“Me not deal with Shadow Dweller, me not deal with Wicked Ones — no! I only deal with blinding love, yes — ‘cause that’s the only way we will grow.”
And so proclaims the latest track from Jay Spaker a.k.a. Double Tiger as he conjures the highest self. Aptly titled “Shadow Dweller,” and featuring The Movement, this single from Double Tiger’s upcoming sophomore release, The Journey, pierces straight to the heart with punctuated drums, impactful lyrics and a bass tone that makes blue whales look like stick people.
In general, The Journey exemplifies craftsmanship of tone, smartly constructed arrangements and attention to detail. “Shadow Dweller” dresses this recipe with an extra-healthy dose of fire: living room dance parties of one take heed.
The silver lining of global quarantine is that so many bands we love are taking the opportunity to make new music. In the case of Jay Spaker, this means going no further than his home studio. Rootfire caught up with Jay to hear about the making of The Journey, his roots with John Brown’s Body and who the “Shadow Dweller” is to him.
Rootfire: First off, this album sounds fucking good. Super clean mix, outrageous bass tone, awesome energy. Can you tell us a little about how the album was made? Are you the mastermind behind the arrangements, or is this final product reflecting more of a group process between you and the instrumentalists?
Jay Spaker: Thanks man! I wrote and recorded all of the songs in my home studio. I played in or programmed the drums, bass, keys and guitar. At that point I had some guests add to the flavor, namely added guitar by a friend, Itamar Edelman and some horns (Dela of Stoopid, TJ Schaper of Nahko’s band and Jack Storer on trumpet ). I handle arrangements and production, I actually love the process of sound design, parts development and arranging.
RF: Tell us about “Shadow Dweller” specifically. Such a heavy track and so great to hear Josh Swain‘s voice blending with this sound, but I’d love to hear about the inspiration behind the thematic material. Lyrically, this song really stands out for me on the album. Who are the shadow dwellers, the wicked ones?
JS: The lyrics are about the ones who have lost their way, the ones who dwell in the shadow of their highest self and find it easier to tear down rather than uplift and build. Lyrically I tried to keep the topic broad, so the listener could attach their own meaning. I see it as a call to come together rather than divide as well as a song about working to cultivate love in our hearts.
RF: You have always been a connoisseur of sound system culture, with a keen ear turned to what is being released internationally. Were there any specific records that were on repeat for you as you crafted The Journey?
JS: One of my favorite sound system crews, OBF out of Geneva, is always putting out fire so that is a constant inspiration, but really for The Journey I was vibing with Kabaka, Protoje, J Boog and African dancehall music. Just living in SoCal (and catching Bitty Mclean at Dub Club ha!) really inspired the lovers rock vibes and the more upful material on the album.
RF: The Journey definitely has moments (“Shadow Dweller” being among them) that made me reminisce on JBB and that special vibe that Upstate NY seems to get just right. There’s this degree of sophistication, complexity and control that comes together so nice on this record. How did your time with JBB set the foundation for Double Tiger?
JS: Oh man, JBB taught me so much about discipline and control in music, for that I’m forever grateful. I think that having the privilege to tour w JBB and experience the club energy and fan connection was very instrumental in pushing me to further develop my own music and sound.
RF: Lastly, what do you want to say to the fans while we, as a global community, continue in the struggle with COVID-19 and the massive effect quarantine is having on the live music scene?
JS: I’d like to say first off, condolences and love to the people who have lost someone in this pandemic. I have experienced the loss of a family member during this pandemic and the combination was like a mountain to get through. I believe it is important to not politicize such serious matters as a global pandemic. The international community has shown that respecting distancing and mask guide lines has saved lives. Let’s be smart and safe so we can get back out into the world!
Double Tiger’s sophomore release, The Journey, is out on Easy Star Records December 11, 2020. Pre-order your copy today.