Local Natives’ Kelcey Ayer is currently gearing up to release his first solo album, ‘Tasha Sits Close To The Piano’, under the name Jaws of Love.
Named by his wife after his dog, it’s due out on 22nd September and in a statement, Kelcey has said that “the idea of ‘jaws of love’ felt so perfect for this project because it’s all about love’s trials and tribulations”. So far, he’s already shared a couple of tracks from the collection – an eponymously-titled track and the more recent ‘Love Me Like I’m Gone.’
Now he’s lifted the lid on ‘Hawaiian Licence Plates.’ Featuring production from COMBAT! it sees an initial sweeping, blustering burst of synth morphing into Kelcey’s own rhythmic piano-playing. He’s soon joined by waves of dusty, dramatic electronics and strings that heighten the raw emotion running through the song.
Get the first spin of ‘Hawaiian Licence Plates’ and dive into our chat with Kelcey below.
You recorded some of this album as Local Natives were about to release ‘Sunlit Youth’, but didn’t have the intention of releasing any tracks. Why did you decide that you wanted to release an album as Jaws of Love?
After that first session it just became clear to me that I could do more than I thought in a very small amount of time. So one more session later I had around twelve tracks to choose from and it just clicked that I had a record in the making.
Why did you decide to adopt the name Jaws of Love. for the album rather than go under your own name?
I didn’t want it to feel so heavy-handedly like a “solo” record and I also wanted the record to stand out on its own, so naming it gave me a sense of it being something more separated from Local Natives. Plus I’m saving my own name for my stand-up career. I’m fucking serious.
Why does the name, and all of the track titles, have full stops at their end?
The punctuation idea was born from looking for a font to use to represent the project. Then my manager Chris, before he was my manager and just my friend (‘sup Chris), suggested I should highlight the lyrics whenever I started promoting the album. Those two things snowballed into the artwork becoming something feeling more like a book than an album. At that point, I got the idea for using punctuation in the track titles and it just felt like the perfect finishing touch to elevate further the literary theme.
Has it ever been a challenge to reflect that complexity of turbulent times in happy relationships within the songs on ‘Jaws Of Love.’?
Whenever I’m starting to write a song, I’m just trying to write lyrics that work with the melodies and with some sort of arc or point, and it just seemed more by accident that all these songs seemed to fit a certain theme. A lot of this record seemed to come together quite magically, and I’ve been trying not to question it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the piano is a pretty big focus of the LP. Why did you want to craft a record mostly around piano?
To me, the piano is everything. You can create such wildly different feelings between slamming down on the keys, or playing them as softly as you can. You can play chords in a rhythm that suggests a beat, a top line with your other hand, and it’s like you’re a one-man band. Like an elevated version of that street performer guy with the bass drum on his back and holding an accordion. God I hate that guy.
What’s the story behind your latest track, ‘Hawaiian License Plates’?
I wrote it after [my wife] Mel and I went to Honolulu in 2015 for a Local Natives show. I noticed that all the license plates had a number shorter than those in mainland USA. At the time I assumed it was because there are so few people living there, and it made our romantic place feel even more romantic. It was also one of the tracks my friend COMBAT! put some dope extra production on.
Does your dog Tasha actually like to sit close to the piano?
About three weeks after we got her, she just started laying down next to the piano whenever I’d play it. I’d sit down and start fooling around with an idea, and five minutes later I’d turn around and she’d be behind me on the floor completely passed out. Now she won’t eat her food until I start playing something.