Singer-songwriter Joel Jackson from Margate, UK – ‘The Slopes’ as he is better known – released his debut EP ‘Splints’ on the 23rd November.
The tracks incorporate strong themes of coming-of-age and experiencing change with several interesting musical dynamics. It suggests influences from multiple genres, making the EP unpredictable. Nevertheless it upholds this consistent indie and dream-like feel through the electric guitar tones and soft acoustic. With this indie vibe combined with pop undertones in the form of catchy hooks, The Slopes have created a strong series of powerful tracks that build in a bittersweet way. The lyrics feel honest and powerfully moving, and compliment the melodies that accompany them. The EP contains four tracks produced by Armistice Records. I caught up with Joel a few days after the release.
Where did the inspiration behind this collection of tracks stem from?
The songs on the EP are really just about being young and going to uni, drinking with your mates and being on your own. Tunes like ‘Drugs’ are basically about being surrounded by that sort of lifestyle and what people like my missus would say if I got too involved in it.
Have you got a favourite off the record, or is there one that holds special significance to you?
My favourite track from the EP has to be ‘Halls’ purely because of how it sounds. I sat down in my uni halls and hit record and made it all up on the spot and was proper chuffed with it. But in terms of a song that has special significance, it has to be ‘Uni.’ That was written about half way through my first year and my parents just left to go home and they took my missus with them so I was a bit like, ‘what do I do now?’ So I sat down wrote that tune and then went out to celebrate (I think if I sit down and finish a tune it deserves a pint).
Where was it recorded and produced?
I’m at uni in Winchester and I’d spoken to a few musicians at open mic nights and they’d recommended Armistice Records ran by Ollie Robinson, who is a lad around my age so it was perfect. I was so happy with how much he knew, it was really impressive. We got on really well, and before this I hadn’t ever recorded anything really as I’ve only been writing music for about 2 years. He was really cool about everything and he managed to create a really good environment for artists. We just jammed ideas.
When I first went in I sat down and played ‘Drugs’ and I kind of got the vibe that he hadn’t really had someone come in and do weird acoustic rap so he seemed genuinely excited to work on it which, in turn, made me really excited to work with him. But overall, I recorded the EP at Armistice Records and would massively recommend it.
Can you tell us about the recording process itself?
We got the whole thing recorded in 3 days. I live down in Kent so I travelled like 3 hours to come and do the EP, stayed at my mate’s house and lived off takeaway so it was fun. During the actual recording process it just flowed so well – I went in with a general idea of what I wanted and then Ollie just helped me transform them into these massive fucking tunes – we just jammed ideas and it was a mental experience.
I think we worked together really well, and to be honest he had a lot of input on songs like ‘Halls’ and Parachutes in particular with the backing guitars and that. When I originally played him ‘Halls,’ we just put the delay on the guitar up loads and I just watched his face fill with pure excitement to work on a tune like that – and he smashed the guitar solo on ‘Halls.’ So yeah legend, recording process was amazing and I can’t wait to work on an album.
How did the EP evolve through production? Was everything as you expected?
Throughout production a lot changed, but I always wanted to stick to my roots of acoustic guitar and a major focus on the lyrics. ‘Parachutes’ changed a lot – the acoustic version which is on Youtube is a lot less rocky compared to the EP version. But songs like ‘Uni’ which I recorded live and exactly how I’d always played it have this sort of power that didn’t need any extra guitars or anything.
In the end I think the EP sounded better than I expected – and I don’t think I expected the overall experience of recording an EP to be so exciting and fun. In terms of songs, the ideas I had in my head were actually transformed into the real thing so it was better than I expected.
What can audiences expect from live shows?
Live shows are something I love doing, and up until this point I’ve done only acoustic solo shows, but now the EP is released I will be doing more full band stuff in the near future. I always have a laugh doing shows and make sure the audience do too – even if it means making myself look a tit; and I love playing the odd unreleased song so people can get hyped over tunes. There’s 2 unreleased tunes I’ve been playing out recently and people are loving them so that’s a good sign. But on a whole audiences can expect a good show with tunes that actually tell a story rather than all that Top 40 shit.
What gigs have you got coming up?
I’ve got a few things lined up, but nothing major as of yet but I’m working on it. Got a few acoustic gigs around Christmas, and I think acoustic is good for that time of year. I’m trying to branch out to London sort of area and Southampton so should be a busy few months from now on.
Finally, where can people find your music?
My EP and a single I released a while ago called ‘Glass’ can be found on iTunes and Spotify along with most other streaming websites. Old tunes I wrote can be found on YouTube (‘Scar Tissue’ is a pretty good one). Other than that I’m always putting updates on The Slopes Instagram about gigs and new tunes and where to find them which is @the_slopes_
You can hear the debut EP ‘Splints’ below. Head over to the Facebook page to keep up to date with new music and upcoming shows!