Richie Egan is Irish indie act Jape.
Epilogue: To get some quick background, how did Jape come about?
Richie Egan: Jape came about when I'd been writing a lot of songs separately to the bands I was in and it got to the point where there were so many of them that they needed an outlet. At first the band wasn't called Jape, it was just my own name Richard Egan, but then when I recorded music that I intended to release I decided I should have a band name, because it gives it more freedom in the live set up.
Where does the name come from?
The name Jape is unfortunate. At this stage I'm not entirely sure where it came from, also I don't particularly like it very much… but I'm stuck with it. The interesting thing that happens with band names is that they cease to have an independent meaning once you become familiar with the artist. Once you become acquainted with the particular characteristics of that artist, you just accept the name, rather than just thinking, 'what a shitty name!' I believe it's possible for a good artist to overcome a terrible artist name, to transcend it, thankfully.
What are some of your main influences? Do you have different influences for writing and recording than performing?
I get influenced by a lot of different things. Production techniques influence me. I like to listen to other music and hear subtle changes in the texture of its sound from piece to piece. All the way from Daft Punk to Ariel Pink, through to that new Grouper album or Arvo Part, I really like music that has it's own personality. Music when you turn on a record and know straight away you are in a particular 'world' is very inspiring. I always try to learn things from other people, always asking questions. It's a form of people watching, I was influenced a few years ago by the idea that it's quite liberating to admit you know nothing, but don't let that stop you from learning. Hopefully in the pursuit of knowledge we pick up a bit of wisdom along the way.
As regards the writing/performing element I think I would definitely have differing mindsets when it comes to each. Reflection for writing, flexing for performing, as in, "he gave his biceps a flex to impress the ladies".
A lot of comparisons between yourself and Beck have been drawn. Where do you think you differ?
If you paint a chicken black and teach it to fly, it's going to look like a pigeon to some people.
What is the Dublin scene like? How does Jape fit in or stand out from it?
I like to try and do my own thing. I never really held truck with the idea of a musical 'scene'. In my head you either do good work or do bad work. If you are making good work it doesn't matter who your friends are, or even what type of a person you are, all that matters is you are at least doing something right and true. A shitty band doesn't get any better because they know how to socialise.
Do you have a kinship/relationship with other bands on the scene? Who do you think is making great music right now (outside of Ireland as well)?
There are a few great bands doing things at the moment in Dublin anyway who I get excited about. The main one being Villagers (www.myspace.com/wearevillagers). When I heard these songs I was blown away by the craft that had gone into them. Every aspect of them feels right, the lyrics, the musicianship, the melodies. It's going back to what I was talking about earlier about an artist bringing you into their world, it's an intoxicating and addictive feeling. There's a lot more too from Ireland I like at the minute, Spook of the Thirteenth Lock, Son Green, Somadrone, Si Schroeder, Spilly Walker, Sunken Foal, Sarsparilla. That's just the S's!
Internationally I have been listening to John Maus, Mount Eerie, Grouper, Animal Collective, Fever Ray, James Blackshaw, Gang Gang Dance, Minilogue, Chromatics it's never ending. Musique Non Stop.
Nailer9, a large podcast and blog from Ireland recently named your recent album, Ritual, the Irish album of the year, how does that feel?
It's a fleeting feeling of happiness, because I like that blog a lot, but really it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, people seem to like listing things in order of how good they are, but it doesn't have much to do with reality. Success is a hard thing to pin down. For me, it's successful to have a particular period when I feel I am able to write something interesting.
Any stories behind the songs you would like to share?
Most of them are quite personal and it's probably better to let anybody who hears them attach their own meanings to them. That's the funny thing about writing, once it's done it's open to valid interpretation by the listener and there's not much you can do about it. In the case where the listener is more intelligent than you, this can work to your advantage.
Are there any major themes or symbols you find yourself going back to in songs?
During different time periods I will be more interested in some things more than others. I went through a fairly long 'death phase' (about 15 years) but now I feel like being a bit more romantic. 'We're gonna die some day' is not a very good chat up line. I like the idea of symbolism in songs, and ambiguity. Chance, animals, identity, love, sanity, these are some themes I find interesting at the moment. If you can confuse people into making sense of what you are saying on a few different levels it's a job done.
With an already very unique sound, do you see yourself pushing your sound into an even more unique territory?
The new record I'm working on is going in what I am calling a 'psychedelic romantic' direction. It's nice to reflect and come up with these interesting threads which you can then follow. I don't really know how to make music any other way than I make it so it's good that it sounds unique to you. My limitations are what force me to sound the way I sound. I was never one of these people that works out a hundred cover versions to play at house parties or anything.
You also received acclaim for your hit song "Floating." Not only did fans appreciate it, but many of your peers in the music industry are fans of it as well. The Raconteurs often play it in their live shows. Does support from someone like that give you a big boost? Does that make you feel differently than say, a fan on the street enjoying the song?
It gave me a boost, but I am sick of talking about that now. It's great that they did it but that's old news to me. It's good if people like the song but I have milked that particular cow so much its milk is starting to taste a little bit sour, not too sour though, you can still make cheese from it. I have a lot of people coming up and mentioning that song, and I'm grateful for that and don't mind playing it live, but it was written at a specific time when I had a different mindset. I did a TV show here in Ireland recently and I played some new songs at the recording but the only one they chose to show was 'Floating', it doesn't exactly send out the right signals as an artist. That is something I'm beginning to learn and I am going to get more used to saying 'no'.
"Floating" also became a big hit for mash-ups and DJ things. What is it like to hear something you spent so much time in, turned into something new?
It's funny to be in a club and the track comes on. I have heard it a few times and think it's surreal. A lot of the production techniques those re-mixers have used are incredible. We actually use a remix we made ourselves of the D.I.M remix in the live show recently. It's like a mirror looking into a mirror. To think somebody like Prins Thomas has spent time listening to a track that I wrote, and then re-working it is great.
Any plans for an upcoming tour?
Not just yet, just writing this new album basically at the minute, when it's done we will hit the road again.
As always with Epilogue, what is your favorite Beatles song?
Mmm, I love the Beatles so much it's very hard to pick just one song. Can I cheat and pick an album? If so I would say the White Album. If I'm not allowed to cheat I will go for Glass Onion.
What is your favorite Dylan record?
Again, it's hard to say but probably Blood On The Tracks.
Thanks so much Riche.
Thanks very much Marshall, if you're ever in Dublin drop me a mail and I'll buy you a pint. Good luck with everything. Cheers.