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
“How did it go with your family?” asked Sandra, handing Kellen a mug of tea. “Did she like the earrings?”
“Yes – total winner!” nodded Kellen. “We had the birthday drinks at a new cocktail bar in town. I had a Joe Calzaghe – delicious. It was a good couple of days, although we had to work hard not to talk about politics.”
“You watched the no-confidence vote?” asked Sandra.
“Obviously…” confirmed Kellen. “But, you know how Wales voted for Leave.”
“Don’t tell me that your family voted to Leave!” gasped Sandra.
“We’ve adopted a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy on it…” explained Kellen. “We had to agree a safe-word. Anytime that Brexit started to rear its head in a conversation, shouting out – Gaga! – meant that we had to change the subject and talk about something else.”
“Why is your safe-word always Gaga!” laughed Sandra. “You’re so gay!”
“I’m going to take that as a compliment…” dismissed Kellen.
“Anyway, you’re lucky that you weren’t run over by Prince Philip!” said Sandra. “That was out your way, wasn’t it?”
“You do realise that Sandringham is not in Wales…” replied Kellen. “In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite side of the country to where I was.”
“Is it?” asked Sandra. “Are you sure? I kind of thought it was all in the same general direction. To be honest, anything beyond the M25 is a bit of a mystery to me. In my head, the UK is pretty much made up of London and then there’s not-London.”
“I’m pretty sure this is why 52 percent of the country voted to Leave the EU…” sighed Kellen. “Just to remind everyone in London that they still exist.”
“Anyway, what is Prince Philip doing driving around in the middle of nowhere?” asked Sandra. “Doesn’t he have a driver? If I was a prince I’d definitely have a driver. Is Kate Middleton driving herself around? Is Meghan Markle driving herself around? Well, Meghan probably is, but you get my point. Prince Philip is 97 years old!”
“I guess he just wanted to be a bit independent…” shrugged Kellen. “But this probably will put an end to his driving days. What are your plans for the weekend? Are you seeing flower-market-guy?”
“He’s taking me away for a romantic mini-break…” grinned Sandra. “Just me and him… romantic… mini-break.”
“Shut up!” exclaimed Kellen. “That’s awesome! Where’s he taking you?”
“It’s a surprise…” replied Sandra. “Although I’m pretty sure it’s going to be Paris. I’ve never been to Paris, and I keep dropping hints about Paris, and how romantic it would be to go to Paris.”
“How have you never been to Paris?” asked Kellen.
“This morning he sent me a text, saying – Bonjour…” continued Sandra, ignoring Kellen’s question. “So, at lunchtime, I went out and bought a beret.”
“Where did you find a beret?” asked Kellen.
“Strangely enough, they had some at Poundland…” shrugged Sandra. “I guess they’re clearing out anything that’s vaguely European.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s not how Brexit is going to work…” said Kellen. “It’s not going to become illegal to wear a beret.”
“You say that, but no one really knows for sure…” insisted Sandra. “Iceland have got packets of French Onion Soup on sale.”
“Gaga!” said Kellen firmly. “This is definitely a safe-word scenario. I call Gaga!”
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