Catch up on part 1 of the interview here!
CyHra and ex-Amaranthe vocalist Jake E spent a lot of time telling us about the writing of the lyrics for CyHra’s debut album, Letters to Myself, giving us a really genuine picture of where the album is coming from.
“It was really, really hard in the beginning,” Jake E says frankly. “It started off that me and Jesper [Stromblad] were discussing, what are we going to write about? We were discussing it for weeks, and then finally we said, ‘The fuck, this is your comeback, Jesper. Let’s tell people about how you feel, and how you felt.’ We had like these therapy sessions between each other and when we started to talk about Jesper, my past life came up to the surface, and we were going back and forth. So I got tons of information from Jesper, and I also got things in my own head, and then I started to write. I wrote a lot, and I changed a lot. I was transforming sentences, the best way to try to describe things but without telling what it was about. I hate lyrics that are like a lot of pop lyrics, where it’s ‘I’m on the street and I’m going to get my bicycle, and I take the bicycle to work, and after work I go home and eat the cake and go to sleep,’ and that’s the end of the song.” You can almost hear him shaking his head. “But you cannot take that lyric into any other place than it’s about someone going to work, and going home and going to sleep. So what I was trying to do, and what I’ve always been trying to do in all my lyrics, is I want people to see thee-dimensionally,” he says, choosing his words precisely. “I mean, you should be able to read it and get an opinion about, ‘Okay, maybe this is something they’ve experienced themselves, then the person who wrote this song, he feels like this.’ But I also want it to be that you could just take the lyric and think, ‘I recognise this myself, I’ve been through this,’ and if I’ve been writing about drugs, the person who reads it can put it to him or her, saying that this song is about broken love, it’s about a bad relationship. I want it to go from two or three angles, I want it to hit the person that listens to it or reads it that, ‘I understand exactly what they mean.’ So that’s why I don’t want people to know what the lyrics are about usually, because I want people to make their own interpretation of it. But what helped me to finalise everything was that me and Jesper went to New York, and we rented an apartment on Lower Manhattan, right next to Central Park. We built the studio there. And we had one week of these three weeks where we did nothing. I was just focusing on finalising the lyrics, and while I was walking around in the city of New York, just taking the atmosphere, meeting a lot of different people, seeing tons of new things, it just got into me and I started to write. So most of the lyrics were written the week before we actually started to record the album. I had the manuscript, I had tons and tons of papers with lines. Half of the songs were almost done, but I twisted and turned every single meaning and word, and all these phrases. I must say that I’m so happy with the turn-out of the lyrics because I’m really, really proud of what I achieved. I usually never put myself on a pedestal or anything, I always think that everything I do sucks, but with this I’m really, really proud.”
The deepening of the friendship between Jake E and Stromblad is clear to hear. “I’ve known Jesper for more than ten years before we started,” Jake E points out, “so I knew all about his problems and I’ve been trying to help him through it for many years, even when he was still into alcohol. But this absolutely brought us much closer. He’s been a great support for me as well, so we’ve been helping each other, absolutely.”
Jake E’s philosophy for the next few months is straight to the point. “The plan is to have fun. The biggest problem that I felt in Amaranthe was that we were not really friends in the end. I mean, we were playing in the same band, but it just turned out to be a job like any other. Of course that’s always the way it’s going to be, but we did not really have the same view of things. Some wanted to party, some wanted just to play, some like me wanted it to be the biggest band in the world, and it’s hard to try to reach a goal where not everyone has the same goal. The biggest reason why we picked Alex [Landenburg] and Peter [Iwers] to join CyHra was not because, though they are, really fantastic at what they do on their instruments – that was secondary for us, because for us we really wanted to have people around us that we felt comfortable with, people that had wanted to do the same things, that were not in it because of the rock star life or the alcohol or the drugs or fame or fortune. We wanted to find people who worked well with us, who had the same views and political standpoints in life, and also wanted to go the same route as us. I would lie if I would say I didn’t want CyHra to be the biggest band in the world, but I want us to have fun and be friends along the way to reach our goal. I wrote this album about talking to myself in singular form, but I know that Jesper did the same. We wrote this album for ourselves. We wrote this because this is music that we want to listen to. This is the lyrics that we wanted to get out of our chests. This is something that, we don’t care if people loved it or hated it. Of course we want people to love it, but we’re so proud of it ourselves. We did this for a purpose. We did not have any fans in the beginning. We did not have another album that we have to live up to. Our next album is going to be different because all of a sudden we will have a fan base, all of a sudden we need to please our fans, and that’s a musician’s responsibility. If you make something that people like, you cannot just do a tango album because you like it. Then you have to follow through on what you started with, but now from the start with this album we did it for ourselves, and hopefully as many people as possible will like that. That’s the whole thing. But the plan is to go out and tour, to build the band and play in front of as many people as possible, and have fun on the way. Life is too short to be bored,” he laughs.
“Hopefully people will see that this is very personal and that it’s something that we did with all our hearts. I think that when you listen to the album you can actually feel the intensity. You can feel that this is real. There’s so many bands out there, I don’t want to blame any specific bands, but there’s so many bands that have been doing this for so many years that you can just hear that for them this is just another album. ‘Can we just finish up this so we can go home?’ It took almost five months for us to finalise this, so we put a lot of sweat and tears into it. Of course, just because you spend a lot of time on something doesn’t mean it’s going to be good,” he chuckles.
But at the end of the day, the message is clear. “Please just listen to it and give it a spin and form your own opinions about it. That would mean a lot for us, and if you like it, spread it, because that’s how it works nowadays in this business. I really, really hope that we’ll build the fan base in Australia so that we can come down there put some shrimp on the barby!”
GET YOUR HANDS ON CYHRA’S LETTERS TO MYSELF FROM SPINEFARM RECORDS HERE!