KEEPING IT SIMPLE WITH CROOKED FOREST
The musical makings of Crooked Forest.
How are you living your best life right now?
In all honesty I can’t at all say that I am, but I’m working towards something that’s important to me and sometimes that’s all you can do. That said, I get to play with 3 awesome dogs most of every day when I’m not working on music, and that’s hard to complain about! Two of them are puppies 5 months and under, and the other is my 5 year old Berner Dakota who thinks he’s still around that same age. It’s a treat.
Talk to us about your new music!
I’ve released a bunch of new songs in the last couple weeks. My 5-track EP “Jestem Krzywym Lasem” just came out on October 29th and I’ve been really excited to share that one, since I approached everything about it a lot differently than any of my previous releases. It’s really stripped down, just an acoustic guitar rhythm track and my vocal, not unlike you’d hear when I perform the songs live, but with greater attention to the style of lyric writing that I’m often most drawn to and about experiences that are often much more difficult to talk about. It hones in on things like suicide, sexual assault, grief and longing, without being blatantly in your face about it. It’s 5 tracks are “Quiksand,” “Driveway,” “Without You,” “Butterflies,” and “Such Great Heights.” That last one is a cover of The Postal Service.
And I also just released a new full-band track just about a week after that release called “Wasted Time” that for the first time features a real drummer. Shane Slimmon stepped up to work with me on this one and his drumming really livens up the track in a way anyone who's been following my music hasn’t heard before. It’s a lot of fun, an upbeat rock track that’ll get you off your feet (I hope!).
When do you know when a song is done, DONE?
Whenever I get sick of fussing with it :) Or really, when I reach a point where I find that as I’m adding ideas or playing around with something, it’s no longer adding anything to the song itself. There comes a point where things start to get too muddy, and it’s like, as cool as it is sometimes to layer like 6 different guitar lines, when it’s performed live the intention is to only have 2 guitar players, so I really try to keep that in mind with every release. Even with the acoustic stuff like on “Jestem Krzywym Lasem,” I was often like, “this would sound killer with some strings,” but then it sets the precedent of having a string player on hand to perform it properly, and I wasn’t quite ready to dive into that here yet.
Where did the title come from?
“Jestem Krzywym Lasem” is Polish for “I am Crooked Forest.” This release was put out under my given name Jaimee Jakobczak since it’s stylistically so different from my other Crooked Forest releases, but it’s still all me, so I thought this was a nice way of bridging the two projects together while teaching the world a little Polish :) Otherwise, all the titles of the songs I’ve mentioned are more or less words that are said in the lyrics ;) I try to keep it simple.
How did you become inspired to make this song?
I’d like to take a sec to talk about “Driveway” off of JKL, because it was the first single I put out for that EP just ahead of its release and it’s the most important one on the entire record to me. The song is about a friend of mine who committed suicide while attending university here in Ontario, Canada, and the song reflects on that day and how the things I’ve felt and thought about since it happened. I want to highlight it because I know right now, between the pandemic and just the way there are so many things going on in the world these days, I know a lot of people are struggling with their mental health and may be reaching a point or feeling of giving up, and I really want to encourage them not to do that. I know exactly what it feels like to fall into a pit of depression that makes it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, but it’s important that you know you matter, you’re loved, and you will turn things around; keep going.
How did you approach this song vs. songs past?
This one was a difficult one to dive into which is probably why I didn’t write a word of it until the 10th anniversary of his passing, and even with having done so there are still a lot of unanswered questions, worries and confusion that surrounds it. But I think the main thing that was different about this one for me is it was really the first song of all my releases so far that I spent more time considering how it made me feel instead of what it made me want to say. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to describe this accurately, but comparatively with most of my Crooked Forest releases, the lyrics center around things I’d actively like to say to people, no matter how they come across in the moment; Driveway is much more about, “what is it about this that I hold on to so deeply (aside from the obvious)? Why did it take me so long to talk about it like this?”
Where do new fans go to follow you?
All sorts of places!
Where can fans stream and support you?
I’m on most major streaming platforms, even if I don’t mention them here (like Apple Music) so feel free to search within your preferred one, but you can head to my website to find them, too.
What are you most excited about the new single?
I think all of my recent productions have shown a lot of my growth as a music producer, songwriter and player in various capacities, so I’m excited, like with Wasted Time, for people to hear me try some new things, like that bass line you hear throughout. And I think vocally I’m finally finding my groove, which you can hear on “Driveway” - if you compare that one to my earliest releases, I think it’s a pretty surprising difference in just over a year of singing!
Can you leave us with some inspiration for our audience and how they can live their best lives?!
Find something you really love to do and spend a little time every day on it if you can. Getting to a point where you feel confident with anything creative takes a lot of time in my experience, but once you hit your stride, you’ll find a lot of other things that otherwise might bring you down a bit are easier to manage, because you’ll have this great outlet to express yourself and your ideas, and that’s a whole lot more satisfying than waiting around all year for a Pumpkin Spice Latte.