There’s a lot going on in Danish soul-singer Mont Jake’s mind (his name derives from the concept that his head is a mountain of ideas), but you’d never guess that from his cool and composed exterior.
When I meet Jake in a Peckham studio, he’s fashionably late with an outfit to match – a vintage Tommy fleece with smart trackies and vans Sk8 Hi’s. Surprisingly quiet, he’s got a sort of confidence that presents itself through the duration of our conversation.
Listening to Jake’s music, you wouldn’t think that he has any issues with self-doubt. Not only does he have stellar producing skills but on top of that he’s got heaps of vocal talent. What is surprising though is that he discovered his voice quite literally by chance circumstance, “I’ve always played guitar and piano but I didn’t start singing until my late teens. I was in this band and we kicked out the lead singer, and so everyone was like, well who’s going to sing? So I said I’d give it a shot. Everyone thought I was pretty good, which gave me the confidence to practice and become a singer. I never planned for that, ever.”
But, it’s no chance that being the all-round creative, (multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer), that he’s already been snapped up by Island Records. “Coming from Denmark and getting signed to a big international label is really rare. I think I’m the first ever Danish person to sign to Island Records so that’s really huge for me. It has a great history as well, some of my favorite records have been released through the label so that’s amazing too.”
Initially Jake kept his identity a mystery, focusing simply on his music by releasing a debut EP, ‘Shadow’ last year. Now ready to front his own music, there’s still a sense that Jake will let his praise for other’s artistry overshadow that for his own; “I hate listening to myself. Once a track is done I forget about it. Partly because with music it’s never finished, you can always add stuff or take stuff out. If I were to listen to tracks that have been released after I’d be like, ah I should have done that, I’d go crazy. I’m so critical. I spend so much time alone that I just overthink errors that I’m making. In the past it was so hard to get stuff done ’cause I was never happy with anything. But I’ve got a lot better now. I want to grow as an artist, I don’t want to keep repeating the same mistakes.”
Jake’s artistic journey has been evolving steadily and thanks to a pocket full of USB’s full of his own songs, he’s stacked up a number of sick collaborations after encounters with some of music’s coolest names from Assassin, Masta Killa to Noname. “If I’m digging someone I just try to reach out to them through email, or Instagram is great for that as well.”
Whether he’s sneaking backstage and ending up in Blood Orange’s dressing room, or getting waved after smoking a joint with the Wu Tang Clan in New York, it’s all part of his hustle; “It was really random, I had this song that we thought had an old school flavour to it and we wanted to get an old school rapper on it, so we just wrote to a random Wu Tang email on their website and I got a call from Oliver Power who said he liked the record and that I should fly to New York and meet up with them. I went to meet them in a studio in New York and a bunch of them were just hanging out. I played them all these records and they loved it. It was crazy. They’re fun people to be around as well, they had a lot of stories. Masta Killa was there and so he did something on a verse and we kept it. Then after that I got so hotboxed, they were all smoking like crazy. It was funny cause there was a massive sign saying smoking’s not allowed and they were just smoking the biggest blunt I’ve ever seen in my life. I came out on Times Square after and was like “Oh wow.”
More recent collaborators include Leland Whitty of BADBADNOTGOOD who features on Jake’s new single ‘Come Closer’. The concept for the accompanying video (which Jake worked on with director Billy Boyd) is just as cool, a visual metaphor that involves him being contained in a glass box. “I sleep there, I eat there, I shave and I make the song. We were trying to visualise the creative process, when you’re make music you’re very much in your own creative bubble the whole time and I think the light box out in the woods is quite a cool metaphor for that.”
Inspired by the creativity that London has to show for itself, Jake hasn’t looked back since moving to Dalston, to pursue his music career. “London is so diverse and versatile, you can find people making all kinds of music and they’re the best at it. You go from venue to venue and see so much different stuff. In Copenhagen it’s much more narrow, first of all because it’s smaller. I just like that in London you can find Reggae and Hip Hop and everything else, and that’s super inspiring to me ’cause I like to draw from different genres and London is perfect for that.”
When you think and dream in a different language, having to translate that is a pretty weird process.
When we get to talking about what’s coming next from Jake, things start to get a little more open. With the release of his next single ‘Sexual Fantasies’ and an EP in April, there’s a new awakening in the making. “Sexual Fantasies is quite an explicit song, and it’s the first time ever that I swear on a record so I’m really proud of that,” he laughs. In terms of the EP, Jake is adamant that this new project has a lot more to offer than his previous EP ‘Shadow’.“I’ve grown as a vocalist and I think my lyrics are better, my English is better. When I got to London my English was horrible. When you think and dream in a different language, having to translate that is a pretty weird process. Two years ago I was still using Google translator.”
By the end of our introduction to Jake, I start to get the feeling that he’s growing into giving himself the credit he deserves, and credit deservedly goes to his music. Mont Jake has already let his music speak for itself, and regardless of any language barrier, it’s feels like the time is primed for him to now speak on it.