When you have over 1,300 performers in 80 clubs, it’s a sure sign the CMJ Music Marathon is about to rock New York City. Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders join the ranks with artists like Autumn Owls, Ghostface Killah and Jasmine Solano this year for what’s shaping up to be an amazing music festival.
Often characterized by his baritone voice, singer/songwriter and front man Jack Ladder weaves poignant observations on topics like love or death into his music, often featuring a gallows sense of humor. Two of his three albums have been shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize.
We caught up with Jack to talk about creating music, what gear works best, and what use he has for a blindfold.
SeagateCreative: What’s the most interesting idea you recently had? What inspired it?
JL: I was writing a song the other day and I had the idea that I should write to the council instead and organize a smaller garbage bin. We rarely fill it up even half way and we’re being charged some exorbitant rates and there’s an option to downsize for half the price. I think because the song I was working on wasn’t any good I decided to do that.
SeagateCreative: Do you have a favorite ritual you use when composing you tunes?
JL: A blindfold. Eyes get in the way all the time. Sometimes it’s best to shut them down. I have a nice silk one that breathes.
SeagateCreative: How do you when an idea’s worth pursuing?
JL: Time seems to be the only proven test. If an idea is still hanging around after 6 months to a year then it might be worth pursuing. It might then incubate for a few years more until it finds another idea to work with. My work is basically lots of little ideas finding each other.
SeagateCreative: What’s your process for coaxing these ideas to a finished work of art?
JL: Finishing things is a whole other deal. The space that the music is made in is crucial, like another instrument. So we need to find the right space and organize the Dreamlanders to come and do their thing. I like a big production. I’ve been told I’m a process junky, whatever that means.
SeagateCreative: What kind of gear do you seek out, to inspire your songcraft and production?
JL: I’m not too fussy about my gear. My favorite things to do is taking a bad/broken piece of equipment and try and get some kind of sound out of it. Work within its limitations. When I moved into the house where I’m living there was this electric organ the previous tenants had left behind. The speaker was blown and it sounded terrible. I tried with it for the first few months. I’d sit down, play a chord, cringe and turn it off. I was going to throw it out then I got used to the sound of the thing and started trying to pick notes and discovered there was a particular way to play it that didn’t sound as bad. Over the last year I’ve written the majority of a new album on it.
SeagateCreative: What’s your favorite piece of gear?
JL: Probably an old Rhythm Ace drum machine and a delay unit.
SeagateCreative: What’s so great about the Rhythm Ace?
JL: Who knew Foxtrot #1 could go so many different ways. I also find the beguine a soothing accompaniment.
SeagateCreative: When’s the last time you had writer’s block? How did you get over it?
JL: The last time this happened I had to stay up for days on end and exhaust the thing out of me. Luckily my partner was out of town. It was some kind of weird exorcism. By the end it just fell on the page in a big pile.
SeagateCreative: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists, to help them stay creative?
JL: Keep your eyes peeled!
SeagateCreative: What we can look forward to from you?
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