After making a splash on The X Factor and Australian Idol, Jacob Butler has refused to fade into the background. Fresh from a recent promotional trip the Europe I caught up with Jacob to talk about his time abroad, his time on reality TV, and the hard road of an independent artist.
You recently spent time promoting your music in Europe. How did that go?
Really great thanks. It was great to speak to people about what I’m doing on the other side of the world, and it was also great to see some cities that I haven’t been to before like Berlin, Stockholm and Warsaw.
You’ve always had an affinity for British music. What was it like being over there amongst it?
Well I wasn’t in England for promotion this time, but yes it’s always great to be in Europe talking to people about music. It’s so funny to me how I’m much more interesting to people in Europe than I am here. It must be the accent or something!
How did the European audiences respond to your music?
People in Europe are pretty open to hearing new music, and the response was quite positive. This was very apparent after doing performances and interviews on TV and radio over there; the traffic on my Facebook page or on my Youtube channel would always see more activity straight away.
What did you miss most about home?
I was only away for a month so it wasn’t too bad, but I did miss my fiancée the most. I had friends all over the place to catch up with in many of the cities that I visited, but it can get lonely when you’re by yourself for days at a time. And I did miss Vegemite. I didn’t realize it at the time but I have been a total Vegemite junkie ever since I got back!
Like many Australians, I remember watching you on reality TV programs like Australian Idol and the original incarnation of The X Factor. What did being on those programs teach you?
Those shows certainly taught more me more about myself as a person than as a performer; it made me stronger and more resilient for sure. Reality TV shows are a rollercoaster and they can chew you up and spit you out pretty quickly! You really need to have a strong sense of who you are and what you want to achieve as an artist. You also need to be aware that you probably won’t win, and you’ll have to keep working if you want a career in music.
So many performers from those programs seem to just disappear, never to be heard from again. How did you make sure you weren’t one those people?
Through relentless hard work and tenacity. I backed myself financially to the point where the bank just wouldn’t give me any money anymore. I have maxed out multiple credit cards, sold almost all my guitars and musical equipment and borrowed money from my family to make all this happen. It’s bordering on insanity, I know, but what’s the other option? It’s slowly starting to pay off but I still have a significant amount of debt over my head. With saying that, everything can change with one hit song. Just ask Psy!
How do you think you’ve grown as an artist since you were on our television screens?
All I can say is that I am constantly working to evolve my skills when it comes to what I do as an artist, songwriter, singer and label owner. You try things, sometimes you make mistakes and sometimes you get things right. It’s a constant state of evolution and It’s something that I really enjoy even though it is at times very difficult.
Despite the exposure those shows gave you, the major record labels didn’t exactly come knocking. What’s it like for you working as an independent artist?
Major record labels just don’t sign garage bands for a million dollars anymore, so even with the exposure that I received from reality TV I wasn’t surprised when they didn’t come knocking. That’s why I paid for my own album and all that. That being said, I now have some major label support in some of the territories where my album is being released like Poland, Greece, Belgium and The Netherlands, so it’s at a point now where the artist has to spend the money developing themselves. The advantage of this, however, is that I have 100% creative control over my art, which is something that I have always been very passionate about. Can you imagine this being the case if I had won Idol? I think not!
Since we’re approaching Christmas I have to ask, what’s on your wish list this year?
Health and happiness for all my friends and family, and to continue to talk to good folks like yourself about my music!
Now that you’ve returned home, what’s next on the agenda?
Well I’m actually heading back to Europe in February for more promotion to the same countries and possibly Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. Then back to Australia for a bit and then back to Europe for the festival season. Looking forward to this!
Image source: Jacob Butler Facebook page