“Love”, “emotion” and “feeling” are words that can best sum up Jacques Labouchere’s new album, Bi-Polar Baby Strollers, which was released this past summer. Labouchere is a captivating artist who has had the chance to live in three different countries and each has in fact become synonymous with a specific stage in his life. The U.S. was a place of experimentation, the U.K. is where he rebelled and Sweden is where he has found peacefulness and happiness. His new album is a reflection of his life, which is now filled with happiness, thanks particularly to his baby daughter. As I write this review, I’m watching the official video for his track “2nd Long Street,” which is the perfect reflection of what his music is about: friends and family spending quality time together. The 10-track album is worth listening to as the rhythm, vocals and lyrics are all in harmony with one another.
Q: Your album is very well harmonized. For instance, “Dear Dr.” is a very instrumental piece with a solo piano playing, so when writing songs, which comes easier to you – composing the music or composing the lyrics?
A: Harmonized – Wow, thanks! That’s a first! Well, “Dear Dr.” is not really just a solo instrumental piece, if you listen closely in the background you will hear some synth sounds pinging and also, more audible, there is cello beginning from the start of the first chorus thorughout ’till the end of the song. The music or the melody usually comes to me first from built up emotions and are then qucikly released and followed by a lyrical rhythm of mumbled words ’till I feel where to place them naturally. The content of the lyrics takes form as I continue to play the melody over and over and over again, while concentrating on things that are on my mind and in my heart. Songwriting for me is, most of the time, not a lenghty process, nor do I like it to be. I feel like, if you spend too much time thinking about a song and its message, you tend to miss out on the feeling of the song and the honesty of its story. I think that most of the best songs I have written have been written in the course of a few hours. I think the most challenging part of songwriting is the arranging; where to put the bridge or chorus, where to repeat or not repeat your lyrics. All in all, songwriting is meditation to me and medication for my soul and body – it comes to me without thinking about composition. It’s not a thought process, but a mirror to my emotions in space and time.
Q: The songs on the new album mirror a variety of subjects, such as love and pain – Is there a theme that comes easier to you when composing? And what is your main source of inspiration?
A: There is no particular theme that comes to me easier when writing a song. It all depends on how I’m feeling at that given moment. I don’t sit there and think, “Ok, I’m gonna write a sad song, or I gotta write a happy song.” However, I’d have to say that these days more happy thoughts and positive thinking have found their way into my songwriting. It’s difficult to be sad, or dwell upon things that are making me angry or depressed when I have such an adorable baby daughter who just laughs and smiles all the time! My daughter and my partner are both major inspirations in my music, as well as family, friends and my battle with manic depression, but my one main source of inspiration is always love.
Q: You have lived in the U.S., U.K. and Sweden, s0 is there one particular country that has inspired you the most?
A: That is hard to say, really. I have three favorite albums too, but I couldn’t rank them, just as I couldn’t say that any of these countries have inspired me more or less than the others, musically. They all have had an enormous impact on my life and my songwriting. I have learned many valuable lessons and matured more, if that’s a good thing, in each place I have lived. Oddly enough, as I have grown, I literally have continued to move east from the U.S. to the U.K. to Sweden and further up in regards to latitude. Perhaps I’ll grow old in the Middle East or Asia?
In the U.S. I was never really welcomed into any music scene and had difficulty finding the right band chemistry, so that inspired me to spend more time playing, reflecting and listening to music and learning about different areas of the music industry from working in local clubs and just hanging out. I spent my early teen years, like everyone else at the time, as a follower of the plaid-clad grunge Seattle sound and actually began playing bass at the age of about 12, covering Nirvana songs until I discovered Evan Dando and returned to my acoustic guitar.
I spent my later teen years growing up in London, during the mid to late ’90s when Brit pop was storming the nation and was greatly influenced by such bands as Pulp, Suede, Blur, The Verve and others. This period of my life was a bit like our parent’s generation of the ’60s. It was a period of revolution, ecstasy and uncertainity about the future, the approaching 2000s. It was the time I left home to live in a squat, to later be out on the streets with little but my guitar and a random visit to my failing university courses to only be kicked out for starting arguements with the professors during lectures. The U.K. inspired me to rebel and spread my wings.
Sweden has allowed me time and the peace and quiet I so longed for to be able to reflect upon my experiecnes in the U.S. and U.K., and to escape from the fast-paced way of life there. Here in Sweden, I have been greatly inspired by the calmness of society and nature, and by an artistic community that supports and nurtures local musicians. There is less competition and a willingness to listen to others. There are so many amazing bands and singer-songwriters here in Sweden that have inspired me to hone my songwriting skills. Sweden has allowed me the opportunity to experience life as an outsider, as an immigrant, as a musician and as a family man. It has inspired me to continue to follow my dreams and lead a positive, productive life.
Q: What does the word “music” mean to you?
A: Describing the word “music” is like describing love: next to impossible. It is the sound of then, now and the future. It is timeless. It is meditation. It is a safe place. It is positive energy. Music is what feelings truly sound like. It sets the tone to our lives and how we lead them. To me, music means tranquility.
Q: Do you have a dream place where you would like to perform?
A: Most of the time I have trouble sleeping and barely remember my dreams when I do! I’m not picky at all when it comes to playing, as long as the crowd is willing, the promoter’s for real, the sound tech isn’t wearing a Whitesnake T-shirt and has some clue ’bout what the dials do, etc., but if I had to pick a dream place I would say The Hollywood Bowl or The Royal Albert Hall.
Q: If you could be the opening act for any band, which band would it be?
A: There are so many bands I would be honored to open up for and spend time together backstage or on tour with, but the first band that comes to mind straight away is The Magic Numbers. Their songs, to me, are so uplifting and full of hope and love, and their whole positive attitude is so contagious and right on.
Q: What is one word that describes your music and new album the best?
A: Harmonious? No, no: bi-polar. Or is that two words?
To learn more about Jacques Labouchere visit http://www.jacques-labouchere.com/