Interview: Jarrow on Expensive Hugs, touring and meme culture

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dan Oke (better known as Jarrow) has had a huge couple of years following the release of his debut album — including playing at music festivals such as Boogie and Splendour in the Grass, as well as supporting the Libertines in Melbourne last month. Jarrow’s second full-length LP, Expensive Hugs, is 29 minutes of charming lyricism and infectious energy and hooks.

We asked him some questions about Expensive Hugs before he unleashed it into the wild, his upcoming tour and meme culture.

Firstly, congratulations on your upcoming second album Expensive Hugs! You’re releasing the album through record label Barely Dressed Records. Do you find writing and recording this album to be a different process as compared to your debut 2003 Dream?

Thank you so much! I definitely took a different approach when I started writing and producing the first demos for this album — having a raised awareness of my audience and platform. Rather than a collection of older songs pieced together like on 2003 Dream, I aimed to produce a concise, mid-fi package of tracks that encapsulated the Jarrow sound.

You’re a self-taught multi-instrumentalist. How does the creative process of writing an album go for you?

A lot of Jarrow songs start out life at solo acoustic demos, which take multiple rewrites and tracking before the other instrumentation is brought in. I usually improvise bass lines in the recording process, and other riff and melody ideas pop up along the way. The recording of a Jarrow song is just as involved as the initial writing session — using a program such as Ableton to involve different sounds and ideas within the track

What has being with Barely Dressed Records meant for Jarrow?

So, so much! Barely Dressed has given me a huge amount of creative freedom in the type of music that I want to make, whilst also sharing and providing avenues for Jarrow to reach a wider audience each day. Melbourne’s independent labels are the best around and I feel very lucky to be a small part of it.

You’re going on your first ever headline tour in May! What are your general feelings about touring for Expensive Hugs?

My band and I have been playing a couple of the songs off EH for a few years now, so we’ve had lots of chances to road-test some of the material from the new album. It will be satisfying to perform these same songs for our headline shows, especially now that our east-coast friends will be more familiar with them.

Has there been a live show of yours that’s really stood out?

We recently finished a four-week residency at one of my favourite venues The Evelyn Hotel. The final night was directly after we supported The Libertines at The Forum that same night, and we rushed off stage with all our gear and headed straight to The Ev to perform again much later that night. It was really awesome to see a bunch of friends after one of our biggest recent shows and we let loose a lot more for our Ev set. Plus — my dad got up and performed a few songs on saxophone with the band.

I hear that the name Expensive Hugs comes from the viral ‘Free Hugs’ campaign from the mid-2000’s. Your first single from the album is called ‘Emoji’. How does millennial meme culture influence Jarrow and your lyrics?

Pop culture and nostalgic lyrical elements play a big part in my songwriting — whether it’s intentional or not. I am fascinated by the recent advancements of technology and it’s integration into modern life, especially so as a contributor to this facet. It seems like a no-brainer for me to put those thoughts into my music because it is a topic I am comfortable writing about, and whilst it may not be the strongest theme on Expensive Hugs, it certainly threads the tracks together as a loose concept.

What are you looking forward to most with the release of Expensive Hugs?

Considering the extra time that it took to kick off the album campaign, I think hearing other people enjoy and analysis the record will be the most satisfying element of the release. I’ve had lots of time to process Expensive Hugs and go through all the motions of both hating and loving this record, but for some people hearing these songs in full for the first time — it’s a comforting feeling that other people now get to experience the album.

Written by Anita Agathangelou

You can purchase Expensive Hugs via the link

You can catch Jarrow on tour on the below dates:
4th May - The Curtin, Melbourne
10th May - Bloodhound Bar, Brisbane
11th May - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
More info is available here