When 21-year-old songwriter, Bubba Janko, locked in today’s date as the release of his next single, he couldn’t have known what kind of world his sensual new soul number would be entering.
Yet here we are, with sonic art providing an even more important form of escapism than ever. For Mr Janko, real name Jaiyah Edwards, this is a big part of why he makes music anyway, creating songs that are a ferry from the mundanity of his hometown.
Incredible is the new single in question. It’s 3 minutes and 15 seconds of once-improvised lyrics over the top of a tune that was ‘born from a jam’ with members of the Brighton-London jazz outfit, Ebi Soda. The track is shared with the world for the first time here at Twistedsoul. Listen to the track and read our interview with the young artist below.
Hello Bubba Janko, tell us a bit about yourself – where are you from and where are you based?
Well, I’ve just moved out of Brighton back to my mumma’s house in Essex, where I grew up so that I don’t have to work full time and can actually focus on my music. I also stay in London regularly too, and love being there. It’s perfect because I get to indulge in the city life and all the perks of that, but when it gets too much, I can retreat back to my little hometown and just ground myself and unwind.
Describe your sound using five adjectives…
Juicy, loose, slick, purple and Janky.
The single premiered here, Incredible, marks your first release of 2020. Has it been a long time coming?
Oh, it’s definitely overdue haha. I recorded this on the same day as my first single ‘Sweet Tooth’, in that sweet summer of 2018. For many months I was frustrated because I just wasn’t feeling the vocals I had originally laid down on the verse but really couldn’t think of new ideas for it. Eventually late one night, after some fateful cans of San Miguel, it all flowed out at once. After this, I was able to picture the kind of visuals and art I wanted to put with it, and it all just fell into place.
We encourage people to infer from the context of course, but what would you say the new single is about?
It’s about trying to love yourself when you feel insecure or low. The hook ‘you look incredible’ is the mantra in the song, which references that positive inner voice that tries to boost your confidence and help you to carry on doing everything that you need to (like working and socializing). The verse contrasts this by exploring the negative thoughts and tangents that can disrupt our happiness. I reference this with lyrics such as “sometimes when I look at you all I see is a child”. The artwork illustrates this perfectly, and captures that feeling of looking in the mirror and thinking “oh nah who is that mess!?”.
You work with the enigmatic Ebi Soda on this record. Who is playing what instrument and what do you like about working with these guys?
Yeah, they are my boys! Their Trombonist and Producer Will Heaton (aka VVilhelm) is on Bass, mixing and mastering, and he’s a musical guru. Their guitarist Conor Knight plays guitar on this track, and he’s someone I have worked closely with for years, he really understands me and my vision. Their artist – Eze Gumeniuk – also painted the artwork for this song, which is a real blessing. I enjoy working with them so much because we have the same taste and always manage to find that sweet spot and create something special, there’s just that spark. They’re very talented musicians, which adds an element of class to my ideas too. We’re also very good friends so writing and playing together is open, honest and ultimately just free and fun – there’s always a good vibe in the room, which is essential to get the sauce flowing.
Tell us about your set-up. Where and how do you record your music?
‘Incredible’ was recorded in Conor’s bedroom studio. I love bedroom studios because it gives you total freedom. There’s no pressure about wasting studio time and money, and you can set it up exactly how you want. You can also lay down, have breaks, have a cigarette if that floats your boat, and even cook proper meals. As a bonus you’re in the most chill room of a house, what more could you want!?
The song was born from a jam; I jumped on the drumkit when I heard those lovely chords on keys, Will jumped on bass, and then we pressed record and just jammed on it. We listened back, and it slapped! So I then improvised some vocals over it, and came up with that hook. This is how I love to record live music, keeping that raw spirit alive and driving everything. On the other hand, I also do tons of writing by myself and have my own bedroom studio set up. I spend many nights recording guitar, bass and vocals parts, by myself at home. It’s my own paradise which I just get lost in for hours on end. There’s no pressure of other people around me, which then lets me go outside of my comfort zone. I love the effect solitude has on me and my music, it takes it to weird and wonderful places.
Incredible is hard to box into genres and scenes, but what music did you resonate most with growing up?
Jimi Hendrix was my hero growing up, he inspired me in so many ways, ‘Axis: Bold as Love’ was my favourite album, and I learnt so much rhythmically too by drumming along to it. As a teenager, I got hooked on hip-hop groups like A Tribe Called Quest, Slum Village and Outkast. Outkast have a direct influence on me still, every time I go back to ‘Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’ something new jumps out and inspires me – I love how wacky and strange the album is, whilst always maintaining that sexy coolness. Stevie Wonder has been a big influence on me throughout my life too, I’ve spent so many hours listening to him and trying to absorb how he writes such amazing songs. One of the artists that has resonated with me the most is Connan Mockasin, and I remember when I first heard his music when I was 16 it just took me to this whole other planet, and I’m taken back there every time I listen to him.
What else can we expect from Bubba Janko in 2020?
You can expect more tunes, that’s what I’m here for baby! Some say an EP is on the horizon too…
Addressing the elephant in the room a little bit, any advice for self-isolation in the light of a certain global pandemic?
Yeah, I’m keen to address it as it really feels awkward promoting my music in the midst of an epidemic. Everyone needs to just stop putting others at risk by staying at home except for absolutely essential tasks, don’t forget to phone your Nanna and any vulnerable people you know too. We can all use this as an opportunity for some self-love, creativity, awareness and straight-up chilling! This feels like a breakdown of how modern society has been functioning, and I hope this can create some positive changes permanently and maybe us westerners will be a bit more conscientious when things return to normal. Pfft unlikely I know. I send my love and best wishes to everyone that’s suffering at the moment, not just from this virus, but people that are stuck in war zones, natural disasters or tragic circumstances daily. I hope the world will become less scary soon.