Interview: Jordan Rakei on a darker Wallflower and returning to Australia for summer

Jordan Rakei is coming home. Now based in London, the 25 year old has been revelling in the release of his much anticipated sophomore album Wallflower, a fitting follow up to what was an absolute smash of a debut in 2016’s Cloak.

“I just sort of hibernate in London,” he laughs during our recent chat. “This time I get to come in the summer, so I get to see all the beaches. We went back in March and it was still hot, but there was rain all the time, so hopefully the weather holds up for us.”

Building his new live show to reflect the music he’s making, his personal tastes and the direction he’s heading in even post-Wallflower, Rakei is excited by this new tour cycle.

“It’s different,” he admits. “It’s more of a statement for me as [it is] a live show. In the past with Groove Curse (my second EP) and then Cloak, it was very groove based; party vibes and hip-hop sort of stuff. Wallflower is very dark, more ethereal and moody. For me, I’m establishing this new product in a way; it’s like I’m going on sale and trying to convince people this is the new direction. The live show is coming along really nicely I’m really happy with it; it’s sounding very nice to come out with this band, there’s six of us in the band.”

“We didn’t want to shortcut ourselves and just go, ‘Well this is cool; let’s just slap that on a laptop and press play,’ and be stuck to a grid. It’s much nicer to find a new way of basically rewriting the album for the live show so that it translates nicely.”

Continuing to push himself as live performer has been crucial for Rakei. As Australian audiences will be able to see in January, the artist Rakei has developed into over the last year is one who has pushed his own boundaries and has found himself in a new sonic territory.

“I think that’s me in a nutshell.” he says. “I’ve always loved the artists where you listen to their sixth album and it sounds totally different to their first album. They are people that take risks and that inspired me a lot, because I feel like if I sit in my studio making soulful hip-hop stuff; I wont get anything from that, even though I still listen to similar sorts of music. I want to be making something new otherwise the creative process won’t be as fun for me.”

Reflecting on Cloak and his journey to Wallflower, Rakei is proud of these two efforts as they thread together what’s been an intense two periods of making music.

“At the end of the day,” he explains. “If you take away all this production, these songs could probably stand on their own if produced in a real simple method; they’d sound like a real soulful album with like a standard band. With my sound [though], it’s really the production techniques that enable the record to sound very different to Cloak.”

“I’m really proud of how we managed to glue this album together,” he furthers. “With the elements of production like synth layers and all those subtle guitar parts, really fitting the guitar back in the mix; there’s a real sense of ethereal, atmospheric vibes. I’m really proud of the way we produced the album for sure.”

JORDAN RAKEI AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES

January 5th | Rosemount Hotel, PERTH
January 11th | The Triffid, BRISBANE
January 12th | Metro Theatre, SYDNEY
January 13th | Corner Hotel, MELBOURNE