A massive success in his native South Africa and with a continuously growing fan base across the world, acclaimed singer-songwriter, Jeremy Loops‘ finally returns to Australia with his new world tour. After nearly selling out his last stint in Australia, he will grace Australian and Adelaide audiences (for the first time) with a live rendition of his special Critical as Water album. After months on the road on his biggest tour yet, we chat to the musician about inspiration, production of the album and the surreal feeling of selling out shows across the world.
Congratulations on the release of your new album, can you tell us the story behind it?
Thank you! The album’s primary narrative device is water – thematically I keep coming back to that throughout. And the album’s title Critical As Water is both a declaration and a question: everyone knows few things are as critical as water, but to be more specific, what is critical as water to you, the listener? That’s the dual aim of the album to me: what’s important in life for the world, but also encouraging listeners to ask that question of themselves in their own lives.
I wrote the album during a dark time in my life, dealing with insane anxiety to live up to the relative success of the first album, all the while living in a time where the world has felt upside down.
Would you say there is a theme of water which runs throughout the course of your album?
Yes, absolutely. Several of the songs have water-based titles, like Waves, Underwater Blues, Flash Floods, and The Shore. I wasn’t overly deliberate about water being a core theme throughout, but I found the more time I spent in and around water, the clearer my writing and thinking and sense of self became, which enabled this album to come to be. Growing up in a small surf village, water’s always represented life to me. It’s where I have my biggest joys and where I go to cleanse my greatest struggles. And those concepts began distilling themselves in metaphors on water as I wrote the album.
In your home town, Cape Town there is an urgent and real water crisis going on, did this play a role in your song writing?
It’s a huge coincidence that the water crisis in Cape Town came to a head as Critical As Water was being released, but no, our water crisis at home played almost no role in the songwriting for this album, or even its title. I co-founded a tree-planting company called Greenpop about 8 years ago, where we’ve planted some 86000 trees to date. As such, Cape Town’s environmental challenges have been on my mind for a long time, water included.
I love the song, ‘Vultures,’ such a beautiful ballad with a strong message, can you tell us about what’s behind the song?
Vultures is a song about the times. I poke at the construct we live in, the frivolous nature of it all. The sickness and decomposition of our moral fabric. The values I no longer agree with, and the idea that one day, the world will right itself. Nature will take back what it’s owed. And all that remains will be overgrown and new life will start. It’s fatalistic in many ways, but hopeful in its resolution.
The album was produced by Will Hicks, what was it like working with him?
Will is a machine. A genuine workhorse. It was interesting to see because he’s an extremely creative person, but he doesn’t use that creative spirit as an excuse to not put in hard hours. It’s one and the same. That really resonated with me.
He’s obviously very accomplished – he’s worked with Bastille, Lily Allen, Elton John, and he made Ed Sheeran’s mega-hit ‘Perfect – but his respect for the song is just like my respect for it. Which is to say, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, the only ego allowed in the studio is the song. Everyone else parks their egos at the door. It all made for a great, albeit intensive, time in studio together.
You’ve been on the road for almost three months now, on a huge tour through Europe, North America and Australasia, how has it been?
Tour’s been great! Hard work, but fulfilling. It’s all been sold out, and we’re headlining 2000+ capacity rooms now and growing fast, which really shifts the needle in terms of what’s possible with the production, which has been fun.
What are some of the highlights?
Our new album came out a week before tour started, so we had tempered expectations about how well people would know the new songs. A totally illegitimate concern that turned out to be – the audience was belting out the songs from the new album the same way they did my debut album, and that was the case every night. It’s been truly humbling.
The tour has sold over 30,000 tickets, congratulations! It must be overwhelming, and an incredible experience playing in front of so many fans…
It’s crazy. I just think back to our first shows years back when the crowd was 50 people, 30 of whom were friends and family. Then I think about what we’re doing now and the size of the crowds we’re playing to, and it strikes me how beautiful progress is. At first it’s slow and incremental, and then hyper growth happens, and you don’t even notice that when you’re always on the road and always keeping your head down working. For us we’re in that hyper growth phase, and I’ve allowed myself a brief moment to look up and see what my team’s achieved, and it’s quite something.
And you’ll be in Adelaide this month at Fowlers Live, what can we expect from your live set?
This is our first time in Adelaide, so we want to keep the specifics of our set super hush, lest we spoil the surprises. What I can promise is a high energy set with tons of material from both my debut album Trading Change and my new album Critical As Water.
Jeremy Loops plays at Fowlers Live on Wednesday, May 23 at 7.30pm. Tickets available here.