27-year-old Michael Jablonka has been gigging since the tender age of 14 as an in-demand guitarist for hire, and has played for Michael Kiwanuka. Meanwhile, he’s been fine-tuning his own powerful 21st-century take on bluesy alt-funk and soulful indie-rock using his mastery of raw, electric six-string. We spoke to Michael about his career so far and latest release ‘I Found You’.
It’s one of the first songs I wrote as a solo artist, but releasing it after whatever came before it has put some things into perspective for me of where I wanna head artistically.
**First up, tell us bit about yourself - what first got you into music? **
I always enjoyed whatever I heard whether it be on the radio but I suppose when my mum introduced me to music like Joni Mitchell, Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Fleetwood Mac that’s when I started hearing music differently.
Were there any particular bands or artists you took inspiration from to form your musical and thematic style?
Nirvana has always been big influence for me, they’re true masters of the ‘less is more’ approach which is something I’ve always admired and want to adopt in my own creativity.
The guitar is your signature instrument. How did you learn to play it?
When I got an electric guitar for my 13th birthday I was also getting into the chili peppers and I remember the album blood sugar sex magik having a big impact on my playing. I’d sit in my room for hours rewinding John Frusciante’s parts. That was like my grail.
How would you describe your style?
I’m still trying to figure it out, I like a strong groove and playing at stupidly high volume (when I get the chance). For the time being I’ll go with indie rock.
You play with Michael Kiwanuka. What’s that experience like? What did you learn from him?
It’s an absolute joy playing and travelling with MK the boys. Every night is different from the last and the vibe is always positive. I’ve found that working with him has allowed me to be more free with my own creativity which I think is a testament to MK and the rest of the band.
What’s been your best moments of 2017 so far?
My band and I had our first support gig in October opening for The Strypes at The Electric, Brixton which was really fun, felt good to test the waters playing in a bigger venue. But I don’t think anything can top playing a sold out Royal Albert Hall with MK earlier in May that was another level of happy.
Your last single was ‘Peacefully’. What was the response?
It looks like it was received really well. A friend recently messaged me saying he heard it being played across independent radio stations in LA so that was satisfying. But generally really good reactions so far across the board.
Tell us about your new single ‘I Found You’. What’s it about?
It’s essentially about finding a piece of yourself, I guess self discovery really.
How does it build on your previous releases?
It feels like a turning point in my song writing weirdly. It’s one of the first songs I wrote as a solo artist, but releasing it after whatever came before it has put some things into perspective for me of where I wanna head artistically.
What are your hopes for the single?
I guess I’d like for as many people as possible to hear it. Hopefully people take something positive from it.
How is 2018 shaping up?
They’ll be a fair few releases in either single or ep form maybe even a cheeky vinyl release. Gigs aplenty to announce soon too ;)
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
At the moment I’d be really interested to collaborate with John Dwyer from Thee Oh Sees. Saw them in the summer at Green Man festival and they were unbelievable. I imagine being in a studio environment would be totally insane!
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
I’d go back to 2007. I kinda wish I had the confidence and courage to sing and develop my voice then. It wasn’t until 2014 that I started singing and it felt really liberating when I did. I’d probably say to myself “speak up”.
Listen to Michael Jablonka on SoundCloud below. For news and tour dates go to Michael Jablonka’s Facebook page.
Images by Jodie Canwell.