Catch up with singer-songwriter Jack Vandervelde and listen to his latest single "Pick It Up Sometimes" off his upcoming EP.
What got you interested in music and in songwriting?
Jack Vandervelde: Since I was a kid, I've always played music; I started playing drums when my mom kicked me out of the kitchen because I was banging all the pots and pans. So, I've always been playing music, but it was in early high school when I realized that, if I wanted to take it to the next level, I just assumed, in order to make original music I had to write it myself. Just by chance, I got into The Beatles - and of course people mention that all the time - but that was when I really saw songwriting as what it was; and especially that combined with Ed Sheeran. I realized if I wanted to do this, I'm better off trying to write my own songs, so that's where the whole songwriting thing began. But music in general has just always been a part of my life and it was really early high school and late middle school that I realized that that's really what I liked doing, so I started practicing every day for hours until I went to bed.
Do you remember the first song that you wrote?
I used to always mess around, writing funny songs on the spot with my friends or my brother, and that's kind of where the songwriting started. My first serious song was probably about a girl I think I had a crush on my junior or sophomore year. And then I remember, I even tried writing a song about The Beatles, that's how into them I got, so I would say one of those two was the first song I wrote, but none of them have been released and [laughs] I don't know if they ever will be.
Which musicians would you say you've been influenced by?
In terms of influence, I grew up on The Backstreet Boys and Green Day - which is a strange combination - but that's where the whole pop and rock came into play for me. But, I went to an Ed Sheeran concert just by chance; I was visiting colleges in 2013 in LA and my parents wanted to go out to dinner so they were like, "here's a concert, go to this, take your sister," and it was an Ed Sheeran concert. So I went there excited but not knowing much of his stuff and, after it, I was so blown away and it was so life-changing that I was like, this is what I want to try to do. And I became, for lack of a better term, obsessed with him and I started just trying to hone my craft like he did. Then, I love Zac Brown Band and their harmonies and The Eagles and it all inspires me, but it was Ed Sheeran who really sent me over the edge, in terms of taking this even more seriously.
Is there an artist you think everyone should take a listen to?
The Chainsmokers recently, with where they've taken pop, but I imagine there's a lot of people listening to them. I like pop music and I really like Daya who they collaborated with. Obviously, if you're not listening to The Chainsmokers stuff, I would tell people to get out and listen to them because it combines the EDM scene with pop music, which I think has been the way of music for awhile, but recently it's getting even bigger. That's what I've been for sure hooked on recently.
Which words would you use to describe your sound to someone who had never heard your music?
I would say an acoustic pop. That's something I've always really liked, again, just with my influences and life and music. I really like a lot of pop music. And then rock and acoustic, so it's an acoustic pop rock, that's how I'd have to describe it.
What were your inspirations behind your single "Pick It Up Sometimes"?
That song, the hook came first and then Eren and I - Eren Cannatta, a guy I wrote with - came up with it. The song took place around - I found myself traveling and I left school to pursue music - just being away from home. What I see in my friends, and a lot of people my age, is that time and life and jobs and school takes you away from something and perhaps it's not the relationship or the experience that ends itself, it's just having to be somewhere else; but when you're back in town for the holidays or Summer break, there's no reason you can't rekindle that and share experiences like you used to but knowing that there will come a time where you have to go and life will take you your different ways again. So, it's kind of just about bringing something back that you know that you had, knowing it's not going to last again, but you might as well try.
Could you tell us more about your upcoming EP?
It's going to be a lot of fun. There's some songs that Eren and I wrote when we met in New York; and then there's some songs that go back to my years in high school that I wrote then; and then some of the songs that I've done in between that time period. It's going to be a blend of stuff that was near and dear to me in high school - some of the songs that I felt came out well - mixed with some stuff that we wrote in the past few months. It spans years of my life, which is exciting, and it's going to be that acoustic pop rock with the simple pop songs mixed with some storytelling and stuff that means a lot to me. And there's also - which I've never done before - there's a ballad on this one too called "The Suburban Superhero"; it's ballad-like so it's the first time I've ever really slowed down with a piano, so that will be fun.
Is there one song off this EP you'd say you're most excited to share?
I think it would be "The Suburban Superhero". For various reasons, but for one because obviously I'm still early on in my career so a lot of the people who listen to my music are people from my hometown, friends and family, and I released a small, little acoustic version of that in my basement 3/4 years ago that I've since took down; they know the fast pace of that acoustic version and now they're going to hear a studio ballad of it, so it'll be fun to show people who have been watching the video since then. And then the other songs too. There's a song called "Save The King" that I re-did - I did that in my dorm room in my first and only year at college in Tennessee at Belmont - but we re-did that one more professionally, of course, so it'll be exciting to show people the evolution of that.
In one sentence how would you sum up this EP?
I would say it's easy to listen to, nothing too crazy, and a fastball down the middle - in terms of hoping people will like it and just listen to it - in a sense of music, songwriting and storytelling.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
In terms of the songs that have more in-depth stories with backgrounds that are more personal to me, that they can match it with personal experiences or times in their lives. In terms of the songs that are just acoustic pop - I like writing the kind of tongue-in-cheek relationship songs - that they just enjoy those and listen to them.
Is there anything you want to add?
Just find me on my Facebook page or Instagram and that's where a lot of the new stuff is going to be coming from.