Jack’s sound encapsulates the realities of growing up in London and personal development he has been through over the last decade; punchy rock meets psychedelic pop in this ode to the musician’s 20s, a time filled with ups and downs, and the realities of being young in a city. Jack’s love for London and the city he calls home, comes out in both his personal style and his music. Having released his debut album this year, Jack is in the process of writing his second album and we caught up all about his inspiration, favourite brand of shampoo, and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
My name is Jack Flanigan and I've been a musician since I was a little boy. When I was 19 I joined the band, the Mystery Jets and that was like the beginning of my musical education. Throughout that period of time I was constantly writing my own songs but I had a bit of a phobia of not releasing them. My 20’s were a bit of a rollercoaster ride and I used the songs as a way of documenting everything. Then my friend (and manager) Roger put together 10 of the best songs, there were probably over 100 in total, but he put them together and made me listen to it and it worked! It was cohesive and it was like listening to different versions of me. We picked up a little record deal and I put it out and then I sort of got over my fear of releasing music!
So you mentioned your album that you released this year and you're writing a new album… where does your inspiration for your music albums come from?
It used to be myself, I would write about experiences I had, when I’d meet people or something would happen or I would get a crush on somebody. Then I’d write about it and they were very literal songs, and now I'm going deeper into a reading a lot more at the moment and I'm putting personal experience into these songs but also trying to maybe paint more of a picture with my words, and make these little vignettes or circumstantial pieces of music, I want to create a little world with my words for my listeners without being too whimsical as well. It’s nice to know that people enjoy it, and I am really enjoying being alive at the moment so yeah that’s a really nice place to be, and be writing from.
Nice, so what is your musical process? How do you go from an idea to the final song?
I don't really have a process, either I can write the song or I can’t. I just get these waves of inspiration and it happens simultaneously, both the words and the music come to me. What does always happen though, is I write one verse and one chorus and then I get stuck. So my new … process I guess, is to go and take a shower and as soon as I get in the shower and I've got the shampoo in my hair and stuff, the second verse comes to me. I think it's because I know that I can't go anywhere so I do that and then when I'm in the shower I'm a mess and it all comes to me and I have to try and remember it for when I get out.
Have to ask… Which brand of shampoo gives you the best ideas?
How has the process of making this album differed from your work when you were in the band? [Mystery Jets]
The Mystery Jets was like a democracy sort of, it was a great thing to be in a room with four other people in and everything went to the committee. There were chief songwriters, but it was a learning experience because they're a bit older than me and taught me about their process. Even though my process is completely different to theirs, I learnt a lot from them.
You said before that you had 100 songs and then cut it down to 10 for your album. It covers quite a range of topics, do you think making music helps you deal with things that you are going through or have experienced?
It is cathartic and I think if you write down how you’re feeling about something like the first it's the first step in either getting over that thing or getting your head around it, or working out how to approach it. Whether it’s a problem or something great, once you document that feeling, I find that I can really compartmentalize it in my brain and then figure out what I feel and what it means and what to do.
Yeah yeah definitely. You mentioned earlier that you grew up in the suburbs and you're now in London, tell us about your relationship with London.
I love it! I never wanna leave London, I mean I have my little girl who lives here now yeah. I moved here when I was 17 and London was really different even 10 years ago. There was still the era of club night and it was magical if you were a musician or a creative person in any way. Although London is different and loads of the people I hung out with have moved to seaside towns, I love this area I live in [Tufnell Park] and everything is really close, all my friends are here and it's like being in a small town!
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m similar with my personal taste to my approach to music, I get obsessed with an outfit and I’ll wear it on repeat. I like to be comfortable and feel good, I really like shirts at the moment too.
You have very excitingly curated a Spotify playlist for us. What inspired the songs that you chose for that?
Winter. I actually just went to Croatia on holiday last week and when I got back London was freezing and I was like it's time to listen to some winter music. So I’ve put Fleet Foxes on there, I was so late to the party with them, and some of The Carpenters are on there. It all just makes me feel like staying in on a freezing Monday night.
And lastly, where in London would you listen to that playlist?
I would listen to that playlist on Hampstead Heath or in my living room, all cosy and warm.
1.White Winter Hymnal – Fleetwood Foxes
2.Superstar – Carpenters
3.All of the Time – Alex Chilton
4.Excitable Boy (2007 Remaster) – Warren Zevon
5.A Quick One, While He's Away (Mono Version) – The Who
6.One Night of Love – Karen Dalton
7.Nothin' In the World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl – The Kinks
8.Waiting For The Band – Nicky Hopkins
9.Don't Run Wild – The Del Fuegos
10.Divan – Smudge
11.Universal Heart-Beat – Juliana Hatfield