INTERVIEW: Stephen Jacques

Hi Stephen, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Terrific, always a treat to speak with VENTS Magazine. We’ve had significant progress in the studio, having recently completed “Charmed to Death”, our 8th Release Produced by the amazing Alt-Rock multi-instrumentalist Alan Weatherhead (The Cardigans, Sparklehorse, Magnolia Electric, Hotel Lights). And we’re again at Sound of Music Recording Studios in Richmond, Virginia recording “Incidental Contact” with another accomplished and prolific Producer in John Morand (Carbon Leaf, Cracker, Joan Osborne); I had just written those lyrics last month, so all is swell. All of my prior releases are under the band name Box of Moxie and can be found on Spotify, Bandcamp, SoundCloud, throughout the web or at www.boxofmoxie.net

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “When I Fell In Love With You”?

This was a single that just came to me weeks after the other 10 songs for “Charmed to Death”  were pretty much encompassing the CD itself . Like the extra child you weren’t expecting to have… ha ha. The last few CD’s have been alt-rock love songs, which is never planned, it’s just sorta what’s coming to my mind during the writing process. And of course it must be fresh and real, never rushed- just like true love itself.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

One afternoon I was looking out the window at the woods and thinking about some gorgeous walks a friend of mine in Georgetown, California took me on through the splendid rolling countryside. This was during a Radio Station tour spanning the Sierras down to Morro Bay, on the CA Central Coast. Thus there’s a convergence of the Gold Rush, the history, the shoreline, sprinkle in some romance, then the vicissitudes of the landscape as you traverse across those beautiful dry lands. And of course I lived in California decades ago– so I had real life experiences which then blended with a character who dropped in to fulfill this sort of dreamy romantic adventure of sorts. Two Radio Station Tours from there to Oregon were actually enough lyric material for a couple of records, to be honest. 

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

Anything you’re doing with the super cool Producer John Morand is guaranteed fun, then taking to the streets, with the final product being an eclectic and colorful vibe we’re trying to get across to the viewers. He picked out some locations in Richmond, Virginia, either in his studio or at some nearby Railroad tracks … and said, “hey follow me, i’ve got some ideas”. And then of course some cool shots from our separate trips to California and the real feeling of the landscape and ongoings there. Here’s YouTube Link:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9MloSNP5Oo

The single comes off your new album Charmed To Death – what’s the story behind the title?

Since this comes on the heels of 2 other Love Songs CD’s “Submission Admission” and “Salt Water Magic” and spilled over. Surely I was thinking about all of the charm that “the south” boasts in its own humorous and enlightening way. Of course if it’s pulled off right, ha ha. I was also thinking about that fine line straddling sincerity, honesty, body language and real life experiences that leads to the act of “Charm”. And also how initially encountering, or, the overall presence of someone can be like “wow, you had me at hello”, that old saying. But, there has to be some humor within this context particularly when you’re on the receiving end of a compliment or it’s coming from a charming person who just said something that took you by surprise, or simply swept you off your feet. The amazing power of the spoken word, and when it lands right- well,  it’s just spot on. Genuine, authentic and sincere is the perfect blend I suppose. 

How was the recording and writing process?

Never forced and for me it always just flows. Perhaps it’s channeled from the heavens, ha ha, I just don’t know. But i can’t remember writing any of the songs, i just get a feeling then grab my guitar and start setting the melody with some random lyrics that are coming to me in some sort of “mosaic” art form. Next,  it’s my Iphone video recording this “draft” take. And they usually only take 20-25 minutes to write the first draft. I haven’t discarded many songs, of 98 only 8 songs haven’t been recorded. And those 8 will probably be modified, it’s hard to know. Recording with Alan Weatherhead was great then a bit of a Covid delay whereby Producer John Morand helped out on Vocal production for 8 songs. And 3 of the drum tracks were recorded in Jamaica’s Ocho Rios, as my old friend Maxwell Jerome Hinds was a fine addition to the recording team. Maxwell comes from a family of musicians, and is the son of the Late Jamaican Legend Justin Hinds, whose last 3 CD’s were Produced by longtime friend Keith Richards: Justin Hinds & The Dominoes was the band. 

Having worked with other artists and in other projects – would you call this a departure from your previous work or rather the opposite?

It’s still Alt-Rock but a slight departure from our previous body of work. For example,  “Caroline (MLK Tribute)” speaks to the life and presence of Martin Luther King, evoking some of the south’s history,  but uses a love song as a “jump point”. I loved singing that song, it just felt right.  “Jamaican Breeze” then also trips to California and Washington, DC blended into songs such as “Simple Life Man”, “Turquoise Waters” and “Morning Surfers”. But “One Day You’ll Discover” could perhaps be the most ENERGIZED and ROCKIN’ song on the Album which is being released as a Single on November 27th. 

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Mostly real life experiences upon reflecting on the many trips I was fortunate enought to take,  and of course the Coastal vibe, with its salt water, breezes, visitors, and wildlife. Sometimes people are the “wild” life ha ha. I’ve met a lot of super cool people and fabulously supportive Radio Stations and venues that are kind enough to have me play for them and some of them are in the songs. So through much of these travels, well, the lyrics easily surface. In retrospect I feel like so many people have given back to me more than i’ve give to them via the lyrics and song, I’m very grateful. And, the response to the written and sung lyrics is like its own living organism and it keeps circling back to me- if that makes sense? I feel truly blessed by the kind words and curiosity that people have for the genesis of the songs themselves and the next ones that are coming soon. On any level, I’m lucky to have had this experience!  

What else is happening next in Stephen Jacques’ world?

“Incidental Contact” is the current studio recording album. Don’t laugh,  but i’m trying to blend sort of an industrial, tactile,  and real life work experience with a, you guessed it, L-O-V-E vibe. This may perhaps give you a Bruce Springsteen feeling , But…really….if you took Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg and my hero Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and got them in a room….maybe Paul McCartney wraps a love ballad around it. And, say, it’s about a guy leaving his forklift job near the Jersey shore, well, then, it’s probably in that camp with the tune “Pumping Hydraulics”!  The current draft is: 1. Jet Fighter Man 2. Saucy Siobhan 3. Tidal Wave of Goodbyes 4. Midnight Lover 5. Speed Lightning 6. Come to me Marie  7. Left L.A. with Me 8. My Toll Booth Lady 9. Golden Gate Crown 10. Pumping Hydraulics and 11. French Wake-Up Call.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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