The Story Behind Every Song On Japanese Breakfast’s New Album Jubilee

The Story Behind Every Song On Japanese Breakfast’s New Album Jubilee

“I’m really obsessed with artist’s discographies,” Michelle Zauner says. “Not that I even deign to compare myself to her in any way, but Björk’s catalog is just so perfect to me. An artist’s third album should be a big statement.”

These last few months have certainly been a big statement for Japanese Breakfast. Between the rollout for the new album and the release of Zauner’s debut memoir Crying In H Mart, she has managed to adequately channel the anticipation of something like Homogenic and the other third albums that Zauner cites in conversation, including Wilco’s Summerteeth, when an artist is at the top of their game and anything feels possible. She exudes confidence on Jubilee, flexing the muscles she’s developed over the last decade of playing music, even as those muscles extend to her extracurriculars like writing a book and directing her own videos.

Zauner started making music on her own from a low place. Holed up in her parent’s house in Oregon while her mom was in the process of dying, her debut album Psychopomp excavated the many emotions that bubble up when a relative is suffering with a long-term illness. Throughout the past few years, she’s ended up creating a powerfully relatable mental map of the trajectory one goes through in the wake of loss. Her follow-up Soft Sounds From Another Planet was largely about endurance and the detachment one feels from everyone around them following death. And her third album, Jubilee, is about learning to find common ground and grow from your own experiences, both because of grief and in spite of it.

It’s worth fighting for some semblance of normalcy, and the brightest moments on the new Japanese Breakfast album are also some of the most enduring. Like the bombastic opener “Paprika” or the groovy lead single “Be Sweet,” the album finds Zauner trying to navigate happiness on her own terms. It’s filled with some of her most ambitious compositions yet. It’s an album that opens up with time, as most of the best albums do. Zauner walked us through it track-by-track…

1. “Paprika”

This is a lot more involved, arrangement-wise, than anything you’ve done before. How did you go about putting together this one? And how did you know you wanted it to be the opening track?

MICHELLE ZAUNER: I think pretty early on we knew that it was the thesis statement of the album. I wrote it in September 2019 — I was starting to get stressed because I knew I wanted to record the album in the winter and I needed to write a few more songs before I went in.

I’m afraid to talk about this because I don’t want it to become like a thing because I feel like a lot of musicians talk about it, but it is what happened… Peter and I went to the Poconos and took mushrooms to try and unlock some writer’s block and had a lovely experience. I fed a deer some bread out of my hand, which was crazy because I opened the door and there was literally just a deer in front of the door. I thought at one point that I was just hallucinating the entire deer. But it was real and I fed it bread from my hand and it was just wild.

I went to bed with a raging headache because I realized I was just staring into the sun for an hour. So I went to bed and I had this really vivid dream about having a really long braid that came unraveled. I was listening to a lot of Kate Bush at the time. My biggest fear for this record was that I didn’t want to be the kind of artist that pivots to pop in this very obvious way. I think that as you grow as an indie musician, the logical step is to enter into that world and play bigger venues and have more mainstream music or whatever. So I was really inspired by the greats … like Kate Bush. I think it’s really amazing that she’s someone who has such massive appeal but is, like, the biggest freak and has the most surreal, bizarre lyrics and has this really strange, proggy instrumentation. So I was really influenced by Kate Bush on this record and leaned towards surreal lyrics a little bit more on “Paprika.”

So the next day I set up my little MIDI studio and was just playing with plugins, a lot of the same kind of synth plugins that Kate Bush would have used but in real life, so a Fairlight CMI and a CS-80, and came up with that arpeggiated synth line. I was really into plugins at the time because I was working on [the video game] Sable and I needed to do a lot of computer music type of stuff. I also had this Albion library that was all these orchestral samples and I came up with this really large marching band kind of thing in the chorus with the strings and horn parts.

And then it was just trying to figure out how to replicate that with real instruments. So I took the song to Craig Hendrix and the two of us just started laying down a shit-ton of drums, trying to get a marching band feel — we had all these cymbals and these huge crashes. Called on Molly Germer and her friends to play strings and we had Adam Schatz, who played saxophone, and he brought Aaron Rockers and a trombone player. It was a long time of making this MIDI version into a real, huge band. And we actually maxed out the ProTools session with the tracks. It took a really long time to get this huge nightmare of a song reined in.

It just felt like the perfect beginning of the album because I knew I wanted it to be this big in-your-face record with larger arrangements. I called it “Paprika” because it reminded me of this Susumu Hirasawa song called “Parade” that’s in the movie Paprika. There’s a big marching band and it’s this really psychotic parade dream sequence, and so that’s why I called it “Paprika.”

Is it a coincidence that this song that’s about the magic of music is one of the most involved songs on the album?

ZAUNER: It is nice that that was the case because I do feel like it was an accumulation of all of these people in my life that I’ve been lucky enough to meet over the course of the last three years. Molly and Adam are both people who played with us in our live show a few times, so having friends like that that have this amazing musicianship… These kinds of instruments that I’d be really intimidated writing for, it gave me the confidence to take that on and have this really great sense of community. To really showcase that in the first song was exciting to me. And the label really wanted it to be a single, and at first I did too, but I also really loved the idea of saving it for people to hear when they first listen to the album. To have that be the introduction to the album.

2. “Be Sweet”

So what was it about “Be Sweet” that made you want it to be the lead single?

ZAUNER: Oh, it feels like it’s just such a single. It’s probably the most chorus I’ve ever written. I’ve had it in my back pocket for a really long time. I feel like that’s something that’s really exciting as an artist, to get that kind of perspective where something has lasting power. This whole record was supposed to come out last year and I feel like I just love it more. I was really worried I’d be over it by the time we went through the cycle, but I feel like it’s nice to have that perspective. I’ve come to love all my records the more space that I have away from them.

For “Be Sweet,” I wrote it in February 2018 after the band had finished our tour with Jay Som and Hand Habits. I was in LA for 10 days. We ended the tour in LA and then I had this weird RV advertisement 10 days later, so instead of flying back I decided to stay in LA. I was actually so depressed and miserable there, I literally thought I was going to kill myself. Mitski told me she was doing these kind of writing partnerships, writing for other people just to try it on, and so I told my publisher that I wanted to try it. So they do this kind of shady thing that they will tell an artist that some artist wants to work with them on their record, but it’s just a blatant lie. Like, they said, “Jack Tatum from Wild Nothing really loves your music and wants help writing his new record.” And I was like, oh my god, Jack loves my music? OK, cool. And then meanwhile, they’re telling Jack Tatum that Michelle Zauner from Japanese Breakfast really loves your music and wants you to help write her record. So we got to his studio in LA and we were both like, “OK, so you want my help writing your record?” And then both of us were like, “I’m not writing a record, what are you talking about?”

So we just decided to write a fun pop song and then sell it to Rihanna — well, not Rihanna but maybe some C-grade pop algorithm star that would buy our song. But then we actually wrote something that I really liked and had this kind of ’80s jam — a Whitney Houston, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper kind of feel and it was just really fun. And I’ve had that similar feeling before where something feels a little bit outside of my range vocally and I have to really lean into this new diva side of me. I remember when I wrote “The Woman That Loves You” and I felt the same way, and that was really exciting because it was a real bizarre challenge because you have to gain this kind of sassy confidence.

I was really excited about it and sat on the song for a while and knew that it was great and that this was going to be the first song on this record that I hadn’t started writing yet. So I brought it to Craig, who is an amazing harmony wizard. You’d usually think songwriters or vocalists are great at writing harmonies, but that’s not something I’m very good at at all. I never did choir or vocal lessons or anything, and I think a lot of that skill set comes from being in a choir at some point in your life. So Craig came in with this huge harmony cluster that lifted the chorus even more and then the song really came together.

I was going to ask about your vocals on this. They’re really impressive on the record, but are you nervous about having to recreate it live every night?

ZAUNER: Definitely. I think that songs just take a while to stretch into, you know? I remember when I wrote “Till Death,” that was at the very top of my range. I was really nervous about singing it live and now I feel really comfortable singing it live. Sometimes it takes a year of touring to get there, especially if you’re not a trained vocalist. It’s kind of like an instrument where you find your pocket and it just takes a lot of practice every day to get to that place. Maybe I’m a bad musician because I don’t do vocal practice every day, but that really happens for me on tour.

So when we did Jimmy Fallon, I was definitely struggling a bit to hit the notes. Because there are runs on there and I never really do that. It’s definitely pretty new for me and I’m nervous about it, but I never went into it thinking I was an exceptional, stunning singer. First and foremost I’m a songwriter and everything else is just secondary to me, but I feel like I’ll figure it out.

3. “Kokomo, IN”

This is one of the songs where you write from a different point of view, which you do a lot of on this album. Can you talk about why you wanted to make this particular story into a song?

ZAUNER: This is my favorite song on the record, I think, and it was a late addition. This is one that was written in the studio in between takes. I had just started taking guitar lessons again. I have been someone who was willfully ignorant of music theory for a really long time. I had this naive feeling that it would hinder my natural music genius, or something. [Laughs] But I realized that was really stupid. As part of working as a professional musician for the past few years, I’ve gotten the chance to hang out with so many people who have this stunning education and skill set that I’ve come to really envy. A lot of my friends in the music world have gone to music school. I felt really insecure about that so I wanted to take some lessons and brush up my skills a little bit.

Every time you take guitar lessons, you start playing a lot of Beatles songs. So I was learning about major chords and so I just put a shit-ton of major seventh chords together and started playing around more with adding interesting chord changes, which is something I haven’t set out to do before. So with this song, it really unlocked something in my compositional skill and that was really exciting and maybe part of the reason why I really love it.

It also took me, lyrically, to a place of this classic, heartfelt kind of song. For some reason, that to me was a young boy in a small town saying goodbye to his girlfriend who goes off to a study abroad program in Australia or something. That was what came to me. When I was telling Craig about it, we were talking about somewhere in Indiana. And I was like, somewhere like Bloomington or something, and we were talking about this guy Evan who is our project manager at the label, and I texted him telling him I wrote a song about this fantasy of him as a child. And he said, “I’m not from Bloomington, Indiana, I’m from Kokomo, Indiana.”

And so I decided to call the song “Kokomo, IN,” and it’s kind of sweet because there’s also that Beach Boys song, “Kokomo.” I feel like it has that sort of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” kind of feeling. That song is a sweet little love song about when you feel the most at that age. It’s so exhausting to feel that much when you’re a teenager, but now that I’m in my thirties I miss feeling that way sometimes. I’m glad that I don’t feel so much heartbreak and so in love all the fucking time, but there is something so sweet about the pure emotion you have when you’re a teenager.

I guess I was just imagining how I felt at that time and applying this sort of mature lens to it. I loved the idea of being 18 years old and loving someone so much but realizing that they have so much more to give to the world. One of the lines I really love on that song is “show off to the world the parts I fell so hard for.” Wouldn’t it be so nice when you were a teenager if someone said that to you?

4. “Slide Tackle”

You worked on this one with Ryan Galloway from Crying. Was this pre-BUMPER or post-BUMPER?

ZAUNER: This was pre-BUMPER. What happened was that Soft Sounds was such an insular record. I was really terrified that Psychopomp was a total fluke. I had been a working musician for like 10 years before I started getting any kind of attention. I had really felt like Psychopomp was a total fluke and I was about to fuck up everything I had built for my sophomore record. I was really terrified of the sophomore slump.

And so in order to quell my anxiety [for Soft Sounds], I tried to create a very safe and playful environment where it was just me and Craig in Craig’s studio, with no nerve-wracking huge hourly rate. And the two of us just played all the instruments on the record and produced it together. It was a really insular experience. So I knew with Jubilee I wanted to expand my collaborative world and see what new people I could bring in. I love Crying and I thought that Ryan was this unappreciated genius that I wanted to work with, in the same way I felt about Alex G, so I wanted to try bringing these people in because I had never done that before.

I went to Ryan’s house and I feel like it was a pretty awkward session. I don’t think Ryan really does that sort of stuff and he’s just kind of an awkward person in general. We’d met a few times but we didn’t know each other very well. So I brought in this drum beat and the first verse and the chorus. It was kind of boring — I tried to write this Future Islands type of song because I love their bass lines, so I tried to do this really simple electronic beat with a cool bass line. But I didn’t really know how to make it. It just felt really basic. So I brought it to Ryan and it didn’t really feel like it was that productive of a session. But while I was there he showed me this huge library of songs that basically just needed toplines and they all sounded amazing. And that’s what planted the seed in my head for BUMPER because he was sitting on all these basically finished songs.

But I took what we did in that session. He’s just a wizard guitar player. Just such a nerd, practices guitar all day and is so great at writing the most complicated solos and riffs. So I stole those and brought them back to Craig’s studio. The two of us really struggled with this song because it’s so weird. I really didn’t want it to be this basic electronic song. I kept putting more and more on top of it. I really like it now, but it became this weird song where layer by layer you you have this crazy, very intricate guitar line and then this sax solo and this big, crunchy drum fill… It’s a bizarre song and I really like it now, but it took a long time for me to get it.

“Slide Tackle” is a soccer thing, right? Where did that come from? Did you play soccer?

ZAUNER: It is a soccer thing, yeah. I don’t really play soccer. I played soccer like once in third grade and my team was the only team that didn’t score a goal all year.

I just liked the idea of having this song about literally battling or wrestling with a void in your brain. I feel like the 1975 have a song that’s kind of like this. I liked the idea of literally grappling with your mind to force it into submission to feel joy. That was just one of those physical moves that I thought was a funny thing to think about, literally slide tackling your brain into submitting it to enjoy itself.

5. “Posing In Bondage”

This first came out a few years ago as part of a Polyvinyl 4-track series. Why did this song stick around?

ZAUNER: I feel like “Posing In Bondage” … it’s similar to the way I feel about “Boyish” in that I just knew that it had something special but it just wasn’t fully realized in the way that it was produced. It dogged me for years. I did the four-track series and we put it together in a day. The whole point was that we were recording it on this 4-track so it was very lo-fi and haphazardly put together and I always felt like it could be a better version of itself.

This is another fussy one where, while I was in LA, I tried to rework this song with a couple of other producers and we couldn’t get it right. I knew I wanted it to have this kind of delicate but industrial feeling. Sort of like Björk’s “All Is Full Of Love,” where it’s understated but also feels industrial in a way. I added this chorus of one word things about monogamy and I couldn’t get it right.

After Jack and I finished “Be Sweet,” he was going to come to Philadelphia for a few days to work on finishing the song and maybe do a couple other songs, so I sent him “Posing In Bondage” and he sent it back and it was kind of the first time someone had taken my song and ran with it while I wasn’t there and totally found everything that I was trying to go after. I really love it … it feels like such a perfect midway point on the record.

I really like the line “when the world divides into two people: those who have felt pain and those who have yet to.” I feel like it’s so easy to have a chip on your shoulder if you’ve experienced tragedy. A lot of your songs are about interpersonal relationship dynamics — not necessarily in a dominant/submissive way, but the ways we change ourselves in order to have a stable situation.

ZAUNER: Yeah, I feel like that’s very much what this song is about. I love this really literal image of this woman done up in bondage and waiting for someone to come home for this sexy surprise that never comes. For me, there’s something there that’s a symbol of monogamy, or how bondage can be this very literal type of bondage but also the ways that humans seek bondage in monogamy and the kind of comfort that that can provide. And what you walk away from in your life to have that. I think that’s a really beautiful thing.

That line also makes an appearance in my book and it was something that I was thinking about a lot. I really feel that way. I feel like one of the kind of positive things about going through loss is that I feel like a more compassionate person. When someone dies or someone is grieving, I can really feel it in this way that I didn’t before. I remember after my mom died and I was hanging out with my mother-in-law and my grandmother-in-law and they just started talking … My mother-in-law lost her brother — they went to college together and he fell off a balcony and died. I was at the kitchen table and it just came up, in this way that it doesn’t come up if someone doesn’t feel like they share that experience with you. I remember his grandmother was like, yeah, I remember when my son died that I just used to go to work everyday and cry in the car.

I feel like if someone told me that before my mom passed away, it wouldn’t hit me in the way that it does now. I really feel like I can feel people’s experiences a lot more deeply after I’ve witnessed that and experienced it myself. In some ways, I feel like the world is divided into these people and you’re put in this weird club that you don’t really want to be part of but are.

6. “Sit”

Of all the songs on the album, this one reminds me most of Soft Sounds in that it’s synthy and less structured. Where did this song come from?

ZAUNER: This is another one where I didn’t know what to do in terms of production. It was a weird song. I liked a couple of the lines on this song. One is “it’s a chase sequence on loop.” I had a really hard time with this one, which is why it has such a bad title. [Laughs] I don’t know, I’m so shy about this song. I really put this one in Craig’s hands.

I thought it had a sweet melody and I wanted to do something with it, but it wasn’t one of the songs I had a real vision for in terms of arrangement. It has this heaven-and-hell kind of feeling for me, and that’s when this song really started to click. Craig wrote this amazing Tears For Fears synth line that goes into the chorus and it feels like it gets this grit in the chorus, so for me the verses feel really angelic and the choruses get really dark.

7. “Savage Good Boy”

The second I heard this song, before I even knew Alex worked on it, I thought it sounded like an homage to Alex G. Maybe it’s just the vocal in the beginning, but that feels like such an Alex G touch.

ZAUNER: It’s funny, though, because I don’t think he did that. Maybe it was because he worked on the song with me that we added that, but that was something that Craig and I did after working with Alex. Those little chipmunks…

I know you’re friends, but how did you guys end up working on the song together?

ZAUNER: We went on tour with Alex in 2017 and it was so much fun, maybe one of my favorite tours that I’ve been on. Alex is just one of those people that’s so humble but everyone is privately like, this guy is such a genius. I’m such a big fan of him and his music. Alex G is probably my favorite contemporary musician and songwriter. I feel very lucky that he’s a friend and I very shyly asked if he would work on a song with me and he was down, so he came to the studio.

It was the first time I worked with a producer where … Usually when I work with another producer, they’re also the ones also engineering and at the computer, and this was the first time that I was the one chasing him around with a microphone. He’d build be like, “Let’s play this,” and I was like, “OK, let me hook it up and mic it,” and he’d be like, “No, no, we don’t have time for that,” and move on to another thing. It was really refreshing to work with someone like that. He’s not a producer that’s super into gear and has thousands of dollars of preamps — he still uses GarageBand and one microphone. All the insecurity I have about not doing certain things … it was refreshing to see that someone like Alex, whose music I admire so much, doesn’t use that shit. That you don’t have to use that stuff in order to make great music that you love. You just have to be really inventive.

You’re putting on a big persona here, someone who has a lot of money and wants to get more. I get that part of the song… I’m curious about this song and making it in the music industry, where I feel like there’s a balance between careerism and integrity.

ZAUNER: Sure, yeah, I can see that interpretation. I didn’t have that in mind when I wrote it, but it was pretty literal. But I think that’s totally fair and I like that interpretation. I had the line “billion dollar bunker for two” for a long time and that was the seed of this song. I see this song as a kind of parallel to the Little Big League song “Lindsey,” where it’s written from this toxic male perspective, goading a young woman to let them care for them. I like investigating villainy in that way. I like to take on a perspective like that because I want to understand it.

I think that every type of villainy is rooted in normal human behavior that we all exhibit. How does greed grow to that level? is what I was kind of investigating. In my mind, this man is coaxing this woman to live with him in the safety of this bunker and is rationalizing all the things he’s done as just out of necessity. I’m hoarding this money not because I want to but because that’s what you need to do in order to survive. How we rationalize that sort of behavior is what makes that type of villainy really scary because we can see parts of ourselves making these types of excuses.

Making it and eventually performing it… Does it make you feel powerful to sing it or kind of gross or both?

ZAUNER: I definitely don’t feel like I assume the role so much. I think it’s a cautionary tale. I feel outside of it when I sing it, but I think the point is that you’re listening to this man rationalize his behavior, in the same way that “Lindsey” is about a man that’s offering refuge to a homeless woman or a woman with less. There’s all these things that sound like warm invitations but are also rather menacing. That’s what this is, too. These are all very inviting things: six condos and pensions and whatever. But when you express them in this pattern, you realize how menacing they can be.

8. “In Hell”

Is there a connection between this and “In Heaven” from Psychopomp beyond the title?

ZAUNER: It’s definitely written about that same time period. This is the darkest song I’ve ever written. It was actually a bonus song on Soft Sounds so it was written a long time ago, but it was another one of those songs that I thought was too great to not be heard. I was lamenting having lost it to a Japanese bonus track.

I wrote this song after I put my dog down, which happened during the making of the “Machinist” video. We were making the video over the course of a weekend and on the morning of the second day, I had to put my dog down. I was really sad. It was my childhood dog. And that’s who “In Heaven” is about, in some ways. It really struck me. It was so sad because I was the one who had to say, OK, it’s time for the shot. It’s heartbreaking to see it. It’s just two syringes and it’s your call and it’s for the best and she was in pain… The vet tells you it’s time and she was really old and she wasn’t moving very well and it was time to do it, but that power to take away life is both very heartbreaking and heavy but it’s also like… why can’t we do this to human beings?

What was really tough was when my mom was dying, we had to snow her under with all these drugs and it’s a very slow, horrifying experience — the weeks of someone in a coma waiting for them to just die when we have this power. There’s part of me that wishes … this is very heavy and very dark, but there’s part of me that wishes that we could have those conversations. I wish it was just more talked about and appropriate that when someone is gone, they’re gone, and it’s really just more torture for their family of someone being in a coma and waiting for it to happen. To watch my dog get a shot and be peaceful and put out of her misery and put out of my misery of not having to carry her when she shits everywhere… The ugliness of that reality was really stark. And so that’s what that song is about — that little pop number.

9. “Tactics”

Having read your book, I know that this song is pretty personal and is about your father…

ZAUNER: I became estranged from my father last year. It was a long time coming and he’s been someone that I felt so much guilt and care and responsibility for for a really long time. I think, in a way, it was really hard to walk away from that relationship because it felt very much like this other death. It’s like self-imposed orphaning. It was a really hard thing but it was ultimately a relationship that was making me so miserable and so unhappy. I’m not even angry about it, I just need to protect myself and my mental health and that was unfortunately a relationship that wasn’t healthy for me. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt, and still do, about walking away from it, but it’s just what I had to do at the time.

A little less heavy… Compositionally, there’s a lot of beautiful strings on this. How did you go about arranging that?

ZAUNER: The string arrangement in the intro used to be a piano line, and Craig had this great idea to transpose it to the strings. I knew it was such a tender song and I wanted it to be this Randy Newman ballad with big, sweeping strings. I was really influenced by “Marie,” which is one of my favorite Randy Newman songs. All the while, Craig was like, “I really hear this Bill Withers sort of feel,” and I was like, “What are you talking about? This is a Randy Newman song.”

But Craig and I have been collaborators for a long time and he’s a very talented and wise man so I was like, “Alright, we’ll try your little Bill Withers thing.” And he put down this drum beat and the bass line and I was like ohhh … I think the combination of those two influences really made it such a special song because it has this really nice groove and it’s such a sentimental song. When I was putting the vocal down, it felt almost like a Fiona Apple song because I feel like that’s her influence — she had those funky, jazzy elements with piano.

10. “Posing For Cars”

This is an interesting way to close the album. I wanted to ask about the progression from this big, joyous opening number to this song at the end that’s very pared back, at least in the first half. What were you thinking when you were putting together the tracklist and figuring out where everything goes?

ZAUNER: This song reminds me a little bit of that Wilco song “At Least That’s What You Said.” I wrote it the same day that I wrote “Paprika” — they’re kind of both a bunch of inside jokes with my husband. The line “posing for cars” came about because we were really nervous when we were in this house in the Poconos and we really wanted to hang out outside but every time a car would pass, Peter would pose and look normal and I was cracking up because he was posed in this extremely unnatural way for these cars while trying to look normal. It’s kind of a meditation on how two different people can love each other. I tend to love very intensely and my partner is someone who has taken a while to come around to it. But I think both loves are very real and that’s how love works a lot of the time. Just because it’s shown in a different way doesn’t make it any less intense.

So it was a quiet meditation on the way that people can love each other. And I love that the record ends with the line “a single slow desire fermenting,” after writing this book that goes into an in-depth description of fermentation and how it relates to grief and memory. It reminds me a lot of “At Least That’s What You Said,” where Jeff Tweedy has this sort of quiet, stripped-down meditation on two people interacting with each other and very poetically sort of says what isn’t said with the guitar. I liked the idea of expressing this narrative through a guitar solo.

Ending on four minutes of instrumental is kind of a statement. How did you put all of that together? Was it hard to write the four minutes of guitar solo?

ZAUNER: It’s not something I normally do. I was definitely nervous about it and there were times when I was like, I should call Meg Duffy [of Hand Habits] to just do a better job at this. But it felt really important that I do it and even though Meg Duffy or a lot of people are much better guitar players than I am, you still have a voice. In the same way that if you don’t have very advanced literary vocabulary or whatever, it’s still your voice and it can be very interesting stylistically, as a guitar player, to create this kind of narrative. I think any great guitar solo has a narrative — it’s about creating a slow growth and reaching a climax and having a denouement, so that’s what I was after.


Jubilee is out now via Dead Oceans.

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