words by kira wilber
Earlier this month I was able to have a quick chat with Jake Germany, also known as PHANGS.
Read below to get Jack’s insight on the internet in the music industry, the creative process behind his album artwork, and how his songs on his debut album Get in My Arms came to be.
Your debut album came out four days ago, how has the response been from your fans online?
Jake: It’s been awesome, it’s kinda been a long time coming. I’ve been teasing it a lot. It’s cool that it’s finally out and it’s been interesting because I didn’t know which song it would be that would take off or which song everyone would drift towards and everybody has a different favorite song it’s been really cool it’s not like there’s a front runner.
Yeah I noticed that a few of my friends some of them specifically talk about how much they love one song, how it’s their favorite off the album and how I don’t see a pattern or favoritism.
Jake: Yeah I didn’t want to pick a next single until the album came out so I was like whatever my listeners want my next single to be I’ll pick that.
So how do you feel about the internet in the music business?
Jake: I love the internet. I think it’s the coolest thing in the world…it’s like the creepiest coolest thing. I don’t think that anyone would care about things if it wasn’t for the internet. I just really really love social media. I love Instagram and the way that like my layout is on my Instagram all the baby blue and stuff. I mean all of that’s very intentional and it’s funny how certain bands have started to kind of like cop that from me.
Yeah I’ve noticed that actually.
Jake: Yeah, but it’s fine. I’m just gonna do me, and it’s just been cool how like how people have responded to that and how through the internet I know all these people like I know whenever someone – when I get an alert from Twitter and it says like @ so and so I know exactly who that person is and where that person is from because I communicate with all of these people everyday from my phone and I talk to everybody on Twitter and Instagram like I respond to everything on Twitter.
Yeah I’ve noticed that also. I think that social media is one of the biggest promoters especially for artists starting online.
Jake: Yeah no totally.
So on another topic, what was the easiest song for you to write off your album?
Jake: I wrote “Used 2 Dream” in like 45 minutes, but that song is also probably the deepest to me, like the most important to me as a person. I went over to my friend Chase’s house, who plays keys and guitar with me live, I went over to his house and he was like “Hey check out this core progression that I made” and that’s all it was just like a core progression and he has like a drum loop on it and he was like “Oh crap hold up the drum is off let me fix it” and it took him about ten minutes to just fix this drum pattern that he was doing and while he was doing that it was just on a loop playing over the speaker, I wrote the entire first verse and chorus just on my phone. I was like “I love this” but I didn’t want to get him out of his zone I wanted him to keep doing what he was doing but I was just over in the corner typing into my notes on my phone and as soon as he was done he was like “So what do you think about it?” I was like “Yo let’s record the vocal right now” and we did and I wrote that song fast but it was just so personal to me it came really quickly.
It just came so naturally to you.
Jake: Yeah exactly.
What would you describe your writing process like?
Jake: I think that it’s different every time I think I try to start with sounds first and I’ll sit there and go through on like a synthesizer or something I’ll go through all the sound banks and just start playing the same two chords and if one of them just hits right I’m like “Ooh that’s interesting” like if it just perks my ear a little bit I’ll sit there and mess with that for a little bit. I did this whole last album with Chase we just sat back and forth just messing with sounds and then once the sound feels cool enough then it’s like “Alright let’s throw a drum loop on that” or something. After that is when I take it and put it in headphones and I just go for a walk. I look like a crazy person…literally I’ll walk around the neighborhood or into downtown Nashville and just have my headphones on just blaring this song on a loop. Then I’ll just start singing melodies while I’m walking and if I’m really vibing on it kinda be dancing down the street a little bit.
It’s good that you’re not stuck in this room writing all day, that you go outside and fully experience it.
Jake: Yeah I can’t do that I have to take a walk…I love walking. It lets me think outside of the song, randomly I’ll start thinking about my life or something and how things are going on in my day and sometimes that will inspire trying to write. It’s cool.
So what do you like to do outside of music that could possibly influence your writing?
Jake: I’m really into art and I love movies and TV. For the most part, my biggest I guess thing that I do besides music is I love shoes I love sneakers. I have so many shoes it’s ridiculous…FAR more than my girlfriend, maybe five times the amount. I collect sneakers and I really like them and I love them as pieces of art such as the fabric and the stitch, the layout of a shoe is just so incredible and I’ve always been into shoes my whole life. I used to mow yards and sell random things in my house just to buy sneakers when I was a kid. That’s why my album release showon this last Saturday (July 29th) the day after the album came out I did it inside of a sneaker store in Nashville instead of in a venue.
So what was the creative process behind your music video for “Always Been U”?
Jake: My friend Paul he hit me up and was like “Hey I wanna make a music video for you, is there a song that would be cool?” and I was like “I have this one song I’m about to release” and I showed him “Always Been U” before it came out. He was like “Woah yeah I wanna do this, who’s this guy singing with you?” and I told him about R.LUM.R and Reggie (R.LUM.R) is like my best friend in Nashville, we’ve known each other for a while and that came together super naturally. I texted him and asked if he would want to sing on this and he said “Yeah I’m on my way” so he just came over and sang. When we did the video we kind of wanted it to be this video game vibe where every time you – and it doesn’t look like a video game but that was the original concept was when you’re in a video game and you get to a checkpoint after that if you don’t get to the next checkpoint you just restart back to that checkpoint again. So the couch in the video is the checkpoint and what I’m trying to do is get the girl to notice me, and the girl in the video is actually my real life girlfriend. I’m trying to get her to notice me the whole time and then whenever her attention is caught by somebody else that’s not me, I restart back to the couch every time. In a video game, you learn a little more each time “Oh crap I should’ve jumped over this thing”. So the 2nd time I get up off the couch I know that things are going to happen first and I’m able to move around them and finally I reach the goal. Yeah, it’s kinda dorky.
So my friend actually wanted me to ask this, she wants to know what the inspiration behind your album artwork was?
Jake: The beginning and the end of the album starts with a conversation with my and my Dad. It was recorded on a playschool cassette recording thing and it had a microphone on it and I don’t know why, I guess it was just to hold my attention but my Dad would always, whenever I was in the bath whenever I was a really little kid my Dad would come in there with that thing and we would just sing songs together and he would interview me and it was in the bathtub all the time. I knew I wanted to do something with the bathtub and kind of the visual of it I don’t know seems very emotional. For some reason whenever I started making the album I really wanted there to be a bathtub in the cover but I don’t know how I want to do that, but I wanted to be in it too I don’t want it to just be a picture of a bathtub I want it to create some kind of feeling that you’re like “Woah, how did that person end up there”. That’s what it is, it’s just kind of this open ended emotional photo I feel like.
Last Saturday (29th) you performed at your record release party with Fleurie as your opening act. How was that?
Jake: I love Fleurie. She’s like my favorite female singer in Nashville. I mean not even female she’s just my favorite singer in Nashville. I’ve known her for like four years now and I just think that she makes the coolest music like I just believe her. I didn’t know if the show was going to happen yet like when it was gonna be where it was gonna be and I had already asked her if she would play with me and I knew she was making an album and she was just like “Yes! No matter what yes I’ll do it”. So I was just so excited because I’m a fan of her as well. Whenever she sings stuff I just believe it like she could sing anything and I would absolutely believe her. I don’t feel that way about a lot of singers.
So I’ve also seen on twitter that fans are getting tattoos dedicated to your music and what it represents. As an artist, how does that make you feel?
Jake: It’s really cool! I think it’s crazy in the best way. I don’t personally have any tattoos of bands besides I did get the teeth, the Phangs teeth, on me but I got it after two or three tattoos had popped up. I was like well if they’re getting it I feel like I should do it as well. It was kind of a cool pressure cause the first two tattoos showed up after I only released two songs ever. It was kind of this cool pressure on me of like well if these people are getting it, they’ve got this forever I have to make sure that I deliver something now that’s gonna be like something that they can be proud of cause this is on their body, they literally own this now. It was a good pressure for me.
If you could dream of one artist/band to tour with, who would it be and why?
Jake: Is it okay if they’re dead?
Yeah I guess.
Jake: It would be Michael Jackson, every time. Michael Jackson is the man…I cried so hard when he died and went in my room and didn’t come out for the entire day. He’s just the best.
Lastly, how would you describe your music to new listeners?
Jake: I would say that it is just this music that is based on feelings. It’s less about what’s cool or correct and more about what just feels right and that if you open yourself a little bit in someway it’s going to touch you.