John Splithoff

with Jamie Drake
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Doors 7 | Show 8
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“This album has been a long time coming,” says John Splithoff. “I guess you could call it a slow burn.”

Recorded in both New York and Los Angeles, ‘All In,’ Splithoff’s invigorating debut, has indeed been brewing for quite some time now, and its release this year marks the culmination of nearly a decade of highs and lows, victories and defeats, breakthroughs and setbacks. Building off a series of hit singles, the collection is bold and self-assured, mixing intoxicating R&B swagger with soulful introspection and dazzling harmonic sophistication.
Splithoff writes to make sense of himself and his world here, and though the record was written and recorded before the arrival of COVID-19, it feels particularly fitting for the times, grappling with loneliness and isolation in the face of longing and desire. The songs are subtle in their personal reckonings, often masking deep, profound revelations with playful,
effervescent arrangements, and Splithoff’s performances are similarly complex, exuding both a carefree independence and a burning need for connection all at once. It’s a conflicted album for a conflicted moment, a rich, mesmerizing collection that hints at everything from Marvin Gaye and Prince to Calvin Harris and John Mayer as it transforms doubt into determination and self-reflection into celebration.

“After releasing singles for six or seven years, I wanted to create something bigger and more immersive this time around,” says Splithoff. “I wanted to make something that could take you places from start to finish.”
Splithoff’s been letting music take him places for most of his life now. Born and raised outside Chicago, he grew up obsessed with classic rock and guitar gods before developing a taste for jazz, which led him to study performance at the University of Miami.

While the city’s electronic and Latin scenes opened up new horizons, it was the time spent listening to D’Angelo, Daft Punk and Prince that would have the biggest impact on Splithoff during this time.

After graduation, Splithoff moved to New York, where he lived on an old classmate’s couch in Harlem for three months while he put together a band and started playing gigs around the city. He released an independent EP in 2013 and then struck gold a few years later with his 2016 single, “Sing to You,” which racked up more than 50 million streams online and cracked the Top 10 at AC radio. The track’s meteoric rise, and the similar success of
subsequent singles like 2017’s “Show Me,” helped fuel multiple national headline tours and land Splithoff festival slots everywhere from Bonnaroo to Lollapalooza. Along the way, a brief stint with a major label only confirmed his desire to chart his own destiny, and as soon as he was back on his own, Splithoff began cooking up plans for a full-length record.
“For a long time, I felt kind of stuck in this cycle of releasing single after single,” he explains. “It’s what everyone was looking for from me, and I found myself writing in a certain way to meet that demand. After a while, though, I didn’t want to keep thinking about the world three minutes at a time.”

So, for the first time in his career, Splithoff began writing a series of songs that could flow seamlessly one into the next, a cohesive collection meant to be consumed from top to bottom. He worked primarily out of his apartment in New York, building up tracks a layer at a time and playing most of the instruments himself. It was a rewarding process, but also a lonely one, and after months of recording in isolation, Splithoff decided he
needed a change of scenery and some fresh ears. “I found myself lacking perspective at a certain point, and I think that came from being cooped up on my own for too long,” he explains. “So, I flew out to LA and brought the songs to a couple different producers—a duo called Likeminds and an old friend and collaborator named Alias—and finished everything off out there.”

The LA sessions offered a fresh injection of energy for the music, infusing tracks with the kind of chemistry that can only come from human interaction and creative collaboration. On the day Splithoff flew back to New York, life changed dramatically with the announcement of COVID lockdowns, and suddenly the material he’d written while isolated
at home took on new meaning. “I think a lot of the feelings people have experienced over the past year in quarantine are things that I’d been experiencing in the year leading up to it,” says Splithoff. “When spending a
lot of time creating by yourself, it leaves a lot of opportunity for you to be alone with your thoughts, to try and figure out who you are and what you really want out of life.” ‘All In’ embraces that kind of soul searching from the top, opening with the hypnotic “Note To Self,” which aims to balance drive and purpose with self-awareness and perspective. “Tell me, what are you gonna do with all that ambition?” Splithoff sings in a buttery smooth voice. “You can keep your up in the clouds ‘till the end of time / I think you’re trying too hard to put on an exhibition / And make something that everybody can get behind.” Tossing out expectations in favor of following your own arrow is a recurring theme on the album, and in Splithoff’s life. The dreamy “Thrive” learns to define success on its own terms in a comparison-driven, social media-obsessed society; the funky “Good
To Go” insists on pushing forward no matter how difficult things get; the sultry “Fahrenheit” finds escape in pouring a drink and turning the music up loud; and the hazy “Value” takes a step back to meditate on what really matters at the end of the day (hint: it’s not money or possessions).
My apartment was broken into while I was writing the record,” says Splithoff. “They took a bunch of stuff including my favorite guitar, which I grew up playing exclusively and used to record every record I’ve ever made. While it could’ve been much worse, I reminded myself that the
most valuable things in my life aren’t physical objects, they’re the relationships I have with the people I care about.”

That revelation serves as a north star for Splithoff throughout the record, pointing him back towards the primacy of love every time he begins to lose sight of it. The buoyant “Holding On To Me” celebrates the joy of infatuation, while the airy “Inside Out” revels in the pleasures of emotional intimacy, and the tender title track surrenders fully and completely to the kind of relationship in which two truly become one. “If you’re in / I’m
all in / Cause I’ve always been so all about you,” Splithoff sings. “If you’re down / I’m so down / I’d just be dying if I’m living without you.”

It takes years of work and devotion to build that kind of love and trust with a partner, but the sacrifice is more than worth the reward. Sometimes a slow burn yields the brightest fire.

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Jamie Drake

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One of LA's best-kept musical songwriting secrets for over a decade -- collaborating with the likes of Sondre Lerche, Jim James, Moby, Sarah and Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), and Mikael Jorgensen (Wilco) -- Jamie Drake has all the while been carefully honing her own craft and preparing to take center stage.

In September 2019, Jamie Released her breakout album, Everything’s Fine, on AntiFragile Music, a record peppered with indie-folk-pop stylings wrapped in lush orchestrations.

Singles such as “Everything’s Fine,”Wonder,” and “Redwood Tree” surpassed over 15M streams on Spotify and brought in critical acclaim from NPR Music, Talkhouse, Flood, BGS, and Atwood Magazine, plus a flurry of famous fans (like Ed Helms, Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20), and Sarah Watkins (I’m With Her / Nickel Creek) heaping public praise. The album was even featured on Wilco’s “Favorite Albums of 2019” List.
2019 continued to be a year of high notes, with tours and appearances supporting J.S Ondara, The Watkins Family Hour, Devotchka, Sondre Lerche, and Shawn Colvin, plus a sold out Los Angeles residency.

Drake maintained the cover of Spotify’s “Modern Eclectic” playlist for a year and a half — winning her the attention of new fans across the globe in a time when playing live had ended for the foreseeable future.

This June 2022, Drake’s love for early 1970s Laurel Canyon folk unexpectedly meets Rio de Janeiro in “New Girl,” once again displaying her ability to evolve as a dynamic artist in her time. “New Girl” is a raw and emotionally brave follow up to her last release, with 11 songs primarily recorded in single vocal takes; keeping her best performances along with raw, minor imperfections.

“New Girl’s” bossa influence came as a welcomed surprise and was inspired by the incomparable Getz / Gilberto “76” album, which Jamie discovered for the first time in 2020 while living in upper Ojai, California. “I listened to it every day while riding my bike around Meiners Oaks with my dog Moxie and a red JBL speaker in the basket. I got to know those songs really well, even though I don’t speak Portuguese. I knew they had gotten into my marrow when I met and wrote ‘It’s A New Life’ with Rich Jacques that following May. I knew immediately that I would make my next album with him because the feeling of this new song was the world I wanted to live in musically.”

By fall 2021 Rich Jacques came to California to produce the album with Jamie and Austin Myles Grant, fellow LA artist / multi-instrumentalist who ended up playing most of the instruments on the record. The trio was invited to record at a private residence set in the Santa Monica mountains, seeped in the purity and quiet of nature, where they could fully unfurl and connect musically. This purity and connection can be felt in the recordings. Drake bravely asks one of the most human questions in “Is There Something Wrong with Me?” And contemplates that “..Life feels undeserving when the whole world is hurting.. And then John Prine dies.. Am I just a lie.. if I haven’t had to cry?” Jamie synthesizes the guilt many felt across the globe in early 2020 with clarity while still maintaining hope and purpose in “When John Prine Died.” These heartfelt tracks are magnificently balanced by other offerings like the comically recorded Bossa- influenced, “New Girl,” which depicts Jamie’s gypsy-like childhood and not-so-great life lessons with a twinkle in her eye. And then there’s “Sing,” a song that can lift the heart of the listener into a fantasia of imagination and wonder not unlike Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music.” It’s this childlike awe Drake maintains that draws even the youngest of fans to her. Hits like “Easy Target,” remind us of Carol King in “It’s Too Late,” and feel as if it was recorded around the same time. The album becomes hypnotic with “It’s A New Life,” which takes us to a world where Drake’s vocals feel like a cross between Astrud Gilberto and Sade. “Lifted by Love” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” bring the listener to their heart center where anything is possible and the world is still filled with hope and wonder.. all melded together by Jamie’s mesmerizing and unique vocal melodies and songwriting; bringing a fresh perspective on Folk and Bossa Nova that is uniquely her own.