Music star interview: Jeremy Loops on his latest album ‘Heard You Got Love’ and his music collaboration with Ed Sheeran

South African artist Jeremy Loops has to be the musician with the greatest energy I have ever seen on stage. On 6th October I witnessed that at Eventim Apollo (Hammersmith) before heading back to South Africa to enjoy some sunshine while in Britain we are bracing ourselves for a tough winter. Jeremy has played some of the world’s most prestigious venues – including a sell-out headline Brixton Academy show here in the UK – with his high-energy music, amassing over 250 million global streams, and growing. In time for Christmas, he has just released his long-awaited third album, ‘Heard You Got Love’, a record of head-bopping anthems perfect to cheer us up.

Jeremy Loops wearing a brown shirt taking a selfie with London Mums magazine editor Monica Costa

Also released by DECCA RECORDS is Jeremy’s feel good, laid back and hooky single ‘Head Start’, produced by the prolific Red Triangle (Camilla Cabella, Charlie Puth, Yungblud), co-written by Wayne Hector (Nicki Minaj’s ‘Starships’) and featuring Jeremy’s easing voice and effortless guitar.

This follows his previous single Better Together which was co-written with none other than Ed Sheeran. After meeting back stage at a show in South Africa, the pair hit it off – with Ed even joking that Jeremy was a better ‘loop’ artist than him – and decided to work together.

 

The first single from this album was written and recorded with one of Jeremy’s life-long influences, the iconic, world-renowned, South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The group formed in the 1960s to create traditional world music with energetic, uniquely spirited harmonies, and here their distinctive style fits perfectly with Jeremy’s sound. Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s celebrated career was followed by a young Jeremy who was brought to tears after first seeing them live. To collaborate on this album was a dream come true.

Jeremy is a self-taught musician who picked up his first guitar at university. As his love for writing songs grew, the South African penned melodies while working aboard superyachts, where he worked his way up from deckhand to yacht master. Obsessed with squeezing music into every day on shore and evening on deck, Jeremy’s trusty loop pedal followed him around his tour of the seas.

Whilst working closely with the water, Jeremy was shocked to see the volume of waste in the industry. It is this experience that fuelled one of his many initiatives, Greenpop, the eco-project that has filled 400 green-free spaces with over 150,000 trees. As his career quickly developed, Jeremy has worked hard to offset any carbon emissions from touring and constantly puts social responsibility at the forefront of his movements. The long-time activist founded The Big Food Drive to deliver food supplies to some of the poorest communities in South Africa. The crowd-funded campaign has built a food distribution network with other partners that contributed towards 55,000 meals per week for 6 months for those in need.

Jeremy has carefully merged these values into each corner of his latest record. He says, “This is the album I’ve always wanted to make and my hope is that some of the things I’ve written about will mean as much to others as they do to me. Every song speaks to something I care deeply about.”

The album Heard You Got Love allowed Jeremy to explore more technical aspects of recording than he has previously. The record came to life in Jeremy’s home studio in between daily dips in the ocean. He collaborated with world-renowned artists such as Simone Felice (The Lumineers), Jake Gosling (Shawn Mendes), Tobias Kuhn (Milky Chance) and Carey Willets (Dermot Kennedy). He also brought on a fleet of high-end producers for the album, including Ed Holloway (Lewis Capaldi), Eg White (Adele) and Cam Blackwood (George Ezra).

Jeremy Loops wearing a denim shirt and playing the guitar while gazing the sea

Photo by Ross Hillier

The interview 

I hope you’ll enjoy my chat with Jeremy Loops as much as I did. 

Q: Jeremy, your energy on stage is so contagious that at your London Hammersmith gig at the Eventim Apollo the air was electric. How has the comeback been to live music with the audience finally in the same room? 

JL: Yeah, it’s been special. A beautiful experience to finally being reconnected with audiences around the world. I found it difficult to be away for so long. As someone who spent so many years touring and focusing on live performance above everything else, it’s been a difficult situation not to be able to test my songs live, play all the new things that I developed, a lot of my material live on the road with people. It’s been quite strange just from a creative point of view to have that feedback loop taken out of my life. Other than that just the feeling of being connected with large audiences on a weekly basis is something that I got used to for almost a decade. I was very excited to be back on stage and with people and maybe my energy reflects that enthusiasm. But also something has changed with audiences. They are more receptive than I’ve ever felt them be. 

A lot of people who were at the Hammersmith show were experiencing their first show back after Covid. Not everyone has being going to lots of parties. Attitudes towards being in public spaces has kind of changed a bit. Our fans know what they get into when they attend one of our shows: high energy, joy and a lot of good buzz in the room. It was quite a unique crowd that night and and across this whole tour, really. 

Q: Where you do get the inspiration for your music? Is it from people?

JL: It’s definitely from the experiences I have in the world and with my friends and family as well as the things I see from people and audiences. I’m an artist that comes from that folky background: I like to write about the things I see around me and to interpret the world in my own way. People are a big part of that. 

Q: It is a very unique genre that is difficult to label. You define it modern folk. What do you mean by that? 

JL: It was very difficult to figure out how to label it. The music industry expects you to put it in a genre or put into place. However, the reality was that my interests musically were so very growing up and continue to be very eclectic. My music just represents the fact that I listened to a lot of different stuff. A lot of folk infused the way I play the guitar. The chugginess of it all. It certainly doesn’t sound like folk music either because I’ve got a young modern production techniques in there. I’ve also got a band I perform with using bass and drums and things that might not always be included in folk. I’ve got a rapper on stage with me and a saxophonist who often collaborate with the band. 

It’s a bit of a mish-mash. That’s why we call it modern folk. It’s too alternative to be pop music and it’s certainly not folky enough to be considered just straight folk. That was the best shot I took at it.

 

Q: Please tell us a bit about your collaboration with Ed Sheeran. 

JL: Working with Ed was really exciting as you’d expect it to be. It turned out to be a very nice human being and we got on very well. I met him in South Africa while he was travelling here and doing a stadium tour. I ended up at a private after party of his. We met up there and just got on like a house on fire. We had a long chat about the industry and our careers and the similarities and how we got started on loop pedals. Albeit in different countries and quite different circumstances, Ed and I have had quite similar trajectory or a way of going about our careers. We both started on loop pedals doing a lot of basking and being heavily focused on our live show. We had a lot to talk about on that level technically as well just like getting into the specifics of looping. That let us down the road of actually working together and writing some songs together which was a pleasure. I flew over to the UK and worked with him out in the countryside, where he lives. We got good stuff made and was very exciting to get to work with the people on that album. 

 

Q: You combine loop pedal technology with a band on stage. Does this mix come from your solo start in music? How did you get started in music?

JL: It’s an interesting mix to try and work with loops and with the band.  I started on a loop pedal I’ve always been very comfortable writing songs using a loop pedal and I suppose it’s just become a part of I express myself musically. Although I knew from early on that it was a bit of a one-dimensional approach to live performance. I wanted to have other people on stage, new energy from other people taking solos and raising the vibrations on stage. 

From early on I started incorporating other musicians. First it was a saxophonist who joined me and then it was a rapper and then it was the bassist and the drummer. Now there’s five of us and I really enjoy it. We try to smash it all altogether and keep everything up tempo, moving and grooving. 

 

Q: Your music is uplifting. Is it because you are a happy person or because you write music to cheer yourself up? 

JL: I think it’s a bit of both. I’m a relatively happy person but generally I’m not writing music when I’m very happy. I’m actually often writing music when I’m struggling with something or struggling to cope with something else happening in my life and around me. Writing songs about that stuff can be very cathartic for me and as a result a lot of those songs – such as like Mortal Man or Higher stakes that come from those moments – especially difficult ones, often do very well with the audiences because they’re written from that space. I’m largely writing music to help me work through my own existential drama of being alive. 

Q: What is your favourite song from your own repertoire, and why?

JL: My favourite song from the album is always changing because I wrote all the songs and they’re all my babies. I love them all in different ways. It’s hard to just say that one in particular is my favourite. I cycle through them and, as I start to incorporate certain songs in the live show, those songs take on a life of their own. That changes the way I feel about them, normally quite in a positive way. At the moment Mortal Man is becoming such a big song in our live shows there it’s hard not to be in love with everything about that song.

I’ve just recently got into studio to make another version of that. We added a whole bunch of new collaborative voices to sing it beautifully with me. Mortal Man is definitely special and is doing very magical things with a live audience. At the same time I’m really into the song Diamond Lake from the album, because it’s one of the songs that I haven’t figured out how to bring into the live show yet, but one that I wanted to incorporate. I’ve ended up falling in love with it again.  

Jeremy Loops wearing a denim shirt jumping and holding a guitar

Photo by Ross Hillier

Q: If you weren’t a musician, what would you be? 

JL: That changes all the time… Maybe a sailor. The older I get the more I realise that I like the idea of packing up shop and if I could just buy a sturdy little sailboat, I might want to build a mobile studio on a boat, just head off and never come back. If I hadn’t done music, I might have sailed the world a few times anyway.

 

Q: What message would you like to send to our UK readers? 

JL: Find peace and quiet in what feels seems like a more complicated and chaotic world. We are all dealing with this. The increase in technological change affects our lives. We have been pulled in so many different directions. So much of what we see online feels like it’s becoming more and more divisive and it feels unsafe to be yourself. I have been trying to switch off that and remember who I am and what I enjoy. It’s a battle to take back my humanity from this technologically changing world. It’s vital that we all work in that area of our lives and do not let ourselves become absorbed into the matrix and madness and chaos. 

 

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