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03/09/2010

The Royal Reign of Sir Jack Splash

If there is one artist who completely embodies the term "renaissance man", it's the Miami-cum-LA producer/artist, Jack Splash. Long hot on the "Sir Jack tip" since hearing a few demos early last year, a proper sit-down with the dude who makes me hit play, and repeat, more often than not was a chance to get into the mind of a true millennial master.

 

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Oft-compared to a hybrid lovechild of Prince and Outkast, Splash is not shy to show his passion and dedication to his impressive collection of works, most of which he's dished out for free in anticipation of his full length album, Technology and Love Might Save Us All. Let's dive in and, yep, make a splash with super cool and cordial dude.

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SB:  Since we’ve been going back and forth on Twitter, I figured why not do a proper interview and help spread the word a little bit more?

JS: Cool, I really appreciate that. Your real name is Hannah?

 

SB: Yeah, it’s Hannah.  Sheena Beaston is just the name of the site, but I’ve answered to Sheena many times before, so whatever works is totally cool.

JS: That’s cool. That’s rock and roll, I dig it.

 

SB: Absolutely.  So where are you based at right now?

JS:  I’m in Miami right now.

 

SB: Oh, so you’re missing out on all the snow and the fun going on up here in the Northeast.

JS: Oh my goodness, I’m not a huge snow person anyways

 

SB: Dude, I am not either...I hate it! My office even shut down today.

JS: That’s madness. I don’t think I’ve ever been…I mean, I’ve been in the snow, but not in the middle of the city. You know what I mean?

 

SB: Yeah, exactly. It’s just a hassle to trudge through the city in these conditions so it’s kind of nice to  just stay home and watch movies all day, which is so out of the norm for me.

JS:  That’s the best time for some hot cocoa

 

SB: Exactly! So what are you doing down in Miami now?

JS:  Um, I’m from LA originally and I moved out here I guess about 4 years ago now and it was only supposed to be a one year thing, like a working vacation type thing. But, I love it.  I love the weather.  I’m a beach dude, like that’s why I don’t love the snow.  I just like the warm, tropical weather. Yeah,  like this year’s been a little bit cold, but other than that, I love the weather and I’m a workaholic.  And I live right on the beach so I can wake up and go swimming in the ocean, right on the beach.

 

SB: You’re making me jealous now.  If I could have an NYC lifetyle and have it be 100% warm weather all the time, dude, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

JS: Well that’s what’s crazy.  Ideally I wanted to move to Hawaii, but I knew that totally was not practical for what I was trying to do.  But I thought Miami would be like the next best thing.  But I didn’t know what the business would be like, so I just thought let’s go for it and see what happens. But luckily for my stuff, there’s as much work here as there is in LA or New York, which is awesome.  I think it’s because everyone realized that it’s a much better place, you know like lifestyle-wise, a much better place to be, so a lot of people moved out here.  I’ve been really busy since I moved out here, so I’m like, man, I do miss my family and all my people back in LA. But it’s so good out here it’s hard to move back.

 

SB: [laughs]  Alright so aside from all the weather and location talk, if you want to talk a little bit about how you started in music, and I know you’ve done a lot of production work for other artists and whatnot, so how did you get started in making your own music?

JS: Actually, it’s interesting because I guess since I’ve had a little bit more success as a producer, people aren’t necessarily aware that I was always an artist first and that the producing thing was always kind of my lucky break.  To give you a real quick history of it, I basically had my little underground group, it’s called Plant Life and it was really just like my passion project and I didn’t really think anyone would be into it, cuz it was my own little weird shit, right? But that was really the first thing that started making me money.  And it took off pretty well in Europe and a lot of the bigger electronic dudes like Chemical Brothers and Groove Armada and a lot of the big DJs hit me up loving the Plant Life shit and I called my producer and was like, “Fuck man, I think these people really love it out there.  We need to go to London!”  So we did, and at that time it was like this big Earth, Wind and Fire show I had.  You know, 14 people, full horn section, it was ill.  And back then my DJs name was Rashida, and my booking agent would be like, “Can’t just you and Rashida come out?” and I’m like, “No”.  So anyways, we did that and it was dope, and we ended up winning like Album of the Year at BBC Radio and it was kinda like a whirlwind, but it was still a little underground thing, you know? So that kinda took off quicker than I thought and I was making a good living doing that, but again, I don’t love cold weather, and I was in Europe for way too long missing LA, I didn’t live in Miami yet, and I got a call from one of my people back here in the states and he said that Cee-Lo heard the Plant Life record and wanted to meet up with me here in Miami.  So I came out here and thought maybe we would just do a song or something but he was really really into what I was doing musically and he’s definitely one of my favorite hip-hop artists of all times so I basically just pumped the brakes on everything.  I had another tour set up, but he was like “Let’s do another album, we need to be a group” and things like that so I just dove head first into that.  

  

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That was really the first thing I produced.  I mean I produced the Plant Life record too, but I was also the lead singer and I didn’t consider myself a producer per say. I produced out of necessity, you know?  But producing for Cee-Lo was so fun that I was like, you know, I could get used to this. I get as much of a musical high working for other people as I do working on my own stuff.  So I did that for a while and we put together this project called The Heart Attack which was literally right before his Gnarls Barkley record broke.  So when that blew up, he was like, “I’m gonna go to London for a week,” but he had never been to Europe like that before, and I had just gotten back from out there and all my people were calling me like, “Yo this record’s about to be fuckin huge!”  And I called him and was like, “Yo, you ain’t gonna be back in a week homie!”  And I remember telling him that this was gonna be as big as his Pussycat Dolls shit, maybe bigger.  And he’s like “Nah man, I’ll be back”.  And he had his whole wild ride which was awesome because he deserved that.  But at the same time it didn’t make sense to put out The Heart Attack album right then because people would get confused.  But other people started hearing about it like Alicia Keys and John Legend and they wanted that kind of vibe so I started working with everybody while he was in Europe doing his thing.  And it was really fun.  I kind of just got on the ride and went for it.  And for me what’s important artistically is that I’m doing what I love and that I’m not really changing the way I do what I do.  So it doesn’t matter to me if I’m making my own record or producing for someone else.  As long as I feel like we’re making something really special, that’s what’s exciting to me.

 

SB: That’s awesome dude.  So you’ve been putting out some mix tapes in anticipation of the full length that’s coming out.  Do you have a release date for the full album yet?

JS: Well, I had so many people on it that I had to get all the clearances, you know, all the label politics.  But it’s coming out in May, I don’t have the exact date.   The main reason I was putting out the free albums, and I call them the free albums because they’re really albums, you know what I mean, but the reason I wanted to do that, the first were more hip-hop based and on the new one I’m not rapping at all, it’s all singing, but I wanted my American people to know kinda where I come from so when the big album comes out or whatever, I didn’t want to come out of left field.  I wanted the people to know, here’s my history, and it’s easier to tell those stories through hip-hop, you know what I mean? So, I’m not rapping at all on my real album.  Lupe is on it, and Missy and other people are doing the rapping part.

 

SB:  That’s what I wanted to ask you.  How much of the album then is you and your voice as opposed to the guests? Because I know you have a great lineup of people set to appear on the album...

JS: It’s still 90% me, you know?  I guess the important thing is that I made the entire album on my own first.  Our Plant Life stuff was like demos to me.  I mean, to be honest and frank, I was drunk and just having fun and living life and documenting that in songs.  So I didn’t really produce it, I wasn’t trippin out on how my vocals sounded, you know it sounded a little fucked up but it was supposed to sound a little fucked up.  So I made the entire album on my own first, there was nobody on it. And it wasn’t until I finished and made this little animated movie with Cee-Lo and I was like, you know what, I really want to bring, I mean I know it sounds crazy, I hope this doesn’t come out as a bad quote, but I really wanted to kind of try and do what the Beatles did with Sergeant Pepper where it was all them but they brought in this really beautiful cast of characters to come participate in their little psychedelic world.  So that’s really what I did.  

 

SB:  [laughs] Well, it's in there now...we're going to print! [laughs

JS: [laughs] 90% of the songs are still me, but for instance the song I put Lupe on, it felt like it was the perfect part for a rapper to come in and to be honest I didn’t really want to be doing the rapping on it.  And he killed it, you know what I mean, he’s talking about aliens and love and he totally understood the concept and nailed it.  I’ve been outspoken about just trying to push things forward, not just artistically, but thoughtwise, artistically, just trying to be open-minded and open-hearted.  So those are the types  of people I brought in and it’s a weird mix from T-Pain to Janelle Monae.  People might not realize that T-Pain and I are damn near twins but we are. [laughs]  Hip-hop dudes doing their own weird little thing and we got lucky and started making money off of it.  Like the song T-Pain and R. Kelly did, that was originally just all me and then there was a little part to do a rap and people didn’t know how raw T-Pain was, and of course the label got pissed, “How can you have T-Pain on this song and not even sing? That doesn’t make any sense!” And I was like, no, trust me.  Just trust me.

 

SB: Exactly. Because everyone knows him for what he made his millions from but to tap into another aspect of him and to have it turn out so rad, I can’t wait to hear it.  It sounds great.

JS: Yeah, and that being said, R. Kelly heard it and loved it and I was like, that’s perfect, because he’s one of my musical idols.  I don’t think I sound like R. Kelly at all, but he taught me a lot about songwriting.  People like him and Prince and other people that were really fearless with their lyrics that were just like, fuck you I’m gonna write what I want to write. So those are the types of people I brought in.  But it’s not like a producer’s compilation album, this is a real album.  I just found a way to weave some people into it.

 

SB: That’s perfect.  It’s all in support of what you’re doing and it shows in some of the tracks that I’ve heard from the free albums and a couple of demos and it’s all pretty complimentary to the style of music you’re doing which I think is a great thing. And it’s not like anyone’s overshadowing any one other person.  It’s all a good balance of everyone’s talents to make a great end result, so kudos to you for that.

JS:  Thanks. Well that’s what’s kind of funny.  I’m lucky that I have this other career as a producer too.  That kind of frees me up. To be honest, I made the record that I wanted to make as an artist.  I wasn’t worried about what the label wanted or whatever.  I’m lucky that they like what I actually did.  So with the other people, it’s funny that these are kind of the records they want to be making anyways, but sometimes  they’re either a little scared to do it, or the label doesn’t want to do it, or whatever it is. It’s kind of fun because it’s also helping me.  I wanted to make these types of records with some of the artists.  Like I wanted to do some really out there stuff with Alicia.  And I loved some of the stuff I did with her but I also wanted to do something a little crazier, and it’s funny because she kind of did some of it on this new album.  But that’s all the stuff that I wanted to do with her, you know?  Because I like when artists challenge themselves.  Again, like Cee-Lo and Andre and Lauryn Hill….any of these people are great examples of that.  The greatest artists of all time, whether it be David Bowie or Prince or the Beatles or whoever, were the ones that kind of pushed themselves to get to that next thing. But I do want to be clear that people who liked the first two mixtapes or free albums that this next one coming is really nothing like those two.  I mean there’s bits and pieces of it.  The songs you picked out, like Love Slut, that’s what my real stuff is like.  

   

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SB: Those are the ones that like as soon as I started listening to it, those ones jumped out at me and I was like , dude this shit is tight.  Like all the production work and everything was just so on point. Some days when it’s just like what am I gonna listen to today? I just go back to that and it works well.

JS: Honestly, for people like you, I feel like this next album, this free one, honestly I feel like it’s my best work to date.

 

SB: When are you putting that one out?

JS: Well I’m finishing it up right now, and it’s like a really special thing.  To me, there was a lot of hype surrounding what I’m doing.  And when I say hype, I mean a lot of people comparing me to other big talents.  You know I’m a regular dude, so for people to even compare me, those are big shoes to fill.  So I was always running away from that kinda, cuz it was kind of preposterous to me.  But then I had this little revelation like 6 months ago where it was everyone that I was working with.  Very diverse people.  Like Missy pulled me aside at the video shoot and said something really special to me.  Between that and actually Prince coming up and scooping what she does, because she’s his DJ now, and meeting him several times and him saying really nice things about my music.

 

SB: That’s such an honor dude.

JS: Yeah, I guess something just clicked in my head like I’ll never be Prince or Michael or Outkast, you know, but maybe for right now, that’s what I’m supposed to be.  Like for this generation maybe I’m supposed to be the person that gives a fuck enough.  I think to me, the only way that we’re really really similar is that our hearts are the same.  Like what Andre is about in his heart or what Prince is about in his heart or even like when I first hooked up with Q-Tip, he was like, “Honestly, I only heard one of your songs and I really liked it.  But why I wanted to get in touch with you was I read some of your interviews with Plant Life and I like what you’re about.”  And I almost cried when he said that to me, you know? I was like, oh man, that means the world to me, because that’s all I’m trying to do is carry the torch.

 

SB: Well there’s a definite passion that I can sense from behind it too so regardless of what you’re doing or when you’re putting it out you know it’s coming from this truthful and honest place, which only benefits the music.

JS: Yeah, well that being said, I think I was very scared to give 150% of myself just because I was maybe scared of the results.  It was like being scared of success or being scared of your own power, you know what I mean?  Just little weird things like that but I was like , fuck it, now is the time because people are actually paying attention and digging the right things and people were liking the right things about what I’m doing so I kinda wanted to get it completely uncut, unfiltered and honestly, I’ve been crying while mixing some of the songs. I’m just like, “Fuck…this is it”.  I’m really excited about the project.  And I’m happy that I put out the other two albums first because I didn’t want to scare people into thinking, what the fuck is this? What planet is this from?  But I gave people enough little doses of where it’s trying to go where people will at least be open to this record.  And I think it’s the perfect setup for my real album too because my real album is kind of a mixture of all of that.

 

SB: That’s awesome. I can’t wait to give it a listen.  Before we go, I want to ask you, when the album does come out, are you going to be any touring or doing live appearances?

JS: For sure.  I was supposed to just be getting in rehearsals with my band for the past month but I’m like a little maniac when it comes to that too.  Like the people that saw me in Europe know that this ain’t no regular show that I do.  I like to be like a real holy experience, you know what I mean? Because that’s the way that I can really communicate with the people that are digging the music and it’s just like a really sweaty party basically.  An hour long party where the audience is as much involved as we are on stage.  So I’ve been getting a live show together and I kinda had to stop that for a second just to  work on this record because I had that inspiration, but I’m definitely gonna be touring and another label wanted me to really tour heavy but I’m gonna make sure because I never toured in America with Plant Life. It’s madness.  It’s like a 17 person show.  It’s more like theater than it is a show. I gotta let you know when I’m coming there.

 

SB: Absolutely. I’ll be the first person in line, I’ll be right at the front of the stage!   Thanks so much for taking the time to chat.  I really appreciate it, and good luck with all that you’re doing and I can’t wait to hear the album.

JS: Thank you so much Hannah, and I really appreciate all the support. I went and peeped out your site, and for me, that’s what happened in Europe and that’s why they still have a lot of love for me out there even though I haven’t been there in 4 years.  For me, I didn’t want to fuckin blow up and be this person that I didn’t really want to be in the first place.  I like real music heads, real fans of ill shit.  I definitely peeped that you were really supporting, so thank you for the time and supporting.  I totally dig it.

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mp3: Jack Splash (featuring Kelis) - In the Future

mp3: Jack Splash (featuring Lupe Fiasco) - Flashback

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sounds diggable

awesome! i love it! can't wait for more music!

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