Interview: Short Sharp Scratch on creative car rides, pandemic pen pals, and catchy hooks
With the release of Short Sharp Scratch's new single 'Do You Like It', we caught up with leader of the Brighton collective - Jak Chantler.
Your new pop funk track ‘Do You Like It?’ is a collaboration with singers Aimee Montague and Bobby Lamont, as well as composer and producer Mo Pleasure (formerly of Earth, Wind & Fire), so how did this project come about and what do you enjoy about the collaborative process?
I am a songwriter first and foremost but I’m very lucky to have some extremely talented friends to help me build this sound. I absolutely love the process, it will usually start with the melody, I write a lot of the top line whilst driving (pre-covid I was in the car a lot for gigs!) then I take it back to my studio, where I can tidy things up with the guitar and work on some grooves. Then it is a process of bringing in my guys to shape the track, quite often we work remotely, sending ideas online etc. Every new email from these musicians is like Christmas!
Having been influenced by the likes of Chaka Khan and Prince, what do you draw from those artists in your songwriting?
I love both of these artists and have many other influences, being a fan of all types of music. I was originally in a heavy rock band for years so I still try to find that excitement in my music. With Chaka and Prince, I suppose it would mostly be the production style as well trying to include catchy hooks as much as possible. And of course, as a guitarist, how can I not be influenced by Prince - one of the greatest players of all time!
You’ve travelled globally and performed at high profile events for the likes of James Corden and Gordon Ramsey, with an upcoming gig on 12th December at Amersham Arms - have experiences of international shows and famous audiences shaped your approach to live performance?
I have been performing for 20 years almost to the day! My first gig was at a little jazz pub called the Louis Armstrong. We were joined onstage by Nick ‘Topper’ Headon from The Clash, at the time I had no idea who he was but boy could he play! We busted out a funk groove in E!
Through all these years of performing, the biggest lesson has been to always remain professional, whether it’s a little pub gig to a small crowd, or entertaining ravenous Americans at Wembley. You never know who is watching...
With recent collaborations and your new releases occurring during a period of social distancing and remote working, what logistical effects has this had on your creative artistry and how have you adapted?
The biggest impact has been the loss of gigs but one positive to come from this year has been lots of time in the studio, I've written 4 and a half albums worth of material! I mentioned earlier that I collaborate remotely online with my musicians, so this has been very useful during the pandemic.
Having worked with soul legend Jocelyn Brown this year, can we expect any upcoming projects together?
I was very lucky earlier this year to get a ring from my publisher with the opportunity to work with Jocelyn Brown. I was charged with digitising her reel to reel tapes from some of her 80s sessions and did some reference mixes. Some of the music she hadn’t heard for 20 years, so it was a really nice feeling to help her out. Over the months we have become pandemic pen pals and she has been very complimentary of my new music, so watch this space...!
What else does the future have in-store for Short Sharp Scratch?
I have a sequence of singles which I am looking forward to releasing over the next year - some great songs with funk grooves and slick production which I can’t wait to share. With regards to performance, I’m dipping my toe in with 2 socially distanced shows on Saturday 12th December at The Amersham Arms New Cross. Tickets are available at gotobeat.com
Finally, what does the word ‘groove’ mean to you?
Groove is everything! Second only to melody.
Catch the 12th December live show and buy tickets here.