Meet Jake Lore, an unlikely pop star creating his very own blurred lines.
Although the heavily tattooed, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter grew up taking piano and guitar lessons as a child, Jake didn’t take the idea of songwriting too seriously until coming across a blog post about LCD Soundsystem‘s James Murphy inviting bands to use their studio. “I figured I had nothing to lose so I emailed them, and Matt Thornley got back to me that day,” he says.
The email exchange quickly turned into a week long studio session, which spawned a set of demos mixed by Abe Seiferth (Yeasayer) and released under the name KOORTWAH — but Jake still wasn’t satisfied.
“Those got people to start taking me seriously, but I was still working under a different name and I didn’t feel like I had quite found my style. I was programming and producing myself, and the truth is I wanted to make pop,” he says of his earlier demos. “I’ve always loved pop, and I wanted to take some of the values that have always been important to me content-wise, and drive them in a more uplifting direction. I wanted to open up a lot, and that felt more possible in a pop landscape.”
And then, the breakthrough (and beats) finally arrived, courtesy of a meeting with Eric Ronick (Panic! At The Disco), who would go on to co-write the entirety of Jake’s brand new EP, Born To Believe.
Synth-filled, romantic and spiritual, the 5-track collection balances dreamy electro-pop vibrations and Top 40-friendly melodies with thought-provoking and poetic lyricism, bringing Violator-era Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys to mind, mixed with the vulnerability of Death Cab For Cutie and Frankmusik.
The EP’s title track, which opens with a nostalgic ’80’s New Wave thump recalling Eurythmics‘ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)”, represents the hopeful undertones of the collection. “Lead me on, lead me anywhere…I was born to believe you,” he coos, bringing a touch of Lana Del Rey‘s longing to mind.
“I’m really attracted to a certain tension, or even opposing values — a song that’s both elegiac and triumphant, dark but light at the same time,” he says.
No better is that tension represented than with “Charlie,” a soaring electronic torch track filled with seemingly conflicting ideals: “Feminine, masculine/I love you, I hate you/They’re synonyms,” he softly croons.
The sense of opposition even comes down to pronoun play, as with the starry-eyed “Your Girl.”
“I just want to be your girl,” he delicately coos. Wait, what?
“Feminine perspectives are something I’m really interested in, and they’re a big part of this EP,” he explains. “I think girls (and women) are often assigned a kind of victim role in pop songwriting, and I wanted to put myself in that position and see if there wasn’t a certain kind of strength in that vulnerability — whether it’s real or socially imposed. As a writer, I’m often more interested in the question than the answer, and I always try to put things together in a way that encourages the listener to make up their own mind.”
It’s that kind of thoughtful music-making — at a time when mindless summer jams like Jason Derulo‘s “Wiggle” and Lil Jon‘s “Turn Down For What” dominate at radio — that makes Jake Lore such a refreshing alternative to some male contemporaries. “I’ve always thought that pop can be super accessible and fun without sacrificing thoughtfulness, intelligence and emotional authenticity. I guess I’m shooting for something that’s both universal and personal all at once,” he says.
That idea of universality also isn’t the impossibility it once was. The major worldwide success of Sam Smith, for instance, is a reassuring indication that listeners are becoming at least slightly more receptive to new perspectives in pop.
While Jake continues to independently work on new material and craft a live show experience (which he hopes to be “as visually ambitious” as possible), he’s not opposed to label deals for distribution. “A label to me represents more than just money…it’s about community too — connecting with more and more people,” he says.
“It’s a work in progress, and I hope it always will be.”
Listen to Jake Lore’s Born To Believe EP above, and keep up with him on his official website.
Photos by Jason Rodgers.