Plenty of people move to a city like London intending to make their dreams come true. Jordan Rakei was no different – and he certainly didn’t waste any time in making things happen. “I moved here two and a half years ago, and initially I was going to be here for four months,” explains the 25-year-old soul singer, who grew up in Brisbane, Australia. “And in that first four months I got in the studio with as many people as I could. I think I worked with 15 different collaborators!”
The singer and multi-instrumentalist had already been beavering away in Australia for a number of years, most notably releasing the ‘Franklin’s Room’ EP in 2013 via Bandcap. But starting to feel “a bit too comfortable” in his home studio set-up he jetted right the way across the globe to team up with a series of musicians he’d made friends with online. After a couple of days he’d already collaborated with Tom Misch, and after a few weeks he even got a call to go and collaborate with Disclosure, providing vocals for ‘Masterpiece’, the closing track on their second album ‘Caracal’.
And it’s not hard to see why some of London’s most talented young musicians were queuing up to work with him. His voice is smoother than butter, reminiscent of some of his key influences from D’Angelo to Stevie Wonder. Ever since high school, when he uploaded a film of himself singing to YouTube, it’s been winning him admirers.
True to his introspective and low-key nature, he released his debut album ‘Cloak’ – which he recorded almost entirely by himself – to little fanfare last year, the record winning a slow-burn following through word of mouth. And there was a more dancefloor-focused EP on Rhythm Section under the alias Dan Kye, made after his friend Bradley Zero encouraged him to pursue a slightly different direction.
Now about to release his second album, Jordan admits that living in London has brought him out of his shell a little.
“Being laid back and introspective is a big part of my personality, and a lot of the new album is about that,” he explains. “But I definitely feel that with this album being on Ninja Tune, who’ve released incredible artists like Bonobo and Taylor McFerrin, I’m putting myself front and centre a little bit more.”
‘Wallflower’ by Jordan Rakei is out on Ninja Tune on September 22
Sean Griffiths is Mixmag's Deputy Editor