Glass speaks to Suffolk-born solo musician Jay Ducker

GOING solo is never easy when you have a background in a well-established band. However, in this case it seems to have worked out just fine for Suffolk-born Jay Ducker, previously of Cove Hithe, who reveals an honest account of personal hurdles in his debut record Country Sober. I caught up with Jay to talk about his solo work and the process behind Country Sober.

Your album has an ongoing tone of melancholy. Is this intentional?
I wouldn’t say it was intentional, it was just the way it came out. Country Sober was a very cathartic process. 

Why did you call it Country Sober?
Country Sober was born out of a move to the city. I had lived in the countryside all my life and when I moved to Norwich I found that at times it became a bit overwhelming, and I would need to retreat back to the country and sort of sober up, and that’s where and when I recorded the album.

You wrote, recorded and produced this record all on your own. How long did it take from start to finish?
I dedicated two, maybe three, months to recording the record but some of the songs have been floating around for a couple of years now.

Would you say your upbringing in the countryside has had an influence on your music? Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Suffolk near the coast and theres quite an affluent music scene in this rural part of England, particularly with folk. Theres a good community of like minded musicians so I would say yes, I was influenced from where I grew up.

You were previously in a folk band, but I wouldnt necessarily call your solo stuff folk. What inspired the change and how would you describe your sound?
I did, yes. I needed to get that depth I was after to achieve the sound I wanted. It is definitely a departure from my previous band Cove Hithe and that was intentional but I still call it folk music. If you wanted to label it, I guess it would be indie-folk-singer songwriter. What inspired this record was a certain sound I was after. I had heard the song called County Line by Cass McCombs and knew instantly that was the blueprint for this record.

Would you prefer it not to be labelled?
I really don’t care for labels but I know the importance of them, in an ironic way.

Jay ducker 2Jay Ducker

The songs, Im Gonna Lose and Wildlife feature a more electronic sound compared to the others. How do you translate that sound into the live show?
I have a good wealth of musicians I can pull on when I need to replicate that sound. However, I’m really enjoying performing them acoustically. I like to reveal songs with just the bones present. It sometimes surprises me where else they can go.

We hear an array of instruments on the album. How many instruments do you play?
Im not sure really and I wouldnt want to list them like a nerd but definitely enough to make a record.

The Day We Threw It All Away stand out as one of the sadder songs on the album, but its concealed behind a happy melody. Whats it about?
The song is about denial. Blatant, pure denial and I concealed it behind that melody because I love that juxtaposition which Simon and Garfunkel use to do in their songs like I Am A Rock. Its just a brilliant way of delivering a song. You can’t help but sing it but when you realise what theyre sing about, its genius.

What song was the most challenging to nail on the album?
It some ways it was The Day We Threw It All Away, but in the end I did just a one take thing. In another it was The Painter of the Sky with getting the right arrangement, but overall I would say Pendulum Hill. I had no idea where that song was going and how it was going to end up.

Is Pendulum Hill a real place?
No, not that I know of. It’s metaphorical.

The album artwork has a very retro look. Who designed it?
My sister Rachel designed it. We took great influence from a Townes Van Zandt live album he made. There’s even a hidden message to what this album is all about from the cover.


Jay Ducker CoverThe cover of Jay Duckers debut album, Country Sober

Whats the message?
Now that would spoil the game.

Are you working on any side projects?
Yes, some friends and I have been running a little label called Middle Sea Music for four years now.

by Katrina Mirpuri

Country Sober is now available on iTunes,  Spotify and Bandcamp.

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