WATCH ME BREATHE: Interview with Jake Ward

Watch Me Breathe

Watch Me Breathe is a progressive pop/rock band based in Santa Cruz, California. Originally started as a solo project by lead singer and songwriter Jake Ward, the band was formed in 2017 and have so far released 3 singles: “Wake Up,” “Break Down” and “All of You.” Their debut album ‘The Lighter Side of Darkness‘ comes out on February 3, 2018.

Their music has been described as a genre-bending style of pop rock that manages to appeal to fans of Paramore, fans of Bring Me The Horizon, and everyone in between. Jake has played guitar in the progressive metalcore scene for years prior to forming the band, and admits that it has been a major influence on Watch Me Breathe’s distinctive sound. Characterized by engaging, catchy rhythms and hyper- melodic layers of guitar, Watch Me Breathe is a band destined to take the energy and technicality from Warped Tour moshpits and bring it to a mainstream platform.

In a new interview for Prog Sphere, Jake tells us about his mission, the upcoming album, technology, and more.

Define the mission of Watch Me Breathe.

The mission of this band is simply to be honest. There isn’t a single song on the new album that is in any way compromised. As a songwriter, I want people to hear and feel exactly who I am, and if some people get it, that connection is more exciting and inspiring to me than any amount of fans the band could get if the music was strategically optimized for success in a certain market.

The Lighter Side of Darkness

Tell me about the creative process that informed your upcoming album The Lighter Side of Darkness and the themes it captures.

Around a year or two ago, I started getting obsessed with the psychologist Carl Jung’s idea of the shadow, and how some of the most beautiful and creative human achievements may originate, strangely enough, from our dark side. This apparent paradox has given me a powerful stir as a songwriter, and the songs on The Lighter Side of Darkness are my attempts to utilize that paradox through music, by opening up the darkest parts of myself in the hopes that it may be a light for someone else.

What is the message you are trying to give with The Lighter Side of Darkness?

Not every song on the album is written about this, but I think the overall message of the album is this: the part of you that sometimes feels sad, angry, and broken is just as important and special as the part of you that sometimes feels happy, optimistic, and confident. We live in a world where we’re told that we have to overcome our fears and our pain to better ourselves, but I suspect the path the wholeness may have more to do with embracing your pain and daring to explore what scares you the most.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

All of the songs were recorded as rough demos in a home studio, sometimes to help create arrangements, but mostly just to help remember and keep track of everything. There were a lot of songs that didn’t make it on the album, too. A key part of the process for me was having a big collection to scrutinize, and making sure I took only my best songs into the final recording sessions.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Honestly, not really. There’s an intro track at the beginning, and the order of the songs is certainly not random, but in my opinion, the main focus is really just to give people a collection of songs they can find meaning in, in whatever way they may happen to.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

The entire album was recorded and produced in my home studio. Once all the demos were finished and the songs were picked out, it was just a matter of re-tracking and perfecting everything. My philosophy as a producer is very intuition-based; I like to adjust knobs with my eyes closed and focus 100% of my energy on listening. If it sounds good to me, I don’t care how many rules I’ve broken to get there, and chances are that I never learned those rules in the first place anyway.

How long The Lighter Side of Darkness was in the making?

Over a year. But it was well worth it!

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

My biggest influence will probably always be The Goo Goo Dolls. They were the ones who first inspired me to write songs, and there is definitely a bit of them throughout this album. I’m also a huge Switchfoot fan, and I admire them as people as well as musicians. But it wasn’t just musicians that influenced me! I’ve spent the last year reading Rumi poetry and learning about people like Carl Jung and Alan Watts, all of whom have definitely influenced my writing as well.

What is your view on technology in music?

I’m definitely more optimistic about technology and the future of music than most musicians I know. No matter how much the landscape changes, I see no reason why human creativity will not continue to flourish and bring new, exciting things into the world.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

I honestly don’t know. I want to connect with people on a deep and meaningful level, and I’d say the purpose of the music is to make an impact on the life of the person who hears it and recognizes its meaning. But is that beyond music, or is that just part of the ever-mysterious miracle of music itself? Where is the boundary between music and everything else? What even is music, really? Beats me, man.

What are your plans for the future?

Write more, better, and faster so Watch Me Breathe can keep growing and releasing more material. And tour!

The Lighter Side of Darkness is out on February 3rd. Follow Watch Me Breathe on FacebookInstagramYouTube and Bandcamp for future updates.

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