one liners that are in my phone notes that come to me just as I live day to day life, completely separate is the formation of melodies or riffs on the guitar. I then like to take the guitar parts and attempt a stream of conscious approach to developing vocal melodies and initial lyrics, simply singing the first things that come to mind. Through this process I usually can develop the rudiments of a song. I then like to refer to my vast list of one liners to fill in the gaps and add like themed concepts to wrap the song up. All that being said, I do enjoy keeping the writing environment fresh, sometimes it's accompanied by a couple drinks in the studio, sometimes it's accompanied by the outdoors with nothing but the fresh air, just so long as I have my pen and paper!
Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?
I have really been enjoying Blake Mills, Madison Cunningham and Winnie Raeder. Such uniqueness amongst them all.
If you could open a show for anyone in the world, who would it be?
I could make a list on this one but to pick only one, I’d love to open a show for Xavier Rudd!
What do you find is the most rewarding part about being a musician?
Being a musician can be one of the most empowering pursuits. To find the courage to share your vulnerability is self rewarding in itself, but as you continue to share your soul it becomes very powerful as a like minded community starts to form around you. I find it to be more than just fans liking the music, it is a spiritual connection of people relating, experiencing and appreciating the melodic emotions put forward, all connecting over this bizarre human experience.
And what is the most frustrating part?
I find the most frustrating part to be the monetization of such creations. It's a paradox to be a creator of soulful passionate art originating from the spirit and then have to spend your days tracking analytics, buying into an algorithm, and negotiating payments with talent buyers. Although I love the business side of music, and am beyond grateful to be self-employed in passion, the music industry does seem to be lacking in providing stable income for the average working musician. It’s common to minimize the value of professionalism in the arts, yet I see related artists doing a better job about protecting themselves. Photographers bid with the inclusion of the expensive gear they provide, and their time away from the shoot such as editing or practice not just per hour of being on site, I see actors and screenwriters do a better job in protecting themselves from the devolving payouts of streaming industries and from artificial intelligence threats, all the while musicians tend to be fairly complacent and allow negative things like merch cuts from venues or “pay to play” scenes. We tend to be ok with working for “exposure” and as a collective I believe we should work to improve our standards of work across the board.
And what is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?
The best advice I have received is to remain unapologetically unique to yourself, to write songs for yourself and not for what other people tell you to. It becomes increasingly tempting to give in to writing standard “rinse and repeat”, pop formulaic crowd pleasers, however the true artists that make lasting time stamps on generations, politics, and are defining the next best thing are those who listened to their own artistic intuition and stayed true to themselves. The real power of humans is in truly original innovations.
Jacob Rountree's new single 'First Avenue' is available to stream now. Check it out in the player below.