Snacks (Supersize)

Snacks (Supersize)

“I want to bring the human side to some of your favorite night-out club tunes,” Jax Jones tells Apple Music. “There’s a depth to these records from a story perspective—just as much as some other singer-songwriters.” While collecting BRIT and Grammy nominations and lodging himself in the upper reaches of the charts across Europe, he’s displayed an uncanny gift for instant melodies and beats that work as irresistible calls to the dance floor. However, he also knows that it’s the emotions a song ignites, and the tales it tells, that stick with you long after the night is over. Bolstering 2018’s Snacks EP with six new tracks, this is a triumphant collection of house, pop, R&B, and pretty much most things fun. Allow the Londoner to talk you through the origin stories of all those songs. “House Work” (feat. Mike Dunn & MNEK) “I wanted to make an ode to house music, and having a house legend like Mike do what he's known for on one of your records was quite overwhelming. He just sent over the self-recorded vocals himself from the States. You can even hear the keyboard clicks from when he would press space bar to stop the recording. It was so ratchet, but it just works.” “Jacques” (with Tove Lo) “This was just a flex. Tove is just a full artistic human. She thinks about the audience, but she thinks about her artistic expression first. Which is admirable, because I do less of that. As a producer, I think about the audience a lot, so it was fun learning that from her. The bassline is pretty much live throughout. I didn’t quantize it—I just played it throughout the record then cut it up, then used some sonics without much reverb and made it sound a bit crusty. I think it matched the playfulness of Tove’s delivery. She said, ‘My vocals sound kinda shitty, but I like it!’” “You Don’t Know Me” (feat. RAYE) “I haven’t had a track as big as this, which is starting to dawn on me. I’m in awe of this record to a certain extent. The song’s a double-edged sword. On one side: I love that I managed to marry all my influences on one song. I got my love of the more underground side of house on a huge hit record—well, not terribly underground, but it does have a Booka Shade [German house duo] sample! Marrying that with the melody and RAYE’s more R&B—rap, even—approach to the lyric is just who I am. The other side is wanting to have another song that’s as successful on a worldwide basis. I try and remember the earnest and naive approach I had to this record. I still love the song. It goes off everywhere around the world.” “Harder” (with Bebe Rexha) “This was one of the few songs on the album where I didn’t write it directly with the singer. That’s my big thing, but the message was about female empowerment in the bedroom and relationships, so Bebe felt like the perfect fit. I’ve known her for years after meeting in the most showbiz way possible—I was summoned backstage to her dressing room at a festival. She talks very quickly and you can feel like she’s just parred you off. So at the time it felt like she’d just dismissed me out of her dressing room [laughs]. But we stayed in contact and she heard the track, she loved it and flew to London to record it. It was written with Steve Mac and Camille Purcell. Steve laid down a challenge to me on day one: ‘What does it sound like when Jax Jones does a Katy Perry tune?’ I guess this is the answer.” “Ring Ring” (feat. Mabel & Rich The Kid) “What I love about Mabel over her voice and her talent is the great tenacity she has. So many people give up, throw ego into it, or get over-emotional, but she just turns up. We’d had a fun but unproductive first day, and deep into the second, and after a lot of conversation, she was just singing to piano chords that we had and gave me a 30-minute freestyle. I knew I had the chorus, so I got her to work on certain bits while she was freestyling. I just chopped it up from there. It’s a very proud moment, this record, because from here she went on to have ‘Don’t Call Me Up’ and ‘Mad Love’ and helped mold her sound. It’s one thing being an artist, but it’s another to help positively affect other people’s careers. She’s my G. We got more songs to do together.” “Instruction” (feat. Demi Lovato & Stefflon Don) “It’s a dream for me to make alternative pop records like this. When I work with a star like Demi Lovato, I like to put her out of context. And she was amazing—she’s singing in patois in the second verse! I remember for the pre-chorus, it goes, ‘Armani, Moschino,’ and when she first sent it back she’d pronounced Moschino with a hard ‘c,’ which I was told is the American way of pronouncing it. So I had to say: ‘Yo, you don’t sound as good, Demi. You have to say it how we do over here.’ Then we got to add to the cocktail by adding Stefflon Don. The song started as a bit of a joke between me and MNEK when we wrote it—like it was a 2017 ‘Cha Cha Slide.’ If I was to redo it, I would rework the choreography in the video. I wanted something really simple that everyone could pick up. I need to make another body music tune, basically.” “Play” (with Years & Years) “Olly [Alexander, Years & Years frontman] and I share a lot of the same influences. I remember the first line he came up with was ‘How long do you play me a song?’ I had to stop for a second because I was convinced it was from a Sophie Ellis-Bextor song for a while!” “100 Times” “MNEK’s vocals here are insane. I wanted to treat this like a club track, so I asked if it was cool with him to go uncredited—which he totally was. I had the chorus for ages and was trying to perfect it with some kind of R&B vibe for years. Then MNEK sang it and it came to life. I’m working on a serious club version at the moment. Oh, and the sample right at the beginning, that’s from Eyes Wide Shut. He’s saying: ‘I know I can’t be here, you just have to accept that.’ Which I think sums up the vibe.” “Breathe” (feat. Ina Wroldsen) “We’d had some success previously with ‘Text From Your Ex’ for Tinie Tempah, and then the next time we got together, we wrote the chorus for this. But I remember it took us five hours and a bottle of wine to get to that. We got the chorus and then [Ina] just left. I knew instantly that this was a heater, so I just pursued it relentlessly. She was then sending me stuff from Norway, but I was telling her it was too serious. ‘No one wants to dance to those kind of lyrics, Ina!’ We were arguing so much, so I flew to Norway to finish it together. She’s quite serious in the studio, with that very direct Norwegian candor. It doesn’t surprise me that she’s been the scary judge on the Norwegian version of X Factor! But she’s a genius and I learned so much from her—especially the power of phonetic hooks. They’re really important, man, when you’re trying to have stuff that goes around the world.” “Cruel” “This has turned out to be a bit of a dark horse. I thought it would be the most ignored tune on the album! I wrote this with Madison Love and Brett McLaughlin, plus Mark Ralph, who’s my right-hand man. We were initially writing quite a poppy tune, but then we turned to the vocal and all of a sudden it started sounding really dark. That’s when it got exciting for me. It’s such a weird little tune: talking about being horrible to your partner—but somehow it sounds kind of alluring. It’s our dominatrix banger. The sadist banger.” “All Day and Night (Jax Jones & Martin Solveig Present Europa)” (with Martin Solveig & Madison Beer) “Martin Solveig is an icon. I just couldn’t believe I was in a studio and the man was listening to me. We actually worked really similarly—digging for interesting sounds and trying to create something from a really obscure sound. This is a taster of our band, Europa, getting busy. He taught me how to DJ in Europe, because before I met him I wasn’t having great gigs out there. It’s quicker. They don’t have a history of house like we do, so they want longer hooks and more commercial material. I learned how to become more punchy. Madison was the icing on the cake, but I remember her asking over FaceTime if she could change the key. Martin was like: ‘Listen, Madison, you can’t do that. You’ll change the song. I worked with Madonna over a whole album and she wanted to change key on every track. I told her no. You’ve got to trust me.’ And Madison did.” “One Touch” (with Jess Glynne) “This song means a lot to me. I even tried to get Jess to sing this at my wedding. In my teens, I paid the bills playing guitar to gospel music in churches, so getting that feeling and those inspirations into a song was important to me.” “All 4 U” “This is me singing! Well, it’s a group of us. I treated the vocal like a Hot Chip-style vocal, where it’s more of an accessory to the track rather than out front. It’s really special. We wrote the song for one of my best friends whose dad just suddenly passed away. In all good dance music, you have a melancholic vibe that’s uplifting at the same time. I think we managed to do that on this one. It’s weird, too—emotional and quite soppy, but it also feels like a lad song. Like, we had four of us around a microphone, just going for it. It has that ‘It’s OK to cry, bro’ feel to it. Underneath our hard exteriors, we’re all just Furbys.” “This Is Real” (with Ella Henderson) “So, get this: My wife used to babysit Ella back in Grimsby! So I wrote this with Ella years ago, but it turned a bit sour. I was a nobody and she had just had ‘Ghost’ and was on Syco, who wouldn’t let her release it. So I took this and [2015 single] ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ to Polydor and got myself signed. They managed to get Selena Gomez to vocal it—and it sounded insane. It was going to be a moment: Selena on a house record and sounding like a diva. You’ve never heard Selena like this—10 seconds got leaked and her fans went mental for it. But it got complicated and it went away despite her loving it. Coming full circle with Ella is also fantastic and it deserves its own bit of attention, this record. It’s such a huge chorus—nothing else on the album sounds like it. It just sounds like England, and I love it for that.” “Tequila Time (Outro)” “I wanted to say thank you to the right people, but also give you something to vibe on by way of an apology! Thank-yous are hard to get right without sounding indulgent! I mean, I wasn’t as bad as Kanye on ‘Last Call,’ which is like 12 minutes long, but then I don’t have any epic stories involving JAY-Z…”

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