After working with Ed Tullett (Novo Amor, Hailaker) on his previous Silhouettes EP, garnering praise from Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and opening for Rhye at London’s KOKO, JJ returns with a delicate and emotional selection of tracks. JJ Draper’s new single ‘…if you’re awake in the night’ and the upcoming EP ‘The Theft & The Flight’ has all the tenderness and artistry of Sufjan Stevens, Nick Mulveyand Bon Iver while also capturing its own voice and tone. Acoustic guitar-led with soft falsetto vocals, incorporating subtle, dappled sampling, electronics and piano, the new work is an exploration of JJ’s rich and intense, emotional soundscapes.
Following his first EP, JJ went back into the studio to arrange a new body of work. Having spent the early years of his career as a topliner and collaborator, he thought it time to take a considerable catalogue of songs to his band and work with singular vision to create the sound he wanted.
Speaking on the story behind ‘…if you’re awake in the night’ and the new EP JJ said: “Returning home in March last year to a police cordon around the car park of my flat, I turned on the news to discover that a young man had been brutally murdered on my doorstep. Not having a real insight into the growing culture of gang violence in London, I wrote ‘…if you’re awake in the night’ to chronicle the surreal experience of those who come inadvertently into contact with a troubling world they don’t understand. I wanted all my new music to be honest and grounded, both lyrically and in the way it was recorded. I spent months experimenting at Natural Habitat Studios working with many great musicians to make something I hope feels homespun, authentic and vivid.”
Juxtaposing gentle music with the unflinching chronicling of real-life events, JJ’s approach to songwriting has seen him gain high praise from the likes of The Line Of Best Fit, Riot Mag and DIY. Interested in honestly reflecting his perspective in any scenario, he talks of surreal experiences or confused detachment with the same gravity as moments of sober reality.
Drawing inspiration from great songwriters and innovators such as Big Thief, Radiohead and Wilco (as well as both Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens previously mentioned), JJ’s ambitious work is soon to be released with arrangements already made to be performed in front of audiences in a powerful and compelling live show. Expect moments of vulnerability punctuated with defiance and raw emotion as JJ weaves songs of real beauty and influences collide. Searingly honest lyrics hit home with JJ’s voice ably switching between registers, rinsing every drop of emotion from the material.
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