By BRUCE DENNILL
Jarrad Ricketts won acclaim with his SAMA-nominated debut album Break The Rules. Now, he is bringing a message of hope with his first gospel single release entitled You Are Lord. What started out as Jarrad’s midnight prayer, became the inspiration that would see him piece together a melodic message of encouragement and hope in a time when it is truly needed most.
Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?
I grew up in a musical family, with a wide variety of genres. I was introduced to swing jazz, pop and soul. We had a big collection of LPs, and I remember listening to the Michael Jackson Bad album and being captivated by the energy and brightness of his vocal, and also the layers of synth sounds used. Other albums that mattered to me include Madonna’s Like A Prayer, Bros’ When Will I Be Famous and the music of Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine – those LPs were owned by my older sisters – while my dad’s collection included Frank Sinatra, Percy Sledge and Elvis Presley. It wasn’t one specific album that inspired me, but rather a collective of different artists with various songwriting and production styles.
Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?
The sounds I listen to have definitely varied over the years, as music continues to change. As of late, I am listening to artists like Jamie Cullum, Diana Krall, Lianne La Havas, Kimbra and Anderson Paak. I’m exploring different songwriting structures, and also different methods of recording music. These days, the possibilities are endless, so it’s more about understanding what my stance is as a musician now, and building on my songwriting skills.
In production and arrangement terms, what are facets of your music and the music you love most by others that you feel are crucially important in terms of creating the mood you’re after or supporting the message of your song?
I think the songwriting is the crucial part. Songwriting is poetic storytelling, and I feel it’s always important that you have a clear message or outcome when taking a song into a certain direction. Melody is also one of the key focuses for me – you may not always remember a lyric immediately, but the melody itself can grab your attention, or evoke a certain emotion. In essence, music is relative, though I feel the songs that grab me are authentic, honest in their intention and well thought-out in terms of structure and production.
Which aspects of your music do you prioritise? For you, would you rather have that your lyrics, your melodies, or your vocals or instrumental work are the are the most memorable parts of your songs?
I think each aspect is relative to the kind of style or feel you want to create. When doing a pop track, it is important for me to have a really strong melody and chorus, followed by a strong rhythm. When I create ballads, I tend to want to convey a strong message, so lyrics take preference – as well as melody. For my production style, these are the important factors.
What’s your favourite piece of gear?
I would have to say my ear monitors – they make performances so much more enjoyable. I have the luxury of performing on stage, but the feeling of an intimate studio session.
What is the story behind You Are Lord – the genesis of the song, the people involved, the muse behind its creation?
I wrote this song in 10 minutes after a midnight prayer. I was overwhelmed with emotion, and put pen to paper. It was a definite stand-out moment for me as a creative and songwriter – without hesitation, each lyric fell into place on paper in front of me. Moeneeb Galant, a renowned music producer in Cape Town, produced this song for me. The song was musically arranged by my music director Roderick McKay. This song was recorded with a live four-piece band: Damian Kamineth on drums, Jason De Laney on guitar, Roderick McKay on bass guitar and piano and me on lead and backing vocals.