South-London’s Jodie Abacus has been causing a stir since early singles “I’ll Be That Friend” and “Good Feeling”. with the singer winning hearts at BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra. When he’s not penning upbeat soul anthems, he’s opening for the likes of Laura Mvula and Jamie Woon’s crowds and playing festivals, from Secret Garden Party to V.
This creative force, who previously featured in our sixteenth issue, has recently release his debut LP, entitled Take This And Grow Flowers. The album was inspired by “the worst, mental, fuck-with-my-head year” which saw the singer break-up with a girlfriend of five years and suffer a near-death experience with pneumonia. Jodie now lives with the attitude that he “must be able to take shit and grow flowers” — a slogan to live by, if ever we’ve heard one.
We sat down with Lewisham’s finest to chat about musicians’ mental well-being and the “pure, undiluted life” which went into his debut album.
What’s the last song you listened to?
One of my own; “100 dollars”. it reminds me to keep going when I feel like I’m missing my direction in life.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
A Tribe Called Quest at wireless 2013…my life is complete.
How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
It’s like a melting fusion in a pot full of wonderful music…so I’d say something like; “Imagine this…you’ve got a bowl and you put Paul McCartney, Prince, MJ, Stevie Wonder, Beach Boys, hip-hop and some rock and roll, then bring it all to 2025.” That’s my music.
We hear that your father was a radio DJ — did this impact on your musical development?
Being surrounded by music all the time helps, especially when you’re that young. From hearing all sorts of different genres such as reggae, country, hip hop, soul, rare groove — it definitely had a positive effect on my songwriting. I’ve become a sponge, all the music you hear now is being squeezed out.
You hail from South London — how would you describe the area’s music scene?
There’s not much of a music scene really, other than the pubs and bars that I played in when I used to lug my keyboard around and set up in the corner. These were the places I ironed out my craft. I’ve been pondering to go back to try out new songs at the same places. I don’t think you’re ever too big for that shit!
You’ve discussed feeling very low in the creation of “I’ll Be That Friend” — do you think there needs to be more a discussion surrounding performers’ mental health?
This needs to be addressed because people don’t realise how much artists keep locked up inside them. The tension, the rejection, the “am I good enough?”. I believe it takes a toll on some people mentally…there is so much to talk about on this subject.
Would you care to talk about your debut LP, Take This And Grow Flowers? What were some of the themes or influences which went into its creation?
PURE UNDILUTED LIFE. Money, heartbreak, homeless alcoholics, the sex industry, Colin Kaepernick, Donald Trump, and the synchronicity of life.
What have you got lined up for the rest of the year?
Make great music, influence others, drink beer and succeed.
Jodie Abacus’s debut album, Take This And Grow Flowers, is out now