The name Jesse Hackett may not immediately seem familiar, but the London-based producer has been on the radar of those in the know for several years. Now, for the first time in his ten-year music career, Hackett is finally stepping out as a solo musician under his own name with JUNK as the first record release on the new imprint of Stones Throw, Circle Star Records.
Hackett released an album as Elmore Judd on Honest Jons in 2007, and shortly afterwards the opportunity to work with Damon Albarn, arrived. In 2010, Hackett toured with Gorillaz as the group’s synth player, and became a mainstay of Damon Albarn’s Africa Express project.
Along with Kenyan musicians Joseph Nyumungu and Charles Okowo, and Elmore Judd collaborators Tom Skinner and brother Louis Hackett (aka Louis Slippers), Hackett also formed Owiny Sigoma Band. The group released two albums on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide label and toured Europe and Africa. Another fortuitous connection was made – this one with Thom Yorke, who invited Owiny Sigoma Band to join him on tour in 2013. Around the same time, Hackett formed the studio-based Blludd Relations project with the London producer Bullion.
JUNK is Hackett’s first fully solo endeavour under his own name. Hackett created its sound with a cheap Yamaha PSR-110 that he found in a recycling dump. He was inspired to work within the parameters of the keyboard as a template and see how far he could take it. “I like the idea of making beauty from rubbish – or so-called rubbish,” he says.
“I wrote all the songs in different styles from glam rock to sleazy lizard lounge punk-funk,” he explains, on a “pretty ropey” keyboard. He explores a range of themes on JUNK: on ‘Closet Jazz’, a musician hides his jazz tendencies for fear of being ridiculed by his friends, and ‘I Don’t Wanna Get Old’, tackles fear of ageing via lyrics about an amphibian man. But there’s a bleaker underbelly to many of the songs. Hackett is unafraid to tackle weightier subjects, from “a relationship that reached a sacred oblivion” to imminent apocalypse.
Hackett may have been releasing music for around ten years, but working under his own name and signed to a new label, in many ways JUNK feels like the beginning. Available from 10.07.2015