As restrictions lift, Leaping Tiger is touring the town with new vocal tracks ‘Gooey’ and ‘New Psyche’, finally bringing the dance tracks to live audiences. Jacob Park, the producer behind the genre-mixing, electronic musical project, sits down with Craccum ahead of the Night Under the Dome gig at Auckland Museum.
Where did Leaping Tiger start?
In Year 10 was when I really started producing electronic music, and putting it on SoundCloud, and all of that. And when it started taking off and becoming just what it really is today, just going full send into it was the first year of uni. Once I tasted a bit of that freedom outside of high school, I was like, ‘I’m in the real world now, okay, it’s time to go full steam ahead on the Leaping Tiger thing.’ So, yeah, all throughout high school I was making [music] and then started taking it seriously in first-year uni.
And since then we’ve had a bit of a rocky time with the music scene… How did you navigate being at home and producing music there?
My whole process has been making music in my bedroom anyway, just by myself. I’m super insular when it comes to making music and my creative process, so not much really changed for me, which is kind of awesome. If anything, it was nice to actually have all the time to be in the space where I do make stuff. Luckily for me, it just worked out. And I think the past couple years have been pretty prolific for me because of that, whereas normally life would get in the way. But there’s also a double edged sword because I get inspired by life itself. If I don’t go out and do things it’s like, cool, I’ve got all this time to write about it and make it… but I don’t have anything to actually go off. It was a little weird!
How was playing Thursdays I’m In Love? What was it like to be back in a public venue with people actually having a dance?
So amazing. Yeah, it’s really good to get back to it. Before that show specifically, I hadn’t played a show in almost a year, maybe. There were times when we’d be sort of open and then you could do gigs, or smaller gigs. And I just happened to be so unlucky that every time that there was supposed to be a gig, we would go into lockdown, and then it would get postponed ‘til the next time. They were just indefinitely getting pushed back. So yeah, [Thursdays I’m In Love] was my first gig in ages and it felt amazing. Everyone just was happy to be there. Yeah, I loved it.
It seems that this step into vocals with ‘Gooey’ and ‘New Psyche’ is still quite new—what’s drawing you to producing these types of tracks?
If I have something to say, and if I’ve got the melody in my head and I know where it’s going, then I’ll do [vocals]. But I’m not like forcing it. I don’t think I’m going to have a whole album just me singing anytime soon. I’m a producer, first and foremost. But I see it as like a new instrument that I’m learning to play. And so, I’m slowly getting there. When it feels right then I’m definitely doing vocals.
Are there any specific influences on the newer stuff?
With this new stuff I’m trying to have fun with it, because the last album was just really sad. And it was right; it was just a reflection of the rough year that I had while making it. Life for me couldn’t be worse than that. So, everything’s just been going up since then. I’m just focusing on having a good time as much as I can, and not taking things too seriously as well. That’s made me go back to being 19 and just having fun. Mura Masa is a person that I would listen to heaps and like, sonically, it’s just based in having fun—like sing-along songs.
And the ‘Gooey’ music video is shot on film around Auckland… it looks so delicious. How did you go about imagining the track visually?
Just growing up in Auckland, I have all these places that I’ve had in my mind for future reference. I’ve literally had that shot under that underpass [in Newmarket] in my brain since I was 16, just waiting to film a music video there… When we got the opportunity with the funding, I was like, ‘okay, I know exactly what we do.’ There were shots that I thought of when I was a teenager and then things I thought of when I was making the song as well. The shot of me and my friends getting slimed, that came after I’d made the song. The video’s just a combination of heaps of different ideas. We just spent all of summer shooting. We took our time because we didn’t want to make a subpar video… There’s no point. There’s so many subpar music videos out there and it just makes the song worse if the video is bad! Everything I do is legitimately for my 16-year-old self.
What’s coming up? Any major (or minor) hints?
I’m working on a project that will be out as soon as it possibly can be. I’m working super hard on it. It’ll be out before the end of the year for sure. It’s the culmination of where I’m at right now. And I’m very excited for it. It’s shaping up really nicely.
See Leaping Tiger at Night Under the Dome on 11 June!