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On “Thirteen” Louis Prince projects honesty and discovery

Introspection is one of the themes behind the jazz-infused album “Thirteen.”
That’s according to the artist behind the project, Louis Prince– A.K.A Jake McMullen. McMullen is a musician from Nashville Tennessee. “Thirteen,” an album he has worked on since 2015, is his first album under the moniker of Louis Prince.
In this interview with WRFL, the artist discusses his use of a pseudonym and the themes running through the album, which was released in March.

How are you handling social distancing? How have you been using this time?
Alright I suppose. Hanging in there. Have good days and bad. You’re catching me on a good day. During this time mostly just trying to make things. Lots of music. A few other projects. That’s helped me get through more than anything.

Do you miss being able to perform live shows?
I do. I miss everything that goes into it. I don’t think I fully appreciated them as much as I do now. This thought seems to be a common thread for a lot of things in my life during this time.

What music have you been listening to lately?
Nicolas Jaar, Les Baxter, Nina Simone and Talking Heads have been pretty constant lately.

From your interview with Atwood Magazine, I saw that your producer Micah Tawlks played a big role in making this album. How long have you two been collaborating?
Micah is very important to me. As a friend first and foremost. But also as a producer. I’m very thankful for him. We met in 2014 and have been working together ever since.

How did you choose ‘Louis Prince’ as a moniker?

I had a list of names that I started making at the start of the record when I decided to change the name. While working one day, I showed the list to Micah and asked him if any stood out. Prince was the first thing that stood out on the list. Eventually I landed on Louis Prince thanks to our friend, Daniel Shepherd who thought that’s what the name of the project was the whole time.

Do you feel like there’s a difference in persona between Jake McMullen and Louis Prince? If so, how are they different?
Yes and no. I have attributes that I’ve assigned to Louis in a strange way. It’s a bit complicated to explain. They’re similar in that they are both me. The difference though is that this allows me to be more outside myself and look at things more objectively. Not feel so defined by the moves I make with music. It all feels much more freeing.

Are there any themes running through “Thirteen”?
Definitely. Turning the mirror inward and observing yourself. The idea of embracing what you don’t like about yourself. Trying to figure out what the idea of “family” means to me. Questioning God and innocence.

How would you describe the vibe you wanted Thirteen to have?
Discovery. Honesty.

I read that you used samples on the album, and listening through you can hear them. Where do you get your samples from?
It varies. There’s one we pulled from an Ethiopiques record. And the folks there were really kind to let us use it. The rest came from us playing things and tracking it at a higher fidelity and running it back through samplers/tape machines to make it something entirely new. We all had voice memos and different recordings from the past that we sifted through and found spaces for too.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
A lot from conversations with friends. Then there’s movies, music, painting, walks and books. Allowing myself to be bored. That’s an important one I think. It comes from all sorts of places. Never really know where exactly but I’m thankful when it does.

What’s your writing process like? Does the music or the lyrics come first?
It’s a lot like throwing paint at the wall. Making a bunch of noise. Throwing every idea out there then scraping away only what is necessary. A lot of it too comes from stitching different ideas together. I’ll be writing five songs and come to find out they are all reaching for one thing and need to come together. For this record all the music and melody came first. I spent the last couple months working on lyrics for everything once we had it all in place.

I read that you had written 60-70 songs. How did you decide on these 13 as the ones for the album?
Those 60 some of songs varied from sounds to fleshed out ideas. A lot of them wound up being stitched together and putting these puzzle pieces together to make the final record. The ones that wind up sticking just seem to reveal themselves. It feels pretty immediate. The idea keeps showing you where it wants to go.

Do you think any of those other songs will find new life on future projects?
Not sure. I rarely go back and listen to older ideas. I probably should. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the ideas made it in.

If you were to recommend one song off the album, which one would it be?
Love them all equally. But, today I’ll go with “The Number Thirteen.”

Louis Prince’s “Thirteen” is available now.

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