All images shot by @akidinlondon
Picture this: a dreary July day in East London; the heavens have opened and we are scheduled to have a photoshoot with Scottish quintet: Jakil made up of Liam, Kieran, K, Callum and Jamie. The guys have been on WFA's radar for a good few years now. It was their cover of Solange's "Losing You" which brought them to our attention back in 2013. Since then, they've released a series of upbeat pop singles, played many live gigs both in London & their native Scotland, and are known well on the Sofar Sounds London scene. But just what are these guys about? We caught up with them to find out more.
So how did you guys meet?
JAMIE: So, me and Liam met when we were two in nursery in Edinburgh. I met Kieran in High School when I was 12 and I met Callum when he was playing in a different band in Edinburgh and the same for K. Then we all came together when we were 21 and moved down to London cos we thought that was the best place to go and make music.
Me, Kieran and Liam used to play music in school (we used to stay behind in the music department). We all learned guitar but Kieran was the one person that didn’t pick up guitar as fast so by that process of elimination, he became the singer *All chuckle*.
I first heard you guys do a Losing You cover by Solange - why that song?
KIERAN: We all used to live in Tottenham and when we’d have house parties, Solange - Losing You was always the track that got everyone in the room up and dancing. We’re just big fans of the track. When we do our covers, we like to do something that’s not necessarily obvious and we decided to make it our own. We don’t do as many now. I think we’ve become quite weary, we don’t want to become a "Youtube cover band". We like to do them now and again, but we don’t want that to be what we are known for.
You’re from Edinburgh too right? How does it feel being in London, do you feel like outsiders?
LIAM: I think it’s been a wee while now, like 7 years; it’s sort of become a home away from home.
KIERAN: We’ve got friends [here] and I think we’ve really settled in and we pull the same crowd that we would in Edinburgh.
JAMIE: (So we’re insiders now) *everyone laughs*
How does the music scene in Edinburgh compare to London? Is there a stark difference?
LIAM: There is now, like since we left [Edinburgh], we’re hearing more and more stories of the venues we used to play closing down.
KIERAN: But that’s happening in London now as well. There is a difference though cos I feel like in Edinburgh, there is definitely a community of musicians who chat to each other, whereas in London it’s almost as if there is a fight for every space. So there’s not really a community. There’s so many different genres as well and 1000 things happening every night.
Did you enjoy your Sofar Sounds show?
JAMIE: We’ve done quite a few. Intimate shows mean much more to people. Also with Sofar, it’s not like they’re paying to see an artist [they know], they’re just going to have that intimate, live music experience regardless of who it is.
For me, music is an escape and can parallel any mood I'm in - how does music make you feel?
KIERAN: There are so many different levels to that. But making music, if you come up with an amazing hook you just get so excited about it especially when it’s so off the cuff. Whereas you get other times where you write music and it’s just like a bloody birth. Both are rewarding but it’s a completely different feeling.
CALLUM: I find it hard to just sit and listen to music but I still do to get away from what we do. But I don’t just sit and listen to music; I feel like I analyse it more now.
KIERAN: You were right in terms of it feeling like an escape but coming back to what Jamie was saying about the Sofar shows, it’s a way to feel connected to an artist like oh you get it, you know what’s happening to me right now. And I think when we’re writing even, we try and make lyrics relatable and we don’t really like saying what our songs are about; we like people to have their own decisions and their own stories about it.
Who do you guys listen to for inspiration? (On your chill vibez playlist on Spotify, you have artists from Khalid, to Drake to Shura)
CALLUM: To inspire, I think we all go back to our favourites and the greats. But I love Shura. A lot of the new artists on that playlist, I listen to and am like a sponge and that’s what great music is: you just make your version of it.
JAMIE: Taking the best things from everyone and you’ve got your perception of what the best thing is.
LIAM: It’s difficult to be original.
JAMIE: There’s a John Mayer quote and he says: “You develop your own style when you are trying so hard to be like someone else but you fail at it.”
K: What’s inspiring for me music-wise is Bon Iver, Justin Vernon Projects, Ryan Adams - that’s the sort of music I can listen to and not be analytical about it.
LIAM: My taste in music is all over the place like very diverse. Depends on the mood I’m in as well. If you look at our other Spotify playlist, you’ll see that it jumps back and forth between decades - I do that quite a lot like stuff from the 70s/80s. And even through the 90s and 00s, like N*Sync and pop stuff. Michael Jackson is also a big one as well that we all collectively listen to. That’s a huge eclectic mix for me.
JAMIE: I like listening to Nat King Cole and Etta James and stuff when I’m cooking and chilling. In terms of inspiration, MJ, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Phil Collins. Currently Haim, Solange, Blood Orange - like a bit of everything really.
KIERAN: I’m a big fan of words, like lyrics. I’m a big fan of Jeff Buckley. But I’m also a big fan of hip hop in general like A Tribe Called Quest. A core inspiration for all of us is MJ, Fleetwood Mac etc.
In your song "Istanbul", you (Kieran) utter the lyrics "She doesn't want me, she doesn't need me." - does this sum up 'Modern Romance' for you?
Kieran: I think there are probably a lot more flings now than there ever has been before. You've got this whole selection of people now. (Correct me if I’m wrong but) Maybe because you have so many options, you don’t pounce on the opportunity as much? Like if you do find someone that you like, you think oh well the next one might be better.
K: There’s a book by Aziz Ansari called Modern Romance and it talks about how 30-40 years ago, you wouldn’t need to look much further than your street to find the person you would spend the rest of your life with.
Kieran: So basically the "she doesn’t want me, she doesn’t need me" does fit into Modern Romance but it’s weird though because that track was written before Tinder.
Do you think that human beings can be monogamous?
Jamie: I think they can be, it’s just whether or not they are happy to be.
Kieran: My dad always used to say: there’s no such thing as romance, it’s finding someone that you can put up with and they can put up with you.
Jamie: I feel we live in a world where (because of technology and what you’re told) you feel like you can get anything you want whereas, you never used to be able to do that. And you can encompass that within human relationships as well: you can get new friends, you can get a new job this that and the other. And you can because you can connect so much in this modern world.
How do you think you stand out from in the London music scene today?
Kieran: I think we stand out in the sense that we’re all 5 friends from home [Edinburgh] and jumped down here together. And we make Pop music and are unashamed. If we’re cool, great. And we’re connected with the people that do want to listen to our music and if you don’t like it then that’s fine. We love talking to people. I think there are 2 kinds of act. One is where you look at them and think: I want to be them for example Rihanna or Beyoncé. Whereas you can look at others where you love their music and want to hang out with them; for example SZA, she’s gorgeous but you want to hang out with her. Her lyrics are amazing and you’d want to hang out with her.
Jamie: You ultimately just do what you do and what you enjoy doing and the people on the receiving end will judge whether you stand out. Cos they only like you if you stand out really cos it’s impossible to like every single band that’s out there.
Liam: We’re different to a lot of other people that do pop. The sound we have recorded, you’ll go see bands that do that same kind of thing and it’s not big and loud and tight like we are. (Blowing my own trumpet haha)
What does success mean to you?
Kieran: Success for me is being able to look after my family. I’d view that as quite a big measure of success.
Jamie: I’d second that. I’ve just been reading books by the Dalai Lama so for me, it's happiness.
Is there a difference between wanting to be successful and wanting to be happy?
Kieran: Yes. Because... people are willing to do anything to be successful but I don’t think people are willing to do everything to be happy. You look at Chester from Linkin Park - he had everything but it wasn’t enough to make him happy: he was successful.
Jamie: Happiness trumps success all the time. The whole mindset of western civilisation is warped because everyone is chasing what they perceive as success and that’s why everyone strives to get better jobs because they think money equals success which equals happiness.
Bonus Q: What is a song you think is well crafted?
Jamie: I think my most well crafted song would be Boy Meets Girl - Waiting for a star to fall. They’re a one hit wonder but they don’t need anything else cos they made the perfect song. Also The Way You Make Me Feel by MJ as well.
Callum: Anything Quincy is well crafted.
Liam: Bohemian Rhapsody.
(Others: that’s such a Liam answer)
Kieran: Time of my life.
A huge thanks to the guys for sitting down to chat to us. Want to hear just how great the guys are live? Check them out at their next live gig at The Finsbury in London on Sat. 19th Aug.