On the release of his first track from his debut album, I caught up with creative powerhouse Jack Tracy to talk break-ups and moving on.
Why was this the right time to create a debut album?
It’s always been on my list. I was a huge collector of albums when I was growing up - CDs at that time - and I loved listening to albums from front to back, imagining a stage show. When I started Necessary Outlet Productions and decided to do everything I’d ever dreamt of doing, I was already 31. I started with writing, directing, and acting, but at the same time I did a little dance tribute to Janet Jackson where I also sang some of her hits. It was fun, but I didn’t really have the right equipment to get the song mixes right on my own.
Learning from that experience, and making connections with sound engineers through recording songs for my web-series History, I decided I now had enough of a base of knowledge to really give it a whirl. Also, my music comes with a dance spectacle, so I need to get it done before my knees start to give out!
What was the creative process like for the album?
I wrote two of the tracks over five years ago. Even before I started creating content for distribution, I would do it as a hobby. I would mix little tracks on some cheap equipment and see how far I could push it. Two of those songs I loved so much that I wanted to recreate with real production value.
The rest of the tracks come from doing my web-series History. In the second season, I really didn’t want to screw around with music licensing so I learned how to make my own basic beats. Those beats then became the skeletons for music on Older, which took a few months to flesh out.
Most of the songs were written over three or four months, as I was editing other projects - usually on a mental break. However, Worst Way was an idea I had right when we finished recording, so I whipped that one up quickly to add before we moved into mixing.
The fist single, Satisfaction, is a break-up song? Was it helpful to use your creative outlets to work through that pain?
There’s not a single thing that I write that isn’t directly connected to something that I’ve gone through. It’s the only way I know how to write honestly, and in a way that connects with people. Even if I mutate it into something else, there’s a kernel of myself and my experiences in everything.
Satisfaction isn’t so much a break-up song, it’s more of a I’ve-said-what-I-had-to-say-and-I’m-not-going-to-keep-fighting-with-you-go-away song. People love drama, it fuels them, and there’s no greater satisfaction than denying someone your participation in that.
The specific situation this references is old and cold - I worked through that in History - but the emotions are powerful and memorable and a constant source of content.
The choreography in the video for Satisfaction looks complicated - did it take you long to nail it?
I choreographed it! I am first and foremost a dancer, and this is my first real piece of choreography. The way I do it is often very connected to lyrical content, I think of moves to do on key lyrics, and then connect the dots.
For Satisfaction, I booked a studio for five hours and just hashed it out over and over until it looked right. I put the dancers through hell, because to get this dance right you have to know the song inside and out.
How does the narrative of the album Older, connect with the narrative of your web-series History?
History and Older, and most of what I do, is all about introspection. Taking a step back to look at your life, look at your patterns, and try to learn something.
History does that by juxtaposing the past and the present, to let the audience figure it out as the main character figures it out. Older does it by reminiscing, by regretting, by vindicating - Older is the reckoning of a life of introspection
What next for Jack Tracy?
Perform, perform, perform. This album screams for a high octane dance-fuelled concert. I hopefully have a few Pride gigs coming, to start working it out and building my audience, but I hope to get on the road with Older.
I’m also running my comedy series Big Law through the festival circuit - we just premiered at the Big Apple Film Festival. I’m about to start crowd-funding for season three of History. I’m finishing editing my first movie, Snowflake. I’m also writing my next web series, a movie, and a children’s book.
I’m just going to keep showing the world what I’ve got and wait for that big break.
We want to hear your opinion
“Why are you limping?” asked Hamish, as he met Charlie for drink after work. They met in Howl At The Moon – it was busy with the after-work crowd.
“It’s a bit embarrassing…” mumbled Charlie, taking the pint of Guinness that Hamish had bought for him.
“A fisting accident?” asked Hamish.
“Nothing like that…” dismissed Charlie. “I’ve got a new job.”
“That’s great news!” said Hamish. “Why is that embarrassing? How is this related to you limping?”
“Um… well, I’ve taken a job with Sweatbox…” explained Charlie.
“Sweatbox?” repeated Hamish. “Sweatbox in Soho? Sweatbox the sauna?”
“Yes, exactly…” nodded Charlie. “They’re renovating at the moment. They called me in for what I thought was some training before they re-opened, but it turned out that the place is still a total building site so I spent the day lugging heavy boxes up and down stairs. Obviously, I’m not really used to manual labour, so now everything hurts. Everything.”
“Back it up…” said Hamish. “What do you mean you’ve taken a job with Sweatbox? What sort of job?”
“Um, just a general kind of team-member job…” shrugged Charlie.
“What the fuck?” laughed Hamish. “Why would you take a job like that? Are you that desperate for money?”
“Pretty much…” nodded Charlie, taking a long drink from his pint of Guinness. “It’s not just that – I thought it would be good for my writing and stuff, but mostly it’s for the money.”
“You are full of surprises…” grinned Hamish. “Wait, isn’t that going to be kind of awkward if I go to Sweatbox and I see you working there?”
“Why would that be awkward?” asked Charlie.
“Because I’m going to be in a towel, about to get my rocks off, and you’re going to be swishing around with a mop and bucket!” exclaimed Hamish. “It’s going to kind of kill the vibe a bit if I know that it’s you who’s going to have to wipe up my cum.”
“When you put it like that, it is a bit awkward…” agreed Charlie. “How often do you go to Sweatbox?”
“Not that often…” shrugged Hamish. “But probably more than you might expect. When do you start?”
“Not sure, to be honest…” replied Charlie. “I think they’re hoping to have it all open by the start of February. Anyway, how was your day?”
“Not bad…” said Hamish. “I spent most of my time working on Brexit-related stuff. Then, this afternoon, I had a meeting – I guess he’s technically my client, but he feels more like my boss. Without the money I get from him, I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills.”
“He’s definitely your boss…” decided Charlie. “How did the meeting go?”
“I don’t know, it was weird…” shrugged Hamish. “He just kept saying how tired he was. How stressed he was. I’d gone in there thinking that I was pitching for more work and more money, but he just spent 30 minutes talking at me, telling me things that I already knew. After 30 minutes, he stopped, like he’d run out of things to say. So I said, is there anything else that you need from me today? And he said no. Total waste of time.”
“That’s probably how Theresa May feels…” said Charlie.
“Do not compare me to Theresa May!” declared Hamish, slapping the palm of his hand down onto the bar to emphasise the point. “Are you going to be able to get me a friends and family discount at Sweatbox?”
“I don’t know, to be honest…” shrugged Charlie. “I guess so. They give free entry if you’re under 25.”
“Are you suggesting that I could possibly pass for being younger than 25?” laughed Hamish. “You’re as delusional as Theresa May!”
This is the latest episode of the serial, Hoxton Street.
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