Raised on a steady diet of hip hop, rock, jazz, soul and funk, Lewisham's Jodie Abacus has a taste for sweet melodies.
South East London is where it’s at. Ask anybody who lives there - they never leave. Right now, it is one London’s most bubbling hives of musical activity, with locals Stormzy and Novelist taking the city and beyond by storm. So much so that even my friends in Paris know what the facade of Lewisham McDonalds look like. Treading on the lighter side of music coming out of South East London is Jodie Abacus. Also growing up in Lewisham and influenced heavily by his DJ dad, the radio was always on in Jodie’s family home, which made music a core part of his upbringing. “As a child I had an acute ear for songs with sweet melodies,” reminisces Jodie. “One of the first I can remember hearing was Fat Larry's band Zoom.”
Growing up on a steady diet of hip hop, rock, jazz, soul and funk; Jodie mixes influence from an eclectic palette that includes musicians like Hall & Oates, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, A Tribe Called Quest, Paul McCartney, Stereolab, Michael Jackson, Maxwell, Cee-lo and more. Trying to track back to a pivotal point when he decided to progress a lifelong interest into a solid career, Jodie lands on the last few days of college, finding himself at a crucial crossroad of preferences. “I wrote in my notepad, there were two arrows drawn and scribbled in blue ink - one going left and one going right. The left arrow was to act, and the right side was music. I chose to follow the path of music. It just felt right and I never looked back.”
Back to South East London and its subconscious hold on Jodie...Lewisham and its nearby surroundings have naturally dissolved themselves into his music and acknowledging both the good and bad side of his area, Jodie has embraced it. “As a songwriter,” he adds. “If you go through a lot if and you’ve been living life to the fullest, you'll have a thousand stories to tell.” Not short on struggles, his earlier track I’ll Be That Friend came from a darker place when Jodie was in need of solace. “At the time I wrote it, I was in a dark place. I felt very low, broken-hearted, and a few months away from healing from pneumonia. I was at a point where I felt like I had tried everything to make things happen and I needed a hug, the type of hug I would give to someone if they were feeling down,” says Jodie. “Seeing people’s reaction to the song makes everything about what I do make sense. I’ve seen people cry listening to it, as it meant something to them too. People smile. People have sent lots of messages to me in my inboxes saying it made their day.”
His personal struggles aside, he can also make the airwaves glow, with his more recent release Good Feeling being a slice of soul-pop mastery that makes you think of Lionel Ritchie bossing it out on pedalo in the height of a late ‘80s summer. You can literally feel the sun on your face. Showing no signs of stopping, Jodie is inspired by constant scribbles in his plethora of notebooks, creating songs that are source of healing straight from his heart. “I’ve got a lot to talk about and tend to be as wild and as imaginative as possible. The bigger, the better and then I can scale things down and hopefully present a song that makes sense. I have a lot of writing pads full of lyrics that are filled with nothing but colour and scribbles.”