Mr Jukes is a project in which to expect the unexpected. Once a music obsessed teenager, Jack Steadman initially saw himself more as a jazz bassist than the frontman of a world famous, guitar-centred indie band, but – as everyone now knows – his 10 years with Bombay Bicycle Club (encompassing chart-topping albums, several planetwide tours and some notable awards) somewhat got in the way. Having taken a couple of years to contemplate his next step – a journey that ventured across land and sea - he returns under the name of Mr Jukes with a project that both revives his long-standing interest in jazz, soul and R&B and sees Steadman take on the roles of artist, composer, producer and sample-hound.
The result, God First is an album that surprises and delights in equal measure: quite unlike anything Jack has done before. From the delicate opening of ‘Typhoon’ – with its orchestral strings and twinkling xylophone that gives way to a crashing drum beat and a chanting fishermen’s choir – to the frenetic drumming and skittering keyboards of ‘Leap of Faith,’ – featuring reggae kingpin Horace Andy and hip hop legends De La Soul - the jazz-and-funk-inflected five minutes of ‘Angels / Your Love’ featuring BJ the Chicago Kid and the dream like duet with Lianne La Havas on ‘When Your Light Goes Out,’ God First is an album rich in the history of music that first caught Jack’s imagination and one he still has the desire to explore and experiment with.
Says Jack of making the album: “I loved the challenge of writing songs for Bombay Bicycle Club," says Jack, "but as a naturally restless person, after the last album my mind wandered to ideas I couldn’t imagine doing within the band. On Mr Jukes I have the freedom to go right to the end of any idea I might have so if I want to use, say, a Grant Green sample and have Charles Bradley singing over it, I can do that. It’s been very exciting.”
That freedom certainly seems to be paying off – ‘Angels/Your Love’ and ‘Grant Green’ have been Mistajam’s Hottest Record’s in the World on Radio 1, both have gone Top 5 on Spotify’s Viral Chart and been playlisted by 6Music. Newest release ‘Leap of Faith’ was a World Record on Beats1 and his debut headline show at London’s Village Underground on the 11th July sold out in under 24 hours. All of this has been coupled with key tastemaker support from the likes of Pitchfork, Noisey, Wonderland, Fader and DIY.
Always a restless soul, Mr Jukes is already planning his next moves. “The moment Angels/Your Love was released, I ran back to the studio to write something new. You immediately want to write something better than the last thing you did”. So we’ll wait and see what comes of that and in the meantime, enjoy a window into Jack’s musical odyssey inspired by his love of gospel, church-based and soul music. We’re all the better for him inviting us along on the ride.
Meet the Steoples —GB a.k.a Gifted & Blessed (Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker) and Yeofi (Yeofi Andoh). GB is a longtime producer who was integral to the start of the Los Angeles beat scene. He recorded his full-length debut album in 2004, which also marked the first collaboration with vocalist and U.K. native Yeofi on the haunting “Love is the End” single. The two had met through mutual friends, drawn to one another through their shared appreciation for genre-defying creativity.
When they met, something clicked. GB was working with certain musical colors and collages that resonated with Yeofi, and the result is Six Rocks, an exploration of sound that often emerges as a collection of unfinished ideas. In lieu of being incomplete, however, they prefer to describe it as unresolved. There are no typical song structures or chord progressions, or any sense of normalcy here. And that’s a good thing. Much is left to interpretation and imagination.