hmv.com talks to... - July 29, 2021

"I trusted the ones that I couldn’t get off my mind..." - JP Saxe on making his debut LP, Dangerous Levels of Introspection
by Tom
Tom
by Tom hmv London, Bio hmv.com Editor. Peanut butter, punk rock and pillows.

"I trusted the ones that I couldn’t get off my mind..." - JP Saxe on making his debut LP, Dangerous Levels of Introspection

Music is in Jonathan Percy Starker Saxe's blood. His grandfather, János Starker, was a cellist who redefined classical music and remains revered in his field.

Now his grandson, who is known professionally as JP Saxe, is making his way with a collection of heartfelt, chest-swelling pop songs.

The singer began his career on the other side of the fence, penning tracks for Foxes and Jacob Banks among others, before graduating into the front and centre life in 2017.

He's built steadily from there, single after single, and it all comes together in his debut LP, Dangerous Levels of Introspection, which is out now.

The album features a guest appearance from guitar legend John Mayer as well as collaborations with country star Maren Morris and pop superstar Julia Michaels, who is also Saxe's girlfriend.

With his debut now on shelves, we spoke to Saxe about putting the album together and why he's coined the term "heart-barfing" to describe his lyrics...

 

You have, in theory, got your whole life to write your debut album, when were the songs for this album written? Do they date back a long way or are they quite recent?

"I would say the earliest idea on this album is around four years old. I probably experimented with over 50 songs for this album, but I trusted the ones that I couldn’t get off my mind and the subject matter that took up the most space in my journal."

 

How was the experience of making the record? Was it fun, stressful, intense or all of the above?

"All of the above, with some adjectives that could be added. Actually no, all of the above!"

 

 

You worked with some great producers on the record, Benjamin Rice, FINNEAS, Ryan Marrone, can you talk us through the album’s collaborators?

"Ryan Marrone has been my partner in record-making since the first song I ever put out in 2017 and one of my best friends. He’s been my most important collaborator for years. I’m not sure I know how to sing most of the songs on this album without Ben Rice, he reintroduced me to my voice in a way that I’m extremely grateful for."

"FINNEAS brought my favourite song I’ve ever been a part of to life, and I will be grateful to him for that forever. Greg Kurstin has made some of my favourite albums of all time, so working with him was dreamy. Amy Allen is one of my favourite songwriters and the songs we did are some of my favourites on the album. She was extremely generous with the amount of time and thoughtfulness that she gave to these songs. 

 

Do you like working with lots of different people or can you see yourself working with a single producer on your next record?

"I think there will always be a small squad because I’m peculiar, so I usually creatively resonate best with other peculiar people and creatives – and when I find someone that I love working with I hold onto them real tight. I love collaborating though and making music is a team sport, so it’s not a closed door, but it’s just there are only a few people in the world at the moment that I’m working closely with."

 

You’ve got John Mayer on the album, which must be a bit of a dream come true, how did that collaboration come about?

"You’re right in saying it’s a dream come true because John Mayer is a big part of me falling in love with songwriting growing up, I remember skipping class to jam with my friends on 'Gravity' more times than I can count. We connected because I heard through mutual friends because he liked a couple of songs I was part of, so I reached out to him and asked if he wanted to come by the studio to listen to the album."

"He came up to Woodshed in Malibu to listen. 'Here’s Hopin’ stood out to him a little extra, and he played on it. It’s still entirely surreal every time I hear it."

 

 

Both Maren Morris and Julia Michaels feature on the record, how were they to work with?

"Julia Michaels is my favourite songwriter, human and artist of all time. She’s a perfect person. Maren Morris is one of my favourite singers and the first person I ever worked with in Nashville, and we both have a very conversational style of writing. The song we wrote together came directly from our conversation."

 

What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?

"It's a record full of heart-barfing."

 

What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?

"It’s conversational and trying to be relentless in its transparency. I’d summarize it as heart-barfing."

 

Which song on the album took the longest to get right?

"'Sing Myself To Sleep'. It’s about my mom, and that was a hard feeling to get into a song, and honestly have at all.. but I knew an album representing the most meaningful emotional era’s of the last 5 years of my life would be incomplete without a song like that to end the album, so I kept journaling into I landed on a sentiment that felt sincere."

 

And which came together most quickly?

"'I Shouldn’t Be Here'. That was a journal entry from three years ago that I stumbled on because my journal app sent me a notification saying I’d written it two years ago. It made me laugh, and I put it to a melody that night and recorded it the next day."

 

 

When did you decide that Dangerous Levels Of Introspection was the right fit for the album’s title?

"The day we wrote that song! I was in a session with Amy Allen and Greg Kurstin and just leaning hard into nostalgia, and discussing the pros and cons of it. And out came this song."

 

How are your live plans shaping up? How’s the rest of 2021 looking?

"I get to tour in the fall, I’ve never been more excited for anything. I think I’m going to spontaneously combust for the first 10 shows just from overwhelming excitement."

 

JP Saxe's debut album, Dangerous Levels Of Introspection, is out now in hmv stores and available here in hmv's online store. 

Dangerous Levels of Introspection
Dangerous Levels of Introspection JP Saxe

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