press photo by Justin March
Today Nashville artist Louis Prince (real name Jake McMullen) shares “Half Acres,” his first official single under the Louis Prince moniker. He has also signed with Last Gang Records for his debut LP, due next year. Louis Prince shows in LA and NYC have also been announced for Aug. and Sept. with more dates TBA soon.
McMullen explains his intentions with “Half Acres”:
“The song itself touches on themes of change, figuring out who you are in relation to others and your surrounding landscape, as well as, the idea of commitment and lack thereof. So the video aims to reflect that “figuring out” process–things are deleted, cut short, pixelated, etc. constantly changing until finally deciding that it’s all these changes and manipulations that make up the final product. Similar to that of the individual whose flaws and journey are what make them special.”
What’s our purpose, and how do we define ourselves according to the people we surround ourselves with? Is self-expression a form of selflessness, selfishness, or simply the essence of self? These lofty, essential questions are the framework of Jake McMullen’s expressive, intimate debut album as Louis Prince. Equally drawing from the lush, ornate world of jazz and recalling the smooth, intricate work of like-minded auteurs like Sandro Perri, Nicholas Krgovich, and Destroyer’s Dan Bejar, the album weaves self-explorative soul-searching into its gorgeous sonic template, making for an album that leaves a serious mark even as it casually brushes your cheek.
An Orange County native at birth raised on a diet of Frank Sinatra, Tom Waits, the Beach Boys, and the Christian music that came with a religious upbringing, McMullen was inspired to pursue music after seeing someone play guitar in a shopping mall:
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is the coolest fucking thing in the world'” he remembers. After originally attending college to play baseball and study music at a small town in Illinois, he came to the realization that playing by the rules of conservatory study didn’t quite match with his ambitions.
“I didn’t like being told how to make music in a small town of 3,000 people,” he explains. He got some culture through a study abroad program, moved to L.A. for a brief spell, then relocated to Nashville where he’s lived for the last five years.
After releasing what he self-deprecatingly describes as “White guy with a guitar, woe-is-me Americana” under his own name, McMullen teamed up with close friend and musician/producer Micah Tawlks to chart a new sonic path more directly influenced by his interests, ranging from Ethopian jazz, to the works of jazz masters like Bill Evans and Keith
“It’s a lot of music without words,” he explains regarding the sounds that inspire him. “Lyrics don’t get to me as much as playing the piano does.” After toying around with a few monikers for this new direction, he landed on Louis Prince, partially drawing from his middle name while signifying the new paths him and Tawlks were charting. “Micah said, ‘I think this music deserves a chance to live on its own,'” McMullen remembers.
The album has been in gestation since McMullen began writing in earnest in 2015, with Tawlks occasionally pitching in along with previous collaborators Kevin Dailey and Dabney Morris. “The four of us really incubated to show me who I am and make it okay to make this music that I was so afraid of making before. I have an affinity for so many different types of music—why not let those sounds in?”
McMullen’s collaborations with Tawlks were instrumental in the album’s lovely, deeply
felt end result. “He encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do,” he gushes. “I brought in all of these ideas, and sometimes we ended up combining five different ideas into one song.”
8/15 Los Angeles, CA – Echo Park Rising
9/9 Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere Zone One
look out for other shows in select cities to be announced soon