Back in May we reviewed Collapse, the latest album from North Carolina’s Jeremy Squires, who has become one of our favourite singer songwriters at work right now. It was a deeply personal and honest record, which focused on “overcoming in general, coping with loss, persevering and becoming whole again.”
Jeremy was kind enough to answer some questions about the new record, and offers some great insights into the motivations, inspirations and ambitions behind his music.
Hi Jeremy, good to speak to you again. How is life now that your latest album, Collapse, has been out in the world for a few months?
Hey, good to speak to you too! Things have been going pretty great. I got married about two weeks before the album came out and life has been beautiful. I’ve been spending time this Summer with my new wife and my kids, playing a few one off shows and I have been writing a new album.
The album is obviously deeply personal, with lots of it’s themes rooted in your own experiences. Is it a cathartic experience writing these songs? And how does it feel baring all of these real emotions to the world in your art?
Yes, it is very therapeutic at times (while writing them). However, once I’m completely finished with the songs often times they take on a new meaning and it is a relief to be done with it. Even though my songs are written from my personal experiences I write in a way that the listener can paint their own picture of what the songs are about and relate to it either directly or to what they portray in their mind that relates to their own experiences.
Kind of linked to the previous question – do you ever stop and consider the impact the songs will have on the listeners? Do you ever stop and consider the dual healing effects of art, how the sharing of your own struggle and pain might help ease that of others?
Yes, I definitely do. Although, when I’m writing the songs I’m really just in a certain state of mind at that particular moment. I am just feeling it out and telling a story. I like to be brutally honest but draw a narrative that sounds good. That being said with art in general everybody sees, hears and feels something different. I hope that by sharing my personal experiences and by attempting to make something beautiful out of it that people can find peace in their own struggles.
On a (final) related note, much of the album deals with troubles arising from addiction. Would you feel comfortable in offering any words of advice or consolation to anyone who might be going through (or watching a loved one go through) similar issues?
From my own personal experience. I would say you have to help yourself. Don’t enable the person who is an addict. They have two choices: To seek help or let the addiction win. You are not responsible or at fault for the choices that they make. I say this with the deepest compassion and respect.
While perhaps not one of the primary themes, religion is a thread that runs through the album, especially on tracks such as ‘Remnants’. I guess this isn’t an easy question to answer, but what’s your relationship to all that stuff, and how does it impact upon your music?
This is a great question. I very often use religious undertones and metaphor throughout all of my albums. I was raised by my Grandmother who is a devout Christian. (Crosses on the walls, religious artwork, etc… I try to paint a vivid picture of where I was raised and the home where she still lives in some of my songs) She is one of the strongest, most hard working and kindhearted people that I’ve ever known. I have gone back and forth throughout my life with what I believe to be true. However, I am a very spiritual person and even though I don’t follow the tradition and beliefs of Christianity I find the stories and iconography very interesting and compelling. It plays a huge role in my music and writing because it is one of the important things that inspire me.
There are several great guest musicians on the album, such as Heather McEntire of Mount Moriah and Shane Leonard of Field Report / Kalispell, How have you made this network of collaborators, and what effect do they have on your creative process?
I am a huge fan of Mount Moriah, Field Report and Kalispell. Mount Moriah live here in North Carolina as well. I’ve been a fan of Heather’s work for years. I reached out to Heather because I thought she would add something special/different to the songs. I was so happy that she sang on this album. I’ve known Shane Leonard for a while and he has worked with me before on the album When Will You Go… (2013) I asked him to play on a few songs on Collapse and I was very pleased. I also asked my friend Sean Husick to play drums and bass on the first track titled ’58’. I meticulously choose who I want to be a part of my records. Heather, Shane and Sean each brought something unique to the songs and it helped to shape them into something special . A perfect example is how Shane played on the songs ‘Fall on Me’ and on ‘Gemini’ it helped to make the album sound more sparsely layered, atmospheric and come together as a whole.
What are your plans now that Collapse has been out in the world for a while? Are you writing (or at least thinking about) new music? Does it take a while to get over creating something like this?
I am currently planning a southeast tour this Fall. I have been working on a new album and writing new songs. I am always writing in some way and I always have a song or idea in my head.
And finally, our usual closing question. Could you name a few bands/artists you’ve been listening to lately?
Lately I’ve been listening to Angel Olsen, Heather Woods Broderick, Beach Slang, William Tyler, Eric Bachmann, Phil Cook and Kurt Vile to name a few.
Be sure to read our full review of Collapse, and check out the Jeremy Squires tag for reviews of previous releases and an older interview. And of course, head to the Jeremy Squires Bandcamp page to buy all his music.