“Jack is a national treasure!” is what low-key Ōtautahi rock star Emily C Browning told NZM when we asked her recently about fellow singer-songwriter and some-time bandmate Jack Page. A multi-talented singer-songwriter with a tertiary background in jazz, Jack broke out of his role as a popular session musician last year with the release of his solo EP, ‘The Days, Pt.1’, following that up with a live version of the same release that included three grooving bonus tracks. He’s back in early 2021 with a brand new single called Play That Too, proving with some ease that the man’s got soul! NZM asked Jack to talk us through the new track.
The first spark for this song came just before I went on tour last year. A lot of my songs are quite mellow, or are ballads, and I wanted something more gritty we could play live. The hard-hitting energy I was looking for ending up coming from a situation I was in where I was feeling pretty angry and upset with someone. I ended up channelling that more negative energy into the tune and doing my best to produce it in a lighter, less dark way. The tune evolved a bit from show to show with the band – in fact I never planned to put it out at all, but instead just play it as a wee extra tune live! But it somehow managed to climb its way to debut single from the EP…
I had some input from my band regarding the arrangement which was great, but the tune really found its feet when I brought it to Devin Abrams, who produced it with me. Then once I got Wellington’s Ben Hunt in to play some horn lines it really took off. We were definitely going for a gritty, old-school vibe on this one, which is what we ended up with. Success!
The main challenge was just finding a groove that sat right – everything else kind of fell into place pretty nicely once we found that. We finished the bulk of the tune in a day, then tinkered with things a little after that to finish it off.
I produce, write, and play as much as I can, which means the team tends to stay nice and small. For this tune, I had Devin co-producing, which 100% made this tune what it is. I’m playing everything on the track except for the trumpet lines, which I arranged for Ben, who absolutely killed it! And then had Kelly Hibbert at Almachrome on the mix/master, who really makes the vibe pop.
One of the lines that resonates most with me is, ‘And I know my Mum she taught me better, but I think she’d make exceptions for you… Cos I can play that too’. This tune is about feeling bitter about a relationship, and wanting to go against your best instinct and really stooping to their level, even though you know you shouldn’t. That line really encapsulates the essence of the song I think, and the headspace I was in when I wrote it.
In terms of where this tune sits with my other material, it’s definitely on the more upbeat side of things I’ve released, or have coming. It’s an evolution in my sound and definitely takes a step forward in terms of production quality – but still maintains some consistency with the previous record.