Words by Keane Fletcher
What do you look for in a relationship? Do you choose carefully, or do you just go hurtling towards a person without ever giving thought to the consequences? Either way, I think it's fair to say that relationships form a big part of who we are. So I can imagine we'd all want to end up with someone who brings out the best in us right? RIGHT? Well, if you need any further convincing look no further than Melbourne singer-songerwriter Jacob Fiztgerald's brand new single 'Pretty Good For My Mind', a grooveable, dopamine-inducing slice of vintage-pop that might have you thinking twice about the person you just swiped right on. Because PGFMM is about relationship GOALS people. And Fitzgerald has the inside scoop:
'Pretty Good for My Mind’ is about my parents...I’ve always found their story to be quite romantic and poetic. It’s like something straight out of a movie...In life, the person we end up with should be good for us. It’s simple. They can drive you crazy sure, but ultimately, they should bring out the best in us and be good for our minds!
Channelling Harry Styles by way of The 1975, PGFMM is somewhat of a departure from Fitzgerald, who rocketed up the Spotify Viral charts way back in 2018 with his beachy, guitar-driven debut single 'Adore Ya'. You'll still find the guitar here, though PGFMM definitely ventures deeper into pop terrain, utilising both 80's prom night saxophone and vocoder backing vocals to give the song an extra bit of retro-fuzziness. It's a thrilling evolution, and one he credits his band with helping him achieve.
I’ve always felt a pull towards Pop/Rock stuff. It just never felt accessible when I was a solo act in my early days. Now, the band is more me than I could’ve ever hoped for! [...] They’ve made writing so much more fun, for now I can have them in mind and play to our strengths.
With its accompanying video dropping soon, we can't wait to see where this new sound will take him. But for now, we've got a killer release that doubles as your new relationship affirmation. See, pop music really can change the world for the better! Starting with your dating life.
To celebrate the release of 'Pretty Good For My Mind', we recently sat down with Fitzgerald to talk all things music, inspo and what a healthy relationship looks like to him. Check it out below!
How does it feel to be releasing new music? What’s changed for you since your last full-length release, ‘Whole & Broken’?
I’m like a giddy little schoolboy at the moment. To say I’m “over the moon” really would be an understatement. These new songs and my current single mark the first step into the new chapter of my music. I’m stoked to be releasing the tracks that I’ve been working on for some time now! They’re more than ready!
It’s funny thinking of what’s changed since ‘Whole & Broken’. It feels like an eternity since it released. It’s not until I sit back and reflect that I realise there has been so much growth and learning in my creative and collaborative process. The main difference with these new songs is that I had time. Lots of it. I had a forced break from shows that really allowed me to dive deep into the songwriting and demo phase. Without all that freedom to just sit and create, these songs would not have been born. I feel like the music I’m making now is an extension of what my songwriting used to be. I still develop a picture with my story telling, I’m just doing it with more fun and a broader skillset!
Tell us a bit about your new single ‘Pretty Good for My Mind’. I heard it was inspired by your parents, is that right? What was it about them that made you want to immortalise their relationship in a song? And did you get their blessing?
For starters, I think this is my favourite song I’ve written. I’m biased and maybe too sentimental of course, but I’m so proud of everything it has become and what it stands for. Because yes, ‘Pretty Good for My Mind’ is about my parents.
Growing up, my father’s youth remained somewhat of a mystery to me. I think he used to be worried my sister and I might follow in his footsteps or something! See, it turns out that back in the day he was a bit of a ratbag. Close friends and family always described him as a bit of a rebel, hot-headed and that he was the one that got up to the most mischief. It’s never really been a side I’ve seen of my old man. He wears a shirt and pants to work each day, so I’ve always found it funny that somewhere along the line something made him clean his act up!
Apparently, and very obviously so, that was my Mum’s doing. She was the beautiful blonde girl with a gorgeous smile and utterly calming aura around her. Opposites just attract right? In typical story fashion, they met on the dancefloor as teenagers. In a sweaty hall, they approached each other doing ‘The Bus Stop’, then they fell in love and the rest was history! I will note, Mum must’ve been something special because my Dad ain’t one to get up for a boogie voluntarily.
I’ve always found their story to be quite romantic and poetic. It’s like something straight out of a movie. Gives me those ‘Grease’ vibes! The Danny to her Sandy. So cute! So, with that birthed the inspiration for ‘Pretty Good for My Mind’. I didn’t quite get their blessing per say, more so told them that they were the subject of my latest songwriting endeavour! However, when writing it I soon realised that whilst it is conceptually about them, the meaning runs deeper than that. In life, the person we end up with should be good for us. It’s simple. They can drive you crazy sure, but ultimately, they should bring out the best in us and be good for our minds! It’s now an ode to love.
PGFMM also feels a lot more danceable than some of your previous work. Was this a conscious decision? Or is this just the way the inside of your head sounds like these days?
To be honest, a bit of both! I’ve always felt a pull towards Pop/Rock stuff. It just never felt accessible when I was a solo act in my early days. Now, the band is more me than I could’ve ever hoped for! WE are ‘Jacob Fitzgerald’. I love playing with them and exploring this side of music.
The band unit’s growth came with a drive to make our live shows super fun and energetic for both us and our listeners. I write a lot of my tracks based on feelings these days. Like, “lets write something they need to dance to” or “something for their wedding day”. Having the band just means I can conceptualise easier and write with them in mind! In saying that, I began working on ‘PGFMM’ in early 2020. I was wrapped up in artists from ‘The 1975’ and ‘Harry Styles’ all the way to ‘Bruce Springsteen’ and ‘Billy Ocean’. So yeah, perhaps my head was just filled with tracks you can bust a move to! I’m glad it translates.
Are you a stickler for routine when it comes to writing and recording, or does inspiration usually take you by surprise? How long does it usually take for a song to come together just the way you like it?
I like my routine. My demoing process mostly starts the same way these days. A melody will come into my head and then I build a vibe around that. Music and structure first, then lyrics. 99% of the time that’s how I roll. I jam out most of the form and lyrics on my acoustic guitar and then start demoing with rough versions of all the elements I want. I’m never one to push an idea too hard though. Sometimes I start and I get something written in 15 minutes, sometimes it’s something I leave and come back to, sometimes it just ain’t working so I ditch it. Regardless, I don’t get too hung up on them. I find inspiration comes in waves and it’s more acknowledging when something is inspiring enough to get me going, if it ain’t working, there’s always another day!
In terms of the song coming together, I can usually hear the completed track in my head before I begin demoing. This makes working on them pretty fun because I can really nail some parts before we even enter the studio. For example, when working on ‘PGFMM’ we ended up keeping a lot of the demo elements in the final track. The vocal take in it (and most of the other tracks on the EP) were actually my initial vocals from the demo. In ‘PGFMM’s case, that was one take! I was in the zone that day, I guess!
I’m also really lucky to have a great relationship with my co-producer, Brent Quirk, when we get into the studio to record the big stuff. I can talk gibberish about something I’m feeling/needing, and he always finds a way to pull that sound. We’re a great team. I couldn’t have made these tracks without him.
I’ve also heard you work very closely with your band when it comes to writing new material. What’s that collaboration process like?
It’s funny, we collaborate so well both collectively and without interacting at all. I can send Reuben (drummer) a concept for a track, and he’ll shoot me something like “I’ve got the perfect idea for this”. That’s that. I trust his gut and leave him to do his thing. He knows the music so damn well!
Same goes with Charlee (keys/synth). We often just play what we’re thinking, and she fills the gap with ease. Funnily enough, she and Reuben are siblings! Must’ve been something in the water at their house growing up!
The upcoming EP didn’t feature our latest members of the band Alex and Dakota, but they have slotted into our unit ridiculously well. Alex and I have already started writing for our project after this one! He’s a genius and has helped flesh out our sound so well.
To be honest, I think I’m just super lucky. I’ve found a really solid group of people who take care of my ideas better than I could’ve ever hoped. I have so much faith in each one of them and what they bring to the table. They’ve made writing so much more fun, for now I can have them in mind and play to our strengths. It fills me with so much optimism towards our future.
Has the success of your previous releases changed the way you approach music? Do you feel more pressure to deliver or is it exciting to know you have so many listeners out there waiting to see what you'll drop next?
It’s definitely the latter. I’ve been so lucky to obtain people who actually care about what I create! However, they don’t dictate my direction. I make whatever spills out, sometimes it’s a similar vibe and sometimes it’s a new thing that I want to try. Either way, I take great pride in knowing there’s some folk along for the ride and I acknowledge that sometimes they hop on and off when they please! That’s cool too.
I’m always of the mindset that the songs people have fallen in love with like ‘Adore Ya’ or ‘Him’ will forever be a part of what we’re about. It’s probably why they come to our shows and have such love for us. But time influences all musicians and growth is always immanent. I’m just here to make and play music I’m passionate about and I think 90% of the time that translates with the listeners. I feel much more at home playing these upbeat tracks and I’m so excited to explore this new chapter. However, you can bet your bottom dollar that at our live shows we pull out the tracks that people originally loved. I still love them too!
It's hard to talk about the music industry at the moment without acknowledging the terrible effects of COVID-19 and the pandemic. How has the pandemic affected you and your creativity? Have you enjoyed having more time to create, or are you dying to get back on the road?
I have experienced both the pros and cons at the hands of this pandemic. ‘Pretty Good for My Mind’ and the rest of these songs wouldn’t have been born if it weren’t for the forced time and freedom I was given. Having the ability to flesh out ideas day in day out was something very rewarding. I made the best of a bad situation that’s for sure.
I’m still itching to get out there and play these tunes though. I really miss the live show experience both as a performer and an audience member.
We had a small taste of it in early May playing some shows along the East Coast. That was amazing as we began to tease the new sound and direction the band and I were exploring. It was received so well and has made us hungry for more.
It’s an uneasy feeling not knowing when our industry will recover fully, but I’m optimistic. When we get the green light, we’re going to hit the stages with pace. I’m very excited.
And finally, what’s next for you? Can we expect a new album sometime soon?
Yes! ‘Pretty Good for My Mind’ marks the first single from my upcoming EP scheduled for the end of the year. Seven brand new tracks for people to digest. It’s been a little while in the making but I’m so proud of what it’s become. On top of that, the band and I are already working on new material for a bigger project coming next year. There’s lots in the oven. Lots I’m excited to share with everyone! Watch this space!
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!