Puma Blue Interview
The London based singer songwriter, Jacob Allen (Puma Blue) has quickly become one of my favorite artists. The song "(She's) Just a Phase" served as my introduction to Puma Blue, and I immediately fell in love with his music. Jacob's remarkable voice and relatable songwriting really sets him apart. Listen, I know this is a bold statement, BUT I think he could be this generations Jeff Buckley. That's how good he is.
Puma Blue is on the last leg of his US tour (Dates down below) so be sure to catch him in concert soon!
1.When is the last time you cried, and why? I cried a little on a plane the other day. It was Fellowship Of the Ring, I haven’t seen it in years. At the end they hit you with the triple whammy of Aragorn being noble as hell, Boromir’s death and then Sam and Frodo being cute as heck with their brotherly love. That’s some beautiful stuff.
2. Which Disney character do you think you could beat up in a fist fight? I’m really anti-violence, so I’m not tryna be in a fist fight with a Disney character… but if there’s anyone that deserves a slap in the mouth it’s Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
3. My friend Taylor is running a marathon in January, and I think he’s crazy. What is the worst advice that you can give him?(it doesn’t have to be about the marathon) Run the marathon. 4. What is the most useless fact that you know? Uuum. Oh, maybe that chili peppers evolved to cause pain to people and animals as a deterent, so that they could survive - but birds are totally immune to the heat because they actually help fertilise chili peppers by not destroying the seeds when they eat them.
5. Can we be friends? Potentially, anyone can be friends
6. Is there anything you’d like to do while you’re in Dallas? I can be your tour guide. I’m looking to go skiing.
7. Maybe if everyone in whoville hadn’t been a jerk then the Grinch would’ve been a whole lot nicer. Not a question. I’m just upset that he’s always portrayed as the villain. Yeah, for sure.
8. What conspiracy theory are you convinced is true? Pretty sure Paul McCartney was killed in a car accident and replaced by a lookalike at some point. Also, I’m sure we’ve been to space but, the 1969 moon landing…? I dunno…
9. Any South London bands or artists that we should check out? Check out this guy David Bowie, his music’s pretty cool.
10. What was the first concert you ever went to? My best friend at school Zoë took me to see Kaiser Chiefs when I was 13, up until then I’d never been to a show. I didn’t really know their music but I had the best time. Then me, my mate Dave and my Mum got off school early and went to a John Mayer show really far from London a few months later and that kicked my ass.
Isaac Gutierrez For Born Loser: For those who aren’t familiar with Puma Blue, could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are?
Jacob (Puma Blue): My real name is Jacob, I’m from London, I’m a water sign, I’m 24 years old, I write songs and record them on a laptop.`…I like long strolls on the beach. Looking for casual friendship. BL: Can you give us a bit of your musical background? PB: My parents were music teachers when I was growing up, so they were really open to my interest in music and took me to a drum lesson when I was 7 for my birthday. I loved it so much they graciously took me to lessons for years. I practiced every day and was really beginning to find my own style and wanted to be a drummer in some kind of interesting band.
But I got totally distracted by the guitar when I was 13 and began teaching myself chords and started writing songs. It started as a way to communicate ideas to my band at the time, but I got super into it and by the time I went to music college at 16, I was obsessed with being a producer or guitarist or something.
Being an artist who fronts his own project was a total fluke. I only got into this specific form by accident, just from wanting to perform the songs I was writing at 18 and having no other alternatives. Just sort of went with the flow that felt most natural to me. I’m in love with it though, I’m very happy with how it played out. I feel blessed. BL: What did you grow up listening to? PB: Lots of different stuff. When I was little I was introduced to Hendrix, Stevie, The Police, Pink Floyd, Jamiroquai, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles (Revolver was a big album for me), that first Maroon 5 record. Just whatever good stuff my parents put me onto.
Then a friend showed me Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was about 9 and I became obsessed with their music and music in general in a big way.
I got into stuff like Rage Against The Machine, a bunch of great hip hop I discovered via NBA Street V3 on PS2… Sparklehorse, Damien Rice, Elliott Smith, lots of classical music like Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and I was into a lot of heavier shit like Deftones, Nirvana, Reuben, Queens of the Stone Age.
And then when I was about 15/16 I got really back into jazz via Miles’s Kind Of Blue, and then found a huge love for Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and D’Angelo who have each had a massive influence on my own music. I think my music taste broadened exponentially around that time, probably like most people.
BL:Was there a specific moment where you realized that you wanted to pursue music? PB: Maybe not a single moment, or at least not one that comes to mind, but I know that by the age of 10, it was all I wanted to do pretty much forever. It was mostly all I thought about at school. BL: Talk to us about your latest release “on his own. (Live at Eddie’s Attic)”
PB: I was with my girlfriend in Atlanta, where she’s from, and I had a co-headline tour coming up but no date planned for Atlanta. It seemed a shame since I was already there and I felt bad that I was getting messages to come through. So we called up Eddie’s Attic and asked if we could put on a last minute solo show and they were really enthusiastic. It sold out and was just a really special, intimate night. At the end the sound engineer just handed me a USB stick and told me he’d recorded the whole thing. I kinda forgot about it until I got back from the tour and listened to it and was just really into how much of that intimate vibe came through on the recording so I just put it out. I didn’t really overthink it too much, I just felt like it was rare for me to capture a stripped back show like that, I very rarely even do them anymore. BL: How does it feel to have that LP out in the world? Do you ever get nervous or anxious before a release, or is it more of a relief? PB: I’m pretty chill about this one to be honest. There’s not much of a parameter for worry when it’s just one, raw take of a set. The mistakes and fuck ups are in there but I felt comfortable enough to put them out there and hopefully that rawness comes through in a good way.
I was honestly a little more nervous about the bits where I’m talking because I was thinking, what if this really isn’t funny… But it doesn’t really matter, people can skip those if they want and just hear the music haha.
I get more anxious about all the stuff I do with production on my other material - there are so many aspects to it besides just performance that I definitely worry about before release, and a little after…. But after you’ve let it go it’s a lot easier. It’s not yours to worry about anymore and the ownership passes on to the listeners.
BL: Do you have a specific place or time where you like to write you songs? PB: I used to love writing at my girlfriend’s place in Atlanta. But now we live together in London, so I write there. She’s an inspiring presence. Until last year most of my music was written after midnight but these days I write my favourite material early in the morning and then sometimes I’ll spend nights editing and working on stuff, adding, subtracting or changing details. Just playing with it.
BL: When you’re writing do you ever have in mind the connection that your listeners will have with the song? PB: Very rarely. The music I write comes from a very personal place and if I thought too much about what people want to hear or receive from me I think I’d lose focus or honesty.
I do consider what message I’m sending though. I have a couple of regrets with lyrics in songs in the past that in retrospect feel a little demeaning? So now I’m very conscious of spreading love and good energy. For example, if it’s a disparaging song, or a song about a past relationship, I’m very conscious of being respectful.
BL: Does writing about a personal experience ever change the way that you look at the situation? PB: There’s catharsis in writing, and sometimes you have revelations once you’ve analysed something with lyrics or looked at it, but sometimes songs reaffirm how you feel instead. Mostly, I think that music has a really special way of turning negative things into beautiful things, or inexpressible happiness into abstract sounds that can somehow communicate that feeling. That’s really why I make music I think.
BL: I absolutely love “on his own.” it reminds me so much of Jeff Buckley’s live recordings. We talked a couple of times on instagram. You could say that we’re friends. Best friends even. I believe you mentioned that I was going to be the best man at your wedding. One of the things we bonded over was our mutual love for Jeff Buckley. Are there any other artists or bands that you would consider influences? PB: Yeah Eminem’s ‘Stan’. You’d like it.
Um no, seriously, thank you for the compliment, I’m a huge Jeff Buckley fan. I already mentioned a couple of important ones for me but some others are Bjork, Portishead, Donny Hathaway, John Frusciante as a guitarist and artist in his own right, J Dilla, Madlib, Aphex Twin and Burial as producers, Sun Kil Moon, Erykah Badu, Deftones, Rufus Wainwright, Julie London…
BL: There seems to be a lot of artists coming out of South London recently that are really popping off. What was it like coming up in that music scene? PB: It was exciting to be part of a community. But what the media that picked up on it didn’t articulate is that it wasn’t about commercial success. I didn’t ‘come up’ in a success way in that scene, it was more about growing as musicians and people, lifting each other up. Enjoying eachother. Career-type success for individuals or groups in that scene has been more of a personal achievement rather than something that happened collectively. It was just a beautiful time of learning from each other and celebrating this shared joy. It was a really safe place.
BL: You’ve been putting out music for a few years now. At what moment did you realize that pursuing a musical career was something that you could actually do? PB: I was 10 when I realised I wanted to do it. 18 when I realised exactly what it was in music I wanted to do. But only last year was I able to take music on as a full time job without side-hustles. And I expect there’s a lot more hard work to be done for years and years still.
BL: What has been your favorite accomplishment as far as music goes? PB: I don’t really know. I’m not very goal orientated. I think my ideas and dreams a little abstract and I like to just go where the flow takes me otherwise I become disappointed when plans don’t work out. I was really happy with my EPs at the time, but not so much anymore. I’m very proud of my band. So my favourite accomplishment probably so far has been assembling such a beautiful group of humble, lovely and outstanding musicians that were friends first. It’s cool to play with such good friends that you respect on a musical level like that.
BL: Is there anything that you want to accomplish with or through your music? PB: I like the idea of helping people to get in touch with their emotions, but music does that anyway. It’s helped me maintain emotional availability for years. It would be awesome to be a spokesperson for equality in some way through music, but there are many better people than me who can express those messages beautifully and powerfully… I don’t know, I’m so happy doing music I just want to try to serve music and spread good energy and see where that takes me.
BL: Do you have anything you like to do before each show? PB: I try to slow down and take a moment to be present. It doesn't mean to isolate myself or meditate even, often it’s just sitting down with the band and having a drink and a laugh before we go on. It just doesn’t do anything good for my spirit to be running around crazily before a show and then play. BL: What do you do to ensure a good show? PB: I warm my voice up. I quit smoking (a year ago) and now I’m trying to do one better. I make sure I’ve had a moment with the guys so that we go on stage feeing like a unit, not 4 separate people. I keep it sincere, I don't play a character on stage, I think that helps me relax and play my best and helps the audience relax and form a purer connection to the music. But shit, sometimes none of that makes a good show, sometimes you’re just off and you have to just learn to accept it when a show doesn't go how you hoped. BL: Do you have a most memorable show, or moment as a singer-songwriter? PB: We just played EartH in Hackney, London, a couple weeks ago, and that was my favourite show I’ve ever played. But I’ll never forget selling out my first headline show at The Montague Arms in New Cross, which doesn’t exist anymore, and getting really stirred and tearful seeing my parents in the audience. That was really special to me, even if it was a small room, I felt like ‘look guys, I did it! all the love you put into me - it did something!’
BL: Listening to your live album, I can tell that you like to interact with the crowd. Do you ever have what you’re going to talk about in mind, or is it off the cuff? PB: Oh my God no, it’s so improvised that it’s painful. I’m just chatting shit, every time. I try to be loose and not very serious, because I’m kind of a silly person. But sometimes I get into these weird tangents and just pray in my head that some weirdos in the audience find it funny! BL: I feel like touring can be really draining. What do you do while you’re on the road to not lose your mind? PB: One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas, I’ll never know.
BL: What is next for Puma Blue? PB: Tomorrow. and then some more days. And then I got an album to finish… BL: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I’m very excited to catch your show in Dallas. PB: Thank you