Upon entering the front yard of the Davies household, I was immediately greeted with welcoming barks from a Blue Heeler and a friendly voice that said, “Gday, fella”. The voice belonged to a shirtless, beanie-clad teen, who was sitting at a table sipping from a mug of coffee in the morning sun. He invited me inside and offered me a green tea, before quickly apologizing for his lack of clothing and slipping upstairs to put on a shirt.
His name is Jack Davies. A folk singer-songwriter from Fremantle, Jack has well and truly earned his place in the Perth music scene. Armed with an acoustic guitar and harmonica, he has already racked up an impressive array of achievements, including winning local and national songwriting competitions, opening for acts such as Methyl Ethel and Cub Sport, as well as recently performing at major festivals including Falls Fest, Fremantle Folk Festival, and Edinburgh Fringe overseas. When he’s not performing at festivals, Jack can be found gigging at his favourite local venues including Clancy’s Fish Pub and Mojos Bar. He also spends his time busking on the weekends at the local markets. “Well, that’s if I wake up in time”, he chuckles.
Sitting across from Jack in the heat of the January morning, I felt a sense of peace and calm, the same feeling I always get when I’m in his presence. He was seated comfortably at the outdoor dining set, a bowl of milk and soggy Weet-Bix sitting on the table in front of him. Scamp his dog, was sleepily lounging in the sun next to us, tired from the excitement of greeting me as I arrived. Jack and I haven’t known each other for too long, maybe about a year, but sitting across from him now ready to fire out my questions for the article, I felt as if I was conversing with an old friend.
Jack lives and breathes music. His passion stems from an early age when his mum’s boyfriend gifted him a guitar at four years old. “I wasn’t very good though, so he took it back and sold it”, Jack laughs. It wasn’t until a few years later that Jack got back into music after receiving another guitar when he was eight. The four years in between he spent exploring other hobbies including skateboarding, but it was his love for American guitarist Joe Satriani that re-sparked his interest in music. “I wanted to play guitar solos like him, which is funny because that couldn’t be more far away from the kind of music that I play”, he explains.
While he comes across as a laid-back and relaxed care-free teenager, Jack is constantly kept busy with his music. Although he does have a part-time job at a café, Jack likes to make most of his income from the busking that he does. He views it just like any other job, explaining that it can be quite hard to do every week for hours on end. Alternatively, Jack thoroughly enjoys performing at the various venues around Perth, both solo and with his backing band the ‘Bush Chooks’. He explains there’s not much money to be made from gigs, but it’s a lot more fun than busking on his own. Jack also loves the energy and excitement of playing with a band, as soloing can get boring and there’s nobody else on stage to feed off of their energies.
Another significant part of Jack’s music is his song-writing. He always likes to tell a story in his lyrics, whether it is one of his past life experiences, or simply about his favourite breakfast cereals. I was intrigued by Jack’s fascination with writing songs about cereal, but having just watched him devour a bowl of six Weet-Bix, I wasn’t too surprised by it. Jack explains that it’s simply a fun topic to write about. “You can always write about serious, disheartening and terrifying aspects of your life, but if you can revolve the discussion around, say, a bowl of Weet-Bix it can really lighten the mood”, he says. Jack writes about many serious topics in his songs, but by using the not-so-serious topic of breakfast foods such as Weet-Bix and strawberry jam, he conveys these deeper meanings in a way that “softens the blow”. “Using humour to talk about serious things is the best way to do it”, he laughs.
Jack is currently planning to release more music very soon, hoping to drop a new album by the end of February. He has spent the past month writing and says he is feeling happy with how the songs are gelling together. Some of the older songs he originally wrote for the album no longer reflect his style anymore, and he doesn’t want to release an album that is an inaccurate representation of who he is. However, he has spent some time re-writing and now feels comfortable with the tracks he is going to release. “I want the character of it to be congruent with everything else I’m doing. I don’t want an album that is a miss take of me and I don’t want to release something that I am no longer vibing”, he says.
Whilst there are clear influences in Jack’s music from the likes of Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk, he says he has lately been drawing much inspiration from local artists as well. Jack loves the Perth band scene and appreciates the sense of community he feels within it. “Everybody is so supportive and all the bands are friends”, he says, “and there is a strong sense of social awareness in regards to issues including the representation of women in music and the importance of having females on band line-ups”. And with so many talented female musicians in the Perth scene such as Stella Donnelly and Carla Geneve, Jack says there are no excuses not to include them if a venue has an all-male line-up.
For people starting out and wanting to get into music themselves, Jack suggests going to gigs, watching and talking to the artists, and immersing themselves in the culture of the music scene. “Just have fun with it”, he says, “don’t feel intimidated because everyone is in the same boat as you.”
With our interview coming to an end, I asked Jack what his end goal is and what he wants to achieve overall with his music. His answer was simple. If he can just survive doing what he loves and keep making stuff that he is happy with then he will be truly satisfied. “I want to make a living from my music, even if it’s just locally, being able to play guitar and write songs is all I want to do.”
Conor Levy | @conorlevy