Released on February 15th via 4AD, Methyl Ethel’s latest album Triage was primarily a solo venture; Jake Webb recorded, produced and performed the entirety of his work in his home studio in Perth, Australia. Brimming with art-pop eclectic melodies and R&B influences, infectious in tone while simultaneously reflective and pensive, Methyl Ethel’s collection of nine tracks conjures both a somber and surreal lyrical picture with dance floor hooks. We had the opportunity to ask Webb a few questions in light of his release about the recording process, his thoughts on collaborative work and closing chapters in his trilogy of records thus far.
Northern Transmissions: How did you and 4AD initially connect? What has your relationship been like with the label?
Jake Webb: They reached out shortly after we played at CMJ. It was definitely an exciting time. I’m happy to say that the relationship with everyone at 4AD has grown into somewhat of a tight friendship. It’s great to work with people who are passionate about the same things you are.
NT: When do your best ideas tend to come about? What aspects of structure and working with a 9-to-5 schedule helps you with your creative process?
JW: It usually all galvanises in the afternoon. After a morning of grinding out the ideas, the flow seems to happen when the pressure releases a bit. The 9-5 helps me to just get into the work without waiting around for some bolt of creativity to strike.
NT: What are some of the big takeaways you have learned by working by yourself in writing, performing and producing Triage? What lessons did you learn from working with record producer Marta Salogni?
JW: I’ve learned a lot of really technical things from working alone and working with Marta. The real lesson I think I’ve learned, though, is that bringing people in a little more to work with might be a good idea in the future. Solitude might not always be the best for me.
NT: You have mentioned closing a chapter on a trilogy of your albums — how do the three works tie together? What does the next chapter look like for you?
JW: It’s kind of a trilogy of albums where I drew upon deeply personal and direct experiences to write the songs. It all started with a few big shake-ups in my life and I’ve been exploring them ever since. I’ve decided, although without acting upon it yet, to move away from this approach. Find closure here and elsewhere perhaps?!
NT: How do you define success and would you say you’ve attained it?
JW: It’s not a parameter that I choose to really engage with. Success is more tied with completion of tasks for me.
March 10th – Launceston, Australia – A Festival Called Panama
March 14th – London, UK – Heaven
March 19th – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
March 20th – San Francisco, CA – Cafe du Nord
March 22nd – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
March 23rd – Seattle, WA – Barboza
March 25th – Chicago, IL – Schuba’s Tavern
March 27th – Toronto, ON – The Garrison
March 29th – Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere
March 30th – Washington, DC – DC9 Nightclub
May 23rd – Hamburg, Germany – Molotow
May 24th – Cologne, Germany – Blue Shell
May 25th – Paris, France – Point Ephemere
May 28th – Brussels, Belgium – Witloof Bar
May 29th – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso Kleine Zaal
June 2nd – Bristol, UK – Exchange
June 3rd – Manchester, UK – Yes
June 4th – Glasgow, UK – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
June 5th – Leeds, UK – Brudenell Social Club
June 6th – Birmingham, UK – Hare & Hounds
June 7th & 8th – London, UK – Field Day 2019
June 15th – Perth, Australia – Astor Theatre
June 21st – Melbourne, Australia – Forum Melbourne
June 22nd – Newtown, Australia – Enmore Theatre
June 27th – Hindmarsh, Australia – The Gov
June 28th – Brisbane, Australia – The Triffid
Words by Trish Connelly