Being the busy mind that Jeremy Loops is, the year 2020 and all that came with it, stroke particularly hard, as one can imagine: ‘It’s been a wild year. Lots of new challenges, lots of adapting’, the songwriter tells me early on in our interview call. It should have been the year of ‘the biggest shows and the biggest festivals we’ve ever had’, but instead – just like everyone else – the Cape Town artist found himself home ‘a lot more than I’ve ever been’ with his very essence of living ‘turned upside down’.
But for someone whose musical charisma shines as bright as it does, not even a pandemic can slow it all down. With all that has been going on, Jeremy cannot stress enough that there are ‘lots of beautiful things happening’ around and that the idea of a ‘silver lining’ is more to him than just wishful thinking.
‘I’m often making songs that are sounding like they carry a lot of positive energy or happiness.’
You can feel, in his music and in the way Jeremy talks about it, how the verve and passion endures the chaos and trumps the pain. Writing songs is an outlet for him, and it does not ignore sentiments of pain, but much more makes them visible, turning them into symphonies of survival:
‘We all struggle in our own ways with the existential funk of being alive and my music is a way to cope with the world and how ugly it is sometimes.’
This intense desire to reach for hopeful prospects goes way back, he assures me, as far as the very roots of his artistic endeavours: ‘Growing up I used to listen to up-tempo Gypsy, Jazz and Reggae songs, something to cheer me up. It’s just the way that I started making music.’ So it is really about channeling life’s hardships and gloomy sentiments and shaping these into songs that help endure all of that, leading one into a state of confidence that is breaking through the clouds:
‘I make music for myself, as a way to find myself, get me moving, get me feeling positive and help metackle the day to day difficulties of life. I’ve always thought that if a song makes me feel good, whensomething is there for me, then something is there for someone else, for some other people.’
“Search for the centre”
Following his two records Trading Change and Critical As Water, catapulting the artist towards national popularity and beyond, this year saw the release of several fresh tunes, most recently ‘Til I Found You, which shines with the quintessential Jeremy Loops glow. ‘At the root of it a song about love and letting go’, he explains, the track is a passionate and demanding confrontation to break through the circles of pain and rejection.
‘I feel like a lot of this year, for myself and for many people, it is really about finding out who you are’, he reflects, going on: ‘A lot of us really had to go inwards this year, trying to find their essence’. ‘Til I Found You captures that vibe, channeling the sense of desperation about a broken order. Yet, it is intensely reaching out, longing for a redemptive moment and it feels like it will not stop until it gets there.
‘The less you understand your own essence, the less you are able to really love someone for who they are and accept them. It’s a process of healing oneself first, so that one can be whole and find what this true love is supposed to be all about. It’s a song about the search for the centre and what the search for the centre being complete for the search of this true love concept.’
‘Take these things away from me
These useless bits I’ll never need
Stop my breath, so I’ll be free’
[’Til I Found You]
“A beautiful balance”
‘For this song I really was trying to find a beautiful balance between acoustic instruments and my rough vocals’, Jeremy adds. ‘In the chorus it’s got really like a dirty, catchy base line’, which sets itself apart from the acoustic vibe of the verse parts. ‘When I was writing the song I had the feeling that this song, a very acoustic sounding song, I knew that it could be something really special’, he adds. The way these elements flow together, along with the self-directed video, the tune produces a roaring echo of what the musician put into the message: ‘We have to keep chasing grace.’
‘I wanted to keep this thing sounding very acoustic, but I wanted to find a way that when it hits the chorus, we want to start dancing. You want to start moving your legs. So it’s all about the drums and all about the base. Also, the song sounds like it’s finished, but it also sounds modern and acoustic at the same time.’
“Looking for a revolution”
It is always refreshing to talk to musicians who not only translate their hopes for the world into musical bits, but are trying to make change happen on a grander scale, and Jeremy Loops is certainly one of them. Just ahead of his breakthrough in South Africa, he co-founded the ecological initiative Greenpop, which aims to protect and restore ecosystems. Also, he recently founded The Big Food Drive, a crowdfunding campaign delivering food to the poorest communities in South Africa.
‘There is no easy way for change to happen’, he says, ‘and it’s clear that the world is not in a good space right now’. A lot of good stuff is happening, ‘but there are a lot of old ideas dominating and a lot of people who were previously disadvantaged or kept in the sidelines’,
he adds and also voices his frustrations over the state of progress right now:
‘For most of my career I felt that we are fighting a bit of a losing battle. We are doing treeplanting with Greenpop or environmentalism or food distribution. And it always just feels like we’re scratching the surface.’
And yet, just as in his music, Jeremy Loops keeps an eye on more hopeful prospects, and the absolute belief that change is possible. If everyone could only be a part of that:
‘The big first-world countries are far more worried about keeping the status quo, rather than thinking about how one changes and adapt the system for equality for everyone. I think,eventually that is going to have to change. Whether the change is peacefully or not, willdepend on the governments and institutions holding that power, whether they adapt. I’m looking for a revolution for sure.’
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