Jack Northover, the Musician Making Simple Folk Songs for Complex Times

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The British musician has been creating soundtracks for Dior, Loewe and Miu Miu – and now, he’s releasing his debut album

Jack Northover has two beasts inside of him. One is a narrative-driven commercial composer, who has created sweeping scores for brands like Dior, Loewe and Miu Miu. The other is a metaphor-loving songwriter, who pens poetic folk ballads about the Suffolk countryside. “There’s a Cherokee story about feeding two fighting wolves inside your soul, the different sides of ourselves,” the British musician explains. “My journey has always been about feeding both beasts.”

In recent years, Northover’s composer beast has been the most visible. His music production company Howl Town has been making soundtracks for documentaries, films and luxury fashion brands, which has given the musician the space to experiment with a variety of different techniques and genres. And now, Northover’s songwriter side is ready to be unleashed: his debut album, Tasman Sea, is set for release this week. “Tasman Sea chronicles a lot of years and a lot of experiences,” the musician tells AnOther. “Friends, adventures, lovers, stories. It feels good to collect them together and put it out there.” 

Northover says that his inspirations are drawn from “everything, everywhere”. A self-described “huge hoarder of music” with an “unhealthy” love of synths, he aims to keep as open a mind as possible. That said, his life-long love of “folk melodies and simple folk songs” is evident on Tasman Sea. The record is layered with soft acoustic strums and twinkling piano chords, with low, whispered paeans to the natural world.

“It’s important (for me) to work with instruments or tech that take me on directions I wouldn’t usually take,” says Northover. “You got to be open to the alchemy, the unexpected discoveries along the way. The world has enough overproduced, ‘processed’ music. I like to leave the door open to all the beautiful mistakes and imperfections in making music, be open to where the song leads you and be open to the discoveries in the process.”

Tasman Sea is an intensely personal record, exploring themes of home and belonging. Many of the tracks were written while Northover was living in New Zealand studying Marine Ecology, while others were written in his home county of Suffolk. “It feels almost cathartic to share [these songs] with others,” he says. “Although I believe it’s important to make the music without being too premeditated about where it will end up, my hope is always that my music gets heard and embraced ... There’s always a slight wrestle as a songwriter, where you need to make the music to feed the beast in you, but you hope that it gets heard. It’s the old folk tale tradition of passing it on. I hope people take the songs, enjoy and relate.”

Tasman Sea is released on July 2.