An Irish indie music institution in his own right, Riche Egan of Jape chats to Rebekah Rennick to discuss Swedish influences, his creative process behind album number five and the tenuous link between music and furniture craftsmanship
Side projects are often the manifestation of an artist’s creative overflow; perpetuating a musician’s insatiable thirst for more. Very often still, side projects rarely overshadow the original band or source from which the musician emerged, keeping to the background as an extra outlet for creator and consumer alike. Yet, Richie Egan of Jape admits “I just love to make music and I love to write songs, so it’s something I’ll continue to do while I’m able to do it.” A fair point undoubtedly his fans would welcome with a smile.
There are numerous reasons as to why Jape is one of Ireland’s most well loved but utterly underrated bands. From making electronic music evermore accessible to those on Irish soil, and beyond, showcasing the length with which you can experiment with sound, picking up a plethora of musical credentials on the way and having a leading man whose name itself breaths with Irish energy, Richie Egan and friends are a force to be reckoned with.
Although Egan’s musical journey with Jape began in 2003 with debut album Cosmosphere, his creative direction has continued to twist and turn throughout the years. With an electronic sound acting as the beating heart of his musical endeavours, Egan has moulded his own characteristic and distinct sound. With his toes firmly dipped in a handful of separate bands; from guest appearances with Villagers “Oh god, I played with them for like the first two gigs.” He laughs “I’ve known Conor for so long. He’s just such a cool dude. He’s one of the most inspirational dudes. He’s just such a good songwriter, and more than that he’s just really great to talk to about things.” to committing himself to instrumental post-rock ensemble Redneck Manifesto, Egan has transformed into a swelling, diverse indie entity.
Even in the early days, however, it was difficult to ignore the alternative angle with which Jape were directing their sound. Egan’s interest in melodies and the structuring of sound is undeniable, and he admits his interest in foreign sound was always evident, particularly music from Sweden, the place he now calls home “Well, even before I moved to Sweden, I’ve always been passionate about the Swedish sense of melody. I think Swedish people are very good craftspeople.” He says “They’re very good at crafting. When they make music they really craft melody. They really work at it technically. There are so many great, Swedish acts. I used to listen to a band called Star Market, and even though they were a cover band, their sense of melody was really, really advanced. I’ve always been influenced by that. I think with Swedish people, they tend to be a little bit reserved so what I was trying to do was get that sense of craft, while also putting in a bit more emotion. “
And this work ethic certainly has paid off as he now stands as a critically acclaimed and award winning musician. With four albums under his belt and as his audience eagerly await Jape’s swaying, multi-layered fifth, Egan admits it’s not the pressure from the outside that drives him but the pressure he places upon himself “I just try really not to let myself away with anything. I think if you’re making furniture, for example, over time you get better at making furniture. You learn what to do well and what doesn’t work for you and hopefully just get better at it. I still feel a real sense of wonder making music.”
This Chemical Sea, Jape’s newest installment, sees the helping hands of both Glenn Keating and David Wrench adding their own unique touch and expanding Egan’s creative outlook. Speaking of Keating’s involvement, Egan recalls that “He was very important on this record. In the past, all of the Jape records I have been kind of calling all of the shots and sort of telling them, ‘This is the way it’s going to be.” With this record, Glenn was such a great sound board. We’ve been playing together for so many years at this stage that we know each other really well. In order to cut through mental anguish and trying to second guess myself all the time, I thought it would be cool to get Glen on board. He ended up coming up with some great suggestions for songs and stuff.” He says “We argued too, but that was great. I love that, arguing with someone because you’re both serving the song. You’re not trying to offend anyone, you’re just trying to make it as best you can.”
Similarly, the enthusiasm with which he speaks of mixer Wrench, who this year alone has worked with the likes of Caribou, Glass Animals and Jungle, truly radiates as he gushes “To me, it was like winning the lottery to get him to mix the album. Genuinely, if I could have anyone in the world, anybody, I’d still pick him. I just love the sense of space he gets, the 3D he gets, the way he makes he makes the bass sound really tight, the way he gets everything to pop out of the speakers a bit.”
Returning to the stage and transforming the album into a live manifestation is an eagerly awaited feat for Richie. Experimentation and fusion of sound with his intricate lyricism has always been a distinctive feature of Jape’s sound both on record and in a live setting. Although replicating what is on a record is a difficult task for any band, Jape seamlessly blurs the lines between studio and stage. “I’m looking forward to bashing out the setlist.” He says “We’ve got the album obviously recorded and everything, so we’re trying to rework the tracks for a live environment. It feels like a long time since we’ve actually done a tour. I’m excited to present the album.” Equally so, he awaits the Irish crowd with open arms as undoubtedly “hey’ve always been so supportive of Jape.”
While newest single ‘The Hears Desire’ sets the multi-coloured, euphoric tone of the record, accompanied by an equally eccentric, oozing video featuring a floating Richie Egan head, Jape’s well awaited return is one of defined lines “I think in the past, Jape albums have sort of bounced around, where they have maybe an acoustic song, followed by an electronic song afterwards. I didn’t want to have that on this album, I wanted a coherent sound.” And coherency has never sounded this good.
Jape’s new album This Chemical Sea is to be release on Friday January 23rd.