This is a multi-series blog post. Table of Contents at the bottom of the page.
Yesterday I announced the release date of my upcoming EP, “Jestem Krzywym Lasem” which is the debut solo EP I’m presenting as myself, Jaimee Jakobczak.
Now, if you’ve frequented these trails before you might be saying, “but Jaimee, you’ve released like, 4 other EP’s already as a solo artist” and I’d say, yeah, you’re totally right about that and thanks so much for listening to all of them and their assorted b-side singles all over the internet.
But also, no, you’re wrong, I have not released those as a solo artist at all and certainly not as Jaimee Jakobczak!
The title, whats up with that?
No, it’s not a smattering of letters I threw together for the fun of it, it’s Polish!
Translated plainly, it means “I am Crooked Forest”.
So this is a Crooked Forest release?
While everything released so far as Crooked Forest was also “just me” as a solo artist, the intention with CF has always been to get a full band together to play the songs live. That’s where this project differs from Jaimee Jakobczak, who is also, just me.
Everything on this release is a pretty big departure from anything I’ve done so far, but in a lot of ways it’s the true “roots” of what makes up everything else.
Before I wrote song lyrics, I wrote poems, and lyrically the “Jestem Krzywym Lasem” release makes a return to that, speaking about things in a broader, dare I say, more “poetic” and introspective sense as opposed to aggressively and directly calling out things the way I do with the CF tracks.
Can you explain what you mean by poetic in this sense?
Sure, but this might be better explained in the subsequent blog posts that’ll follow this one leading up the the release of the EP where I’ll dive into each track individually and pick apart the lyrics for you.
But what I mean, I guess, is that these songs weigh more heavily on the metaphor side, and in a lot of instances its not exactly clear what I’m talking about, or at least I certainly don’t think you could know what I’m referring to in any of them if I wasn’t telling you about it myself.
Like I’d be curious to hear what someone who doesn’t read my lyric-breakdown for “Driveway” thinks it’s about.
Which by the way comes out this Friday October 8th and you can pre-save it on Spotify right now!
So, in your best plain English, what’s the record as a whole about?
It’s about a lot of things, but thematically it discusses life & lived experiences. It’s a concept record (all of my releases excluding Tape Deck are), that aims to bring mental health awareness to the forefront, talking about issues that are otherwise often very difficult to really get into.
For example right off the cuff of the record in “Quiksand” I’m talking about sexual assault and the depression & descent into self-loathing that follows, and then we go right into “Driveway” which is about suicide and feeling like you have no where to turn to so instead you’re just sort of going through the motions of daily life. From there, we start the grieving process and loss of young life on “Without You“, and the uncertainty of which path to take from that point in order to dig out of that spiral; that’s “Butterflies“. Finally, we end on a positive note with our cover of The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights” where we make it out, ascending above ourselves and who we were and start working towards who we want to become.
So why was it important to name the release, “I am Crooked Forest” if what you’re really saying is, “This is Jaimee Jakobczak?”
Because one project can’t exist without the other, for the same reason that Jaimee Eat World, my exclusive discography of the complete Jimmy Eat World works doesn’t exist without Jimmy Eat World.
I would’ve never been able to write the “Jestem Krzywym Lasem” record if I hadn’t already developed Crooked Forest into what it is now. A lot of the things I learned about myself during the tracking of all the CF releases ended up being what inspired the message behind this new EP. I genuinely can’t see how I would have ever reached a point where this record would ever exist without CF.
Because CF was always being as honest and forthcoming as possible, but the reality is that the person behind those releases doesn’t always walk that walk, not in an “authentic” way that they can be proud of every day when they wake up.
So how is this record more authentic?
I don’t really know if that’s the right word to describe what I’m trying to say but what I mean is, when I, as myself, talk about things like suicide, depression, the state of the world and what we can all do as individuals to create change, I try to do it with a lot of care, knowing full well that there could be another person, a little girl or little boy, that reads what I type at some point and maybe takes it to heart. It’s difficult to talk about these types of issues without making somebody angry or upset, but most of the time I try my best not to rattle too many feathers and try to explain myself in a respectful and polite way.
Where this differs from CF is that, CF is like my little alter ego; the teenage me, the one that didn’t care so much about whether or not what I said caused a reaction in someone else, because if you’re mad you’re allowed to be mad and you shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around people who might take that personally. As a result, CF gets to say a little more, be a little more brash and in your face about it.
At the end of the day it’s all in the name of keeping the conversation going, or in some cases to just get it started.
Should we never make jokes about suicide because it’s an awful thing? There sure are a lot of stand up comedians who would argue otherwise.
I look up to people like that because they’re not doing it to make light of the situation but to remind ourselves that for all that’s awful, it’s important to remember to laugh, too, because we’re still here and that’s worth celebrating.
This was another home-recorded release. Why not take these songs into a studio this time?
In a perfect world I would’ve for sure, but given my own situation right now it’s not feasible to really push a lot of money into this record.
And that all being said, I also fundamentally don’t believe you should have to spend a lot of money to put out a record, nor do I think recording these songs in a full-blown pro studio would’ve changed all that much about the record.
What’s most important in this record and always has been for me personally is the lyric content, the instrumentation is added flare. So while, I know what I would’ve loved to do to a track like “Driveway” to really pump it up, add some strings, drums, bass, and so on, ultimately the story is what I’m most excited to tell.
And again, just going back to why I put this out under my given name instead of my CF moniker, when I write these songs I start them all virtually the same way: I write the lyrics, nit pick over them a little bit, and then I start putting chords to them and fumble my way through until I find the right melody for the song.
So this record is exactly that, an acoustic guitar playing only chords, or in the case of “Without You”, picking the notes of those chords, and me singing over top of it.
What I also like about that is it leaves some of the production up to the listeners interpretation, meaning, when they hear it maybe they also get those little moments where they’re like, “a string swell would be sick right here”.
So is the intention to bring these into a studio one day and give them the “full production” treatment?
One day, yeah, when I can afford to do it right.
Pre-Save “Jestem Krzywym Lasem” on Spotify now so you get it as soon as it hits the streams on October 29th, 2021!
And subscribe to the blog to make sure you’re the first to read the track-by-track breakdown of the record which will all trickle out slowly over the next couple weeks leading up to the release.
Follow Jaimee Jakobczak on Bandcamp to be the first to purchase the physical EP when it comes out!