Saturday 6 April 2013

Jake Quickenden // Interview & Live Review

After appearing on last year’s X Factor the name Jake Quickenden should definitely ring a bell and if it doesn’t, well, his boyish good looks and quirky style should be immediately recognisable. 

After making an early exit from the show there’s good news for Jake fans as he’s back and making it work in his favour. Second single “Walk Away” is out now and Jake is out on the road playing a few special show’s.

Est.1987 headed down to Leeds Met Bar to catch up and talk about going it alone, the support from fans, oh and pulling pints!

Jake Quickenden on stage at Leeds Met Bar

Hey Jake. So are you looking forward to tonight’s show?
I am yeah; got this one tonight and Newcastle tomorrow so it should be really good. I used to live in Leeds; I worked at The Ark [bar] and got the sack for not turning up and giving away free drinks to all my friends [laughing].

Jake playing a selection of covers and original songs
Is it humbling that people are still keen to come to shows and even after X Factor you still have that support?
It’s literally the best thing in the world. I thought after X Factor everyone would just forget and not be bothered. The fact that people still come down and pay to buy a ticket, it just makes me think that I’ve got to put on a good show and sing well and it’s just ace; I’m thankful for everyone that comes.

You’ve covered the likes of Lana Del Ray, Tinie Tempah, Craig David and One Direction. Does that reflect the music you listen to, an eclectic mix?  
I like anything and I like to try and change something and make it my own. I’m not exactly a huge One Direction fan, but I do like some of the songs that they do. I just like anything, especially on a night out I love a bit of dance; anything that’s got a good beat, even if it’s classical. There’s a song on the end of Gladiator by Enya [“Now We Are Free”] and it’s the best song; put candles around the bath and listen to that, amazing [laughing].

Do you feel stronger musically now that you’ve time to play shows, write songs and record?
I do yeah, I feel a lot better in myself. I didn’t even gig before the X Factor so to do a year of gigging has helped me a lot. My voice has improved. I’m not great on guitar but that’s why I’m doing gigs by myself with my guitar because I want to get better.

You’ve taken a “Do It Yourself” approach, got out there and released songs and played shows; is it tougher that way or more rewarding?
It’s definitely rewarding because I’m having to look for everything myself and work hard for it. I’m not saying people who go on the X Factor don’t have to work hard for it because it’s the hardest thing ever, it was that hard that I didn’t even get through. Obviously, when you’re on your own it is hard, but I like doing it and it is a little bit more rewarding; not to say I wouldn’t want to go back on X Factor but at the minute I’m enjoying this.

Jake's acoustic show wows the fans in Leeds

I was going to ask you about X Factor. You’ve mentioned on Twitter about X-Factor this year and whether you should do it or not. Do you feel that you’ve got unfinished business with the show?
Definitely; I mean last year I kind of took everything for granted a little bit and went on thinking I wouldn’t get through. So this year I would maybe go on, not thinking that I was going to get through, but thinking that I’ve got a chance and if I sing well and act myself then hopefully they’ll like me like last year.

Jake on stage in Leeds
And I guess the X Factor journey is quite a whirlwind experience; would you feel more prepared second time around?
Yeah! Literally my first audition I had a burger two seconds before I went on, it’s embarrassing [laughing] so I think I would prepare a lot more and know what was happening. Last year was all a bit of a blur and happened so quickly, so yeah.

Are you the sort of person who believes that everything happens for a reason?
Yeah, I think everything must happen for a reason, because people aren’t going to pass away in your family and things aren’t going to happen if they weren’t meant to happen. Even though it’s not nice, everything must be for a reason and I must be due some good luck.

If you could give any advice to someone doing a show like X Factor what would it be?
It’s always the same for me; just be yourself, don’t change for anyone or anything. Even if you win it, don’t change because people like you for who you are. People obviously liked me for who I was and follow me now, so I’m not going to change.

So the second single “Walk Away” is slightly more upbeat than “Mile High”, the first; is it quite nice having that dynamic, showing off what you can do?
I suppose it is, yeah. I didn’t really want to release a ballad in the first place, but it just turned out like that. So to show that I can do something up beat, that you could listen to in a nightclub maybe is great. And the fact that I would class myself as an acoustic artist, it shows people that I can sing and write and do other bits.

"Walk Away" the latest single
Any plans for an album?
At the minute we haven’t thought that far. I think the next thing is another single and then work on an album.

Was this always the dream? And if you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Probably at Maccy D’s or somewhere [laughing]. Obviously yeah music has always been there but wasn’t always my dream. I wanted to be a footballer before that, and when that didn’t pan out I went from job to job and got sacked from them all and was just a bit of an idiot. Now it’s fallen into place and I’m doing this and it’s what I love. I love meeting new people, singing, writing songs so for me it’s great.

I saw some photos on your Twitter of you pulling some pints in a pub? What’s your favourite tipple?
[laughing] That was the first real pint I’d ever pulled, I got sacked after like two days, don’t even think I pulled one properly. My drink? I like cocktails, but that’s a bit girly isn’t it? Long Island Iced Tea, that’s really strong but I drink pints really or double vodka, lime and lemonade.

And here's what happened when Jake took to the stage...

The crowd gathered here in Leeds Met Bar eagerly awaits the arrival of Jake. Admittedly the crowd is predominantly female and the screams pierce the roomand they barely break until the end. His entrance is understated and humble as he takes to the stage, just him and an acoustic guitar.

Warming the crowd up, Jake begins with the infamous Rihanna and Drake song “What’s My Name?” before serenading them with original tracks. Songs such as “Bail Me Out” and “You’re Like Magic” and the more ballad-like single “Mile High” sit alongside impressive cover versions. R Kelly’s infectious “Ignition Remix” is given a switch up before Jake throws things back a little with the Craig David classic “Fill Me In”.

The acoustic session is the perfect Tuesday evening treat

Famed for his dynamic covers, Jake is also clear that he wants to be seen as more than just that, admitting; “I don’t want to be a cover artist anymore”. Stripped back and raw Jake’s original songs are a mix of strong melodies, rapping, clever lyricism and with elements of Plan B thrown in too. The heartfelt “Humpty Dumpty”, Jake admits is a song particularly close to his heart, written after his brother passed away; the entire audience is totally silent and completely in awe. However, the show wouldn’t be complete without a few more playful covers thrown into the mix. TLC’s “No Scrubs” blends into Macklemore’s “ Thrift Shop” before turning to Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River” and ending up with Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”; impressive stuff indeed.

Jake is modest and extremely likeable and his narrative based original songs such as “Little Jenny” are honest and relatable, whilst “Touch Me Girl” is the perfect chilled out Summer anthem. The crowd doesn’t want the set to end and they plead with Jake for a few more songs. He obliges. The set ends with Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” before closing with latest single, the upbeat “Walk Away”.

And with X Factor auditions for this year having already commenced it is yet to be seen where Jake’s next journey will take him; but whichever direction he takes, his loyal and growing fan base is sure to follow.