Gravy Train presents:
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Raised in North Queensland, Australia, Jarrod Mahon is not one to shy away from bold new endeavours.Once parting was ways his previous record label in 2019, Mahon chose to go fully independent, relocating to Berlin in 2019 (where he still resides), despite having no contacts at all in the country. What’s more, having recorded/performed under the pseudonym Emerson Snowe for over a decade - during which time he home-recorded five albums and 13 EP’s, toured with the likes of King Krule and Ariel Pink, played showcases SXSW and the Great Escape, the works - Mahon took that brave, most uncommercial decision to release under his own name and start almost totally anew.
“There was never really a concept to that name [Emerson Snowe] other than having some kind of separation from who I was as a person,” Mahon explains, “using a moniker gave me that confidence to push myself further mentally and to give myself some kind of a freedom”. And through the process of creating what would become his debut album, Mahon saw that he had outgrown the need for this protective persona. Everything Has A Life was meant to be the debut Snowe album”, he admits, “but after I finished mixing it with Syd [Kemp, co-producer] I realised that I had actually grown a lot and was much more comfortable with who I am and what my personal beliefs are.”
The choice of Everything Has A Life as the the album’ title, pulled from beauteous opening track ‘All I Know’, neatly summarises this new outlook: moving on from ‘self-pity’ of the past-self by becoming present for the loved ones around you, improving understanding of one’s own self, via the wider world at large.
That track marks the first written during a lockdown stint in LA where Mahon wrote and recorded everyday for 2 months, produced nigh on 250 demos and birthed the bulk of the record. It also brought Mahon back to his all time favourite, Sufjan Stevens’ Ilinois and its blend of widescreen orchestral landscapes and more candid, naked acoustic-leaning variations - an important influence for the album's stylistic contrasts. Another key inspiration for the record too brought Mahon back to his roots - those full-bloom strains of his Mum’s Beloved Neil Diamond, an annual Christmas irritant to Mahon as a child, yet an artist he’s come to respect in adulthood.“Whatever the reason, with age I came to love the big show band sounds,” he says, “the idea of a performer on stage with a massive orchestra with strings was amazing to me.”
With the help of producer Syd Kemp (Ulrika Spacek, Vanishing Twin, Thurston Moore), such grand designs could be met. - “When we first met he asked me if I would like real strings on it. I said ‘of course’.” Enter Magda Mclean on violin (Caroline/the Umlauts ), and Gamaliel Rendle Traynor on Cello (Sweat, Fat White Family, whose strings helped lift the record to romantic new heights.
He continues: “I said to Syd that the only thing I wanted to achieve with this record was that I wanted it to make me cry at one point. And we got there eventually.” The final culmination of all these strands, Everything Has A Life is indeed a treasure trove of emotive riches. Locking into that bittersweet, quintessentially ‘pop’ combination of triumphant rhythms and confessional, stream-of-consciousness lyrics plucked straight from the heart, Mahon faces up to years of substance abuse with a series of gorgeous, blushing melodies:““I was using, I was drinking, I was lying to my friends, I was messing up again,.I was hiding from myself”, he joyously chants on ‘The Growing’.
A banquet fit for an indie king, Everything Has A Life is loaded with psych-pop lusciousness (“All I Know”) and anthemic glam fuzz ( “Death Of The Ladies Man”, “Deadstar”, or “Sonny is my Best Friend”); recalling that foundational Sufjan Stevens influence too with shambling flecks of country (“Charly (Romantic Heart”). There’s also those lo-fi crepitations of ‘My Man’ and “I can’t” harking back home-recorded demos that lie at the core of Mahon’s creative process.
As an album recorded independently on Mahon’s behalf - though which now finds the light of day on Swiss Indie label Taxi Gauche Records - a DIY approach runs through all the way through his aesthetic. On Instagram, Mahon will advertise limited runs of handmade mix-tapes, t-shirts, drawings and prints. He tours with band members he met over years spent in Germany, as part of a long process of emerging out of his shell - “I didn’t even know what instruments they played! I just wanted them to be around because it somehow felt right.”, he explains.
“I love this album”, he concludes. “I am so happy with how it happened, the people involved and where I am as a person now. To have something like this body of work to actually pinpoint such a massive change in my life is something amazing to have”. And if there was one final take away from this story of self-discovery that underpins the creation of Everything Has A Life, it’s a lyric, again, from ‘The Growing’ - “If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt is that we’ve got to learn to grow”