“Look at that, that yoghurt looks amazing!” Despite having a mouth full of SNOG (jealous) it seems as if Jodie Abacus could break into song at any moment. The south London- born songwriter was weened on the soulful vocals of pop icon Michael McDonald’s lullaby, “Sweet Freedom”. “His were probably the first set of lyrics that I tried to copy as a child… going diagonally across the page.” Alongside his radio DJ father, Abacus grew up with a diverse array of musical influences, masters of showmanship such as “Stevie [Wonder], Prince and Michael [Jackson]”. “The radio always used to be played in the morning before I went to school, in the car, you name it! So I had the chance to absorb all of the different types of music that there was; from rock to hip hop, to electro, reggae and even country music.”
As you’d expect from a man with such a diverse musical upbringing, Abacus is known for his pop-infused melodies, soulful funk and harmonious blending into one soul-stirring whole. Due to tour the UK later this September for what might just be the most cheery set of performances you’ll see, he’s hitting the road with pure pop gems Ekkah and teen funk rascals, The Age of L.U.N.A. You’d be forgiven for thinking Abacus’ back catalogue stretched back years deep, but with hit singles “Good Feeling” and “I’ll Be That Friend” circulating the airwaves, and festival appearances this summer locked on both sides of the Atlantic, he’s very much part of 2016’s fresh talent cannon.
He isn’t all sunshine and light. Abacus’ lyrics reveal some of his most intimate and challenging experiences. “Music is supposed to be something that can take you away,” he explains. “It’s supposed to give you a piece of someone else’s life, someone else’s dream. If I’m angry or if I’m swearing in one of my songs, there’s got to be a moral to what I’m talking about. It’s not just loosely said: all in all, I have to tell the truth.”
Catching pneumonia and ending a five year relationship all in the space of a year prompted Abacus to take a brief hiatus from music back in 2014. The spell of bad luck inspired the lyrics for his first single “I’ll Be That Friend.” “I felt the lowest I’d felt in my whole entire life,” he recalls. “Trying to do the very best, trying to tick all the boxes, trying to do something right in your life and then all of that happened when I was working really hard. I needed a hug…”
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