I was thrilled when Jacob agreed to be my artist of the month, not only because I'm a huge fan of his music, but I love his story of transition. It takes guts not only to be an artist, but an artist who makes a major turn in their work. To me he represents a sense of newness, braveness, and the ability to truly be who we are--despite the obstacles. Being an artist inevitably is vulnerable, you have no control over how your soul-work is received. To evolve and grow in sound is part of the process, but it can hard to move out of what is comfortable. Jacob--Prettyboy--was courageous enough embrace his artistic and personal growth. He is an artist of true boldness and creativity, I am thrilled to help share some insight into his artistic process and life.
Jacob: I began writing and performing pretty young, but I was mostly writing contemporary Christian music. That’s actually where I first began working with my producer and co-writer, Jarod Evans, who I still work with today (at Blackwatch Studios). I believe my first songs were also his first songs to produce. At one poing I was in talks with a few of the big Christian labels but ultimately decided it was not for me. A few years later, I started writing again and called up Jarod with a handful of songs. After recording a demo of “Why” we just decided to make a record.
Jenn: Tell us about the process as you grew into a new genre and re-birthed as Prettyboy?
Jacob: Nothing But Gold is drastically different from my most recent EP, Dejvická and the upcoming record, so I just thought I needed a change. Also, people may think of “Prettyboy” as a moniker, but these songs are very much a collaboration between Jarod and myself. So, I think of “Prettyboy” as more of an idea or character we’re trying to portray through the songs.
"I think I liked it (the name Prettyboy) because it can be used as a somewhat derogatory term, at least in the small town where I grew up, and I liked spinning it into something positive."
Jacob: I think I liked it because it can be used as a somewhat derogatory term, at least in the small town where I grew up, and I liked spinning it into something positive. I also think the idea of vanity it conjures up suits my musical and stage persona quite well.
Jenn: You released Dejvická in 2013, a two-track project that was recorded in the Czech Republic. Can you share a little bit about recording overseas, and how being away from home shaped the recording process?
Jacob: It’s funny, the studio felt a lot like Blackwatch except you had to take a tiny elevator to the bottom floor of an old apartment building to get to it. There is just something inspiring about being in a new place. Prague was beautiful and seedy and wonderful and the songs really sound how the place felt to me. We wrote “When U Say My Name” and recorded it while we were there. I think we wrote it in literally 15 minutes. I don’t know if I’ve ever written anything that quickly at home.
Jacob: It’s really a mesh of so many things and I don’t think it will be what anyone expects. It’s very different from Devijka, even. It’s still very much pop, but it’s quite funky and there’s a tinge of R&B as well.
Jenn: Can you share how your music has reflected changes in your life, especially your journey as an openly gay man?
Jacob: It definitely helped me find my best friends, who I consider family. Their love and acceptance gave me the courage to be myself. After coming out, the support from the music community and fans at the shows really made me feel like I could express myself however I wanted. It was really liberating.
"Stop trying to be cool and let yourself be weird. Weird is cooler than cool anyhow. And who cares what your parents think." -Jacob Abello
Jacob: Stop trying to be cool and let yourself be weird. Weird is cooler than cool anyhow. And who cares what your parents think.
Jenn: I know your performances are always well planned out, tell us a little about the preparation process?
Jacob: Lately, I’ve been relying less on theatrics. It’s a fun challenge for me to see if I can be just as entertaining without it. But, when an inspiration hits me for a show, I try to tell a story. For instance, one year at Norman Music Festival I was going through a darker time in my life. I began the show dressed as an angel and ended it in a slutty costume with a vest that said “Fuck Me” on the back, and then pretended to get wasted and pass out at the end of the set. The show is always a reflection of an internal dialogue I am having with myself.
Jenn: Can you share any details on what the album release will look like?
Jacob: I really don’t know! I’m just focusing on getting the record finished at the moment. Usually, the inspiration for a show comes inconveniently at the last minute. So, I don’t even know what to expect. We will for sure release a single any day now, though…
Jenn: In closing, tell us how you’ll be celebrating the 4th this year?
If it doesn’t rain, my husband and I will probably join ourfriends at the pool, drink Rosé, eat hotdogs and listen to Springsteen. Pretty standard 4th!