In conversation with: JACOB BELLENS

photo by Neal McQueen

In March, Jacob Bellens released his fourth album “Trail of Intuition”. It reflects his ability to write emotional songs with an eye on both the lyrical details and unforgettable melodies. Let us not forget his characteristic and memorable voice, which you can hear live soon on one of his concerts around Europe.

We were happy to meet Jacob Bellens for a coffee on a nice and sunny day in Copenhagen to talk with him about his music, his new album, and life experiences. He overwhelmed us with his honesty. He always hated giving interviews because he doesn’t know what to say and hates talking about himself. And that is probably one of the reasons we had such an interesting and down to earth conversation.

Good because Danish: You come from a small city called Sneslev, near Ringsted. Do you think your career started there?

Jacob Bellens: I have always been playing a lot of music and most of my life has been about music. It started when I was five. At that point, I was playing the songs that I heard on different records and was trying to learn how to play them. It always has been the main event.

When did you discover that you had a special talent?

Music was something I kept coming back to all the time. I never really tried to do anything else. I was never presented with anything else with what I was remotely good at. So I guess it has also been about focusing on the things that I actually felt good at doing.

What did your parents say about your focus on music?

My Mom died when I was 18 years old. I remember her being really sad and crying because my grades were so bad. I just told her you don’t have to really be sad because I don’t have to use my grades for anything”. My dad was always quite supportive and also had a lot of instruments and a lot of records at home. I think my Mom was not particularly musical. She did not really have the rhythm. She was more enjoying music but not playing.

How did moving to Copenhagen change your music career?

I guess meeting likeminded people. Like what has happened to me during Gymnasium (high school) where I met Anders with whom I played in the band Murder. It was a big thing for me, meeting someone who also was interested in the alternative scene in the 90’s and others who were interested in the hip-hop scene. Branching out and meeting people who were different meant a lot to me. It is something that ensures you that it was ok to do music and being interested in weird music just doing your own thing.

After the band Murder and I Got You On Tape, how come that you decided to do your own project?

I always wrote the songs on my own. When I was younger it felt quite natural to be part of a group. The older I got and also the more successful the groups got, it felt less and less natural to not be by myself. I really like hanging out with all these people still. But musically, for me, it feels more natural to have an output that is just my own. I think all bands have some sort of a period when it makes sense and maybe if the bands get really big then it is hard to stop. I remember being on tour with I got you on Tape the last couple of years when we were actually paying ourselves quite a bit to do it. It actually became like “oh we could actually make a living doing this” that made me realize that I had to stop it now. I would rather build something up on my own. It has been the single best decision I made in music I guess. It felt really natural from the first day I did it actually.

Most the work you did alone on your fourth album?

Yeah, it is basically just me sitting like here (in a cafe) with my computer. It is in many ways a very personal album, not necessarily because of the lyrics but also just me trying to see if I can do it on my own. It was quite nice to find out that I was able to pull that off. That was cool!

Like you said the album is really personal, I would say also lyrical wise.

I guess so; I mean I write a lot for other artists. These years I am beginning to differentiate between writing something that is very one on one or very personal.

Obviously, it is personal when you write. I spend a lot of time in my life trying to be transparent and I think this also reflects how I write. I want it to be some sort of honesty. When I am writing for instance for other artists, I really want to create something. I mean what do you want me to write about? I write about some lost life or write about some party going on or whatever. I guess I can write about anything, but when I write for myself it has to have some sort of a meaning to myself after all. But I have been doing it a lot. It comes naturally.

While you produced alone was there an inner critic?

Oh yeah! But I did not produce it entirely on my own, because I had my two friends producing and helping me getting the productions up and running which also took a long time. But I don’t think I have doubted myself as much as I used to, during making this album. But I have always been hiding the fact that I have been the boss in everything. Basically whenever I was saying “could we maybe do this” everyone would be like “yes, of course, we can, it is your album”. With everything I have ever done I have been the one basically in charge but I have always been hiding from that fact… like “could we maybe fire this guy?” and people were like “I guess we could, we could discuss it..”, but it always has been me in the leading role. It has never been that obvious to me that in this album. There was no one else to point at, and that was actually quite scary. But it was fun also.

Do you think there is any kind of characteristic of you that people are surprised of?

I believe people get surprised that I am actually not totally depressed all the time. I think people imagine me too serious. I am not sure why, because I am actually very much the opposite of serious. I just have the feeling that a lot of people think that I am very dark and serious all the time. And actually, in personal life, it would be really good if I would be a bit more dark and serious than what I am.

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