Ben Bailey’s journey into indie pop is just beginning. The keyboardist for Joywave, Bailey is now exploring new sides of his creativity with the release of his first single under the name Jacob Asher. Atlas spoke with Bailey about beginning this new endeavor, coping with the quarantine and the story behind “Joshua Tree”.
How did you move from Joywave into Jacob Asher?
It was mostly just having enough downtime between album cycles. After we recorded the third Joywave record, we had a long time off. I had been working on my own stuff for quite a while, but never had enough time to sit down and flesh anything out, see anything come to fruition. So I took that downtime to do that- roughly a year, year and a half ago.
What names come to mind when you’re thinking of your influences for this project?
Kanye is a huge influence of mine. Yeezus is one of my favorite records of all time. James Blake is up there. I think that’s all I can give you right off the top of my head.
What’s the story behind your latest single?
So I was at a friend’s house and he told me that there was someone coming over to clean. I looked out the window and their cleaning person pulled up in a brand new white Mercedes and I thought that was kind of interesting. My mind spun out of control with all these ideas and I immediately started singing and humming all these ideas into my phone. I pretty much wrote all the lyrics on the spot in about five minutes, which rarely happens for me. And then I went home and fleshed out an instrumental and made the song really quickly.
Are there any topics that you’d like to explore more in your music, or do you tend to find inspiration on the fly?
There’s certainly a lot of things that I want to explore more. Just having dealt with a lot of anxiety issues that I have since mostly overcome, hopefully, for now- I hope to address that in further songs. I obviously also like writing things off the cuff- kind of like how “Joshua Tree” was written. It’ll be a mix and balance of both.
What’s your plan for releasing more music this year under Jacob Asher?
I think my plan currently is to release three more singles over the next three or four months and then I’m going to take some time to work on a longform release- whether that’s an EP, a record or a mixtape. I don’t know what that’s going to be called, but it’ll be more than just three songs so we’ll see.
You’ve had to reschedule your long tour run with Joywave due to COVID-19. Will this change affect what’s happening with your side project?
We did have to reschedule the tour and I think it’s currently in August or September, but we don’t really see that happening just the way things are going in the world. It’ll fortunately give me more time at home to work on my own project and other things- which I’m happy about- but I do miss getting to perform.
Do you ever hope to take this project on the road at some point?
With all this music coming out, what are you hoping your fans take away from it?
I hope that people are able to identify in one way or another- whether it’s something I would understand or not. People develop their own meanings and associations with songs. There are certain albums and songs that when I listen to them now, I travel in time back when I first heard them and I remember all the things happening in my life. I hope that it creates associative memories with things in people’s lives and they find comfort in them.
We’ve all been in quarantine for awhile now. How are you staying creative and productive and do you have any advice for people looking to do the same?
The first few weeks, I wasn’t taking it too well. I was going very, very stir-crazy just because we had this tour planned and I’m used to traveling for most of the year. Being forced to be stuck somewhere isn’t high on my list of things I want in my life. I’ve come into a routine in the last couple weeks and it’s helped out quite a bit just having a few things and making lists of things I want to do the next day and checking them all off and just having little projects and stuff to do has been nice. Whenever I’m not feeling personally creative with my own projects, I’ve been making covers and trying to do remixes of friends’ music. I have a lot of friends that are putting out music at this time now too which is really exciting, getting together and fighting the same battle. Right now I’m coping with it pretty good- a lot better than I was a month ago.
It’s a huge adjustment. As Americans, we don’t want to be told that we can’t go do something and being able to go outside and be around people is something that we certainly take for granted now that we can’t do it. I feel like the easing back into the way things were will take a really long time, like years.
“Joshua Tree” is streaming now!
Story by Olivia Khiel
Photo credit: Will Cornfield