As a producer, Jan Skubiszewski has worked with Owl Eyes, Daniel Merriweather, Phrase, The Cat Empire, Illy and plenty of others, but his songwriting side has had less exposure.
You might be familiar with it from his work as half of Jackson Jackson with Harry Angus, but it’s only recently that he’s gone his own way as Way of the Eagle. He’s still working with plenty of friends though, like Dan Sultan, who features on ‘Rattlesnake’, the single that’s been getting a flogging on the radio.
“I really love collaborating with different artists and I find something so special in that process,” says Skubiszewski, “so I wanted to do something that really showcased that. But also when you’re working, producing for artists, you’re very much fulfilling their vision. I wanted something that was my vision and really followed my vibe and particular taste, and this is a great way of bringing all those fantastic artists into the fold but also really pushing my own musicality.”
As well as Dan Sultan, the EP features the voices of Daniel Merriweather and Emily Lubitz of Tinpan Orange (you may also know her from the ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ ad). But what differentiates Way of the Eagle songs from what we’d hear on their own releases?
“I guess I probably like things to sound a little bit more bombastic and a little bit more over the top than a lot of the other artists I work with would be prepared to go,” Skubiszewski says, “so this is a great platform for me to fulfil all that. I also wanted to make something that made people want to move, want to get up and start dancing. I want every song to have a sense of that real deep groove; even if they’re darker or more emotive numbers I still want that sense of rhythm so people can engage with them and get down, you know?”
On the subject of getting down, Skubiszewski is happy to declare that he’s not the most skilled dancer in the world. Jackson Jackson has a song called ‘The International Society of Bad Dancers’ and Skubiszewski says he’s a member. “Yeah, I’m definitely a bad dancer. I move but I don’t know if you’d call it dancing.”
To make time for Way of the Eagle he’s cancelled all of his production work for other musicians, clearing room on his schedule to record an EP and an album and then somehow find a way to tour those songs when only some of the musicians will be available at the right time. When he’s taking the time to organise all of this, is he being missed elsewhere?
“If the right project comes up I’m definitely going to be into it, but at the moment it’s taken a long time to finish all of the different projects I’ve been doing to make time to do Way of the Eagle, so I feel like I’ve got this precious window of time to work on it. I just want to throw myself into it. Whether people miss me or not? I don’t know, man.”
One other project that isn’t finished is his work with Jackson Jackson. Although getting musicians with multiple gigs on the go in the same room at the same time is like herding cats, Skubiszewski and Angus do plan to work together again at some point. “It’s not over,” he says. “Harry and I have been talking about it. I think with both of our schedules it’s logistically really hard to even get the band to rehearse all that stuff but we’re both really into the idea of continuing it and doing something, so who knows?”
BY JODY MACGREGOR
Rattlesnake EP out Friday May 31 through Sony.