Many words are used to try to label Jack Colwell.

Terms like ‘avent-guard’ and ‘pop’ do some justice, but spend some time getting your head around his career as a musician and I feel the words ‘intriguing’ and ‘enigmatic’ are far more appropriate.

Collaborations have been a motif throughout Colwell’s life on-stage and in the studio. He is the offspring of a music teacher and a trained concert pianist, so his first collaboration just so happened to be in-utero. Fast forward just a few years and you’ll discover his journey with The Owls, his work with Killing Heidi vocalist Ella Hooper and now, his most recent offering, When The World Explodes.

The EP features reworks from a slew of forward thinking artists and rare, under-used commodities including; HEALTH, Fennesz, Marcus Whale, Rabit, Roly Porter and Ash Koosha. The record will be brought to life on-stage thanks to the help of even more artists.

We spoke to Jack about collaborations…Well, more accurately, Jack spoke to us about collaborations and how they have the potential to bring forth a better artist from within…Over to you, Jack.

 

 

They say that creativity is elusive, and I tend to agree.

As an artist, I spend a lot of time thinking about the creative process – and I’m not the only one. There are thousands of online articles, interviews, books and audio CDs that attempt to explain how the creative process works. It can be overwhelming.

For years, I was a firm believer in waiting for lightning to strike. I’d sit at home, distracted, with my ears pricked up like tiny lightning rods, waiting for the urge to write. Sometimes, if things got really desperate, I’d procrastinate by moving furniture around. I’d buy things and keep them close to my instruments, hoping that these insignificant possessions would somehow imbue me with inspiration and trigger a fevered writing frenzy, but it rarely happened.

Eventually, I realised that it was just routine stints at my work station that led to the actual production of music. The key was just work, and lots of it. Creativity, like anything, is an exercise in time and discipline. But, as an artist who primarily writes alone, it’s easy to lose focus. The beauty of collaboration is that it holds you accountable – together, you must create a work, or meet a deadline. In doing so, you are exercising the creative muscle and generating momentum, which can be invaluable when you do return to writing alone.

 

 

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some really amazing collaborations, particularly as a performer. I’m proud to have arranged and conducted a vocal tribute to Chrissy Amphlett as part of Melbourne Music Week, which featured a chorus of 12 singers. Similarly, I worked with VIVIDLive on a number of projects – I was chorus co-ordinator for ‘the world’s first psycho opera’, written and performed by NYC alt-glam rockers The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

As a song writer I’m always interested to reinvent my existing work. I believe that songs have a life after you put down the pen – they grow and change with age, and there is nothing in the rule book that says they can’t be edited at a later date.

Songs can also speak to other songs. I have a song called Picture Window that I wrote in my teens, and it was a naive tale of facing the fact I was growing older and things were changing – and believe me, I know to write something of that tone in your early years is a little misguided and self indulgent! However, I really felt those emotions and was grappling with those issues at the time.

The best thing is that now I am older, Picture Window appears to me in a different way. It is a sonic sibling of Crucify by Tori Amos: both songs seem to say to me that we shouldn’t judge ourselves too harshly for actions and mistakes we make while we’re young, at a time when we’re still very much learning how the world around us works. I perform the song very differently now, too, thanks in part to my current band.

This constant reassessment and reinvention is a collaboration between myself and the artists and players that inspire me. Whether that be my backing band, or a songwriter I love, or an artist I happen to be touring with – they’re always helping me analyse the songs and informing me about the way things should be.

 

Jack Colwell Australian Tour Dates
Tickets on sale now

Saturday, 1st October
The Tote, Melbourne
w. Miles Brown + Karli White + Geryon
Special vocal guest: Karina Utomo
Tickets: Jack Colwell Website

Friday, October 7th
Milk Factory, Brisbane
w. Miles Brown + Bree De Rome
Tickets: Jack Colwell Website

Saturday, October 8th
Producers Bar, Adelaide
w. Miles Brown + Lonelyspeck
Tickets: Jack Colwell Website

Friday, October 14th
Opera House (Studio), Sydney
w. Marcus Whale + Miles Brown
Tickets: Jack Colwell Website

Saturday, October 15th
Smith’s Alternative, Canberra
w. Julia Johnson
Tickets: Jack Colwell Website