Jodie Abacus, the Funk and Soul maestro from Lewisham, South London, has been causing stirs in the music industry for some time now. Releasing his first song ‘I’ll Be That Friend’ on SoundCloud back in 2015, which topped the Hype Machine charts soon after release, Abacus began to receive support from the likes of MistaJam, Trevor Nelson, and Elton John.
Abacus’ familiar yet unique brand of Funk, Soul, and Disco has already given him a steadfast fanbase, and soon they will be getting what they’ve been waiting years for. We spoke to Jodie after the release of his new single ‘Skin’ from his upcoming debut album Take This And Grow Flowers.
How did you come up with your stage name ‘Jodie Abacus’?
Jodie means ‘Grace’, and Abacus comes from learning and experience, which I do all the time, and all those experiences add up and subtract from you and make you who you are. It’s all purpose based, I had to pick a name that meant something.
What is it like being able to call people like Elton John, Trevor Nelson, and MistaJam a fan of your music?
You appreciate it. These people pioneer certain music and certain sounds; they’re legends. But you’ve got to put it at the back of your mind. It’s like winning a football match in the premiership – you take the win, but focus on the next thing straight away, so that you eventually get to that trophy you can see in your head.
Your music videos are works of art. Which is your favourite, and why?
I’m very proud of ‘I’ll Be That Friend’. I’ve always had a dream of playing piano in the street, and I didn’t realise after all those years that I was at that point. I almost had an anxiety attack on set, because this was everything I’d wanted to do, and I wanted it to be perfect. I also love the ‘Meet Me in the Middle’ video; it was done close to home, so it was a hustle to get together, but it was a great day.
You’ve already achieved so much before even releasing your first album, from opening for The Roots, to playing Glastonbury. How do you feel about the trend of artists not having to release albums to find success these days?
It’s all about the vibe that you come with these days. If people feel it, and it’s good, they’ll trust that you’ll do a good job when the time comes for that first album, and you can get the success you want before you drop your first album or EP. Also, people who are already successful can see your output before you’ve released an album, with videos, singles, or EPs, and can then decide that you’re good and they want to work with you, which gets your name out there.
Speaking of albums, your debut album, Take this and Grow Flowers, is set to be released in October. How does it feel to finally be getting it out?
I listen to that album every single day, you know? It has all of my creative output in it, structured around my life at that time – it contains all my stresses, my struggles, over a huge span of time. The album will piece three things that happened to me together; when I got pneumonia, when I went to Thailand, and when I fell in love with a stripper. I want someone listening to it to be able to feel me inside it. I’m proud of it, and it really means a lot to me. But believe me, there’s another album waiting to get out after that…
You dropped your new single ‘Skin’, which you say is an unabashed love song – is it a counterpoint to the other themes of the album?
A lot of what I’m writing about on the album is very veiled – sometimes you won’t even know what I’m singing about, and I’ve put it in this friendly rainbow vibe. ‘Skin’ is a love song, a nod to that Pop-sound of 8 years ago, but it fits in with the rest of the album. It’s a song about when you can’t stop thinking about someone, but it may not feel that obvious.
How was it working with the producer of ‘Skin’, Hight?
When I’m in the studio, I like to get on with stuff, and I’m very animated whilst doing it. When we got together, I realised he was one of those guys I just got on with and would work well with straight away. I wasn’t planning for the tracks I’d worked on with him to be a release or be on the album, but they worked out so well that they now are. He’s very talented.
The album title and story behind it, your sound, your music videos, and your social media, all convey your endless positivity – where does that come from?
We’re all going to die. That’s one thing we all have in common, so you haven’t got anything to lose by thinking positively. I feel driven by the idea that anything you say can impact someone’s life. Anything you’ve been through, you can share with other people and help them come through the other end. What good are we if we don’t share our experiences as human beings? Being positive helps other people, and that gives me purpose.
That positivity is shared by the music I hear influence from in your music, especially Funk and Disco. Where do you think the state of those genres is right now?
Strong. With being online, you can find whatever you want. Some people are just lazy, they complain about there being no good music out there – but there is, you just have to look for it.
What is some contemporary music you’re listening to and enjoying at the moment that you’d like to recommend?
I do like The Carters’ album ‘Everything Is Love’. It’s never been done before, a husband and wife’s album like that. I’m a big fan of quality Hip-Hop, and that’s exactly what that is.