Jacob Lee releases new tracks, discusses time on The Voice, and new NFT projects

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Jacob Lee familee rejoice! Recently, the Australian singer/songwriter has released two new tracks, “Easier” and “Break My Heart Again (Acoustic),” which touch on love and heartbreak in a new way. These tracks follow the release of “Don’t Forget Me” and “You Were Right,” Lee’s first songs of 2021, released late summer.

The release of “Easier” and “Break My Heart Again (Acoustic)” come before Lee’s third album and were set ahead of his 2022 Break My Heart Again Tour. The tour, with multiple sold out dates, has been abruptly cancelled due “new regulations put in place in various areas throughout Europe & the UK“. Lee and his team will continue pushing to reach Europe/UK sooner than later!

We got to sit down for a long awaited chat with Jacob to discuss his solo career, how he handled life throughout covid, and his new NFT project.

Let’s take it back to the beginning; you were a contestant on The Voice in 2014, where you made it to the top 6 of will.i.am’s team. How has that helped you in your solo career?
Jacob:
I kind of have mixed feelings about The Voice, though I am glad that I did it. Prior to The Voice all I’d done was perform in cafes & clubs, which meant always playing to people half-engaged. There was never an audience sitting & watching me in a dedicated fashion & so I got quite used to being in the background. The Voice made me realize there was a lot more to the music industry than I initially thought. I didn’t even know you had to release songs to become someone – like how weird, all I did was covers. Even though I was writing music, I never once thought about releasing it. It was only once I started talking to producers & people who had been in the industry for a minute that I began to discover my trajectory.

In the years since, you’ve released more than 50 songs, your biggest songs being from your debut album Philosophy. How does that album compare to the stuff you’re releasing now 2 years later?
It is a little different. I am definitely keeping everything very lyrical still. I feel like that’s how I carved my niche. For whatever reason I’ve always felt the inclination to attach deeper stories to my music. Whether they be happy, sad, philosophical or whatever, it’s genuinely really important to me. Despite this, the actual ‘genre’, or theme of my music has most definitely evolved & changed. In my most recent unreleased album, I’ve completely veered from alternative pop to electronic pop, & I’d say the major reason for that is I’ve developed an ability to produce & engineer music now. Teaching myself production throughout Covid has been invaluable, as now I’m able to inject more of my personality into the instrumentation, not just the melody & lyrics.

You’re one of Australia’s most streamed artists, have your own record label, and have released a few surprise projects for your fans recently! Why those tracks compared to other you’ve written?
My first two songs of  No Longer Hollow – “Don’t Forget Me” & “You Were Right”, weren’t actually meant to be released this year. To be honest, this entire EP wasn’t ever meant to exist. All of these acoustic songs were to be set aside for a romantic album after the release of my electronic record. My vision was to explore this electronic landscape, then head back to my roots with a passionate, intimate album which would pay homage to those who’ve supported me since “Chariot”. The last 6 to 8 months however, I’ve been in seemingly never-ending discussions with distribution companies who have expressed interest in signing this new record. I’ve had to be pretty patient, & that’s so hard for me as I’m accustomed to releasing a new song every month. In my view, that’s how I’ve developed such a vast, international listener-base, by releasing an incessant amount of music with 4 to 5 videos per track.
During these distribution conversations I had to halt this release strategy of mine. Emotionally I really struggled to handle the lack of progress & so I decided to drop a completely independent EP to bridge the gap whilst we figured everything out.

“Demons” and “Oceans” were tracks you wrote merely in no time (one taking less than an hour and one taking a few days), while other tracks like “Black Sheep” took months upon months to complete. Do you have any songs in your current stack of “to be released” pile that have taken no time at all or taken exceptionally long?
If I begin a song acoustically, I’ll most likely finish it within a day or two. Though if I start a song through any other means (Pro Tools/synth/drum machine), I find it takes longer to get into the zone. I’d say this is because I’ve written acoustic music the majority of my life, & because of that, I find now that I’m able to quite easily tap into an emotional, subconscious-like state, where songs just seem to just write themselves. I just lock the door & let it all come. Through any other creative means however, that emotional energy is directed into the development of the sounds & samples & structure, not the storytelling & narrative. I’m instead forced to inject lyricism over the top of the music, instead of writing it in the moment. That creative transition has proven pretty difficult for me as the initial emotions are often left in yesterday, & I’ve moved on from that sentimental headspace.

In saying that, even though this new album has been more of a creative challenge than my previous, I feel the hurdles & obstacles were definitely worth it, as there are some absolute bangas on this record.

Touching back on “Black Sheep” you mention that the industry made it seem you’d never make it anywhere without certain people and that it wasn’t where you were supposed to be. Then as the song progresses you express you proved them wrong and that you WERE able to do it on your own. How different do you think things would be now if you took advice from these people who said you’d amount to nothing now? Do you think that you’ve become a better artist by doing it all on your own?

Those who’ve discredited me, at the end of the day are still providing constructive criticism. I’m not jaded to the fact that I’d have far more industry attention if I was better at my craft. Had the aesthetic/sound the industry is looking for, or simply played the industry game more. My curse (though I personally consider it a blessing) is that I just couldn’t care less about current trends, & I very rarely follow them. Therefore, making me an outlier with a niche fanbase who can’t really be categorized. I’m an artist who prioritises lyrics & that’s not overly important to A&R who have a quota & a supervisor to report to.

I’d consider self-awareness a strength of mine, & I’m definitely not someone who basks in my achievements. There are still so many things I need to work on, & as I get older, the more I tend to find. The criticism or lack of attention from the industry actually helps me dive further inward & figure out what I’m lacking creatively or otherwise. It’s the way I’m able to turn my weaknesses into strengths.

I also think if I moved forward with a management group or label early on I may not have properly uncovered my sound. Having so much isolated time to contemplate without external influence has helped me cultivate exactly who I want to be as an artist. If I’d have signed to a label off a whim, things may’ve been given to me a little easier, or I would’ve been influenced a little deeper, & I know for a fact I wouldn’t have grown as much as I have. Being involved in every single aspect of this career has helped me recognize what you need to do to be a successful, self-sustained independent artist, & I wouldn’t trade that education for anything.

Going back to last year, it’s been rough on everyone – how have you handled covid and life being at home, what is the one thing you learned from it that you think you’ll take with you for years and years to come?
I would say to be more appreciative of travel. Every time I return from an international tour I feel like an upgraded version of myself. I come home with lessons & experiences to integrate into regular life. Covid, & I believe this applies to everyone, has been a difficult reality to digest. As someone who adores traveling, meeting new people & embracing new cultures, being locked down has made me feel suppressed & helpless. It’s been two years since I’ve been on a stage so I’ve had to locate fulfillment elsewhere.

After the large increase of interest in crypto throughout covid, you just launched a NFT project, the Conscience Cards on the Ethereum Blockchain, can you share more on that?
NFT’s are by far my most exciting endeavor right now. The whole ecosystem is so conducive to my personality & it’s still so untouched. The most interesting thing to me is that barely any musicians or artists are implementing it into their release strategies right now. In my view, they’re missing a once in a lifetime opportunity & will be somewhat disappointed when they realize what all of this is in a year or two.

There are many reasons NFT’s are exciting to me, though the initial draw was that I have an intrinsic desire to collect culturally significant things… Before NFT’s I collected swords, fedoras & a whole bunch of weird shit. Now that the technology exists to collect items & assets digitally – instead of only displaying my prized possessions in my house, the entire world can view them within a virtual gallery at the click of a button.

Two months ago I launched a project called the ‘Conscience Cards’. 1,295 animated collector cards originating from the designs of my Conscience album. Holders of the NFT’s received early access to new music, free access to shows (forever) & the ability to get in on future projects before the public. As of writing this I’ve launched another two projects, one is called ‘Jacob Lee’s Music Archive’ & the other is ‘Lowly’s Personal Parchments’, which is a slowly developing Metaverse storyline. Within this two month period I’ve done almost $100,000 in revenue through Twitter marketing alone. I could go on about the topic, though maybe I’ll save that for an article dedicated to the topic.

You had to cancel your 2019 US tour pre-covid and your European tour due to covid; do you have any tour plans in the works?
I do! Although I’m somewhat hesitant to speak about it as I don’t want to have to cancel yet another run & disappoint more people. I’m crossing every finger in hope that these new Covid variants don’t cancel these plans too, although obviously safety is far more important. If the stars align though, & everything works out, jumping on stage will be the biggest breath of fresh air. I’ve been craving it more than I can even articulate.

What are you most excited about for the rest of 2021?
Well there isn’t long left! Christmas is just around the corner. Though honestly, I’m most excited for a break. I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I have this year, & none of the projects are ones which provide instant gratification. This year has been a lesson in patience, as well as a reminder to foster & care for your mental health, because it can be fleeting when exposed to misaligned situations.

Apart from that though, distributing projects always brings me joy, & I have so much more to share within the final weeks of 2021. These NFT projects are going to blow people out of the water. I feel like I’m on the cusp of something never done before.

Follow Jacob to get the latest news.
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