Jody Brock is a promising young soul sensation from London. The singer-songwriter who attended Brit School just released his first EP called Phoenix and I had the privilige to have a chat with him about his difficult time at school, the writing process, the artists that inspired him to become an artist and what it would be like to dance… with Maggie Smith!
You started your career at Brit School when you were 14. What were the most important things you learned there?
You learn how the music industry works, about the politics behind it and how you do the networking as an artist. That is something that I still use every day. It is a hard industry to crack so that helped. Of course I learned about the creative process as well, but the main thing is to prepare yourself for the life as a musician, although the hard work really starts once you leave the school.
Your parents have always been very supportive of your music career. Would the EP have been out if it wasn’t for them?
No, I don’t think so. Their support means the world to me. I was a chubby kid who always sang, which wasn’t a very popular thing to do. I didn’t have a great time at school because of reactions of the other kids. Luckily, my parents and teachers supported me to go on with music. They always liked my voice and told me to do something with it. If I wasn’t a singer right now, I would probably work with children at schools to help them make something out of their creativity because I believe that is important.
When did your peers start to appreciate your voice?
Things changed at Brit School. There I finally got the chance to do what I love surrounded by people who liked my music and were impressed by my voice, which was great.
For your EP Phoenix you wrote together with people who also worked with Christina Perri, Cee-Lo Green and Corinne Bailey Rae. How did that happen?
My manager was able to introduce me to some great writers. I worked the most with Drew Lawrence who co-wrote Christina Perri’s ‘Jar Of Hearts’. I also wrote with Heidi Rojas who co-wrote tracks like ‘Wings’ by Little Mix and ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ by Cheryl. Although those are pop hits, all writers I worked with had roots in soul music, so it made sense to me. The thing is, when working with co-writers, you have to make sure that the song that you produce together is still coming from you. It has to be your idea and point of view.
So the song ‘User’ about a dysfunctional relationship is written from your own perspective? Is it hard to share such a story with another writer?
It is a personal story and I wrote it together with Drew Lawrence, with whom at that point, I had been working for quite some time, so it felt natural writing about it together. It probably also helped that we already had quite a few drinks.
‘Stormy Weather’ has a bluesy rock sound that reminds me of Hozier’s music. Were you inspired by him?
It’s funny you ask, because ‘Stormy Weather’ was a song we created more than a year ago, back when ‘Take Me To Church’ wasn’t out yet. The blues rock sound was completely new for us so we were a bit nervous about it. Then I heard Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church’ had a similar style and did really well. For us it was great to see people appreciate that sound.
“We recorded ‘Phoenix’ at 4 in the morning when I was hungover and already singing for hours. My voice sounded raw and we wanted to re-record it later, but it missed that edge that the original recording had, so we decided not to change it.”
Which artists inspire you then?
The soul musicians from the 60’s, like Etta James, Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway and James Brown. This is the music that I grew up with, because of my father who is a musician as well. I actually wrote the song ‘Dance Again’ about him and it is the most soulful track of the EP. But I am also inspired by music from the ‘noughties’ of course. For example Lauryn Hill, she is a fantastic song-writer. Also, Christina Aguilera’s Stripped album was important for me.
About ‘Dance Again’. If you could ask any famous person in the world for a dance, who would it be?
That’s a good question, I haven’t heard that one before! Let me think… It would probably be someone that reminds you of that aunt that always embarasses you by dancing with you. I’d go with the lady from Harry Potter, what is her name… Maggie Smith! She seems like that person. I think she is fun. I have been really into Downton Abbey lately so that’s probably why.
The title track ‘Phoenix’ is the catchiest tune on the EP. How did you come up with it?
I worked with Drew on ‘Phoenix’ too. I was talking to him how I had a bad habit of starting relationships too soon and burning them down really fast and that is where the metaphor of the phoenix comes from. We recorded it at 4 in the morning when I was hungover and already singing for hours. My voice sounded raw and we wanted to re-record it later, but it missed that edge that the original recording had, so we decided not to change it.
Good call, because the rawness in the vocals fit the song very well! If you could ask anyone to collaborate with you, who would you pick?
I would love the opportunity to sing the hooks for hip hop artists. Also, to do vocals for a dance or house tune, which are very popular these days, would be great. As for artists I would love to work with, Kendrick Lamar as I love his latest album. I’m also a fan of Sia. She’s an amazing songwriter.
What is next for you? Will there be a debut album and a tour?
I will be going to LA again in a few months from now to write and record more songs for an album. Before that, we will probably release a second EP, because I have a lot of songs ready that I want to share. Also, it is important to keep the buzz that I created with my first release going, as it gains me new followers. As for a tour, I would basically perform everywhere if you ask me, because that is what I love most.
For more information on Jody Brock and the Phoenix EP:
Introducing Jody Brock
Watch his first video for ‘User’ and listen to the EP below.