SOME MUSICIANS find a formula that works and stick with it. Others are restless, always looking for new paths to explore and new ways to express their musical vision - Jape is definitely among the latter.
The Crumlin native, born Richie Egan, began life in hardcore/punk bands before taking up bass duties with The Redneck Manifesto, the pioneering Irish post-rock band, best known for their 2004 album I Am Brazil. That same year, Richie released his second solo album under the Jape moniker - The Monkey's In The Zoo Have More Fun Than Me. It caused a sensation in Irish indie circles with key track 'Floating' winning notice from the Jack White/Brendon Benson band The Raconteurs, who covered it in concert.
This was followed by 2007's Ritual, which won Richie the Choice Music Prize that year. The 2011 follow-up, the gloomy, sombre Ocean Of Frequency, repeated that success, winning the artist his second Choice Award - the only performer to date to achieve this. Noticeable also, was Richie's increasing move towards electronica, a leap he completed on latest album This Chemical Sea.
“It’s the first album that sounds the way I wanted it to sound,” Richie told me when I interviewed him earlier this year. “In years to come it is the one I think will stand up. I wanted a cohesive sound. I didn’t want to do an acoustic record and everybody does guitar records. I wanted this one to have its own character and a certain energy, so I thought I would go fully electronic. I also find synths can emote in a way guitars cannot a lot of the time, and I wanted to make it sound emotional. There’s only guitar on one track.”
One song from This Chemical Sea which has been attracting particular attention is ‘Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon’, a collaboration with Villagers’ Conor J O’Brien.
“That track wasn’t supposed to be on the album!” Richie said. “We wanted to do a couple of tracks together. The idea was that one of us would write a song and the other would come over and develop it. We had a great night making that track. When the mix of it came back I knew it had to be on the album.”