5 Minutes With: Jack Colwell and the Owls.

It’s an exciting time for the indie music scene in Australia – and you needn’t look any further than Jack Colwell to see why. With a sound that perfectly marries the vintage with the contemporary, Colwell has crafted a sound that is as enriching as it is satisfying. It’s music that you can quite happily get lost in, lyrics that weave a tale together in quite a competent manner.

There’s an elegance at play here (Jack is a classically trained composer), helping him stand on his own in a crowded industry. It’s a voice you’ll remember – and a name you definitely won’t want to forget. With a career that has already seen him sharing stages with some of Australia’s best and brightest, if there was ever a time to be jumping on board with Colwell’s unique sound, now would be it.

We caught up with the man behind the music to chat inspirations, aspirations, the past, the future – and everything in between.

So, standard question – how did this whole thing get started?
Feels almost an age ago. I guess I began writing songs in my teens, really typical breakup material, but coming from a point of classical composition (I studied through the Conservatorium of Music High School). I’m in my mid twenties now, and when I began writing I didn’t really keep my songs to myself. I played a bunch of solo gigs almost straight away and self released a folktronic EP called White Noise which got picked up by FBi. I was incredibly eager. It was through FBi’s encouragement that I kept drafting and writing material. I guess maybe two or three years ago after really questioning what I wanted to do with my life I decided to make songwriting and performing my career. Like the songs themselves though, it all starts in the bedroom.

You’ve got three words to sum up your sound: go.
Sadcore meets PeterAllen.

What’s been the highlight of your musical career so far?
There’s been a few. I’d say I’m most proud of my last single ‘Far From View’ getting RAGE indie clip of the week. It’s different now, but as someone who grew up religiously watching Video Hits, PEPSI Max charts and most importantly RAGE as my main access to any kind of popular music it felt like a huge honor.

Do you have any advice you’d like to give to young musicians looking to make it in the industry?
This is tricky as I feel I have so much to learn myself.
I’ve been lucky as a musician to work with some really great international bands, but as a solo artist it’s really only in the last couple of years I’ve achieved some moderate success, and even then it feels very small. Often art can be a great output for a small return – which is both wonderful and devastating at the same time.I think more than anything I’ve felt really focused on looking at songwriting as a craft – it sounds silly, but when you write a song it should be about something, not ten different things or a series of vague abstract ideas [or actually, it could be vague and abstract if that’s your intention]; A song should really carry a message at the end of the day.
I felt terrified as a person / musician / artist, and I still am in lots of ways – I carry a strong fear of rejection. It played a huge role in both the initial creation and inspiration for my art. I had this feeling that I wouldn’t be accepted by people unless I created something that other people would respect, and then in turn I would be welcomed into some sort of fold.

With age, I’ve put this down to the feelings of inequality or difference I felt as a homosexual, and then again as an artist who felt marginalised by my sexuality at times within the recording industry. It’s quite different now even to when I began, but I think as a generation we’re still learning how to treat and accept same-sex attracted artists.

Source: Mclean Stephenson.

Source: Mclean Stephenson.

After watching documentaries about artists and performers I admired who fell outside of a ‘scene’ to do with their own personal or artistic differences (non-sexually orientated). The Kate Bush documentary on BBC4, 20,000 days on earth (Nick Cave Doco) and Control – The story of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis come to mind; it was through accepting themselves and their differences that they became great artists and highly original and captivating musicians. So purely focused on their goal and free of outside opinion that they could be no one else but themselves.

I guess at the end of all that, the advice I would give is that it’s better to try and show who you are as a person and an artist and have your music reflect that, no matter how strange or confronting that may seem at times.

If you could collaborate with one band/artist, living or dead, who would it be?
Too tough.

Finally – it sounds like there’s some pretty exciting thing on the horizon for you. Care to give us a quick overview of what’s up next?
Well speaking of Kate Bush earlier I’m leaving for London on 26th September to see her concert. It will be the first time in 36 years she’s performed so it will be a musical pilgrimage of sorts for me to see her. While I’m over there I’ll be recording a film clip for my next Single ‘Don’t Cry Those Tears’ which will be out early next year – these things take time.

When the single comes out it will be followed by an EP and a national tour. Until then I’ll be heading down to Melbourne Festival in October for the Since I Left You – A Celebration of the Avalanches to resume my role Double Bassist // Hype boy.

FACT FILE:

– You can listen to more over on SoundCloud.
– You can like Jack Colwell on Facebook here.
– You can follow him on Twitter here.
Images care of Mclean Stephenson.


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