Jake Taylor – In Hearts Wake ‘Working Harder, Not Smarter’

With the news of UNIFY Off The Record having blown our minds, I felt compelled to grab In Hearts Wake vocalist and UNIFY Gathering veteran Jake Taylor to share his thoughts on previous editions of the festival, the resurgence of large-scale music festivals in Australia and what we can expect from the Byron Bay band on the upcoming UNIFY roadshow.

Hey Jake, thanks for chatting today! The UNIFY Off The Record tour seems like a great way to keep that UNIFY magic we all know and love alive throughout 2023. In Hearts Wake happen to be UNIFY Gathering veterans, having performed at the first edition of the festival way back in 2015 and a few more times since then. Do you have any favourite memories from the festival from over the years?

Without a doubt, the first UNIFY Gathering in 2015 has been my favourite. Back then it was just this small event that had many quirks as the festival was still finding its feet. It wasn’t quite like a reunion but it felt like seeing all of your classmates. Whether it was Hellions, Buried In Verona or Northlane, just to name a few, there was just a rich melting pot of all the artists that were up and coming at that time. In 2015 the festival didn’t have much of a backstage area, it was just an area behind the steel fencing that they put up but just to hang out with everyone that was there was very special. To see how that festival has grown while being a part of it from the start is something that I cherish.

Quite a lot of the bands from the festival’s 2015 lineup were signed to UNFD at the time, the idea of having a gathering like that with a lot of your label-mates must have made that extra special.

It did feel like a bit of a UNFD showcase. That first venue that they used to host the festival at was the local town football club and was somewhere in the range of 3,000- 5,000 attendees. Which is still a decent amount of people but it is definitely a smaller scaled festival.

The fields of Tarwin Lower, which have remained empty this year, hold quite a lot of special memories for many of us. We saw you perform in 2022 at Full Tilt Music Festival, which was amongst the first large scale music events to take place in the post-lockdown world. How important has the resurrection of Australia’s large scale music festival circuit been to you?

It’s great to see that music events like Full Tilt and UNIFY still exist. Life had to go on after that big pause had occurred but there was always this thought of ”will people still turn up?’, ‘Have people moved on or forgotten?’ or ‘Are there new things that are capturing people’s attention now?’ in the back of my mind. Us humans love shiny new things and the next best thing is always on display in front of us. Things can seem to evolve and change quickly. When Full Tilt happened, my mind was put to ease as I realised that people still give a fuck. These last few years have been challenging for musicians of all sorts, we are having to work harder, not smarter.

To say it has been difficult for musicians and many others to navigate the COVID years is definitely understating the fact. In what ways have In Hearts Wake had to adapt and direct your attention to keep up with the current times by working harder, rather than smarter?

We haven’t focused on investing in overseas touring. There was so many cancellations happening around us and we didn’t feel it was safe to risk facing that ourselves. We have had to be conscious about making safe moves so we directed our attention towards our art. We made a documentary titled ‘Green Is The New Black‘ and also made a soundtrack. We approached that creation process with a DIY attitude by taking it back home. We still worked hard but it was less about spreading ourselves thin around the world by localising everything that we do.

We are so lucky to be able to localise so much here in Australia due to the amount of incredible homegrown talent. A good example of local talent would be our friends in Northlane, who you released the Equinox split EP with seven years ago. You happen to be sharing the stage with them at the Victorian edition of UNIFY Off The Record. Would there be a chance that we might see an on-stage collaboration for the performance of the Equinox tracks?

It will never be like it was on that Equinox Australian co-headline tour with Northlane because of how the instrumentals are on that release, when it comes to performing, it is a set up nightmare. However, the vocals are an easy one to do an on-stage collaboration on. I would love to play ‘Refuge’ together but I can’t say that it is happening for sure. Crowds seem to love that song so it would be nice to do that with Marcus.

One thing I noticed by watching you perform at Full Tilt is rather than using pyrotechnics and confetti in your performance, you use bubbles and leaves. Will this be an ongoing feature with In Hearts Wake shows to come?

Yeah absolutely. It might be presented in different versions along the way. I don’t think it will be happening at UNIFY Off The Record though because that kind of production is quite venue specific and show specific. Let’s just say that bubbles and leaves are our line in the sand as we continue to head down the green route with everything that we do.

Is there anything else that we can expect from In Hearts Wake at these UNIFY Off The Record shows?

It’s another In Hearts Wake show, we always manage to pull shit out of the hat last minute and come up with some funny idea. Without a doubt, there will be something in the vain of bubbles and leaves. We just want to bring a bit of joy to the stage. We love what we do and we don’t have the opportunity to come together and perform all that much these days. We aren’t touring like we used to so when we have the chance to play a show we want to have a great time and enjoy ourselves.

Touching on your documentary, ‘Green Is The New Black’. The message that you share in that film is one of urgency and confrontation. Do you feel as if the ongoing reception of this has been quite positive? Or have you seen any criticism to the fact that both the documentary and your performances are filled with powerful messages such as ‘No music on a dead planet’?

Ultimately it is because we care about the music scene and the world that it resides in. I don’t want to tell anyone anything, I just want to share what we are doing. It has to have an effect somewhere, even if it only affects one person, that’s great. This isn’t radical, it’s just where we are heading because we have to head this way. We see that the health of the music scene is in many ways dependent on the health of the planet. The two are heavily interlinked, we might not see it right now especially when we look at our phones and see all of the things that are happening in the world, the last thing we think about is bubbles and leaves as opposed to pyrotechnics.

At the end of the day, I feel as if we have to choose the lesser of all evils and do the best thing that we can do. I believe that it is having an effect, not on other people but what we do and that for us is a big win.

What is on the schedule for In Hearts Wake once these upcoming shows come to completion?

Once these upcoming tours are done, I feel like there’s a fresh chapter to be written for In Hearts Wake. There’s a lot going on in our camp with weddings, children and things of that nature. These upcoming tours are all that we are looking at right now and then it’s a new leaf. So it will be something new and I’m not quite sure what this is just yet, we like to let things happen organically at their own pace, rather than push or rush things.

Interview by Adam Rice

Tickets go on sale Wednesday March 22 @ 9am local time.

Unify Off The Record 2023

May 20
Mackay QLD
w/ Thornhill, Void Of Vision, Young Lions, Wildheart, Arcade Stories

May 26
Adelaide SA
Hindley St Music Hall
w/ Teenage Joans, Thornhill, Ocean Grove, Yours Truly
The Beautiful Monument, Alt, The Last Martyr, Wildheart

May 27
Wollongong NSW
Uni Bar
w/ Thy Art Is Murder, Make Them Suffer, Ocean Grove
Yours Truly, Fit For An Autopsy, Bloom
Banks Arcade, Reliqa, Alienist, Raised As Wolves

June 1
Hobart TAS
Odeon Theatre
w/ Alpha Wolf, In Hearts Wake, Void Of Vision
Redhook, Offset Vision

June 2
Frankston VIC
The Pier
w/ Northlane, In Hearts Wake, Make The Suffer
Redhook, Fit For An Autopsy, Ocean Sleeper
Mirrors, Chasing Ghosts, Banks Arcade, Future Static

Tickets here

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About Adam 'Ricey' Rice (112 Articles)
A young music enthusiast who dives into a world created by an artist then returns to reality to express what he experienced in writing.