Jordan Rakei speaking to the inner workings of his soul & new record “The Loop”


There are some artists whose music lands in that soft spot of the universe where it offers unconditional comfort and joy, even in the saddest of songs. Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, producer, and songwriter Jordan Rakei is one of those artists. His impressively melodic vocals paired with relatable and poetic lyrics make for a long-lasting portfolio of records.

Rakei’s 5th album The Loop is set to release on May 10th with Verve Forecast and Decca UK. The record is self-produced and mixed by Ben Baptie (Moses Sumney, Beck, U2). This new release takes a step away from the DYI sound he was known for in the early days and steps into the world of bold orchestral arrangements.

Kateryna Topol: Hello Jordan, it’s been a while since we last spoke, how have you been?

Jordan Rakei: I’m really good. Thanks. I’ve had a child. I’ve recalibrated my priorities in life. And I just feel generally really excited about my new album, my new journey, and a new chapter of my career.

KT: Congratulations! How is fatherhood?

JR: Yeah, fatherhood is amazing. I think I’m finding it really fun, to be honest. I know for a lot of parents, those first few years are really challenging because of the, you know, lack of sleep or the calibration in lifestyles. I’m loving it. My child’s a crazy little bundle of energy. Very funny, and it sort of helps me sort of relax after a big day of music-making. And I see him just laughing hysterically and that sort of equalizes it and grounds me a little bit, too. I’m really enjoying it.

KT: That’s great! You’ve recently joined Verve Forecast, how did that come about?

JR: I was just up for a new chapter. I was previously signed to Ninja Tune, and I wanted to sort of try and tap into more of a larger audience. And I love the history of Decca and just really wanted to lean into their history and legacy and sort of their experience in that territory, and to explore that part of the world a bit more. So it’s been really amazing working with them. I’m super glad to have them on board – I’m a fan of quite a few artists on their roster too, so I feel like I’m in good company there.

KT: Your new single “Freedom” is doing really well on the charts, is that the kind of vibe we can expect from the full record?

JR: So I think yes, “Freedom” is actually a good representation of the record. I just want you to sort of capture that fun energy. I think that’s what Freedom does best is being like a fun, bouncy vibe. You know, it feels like a party, but it feels introspective. Yeah, that was the mission for me as I made this album. Lots of live drums, lots of big euphoric moments, like choirs singing, lots of switch-ups musically.

KT: Speaking about The Loop, the press release states it’s your “most cohesive work to date” – what makes it so?

JR: I’d say it’s the most cohesive because I wrote all the demos at the same time. You know, I wrote them over like a month-long period. And then I went to the studio and recorded it all at the same time, and then it was mixed all at the same time. So in a way, the music is quite different throughout the record. You know, you have ballads, you have hip hop stuff, you have funk stuff, you’ve got introspective sort of ambient stuff. But I guess what ties it all together is sort of the mood and the headspace I was in at that at each stage. And I think that sort of reflects even in the different genres throughout.

KT: Did you work with an orchestra or any additional live instruments?

JR: Yes, I did work with an orchestra on this album. They’re called Her Ensemble, and I worked with a few different string arrangers. I arranged some of the strings and other arrangements with my research and we had an ambitious element to our arranging – we just wanted every sort of arrangement to feel huge. That was my, I guess, rule I had coming into the whole process, I wanted to make a record that felt just large and that it was played by musicians, not necessarily made in a computer with several libraries or whatever. I want you [the listener] to sort of hear that huge dynamic. Everything is live instruments.

KT: Amazing! You set fairly high expectations for yourself when working on this record, are you happy with how it came out?

JR: I think the releasing of a record is very different from the making of it. So when I made it, I had high ambitions, high expectations of maybe what I expected people to think – like my friends, or my label, or my management. But as the campaign has developed, you realize you can only control so much in this industry, which I find a humbling meditation. You know, I’ve made an album that I’m really proud of, and I’ve delivered it to the best I can, and I’ve worked with a record label to ensure that the marketing and all my strategy, you know, my content has been made to the best of my ability.

But the other elements that I think a lot of artists seem to forget are the fans, and the consumer, and the market. And that’s something you really can’t control, no matter how much you market yourself. It’s sort of in the hands of the listener now. And, that’s like a nice feeling to surrender to – I’ve done all I can, but it’s just in the fans’ hands. I’m just happy to let go.

KT: That’s a refreshing way to look at it all. The Loop opens with “Flowers” which is a love song dedicated to your wife. It starts with a hip-hop percussion, what was the inspiration behind the hip-hop notes?

JR: So with “Flowers,” I chopped up a breakbeat loop and sort of made it into the loop in the original demo. So the track generally has a melancholy sort of vibe rolling throughout, but I built it around a hip-hop break. And yeah, that sort of feeling was something I was really trying to lean back into because I grew up listening to hip-hop and drum samples so I wanted to try and recreate that with a live drummer.

KT: Would you say most of the album is somehow inspired by family relationships?

JR: Yeah, for sure. The whole album is about parenthood. It’s about my reflection on my parents and my reflection on me being a parent. And I guess the more metaphorical idea of being a parent to your inner child. So that would be where the inspiration comes from, for sure, reflecting on all those relationships and how they intertwine and impact each other.

KT: There are quite a few personal songs on this record, “Royal,” “Hopes and Dreams,” and “Learning,” for example. Being vulnerable through music is not new to you but this record feels different, like a type of self-therapy? Does making deeply personal music help you process your emotions better?

JR: It does to some extent. I think what’s interesting is when I was writing these demos, it was very personal. A lot of this stuff is very personal. And, I’m just in that little room myself writing it, and you forget it’s gonna come out into the world. So only after the fact you realize that people are going to hear these stories. But so in that sense, I guess it was a really unfiltered expression of some of those things I was going through, but as I… as I’ve now come to release and there is an apprehension of like, people seeing this, the inner workings of my soul. But I think it’s a nice thing to … let people in because I guess they can understand and digest the music in a deeper way. So yeah, it was very personal, but really nice to express myself that way.

KT: How are you going to translate this orchestra production to live shows?

JR: That’s one of the challenges we’re sort of coming across in the live shows. How can we recreate that energy through just a six-piece band because we don’t like to play with a track. But we’ve been working on a lot of the songs, and we’ve brought in a new keyboardist who is leaning into the orchestral arrangements and the horn arrangements, and we’re doing it in a slightly more subverted way, too, like to nod to the original stuff with the same energy, but maybe with a more synthesized version or a mellotron strings or something like that. But that’s something we’re currently working on and really excited to show all parts of the world.

KT: Very exciting, thank you for your time and have a great tour Jordan!

JR: Thank you so much.

Images courtesy of  the Verve Label Group

Tour dates:

September 3—Porto—M.Ou.Co
September 4—Madrid—Lula
September 5—Barcelona—Razzmatazz 2
September 7—Milan—Magazzini Generali
September 8— Munich—Muffathalle
September 10— Vienna—Arena
September 11— Berlin—Huxleys
September 12—Hamburg—Ballsaal
September 14— Stockholm—Kägelbanan
September 15—Oslo—Rockefeller
September 16—Copenhagen—Vega
September 18—Amsterdam—Paradiso
September 19—Amsterdam—Paradiso (SOLD OUT)
September 20—Amsterdam—Paradiso (SOLD OUT)
September 22—Brussels —AB
September 23—Cologne—Stadthalle
September 24—Paris—Élysée Monmartre
September 26—Manchester—Albert Hall
September 27—Bristol—Bristol Beacon
October 1—London—Royal Albert Hall (SOLD OUT)
October 4—London—Royal Albert Hall

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