Jack Northover, the musician who composes simple folk songs for complex times
Jack Northover has two beasts inside of him. One is a narrative-driven commercial composer, who has created sweeping scores for brands such as Dior, Loewe and Miu Miu. The other is a metaphor-loving songwriter, writing poetic folk ballads about the Suffolk countryside. “There’s a Cherokee story about nurturing two wolves inside your soul, the different sides of ourselves,” says the British musician. “My background has always been to feed both beasts.”
In recent years, Northover’s songwriter beast has been the most visible. His music production company Howl Town created soundtracks for documentaries, films and luxury fashion brands, which gave the musician the space to experiment with a variety of different techniques and genres. And now the songwriting side of Northover is ready to go wild: his debut album, Tasman Sea, should be out this week. “tasman sea tells a lot of years and a lot of experiences,” the musician tells AnOther. “Friends, adventures, lovers, stories. It feels good to collect them and distribute them.
Northover says her inspirations are drawn from “everything, everywhere.” Describing himself as a “huge music hoarder” with an “unhealthy” love for synths, he aims to keep his mind as open as possible. That said, his lifelong love of “folk melodies and simple folk songs” is evident on tasman sea. The record is layered with soft acoustic notes and shimmering piano chords, with low, whispered hymns to the natural world.
“It’s important (to me) to work with instruments or technologies that take me in directions I wouldn’t usually go,” says Northover. “You have to be open to chemistry, to unexpected discoveries along the way. The world has enough overproduced, “processed” music. I like to leave the door open to all the beautiful mistakes and imperfections in the music, to be open to where the song takes you, and to be open to the discoveries of the process.
tasman sea is an intensely personal record, exploring themes of home and belonging. Many pieces were written while Northover was living in New Zealand studying marine ecology, while others were written in his home county of Suffolk. “It’s almost cathartic to share [these songs] with others,” he says. “While I think it’s important to make music without being too premeditated about where it will end up, I always hope that my music will be heard and embraced… There is always a slight struggle in as a songwriter, where you have to make the music to feed the beast in you, but you hope it comes through. It’s the old tradition of folk tales to pass it on. I hope people take the songs, appreciate and identify.
tasman sea releases July 2.