Spotlight – Interview with Jake Aldridge (9th April 2020)

In this edition of my Spotlight interviews, I ran into a very interesting – and nice – artists in the British country music scene, Jake Aldridge. Growing up in Reydon, Suffolk (“just 15 minutes from Ed Sheeran’s hometown”, as the press kit states), the son of a Bangladeshi father and a Canadian mother made his first musical steps in the hip hop and rap music scene.

In 2012, at the age of 24, Aldridge ran into a remix of Florida Georgia Line’s Cruise, which brought him in touch with the country genre. At the beginning of 2019, he published Gullible (video see below), a collaboration with UK’s well reputed country music artist Kezia Gill. On 17th April 2020, he will release Partners in Crime, a duet with Leanne Louise, which is a straight country pop track.


Spotlight – with Jake Aldridge

FLYC: Jake, you are now 32 years old. What would you have said to me ten years
ago if I told you that you would be doing country music in 2020?

Jake: To be honest, I would have probably laughed. I’m just picturing my younger self being asked that question now… I was solely influenced by, and interested in, Rap music. To a point where I’d have about 12 chains round my neck, the baggiest jeans you could ever imagine and a Cigar in my gob too, probably. It’s quite a change, hey!

FLYC: You started writing poetry after your father was tragically struck by lightning when you were eleven years old. How did you find out you wanted to go into the music industry?
Jake: Well my father’s death left me with so many bottled up emotions that I was seeking new ways to express myself. Angry and frustrated, my lifestyle became slightly anti-social and It was beginning to get me in trouble with the Police. Thankfully, I eventually found comfort in writing lyrics. It was like therapy for me. It still is in many ways…. I began keeping a diary and eventually started to rhyme the words I was writing. Ultimately, this led me into song writing.

FLYC: On the Rap and Hip Hop side, which people / artists have been your biggest influence?
Jake: Tupac Shakur was and still is the biggest influence of my life (outside of my Father). Like me, he spent most of his life growing up without a Father. We both had strong Mothers and plenty to say to the world and about the people in it. He influenced me both in and outside of my music.

FLYC: In 2012, you happened to run into the music of Florida Georgia Line. Tell us more about how this happened, please.
Jake: Well it’s interesting because even when I was into Rap, I was always a sucker for the R&B element that many Rap songs had back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. I was a big fan of Nelly and when I heard him collaborate with the country band, Florida Georgia Line, on a remix for their song, Cruise, I was sold. The way they blended the to genre’s was so appealing to me. I had spent most of my career blending Hip-Hop with R&B, but the country aspect was something new for me and I thought “I could do this”.

FLYC: Your bio says that this occasion made you mix country music elements
into your songs. What did your friends, fans etc. think about it?
Jake: To be honest, I’m not really sure. It must have been a big shock for them to begin with. I guess I was always a bit outside of the box with what I was doing anyway. Like I’ve never really stuck to one genre. In hindsight, I guess it was a bit of a risk trying to blend two genre’s that were so dissimilar.

FLYC: In early 2019, you had your first remarkable song of that kind, Gullible,
which you recorded with Kezia Gill. How did you get in touch with her?
Jake: Well firstly, to help me incorporate the country sound, I was fortunate enough to team up with music producer and multi-instrumentalist, Ben Haynes. I sent him my music and explained what I was trying to do. Thankfully, he was keen to help. He composed the music for Gullible (which I fell in love with instantly) and persuaded me to ask Kezia Gill to feature on the song. She was someone he had worked closely with and I was delighted to have her on board. It’s amazing to see how her career has taken off and I am very thankful to have worked with her and with Ben.

FLYC: In that song, you are still rapping, while Kezia is singing country style, especially in the chorus. What was the feedback about this track like – especially as country fans may tend to be a bit on the traditional side?
Jake: It was amazing! I mean for me, Kezia just makes the track! I took the song to Rednek, who’s a music producer from Thetford. He made a few tweaks to help us maintain a Hip-hop edge to the track. It was important for us to get the blend right in an attempt to leave it half way between Rap and Country. Gullible is my most popular track to date. I think many of my fans would say it’s their favorite track of mine.

FLYC: On 17th April, you will release a new single, Partners in Crime, which
you recorded with Leanne Louise and it’s a country-pop track. Was
Gullible some sort of milestone towards “Partners in Crime”?
Jake: I feel like Gullible was the end of an era for me. I’d pushed the boundaries of Hip-hop/Pop/Country music as far as I felt I could, and I was seeking a new challenge. I figured my songs had become so Pop/Country orientated that the only aspect that hadn’t made the transition yet was ME. I decided I wanted to sing and leave rap behind completely. I’m older now, my jeans are tighter, I have just the one necklace and it’s unlikely you’ll see me with a Cigar these days either! Rednek convinced me the transition was not impossible, and with a lot of help from him, we later released, Poison, which was my first song as singer.

FLYC: What is the story behind “Partners in Crime”?
Jake: Myself and my girlfriend Lisa are forever goofing around when we go out and we kind of egg each other on to be silly and to do outrageous things. We like to dare each other from time to time and this is where I got the concept from for Partners In Crime. The song is produced by Matt Knight, co-written with David Booth (Who I had so much help from and recorded the song with) The track features additional vocals by Leanne Louise, who is just an incredible talent herself! I’m blessed to work with these people and I’m excited for everyone to hear the new direction I am taking with my music.

FLYC: At the moment, Covid-19 is a topic you just cannot avoid. How does it
influence your life as an artist?
Jake: Well it gives me plenty of time at home to write and also to keep in touch with my friends and close supporters. I’m also finding new ways to gain exposure for my music. It’s tragic how many people are losing their lives and I hope it’s over sooner rather than later. I don’t complain about the self-isolating. I am just thankful we have food on the table and a roof over our heads.

FLYC: What are your plans for 2020? Working on new songs, an album – touring? Will you stay with country-pop?
Jake: Definitely staying with Country-Pop (even if they shoot my new single down in flames). I’m working on new music with South American Producer Dam Dominici and I’m really excited about that. I’m continuing to have singing lessons and I’m just looking forward to what’s to come. Lets hope we can overcome the Corona Virus together and get back to normal as soon as possible.

FLYC: Last, but not least: as a hip-hop-rapping-country-pop-recording artist,
what kind of music do you listen to at home? Any favourite acts?
Jake: I love Kane Brown, Jonny Zye, Dan + Shay, Kezia Gill, Jason Aldean, Steve Moyse and so many more!


All pictures used: copyrighted by the artist / artist press kit


Spotlight – Interviews

Here are all postings of my interview section Spotlight: Country Music Reviews

Here are reviews of all country music albums and EPs I reviewed earlier on the website: