Rock|Life Catches Up with Josh A and Jake Hill
One thing about me is that on every Monday and Friday for the past year, I tell Siri to play me only New Releases on Apple Music. This is how I first came across Jake Hill (known as iamjakehill in his solo work), then Josh A, and then collaborative work with both Josh A and Jake Hill. I began to familiarize myself with more of their work before finally saying to myself, ‘I have to do an interview for the magazine.’ And here we are.
RL: How did you guys get your start in making music?
JA: I was born and raised in Florida. I’ve been playing the guitar, bass and drums for as long as I remember so I already had a musical background going into this. I started making rap beats and learning how to rap in high school. It was an art school so I was lucky to be surrounded by people who were willing to critique my stuff and be completely honest when it came to production, lyrics, and vocal delivery. When I enrolled in college I realized how pointless normalcy felt to me so I made a pact to myself: Music or Death. I dropped out after a semester, ran away from home and started pursuing music full time. It was about a year later that I ran across Jake’s music online….then everything changed.
JH: I’ve always been into metalcore and hardcore music my whole life. I always wanted to play guitar in a band. I’d spend hours watching videos of my favorite bands performing live wondering what that felt like being on stage with a room full of people that shared the same passion as you. I’d get nervous watching bands walk to stage and then hearing all the fans freak out. I was never really into rap or even tried rapping before but one day I posted a rap song on Reddit as a joke and somehow it blew up on the front page. A lot of people were saying how good it was even though I thought it was terrible. I was like “Maybe I’ll actually try the rap thing out.”
I made a few more joke songs before I learned that I was actually kind of good at rapping and writing songs, so I started taking it seriously. I found out it was the perfect way for me to explain how I feel sometimes in hopes that someone else out there that goes through the same thing could relate and know they aren’t alone.
RL: How did you get together and begin collaborating?
JA: I was scrolling through YouTube one day and found this song called 38 to the Face by Jake Hill. I hit him up and a few months later we made our first track, Nuketown. It was an instant success so we decided to make a collab album called Better Off Dead. From that point we’ve been able to quit our jobs and tour both the US & UK.
JH: I quit my job and went to England to hang out with a friend/beat maker I had recently met on Reddit. I got a message from Josh on Twitter and started fangirling a little because I knew who he was. He asked to do a song together and of course I said yes. 5 months or so went by with no word from him until one day he sent me a beat and told me to scream on it. I sent my vocals back, then he added his and the song Nuketown was complete.
We continued working on music together over the next year and a half before we finally officially met in LA for our first live show.
RL: Regarding management, there’s not much info out there – are you guys doing this all on your own?
JA: We are 100% independent. Everything you hear and see is exactly how we want you to perceive it. No business suits. No schedules. No fake social media presence.
JH: Both unsigned. We pretty much do everything on our own besides booking shows.
RL: Together, you’ve released one EP and four collaborative albums – is there another collaboration in the works?
JA: We’re working on a new album for this summer. Since I live in Florida and Jake lives in Alabama, our process usually involves me sitting and producing the beats and conceptualizing the projects, then I send the ideas back and forth with Jake until everything we want to say and do stylistically has been achieved. This time it will be different, though. We’re going to rent a cabin in the middle of nowhere and create the project together for a few months. It will be the first time we’ve actually sat together to create rather than doing it via the internet.
JH: Yep we’re working on a new album that’ll hopefully be finished in the summer. For this one we want to make something more globally accessible while still adding a couple super heavy songs like usual.
RL:Suicidal Thoughts is a pretty important track. How were you inspired to write about such a heavy topic?
JA: We get a lot of messages from our fans telling us how our music helped them through depression and life’s bullshit. It seemed like a no brainer to create an anthem for all those people. Something they could put on to remember they’re not alone.
JH: Josh and I go through the bad and good just like everyone but for some people it’s hard for them to realize that the bad times aren’t necessarily forever. The song is meant for the people that feel like the only way out is the easy way. It’s ok to feel like shit. It’s NOT ok to give up. Life isn’t meant to be easy and we’re fighting along right beside everyone who goes through what we do. We’ll all get through it.
RL: So, you both also have solo careers, with Josh having released Fearless and Jake releasing the Solace EP just this year. Talk to us more about those.
JA: I made my album Fearless as a way to vent. When you finally achieve the success you wanted, you’ll catch yourself wondering if you should keep going or stay dormant and enjoy the fruits of your labor. I chose the first option, so this album discusses my thought process behind why I wanted to keep going full speed with music and some of the sacrifices I’ve had to make to do so.
JH: I try to make all of my solo albums sound different. I like to experiment with different styles and see what I can come up with in the comfort of my house with nobody judging me for screaming or singing into a microphone at 2 in the morning. My Solace albums are a little easier to listen to for people that aren’t into my heavier stuff. The songs are a little less dark with more of an upbeat feel, while still keeping a little of the dark elements, if that makes sense.
RL: Jake, let’s talk about your most recent single to hit the airwaves – Starship 92.
JH:Starship 92 is a single from an upcoming space-themed album. It’s basically about me literally floating in space wondering if I should go back to earth and live a normal, boring life; or if I should keep ascending into the unknown, knowing that I’ll achieve great things but questioning myself if I can handle the stress from it.
RL: And Josh, there’s gotta be a backstory regarding your track Fearless.
JA: Fearless is my war cry. It’s a battle song. I’m basically saying despite the depression, anxiety, poverty and any other issues that plagued my life I still found a way to overcome them and do whatever the fuck I want.
RL: Alright – Lil Pinecone. You’ve gotta tell us the story behind that.
JH: Lil Pinecone is from a rough area in Alabama. When he’s not slanging dope or running up on his rival’s block, he’s rapping and/or yelling at me.
RL: Finally, any advice you have for artists just starting out?
JA: Enjoy the sleep while you still can.
*Photos courtesy of Courtney Adams.