JAKE ONI Breaks Down New Album The Silver Line, Fresh Creative Direction: “I'm Too Old To Give A F**k About What People Think”
October 17, 2023, a month ago
For Jake Oni – a proud Canadian and burgeoning creative in the heavy music space – a full-on life and career reset were in order following a period he calls the darkest of his career.
Retooled and refreshed with a new lineup and sound, Jake’s eponymous metal project Oni has doubled down with back-to-back albums in as many years.
2022’s Loathing Light marked a fresh new direction for Oni, with recent entry The Silver Line continuing the daring new path with an accessible, layered sound and a host of notable special guests. Oni sat down with BraveWords for a deep dive into the new album, his process and love of creating, and much more!
BraveWords: You know, we talk to a lot of different artists and I think there are certain types of artists whose brains are wired in different ways, where maybe they get more endorphins or enjoyment out of the live performance versus the creative process. Where do you kind of fly on that? Where are you most at home?
Oni: “Hey man, I love being in the studio. I love making music, but nothing beats a good live show. Nothing beats that. Nothing beats coming off stage and knowing you did a good job and then everyone in the crowd reciprocates that. And nothing beats that man. Nothing beats that feeling.”
BraveWords: Have there been any real pinch-me moments lately in terms of a band you've had the chance to tour with? Obviously, linking up with Megadeth is huge, and recently DevilDriver, Bullet For My Valentine, and Cradle of Filth. You've had the chance to jump on some fantastic lineups.
Oni: “It was cool going on tour DevilDriver because Dez is such a cool guy. He was so nice to me and he really respects me as an artist and I respect him a lot as an artist. So that was cool to have that mutual respect. He was just really nice and their whole crew was really cool. So I would say that was a cool moment, definitely.”
BraveWords: And speaking of being in the lab, this is a relatively quick turnaround coming off of Loathing Light and here we are with The Silver Line. Did it feel like you had so much material built up that there were always designs to have something out this quickly after Loathing Light?
Oni: “No, so Loathing Light happened because that was my first album back into making music. I wrote that with Mark Morton and Josh Gilbert, and that was awesome because that was me kind of crawling out from the shadows and starting Oni back in a new way after it disintegrated and we stopped making music as a band. And that was me kind of taking it back up and moving forward and making something that I wanted to make. And that was the first album where I was like, I'm going to make music for me and not anybody else, the style I want to write. And it was awesome. And The Silver Line just took that and times that by a hundred.
“When I brought in Josh Gilbert from Spiritbox to write and Joe McQueen as the engineer, he just took everything that I liked in music and made it more modern and cool in terms of songwriting and stuff. It's definitely more akin to Spiritbox that Josh is in and that kind of sound. So I'm really loving the new sound, and if we had more time, we would have probably even made it even better. But we want to release it now. So we're going to release it now, but we're still writing songs all the time, me, Joe, and Josh.”
BraveWords: It's crazy that if we look at these two albums as a package, the number of collaborators you've had, whether it be in the songwriting or producing department or folks you're getting to hop on as a guest like Randy, Iggy Pop, Howard Jones, it's been an all-star crew of people you've had involved in these two records.
Oni: “Yeah, man. Definitely. I've always liked collabs. That's what I love about hip-hop music is there are a lot of collabs. Metal could use that a bit, cause the rising tide lifts all ships, as they say. So I think it's good for me to collab with them. Everyone I collab with is people that I, for the most part, met organically. Howard Jones is a good friend of mine. Randy's a good friend of mine. Iggy Pop I met when I was 14, so these are all guys that I know pretty well.
“City Morgue, that was different. I didn't really know those guys, but I got in contact with management and I was a big fan. I wanted to work with them. Same with Sueco, and a few other ones. I have a song with a singer from The Contortionist coming out on The Silver Line, and I met him through the guitar player that tours with me who toured with The Contortionist and knows them really well, that whole camp. So that's how I got in contact with him. Yeah, man, I love it. I love seeing what the music sounds like with multiple vocalists, with different styles and different sounds. It's a really cool way to experiment.”
BraveWords: You've been pretty upfront about the fact that it was basically a full reset of not only the project, the band, the music, but your entire life and career. Coming into this, and heading into 2022 in particular, it feels like a total reset for you.
Oni: “Yeah man, it really has been. And I carried a lot of weight before in terms of like me not being real with myself and me not being real with the music that I was making and why I was making it. And now I'm too old to give a fuck about what people think, man. I'm just doing my own thing, you know?”
BraveWords: Do you see the creative side of the business, being in the studio or songwriting, as cathartic or a way of exorcizing demons for you?
Oni: “Subconsciously, for sure. I'm not really aware of it at the time, but I definitely get a release from it. And it's one of those things that you hear in my lyrics, kind of the story about me. But yeah, I mean, I think it is for everyone. Music is such a personal thing and artists are very sensitive people at the end of the day. They wear their hearts on their sleeves.”
BraveWords: I think of an artist like Devin Townsend, who will recruit artists and bandmates based on the trajectory of the music he wants to make. Do you see that as being something you're going to do moving forward, or is it a set lineup from here on?
Oni: “You know, unless anything changes, I like the guys I tour with. They're really cool. When I record, that's different. But if the guys that I record with are free, if Josh Gilbert's free and wants to come on the road, that would be sick. But if he's not, I have a great group of guys who are willing to be road dogs for me and that's cool. And you know, it's one of those things I can't really give a definitive answer on that, but I like the guys I tour with, for sure.”
BraveWords: Sometimes when artists or creatives get in a space where there's something new and exciting, particularly a direction – and it feels like Oni is moving in a new type of direction – you can be chomping at the bit to get to new material out there. Are you already finding yourself thinking of the next one or is there going to be some time to let these breathe.
Oni: “I don't get how people stop. I really don't. I can't stop. I stopped before, and when I stopped, I thought I was done. But now that I'm not done and I'm really enjoying making music again, I can't imagine not making music. If I could have Joe, Josh, and Jared Dines live at my house, I probably would. And we would just make music all day because it's awesome.”
(Top photo - Travis Shinn)