Dig Baton Rouge

Ghost: BR native releasing debut album

Anyone new to Baton Rouge may be shocked to learn that our music scene wasn’t always so sleepy. We spoke to Jake Gunter, a Baton Rouge native singer-songwriter who recently finished recording his first EP in Nashville’s Clover Land House Studio, about music, the South, and his vision for Baton Rouge music life. Check out Jake’s album, “Ghost,” being released December 7.

What made you start playing music?
When I was seven, I got a guitar—I think it was Christmas. Since then, it’s been an obsession. I wanted to buy more guitars, learn more instruments. I wanted to get more out of music. I don’t think about it often but I’ve been playing music for 22 years. So I guess that means it’s taken 22 years to write the first album.

After 22 years, what was your “now’s the time” moment?
It’s collaboration. Collaboration is the key to taking art to the next level. I met the right person: he gave me the faith in myself and the faith in my music to say, “This is good enough to put on a record.” Meeting Andrew [Gaultier] was a catalyst because he was a musician that I respected saying that he respected my music.

Who would you consider your main influence?
It’s hard to point to any one influence—so let me pick a few. All the 90’s country: Vince Gill, Travis Tritt, all those guys who inspired me to have fun with music and to not be afraid of writing something simple. A few others: Alison Krauss & Union Station, James Taylor, and Sam Beam [of Iron & Wine] all continue to inspire me. They describe life events in ways I’ve never thought possible and I’d consider that my ultimate goal.

And your music is really groovy at times too.
Absolutely. I have a percussive tapping style. Growing up listening to 80’s and 90’s pop and rock, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else. Whether or not I like it, there’s a generation branded on my music.

What are some of the themes of your upcoming album?
I write a lot about loss—loss of love, loss of hope, loss of religion. Growing up in the South, you notice this distinct, unspoken Southern aura, and I think that speaking about loss is the best way to translate that aura. I don’t hate happy songs—Sugarcane Girl was fun to write because I didn’t have to worry about speaking the truth or telling real-life events. But loss is the best way to find out who you are as a person.
We eventually have to come to terms with the negative aspects of who we are and that means we have to acknowledge the negative aspects of the South. I don’t know if I can say that. (Jake laughs.) There are lots of greats songs about the positive parts of the South, but this is a hard place to be from sometimes. There’s a lot to take from when you’re writing.

How has Baton Rouge shaped your music?
It’s impossible to say it hasn’t. If you spend anytime here, something from the music will rub off on you. I grew up and played with and idolize musicians in Baton Rouge, who’ve all been inspired by Mississippi country music culture, Acadiana’s fiddle and its love of sad stories, the horns and brass of New Orleans. When you put all those things together, that’s what the record sounds like.

What would you like to see from Baton Rouge’s music scene?
Besides seeing it revitalized, I want to see it develop it’s own music culture—New Orleans has bounce, Shreveport has Louisiana hayride. Baton Rouge has a bad habit of letting its talent move away. We need more original music, and we need to give more love to original music. And we need to shift our focus back to art—we need to hear songs more that aren’t pandering and that aren’t afraid to show their influences, and that’s what I hope I’ve accomplished with this album.

Join Jake this Friday (Dec 7) at Register Bar as he celebrates the release of his debut EP. Check our events page for more info.

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