"We do what we do because we're made to do it." That's the mantra that 21-year-old Jack Bradley Vaught leads his life by.
After taking a back seat in a handful of projects, and nearly abandoning music forever, the Austinite teamed up with his producer Colton Dewberry to create what is now his first release, "Overlook." While Vaught wasn't expecting much to come from the song, the Spotify Playlist gods shed favor on the artist by adding his track to not one, but two UK playlists. The song–inspired by a slew of artists including Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and believe it or not, Phil Collin's soundtrack for Tarzan–now boasts over 300,000 streams.
Since the "Overlook" release, Vaught has been honing in on another project: his EP, Half Holds. For an inside look at all that the marvelous EP holds, stream the first track, "Beached," exclusively on OTW, and check out our Q&A with the artist below.
OTW: What led you to start working on Half Holds?
JBV: I started the EP because I had to. There was really nothing else for me to do, and I worked with Colton because I loved working with Colton. These songs are what they are because he is a genius. We did "Overlook" and then decided we work together better than we thought. We just started writing Half Holds, which is the EP, and every track we worked on, we put on there because we were like "I'm proud of this." "Overlook" is its own thing, and then the EP is four songs.
OTW: What was the inspiration behind Half Holds?
JBV: It's fun to see the album artwork and look at it and hold it, because it represents this time period of my life last semester where I wasn't proud of who I was. I wasn't free from things and just being okay with where I'm at. I always want to be somewhere else, or one step ahead, and so I think that theme's throughout it, and all the songs talk about that in their own way. It's not a storytelling album. There are albums that you can listen through and understand the story but each song is very on its own, and can stand alone, and that was one of the main points.
OTW: What sets the first track "Beached" apart from the rest of the EP?
JBV: While it's not technically a single, I think "Beached" has the most dynamics out of all of the songs, and I think everyone can find something in it that they're like "Oh, I can dig that." If they don't like the way I do vocals, maybe they'll like the drums at the end, or the synthesizer instead of the acoustic guitars in the beginning.
During that time, I was at the point where I hit a wall and was just tired of where I was. I wanted to continue but couldn't, and I think of like a shipwreck. So they're cruising down the ocean, and all of a sudden they hit something and it's done. It's not like the ship is slowly deteriorating, and the crew had time to put it put it back together. You just hit something, you didn't know where it came from, and it's game over. That's where the word "beached" came from. You feel like something came out of nowhere and you don't know why. You can't really see the purpose in it right now, even though you might later.
I feel like that's the beginning point of the growing process. For you to grow, you have to experience something that kind of sucks or will put you down, and all these songs are very specific in what I'm talking about but only I know exactly what I'm talking about. In that song, there's very specific moments where I talk about quotes or things that I've said to someone that led up to that stopping point, or post-stopping point, and I think it's the thesis statement for the whole thing, because this is what happens and then the rest of the EP after.
That's why I want it to be first and why I think it's okay to put it out now because people will understand. They have context clues for the rest of the songs.
OTW: Tell us a little about the incorporation of Allan Watts' line into the track.
JBV: We were working on a track, and my producer Colton tossed it on there. He brought it to me, and I just believed in it a lot. At first I thought it was kind of strange, because it's a talking sample, not a singing thing but I thought it was so cool because it kind of goes back to why I do music in general, which is because I feel like I have to.
Alan Watts was giving a lecture on the question "Why?" He tells the audience,
"The question ‘why,’ because it can be asked interminably, never leads to any interesting answers. If you ask me then why am I proposing this, I could say, 'Well, I’m making a living this way, or I have a message I want to get across to you.’ But that’s not the reason. I am talking for the same reason that birds sing and the stars shine."
I believed in it being in that song with the lyrics, and being the first track because it's saying "I'm doing my own project and this is why–because I have to." It's also a really cool concept, and we emailed the guy's son and got permission for it. We had to pay for it, but I think it was worth it. I like listening to that sample because it reminds me that we do what we do for a reason. And I'm not a deep person. I'm a goofball. I'm weird. I wore my sweats on purpose so that I don't take myself too seriously. These are my pjs, I wear them everyday. (We can confirm that he is not lying).
But at the same time I sometimes think that way, and you have to be reminded of why you're doing some things–because you were created that way and be okay with that and try to find joy in that.
OTW: Who is your dream tour mate?
JBV: If I could open for Kanye West, I would cry.
OTW: Who is on your Ones To Watch list?
JBV: Dermout Kennedy - He's from Ireland and he's a folk writer, but he does it very interestingly. He says things that no one freaking says. At the end of his song, he says, "It's for real, it's for real," and people talk that way but no one puts that in their song, and so I appreciate him for it. Every line he sings is a different perfect chorus melody, and he never repeats it. I think that's crazy. He's brilliant.
Gordi - I don't know where she's from and I don't know what she does, but I love sound, and I really appreciate how she is very particular on sounds too.
From Indian Lakes - They're not listened to as much as they should be. The lead singer is just so creative, and he has such a great voice.