When you first listen to Bradley Jago, right away, you are overpowered by the sheer force of his voice. It takes centre in what feels to be an intimate stage, one that exists outside of space and time, where you and only you become privy to not only the beauty of Jago’s soulful voice, but also the profoundness of his lyrics.
Rain is a song that is full of feeling, full of something rare in music - accountability. Jago tells me that the song is about change, letting the rain wash over you and forgetting the mistakes that you’ve made. He asks if we can hear the rain pour, and we can. Behind the beat, there is the unmistakable pitter patter of gentle rain sounds. But this question conceals another. When talking to Jago about the intention of the song, he told me: “I was… looking back at everyone I dated and I was like “Oh damn, there’s some people that I’ve actually fucked over a little bit.” … And Rain is an apology to those people, to say I’ve changed now, and even though I have caused you pain, I hope we can move forward after. [It] is a metaphor for the pain I have caused them.”
The song itself has smooth jazzy influences. Jago’s clear voice overlaps itself in a layered harmony with a gentle underscored bass, Jago seemingly having a quiet moment of reflection to himself, as he sings to “let it rain”. The song’s intimacies are intentional. According to Jago “It’s kind of like a quiet moment to yourself. You’re at the gig with me in this intimate venue.”
Then, the drums kick in. There is a desperation to the song emphasised by the changed tempo - the emotion becomes fevered as he sings “let it rain” - the words repeating, creating a heightened emotional effect - it feels as if he is begging, bargaining, hoping. There is no longer just a sweetness and a softness and a sadness. There is a frenzy, a fury to be understood. And that’s what love, remorse, and pain is like.
There’s also important depth to be acknowledged within Jago’s music. Jago himself is a queer artist, who writes from the queer perspective. Why is this important to be acknowledged? Because in a song that is this intimate and honest, you need to understand why it is also brave.
Queer identity comes with an enormous amount of negatives - it’s a terrifying thing to out oneself, and make yourself inherently vulnerable to the disdain of others, and also yourself. Jago is changing the game by bringing this honesty to his music, in a world where queer people still find themselves being judged, discriminated against, the context of one love song can change from being a sweet romantic piece to a dramatic profession of bravery.
Jago is interested in analysing both sides of the spectrum of queer experience. “I think I’d want to write about the negatives [of queer identity]. Being queer is celebrated a lot (as it bloody well should be). But also there are negatives that people aren’t talking about.”
It’s important to note that queer art, music and writing should not be made distinct by its queerness. Of course it adds depth and context to the art itself, but it is important to acknowledge the art as full of feeling, and therefore, universality. As Jago himself points out: “If I can relate to a straight song, a straight person can relate to my queer song.”
So what’s in store for Jago for the future? He is doing festivals Victorious, and The People’s Lounge - “Because the music is so honest, I don’t want to do too much to the music. I want it to be really raw and still sound great - but very authentic and sound like it’s coming from my soul.” He also tells me: “I’m writing a track at the moment called ‘New Gay Sadness’ (there’s a little snippet available on Jago’s instagram) - it’s about the gay yuppies in London who are living their life but cannot find love. There’s a lot of pressure… ‘okay, we’re getting to a place of equality, still a long way to go… it’s like ‘oh you should be happy now’ but you have all these other life pressures of why aren’t you in a relationship. Why haven’t you achieved this yet?’”
You can catch Bradley at the Victorious festival on the People's Lounge stage at 5:10pm on the 27th of August. Listen to his amazing track RAIN here Here