Interview: Coolhand Jax

Following the end of his college band, Sunshine Brothers Inc, Jake Weissman decided it was time to find a new outlet for his musical expression and a change in scenery. After his cross-country move from Massachusetts to California, Weissman started Coolhand Jax, a new chapter in his music career. With already two EPs under his belt, No Dreams of Anything (2020) and Superstar Baby, (2021) listeners are excited to see what is next on Weissman’s musical journey as a solo artist.

Coolhand Jax’s “bedroom pop” sound offers a lively blend of blissful grooves over calm beats and has his listeners smiling within seconds. His sound exudes a freeing aura that allows fans to feel a moment of peace, essential in year three of a global pandemic. Surviving the Golden Age spoke to the artist about the production of his music videos, how living through a global pandemic affected his creative process, and how his trip to Europe got him enthusiastic about making music again.

How did you produce your music video to “No Dreams of Anything?”

We tried to be purposeful about every music video in this EP. Every video had a theme so for this video, we wanted to just be as freeform and visually focused as possible. We just wanted to create for no actual tied-together reason which was so fun.

How did the pandemic affect your creative process?

It hurt my creative process for a while I would say. I became more cynical. I think it is because there were no live shows. Live shows are where I come from, it’s how I developed as an artist in high school and college. The three-dimensional aspect of live music is what kept me going and what felt the most authentic to me. When live shows disappeared I felt like the only way you could present yourself musically was on the internet and I got cynical about that. It even made it harder for me to enjoy other artists or even enjoy music in general because I was in my head about how it was all one big content farm and it felt fake. Since I wasn’t listening to music as much, making music felt forced. I fell in love with music again this fall while traveling in Europe for the first time. I am in the same headspace that I was when I was a lot younger and I can’t stop thinking about recording.

What shows did you go to in Europe?

I went to a Samba show in France which was random as hell but the best thing I saw at the same time. The opera I went to in Vienna kind of blew my mind. I even went to ​​a Klezmer show which was pretty incredible. I loved the live shows in Europe because people were just making music because they wanted to. I’ve been to shows where a band is on the thirtieth show on their tour and you can tell they don’t want to be there. That is why it was the shows from this trip were so refreshing. It was clear that people were only making music because they wanted to be in that moment.

How would you say your style evolved from No Dreams of Anything to Superstar Baby?

Superstar Baby is less cohesive and that is probably a result of Covid apathy. I just wanted to make songs I felt like making since the world was not in a good place.

It was probably therapeutic to be more erratic in your music style because you just wanted to have fun while your environment at the time wasn’t.

Yeah, definitely. I do like to think I am always getting better. It was a frustrating process making some of the songs on Superstar Baby. I’m not saying that I’m not happy with it but you do it for the end goal. I don’t do it for the actual process of making the EP even though I do get sort of addicted to it.

Describe your creative process.

Traditionally, I’ve done the music first. I start with an idea for a song, flush it out, then create the different sections. Once I have the song semi-produced I try to write a melody and bring in the words. When I was in Europe I did not have any of my instruments. I had to write lyrics first without a melody and then apply them to music. Usually, I get frustrated when I am trying to write lyrics because I am excited to finish the song. So it’s a nice change to have the lyrics ready first. The songs come out better this way because I am more focused when I am writing the lyrics.

I know with some artists their music displays a different persona than their actual self. Would you say this describes your connection to Coolhand Jax or would you say your personality ties into Coolhand Jax?

I think there is a different persona element. I am more of a shy or private person than I am when I have to perform. Anytime I perform I sort of feel like a different person but more like myself at the same time. It’s similar to playing a character but parts of yourself come out that would not have otherwise. I feel like I am also trying to bring it closer to myself in a weird way. For my next project, I am trying to be way more intentional, especially with lyrics. I want to take my time with it and make it closer to my personality and less of a character.

Do you have ideas for the next project?

I am working on a couple of songs right now. I think my next project is going to sound freer. I want it to sound a little less “bedroom pop” and more alive. We will see how it shapes out though.

Who are some of your influences?

Some of the artists who have been inspiring me lately are Sean Nicholas Savage, Eddie Cochran, Sister Sledge, Jimi, Illuminati Hotties, Shy Boys, The Go! Team, and Megadeath.

What has been a song/album you’ve been obsessed with recently?

“Runnin” by Earth Wind and Fire.