Aurora musician Avery Jacob — who plays with his band under the name AveryJ & the BA — breaks through genre barriers with an unlikely yet compelling mix of soul, Delta blues and hip-hop. On his latest effort, See U at the Crossroads, which drops November 16, the 29-year-old bass-rocking Jacob fuses these disparate styles to produce what he calls post-apocalyptic gospel.
With a little help from his band, the BA, Jacob will showcase his unique blend this Saturday at Blues on the Books at Mutiny information Cafe.
Westword caught up with the eclectic songsmith to find out more about his unusual approach.
Westword: How's it going, Avery?
Avery Jacob: Living, dreaming, kickin', screaming, my friend.
Been listening to some of your stuff. It sounds great.
Thanks. I know it's very different, but I think that's what it takes to break new ground. That's what it's all about. I feel like if we can accomplish that, then we can make a lot of things happen.
I appreciate that you're mashing up these genres that people might not think would fit together, but they do.
Well, if you think about it, all music comes from something. We like to look at the origins of what pop music is and was, how things relate. I feel like a lot comes from the Delta blues, which is really important to me. That's where music just clicked for me. So building from there is a great place to start.
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Did you grow up in Aurora?
Yeah, I've been here pretty much all my life. My family has roots in Georgia, and I was born in Savannah, but I was always back and forth between here and there. We moved to Colorado when I was about three. At one point, I was really into rap, but I kind of reached my limit of what I could do with that, and then I joined the military for a while. When I got out of the military a couple years ago, I spun my wheels for a little bit, then I got back into music and released a rap album, and then I started a punk-rock hip-hop band. I'm always moving things forward. So with my latest project, AveryJ & the BA, I wanted to take things in yet another new direction. I always keep hip-hop as an influence, but I like to take risks and keep moving forward.
What's the BA stand for in your band name?
It draws from the Egyptian concept of the soul. The Egyptians believed that the soul was made up of different parts, including the Ba, which is like your energy and personality. It pretty much translates to AveryJ and the personality. They believe the soul lives forever, and it will always be with you until it transforms into this bird character and flies into the afterlife. I thought it was a cool thing to build on.
How did the Delta blues come into your life?
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From my grandparents. They loved gospel, R&B and blues. I learned about stuff like Robert Johnson and the Faustian tale of him selling his soul. For me, the Delta blues period of music was so honest, and after my grandfather showed that to me, I just wanted to do music that was as honest as that — but also playing on that spiritual ideal. The idea of Robert Johnson selling his soul and coming back as a different person who played the guitar was symbolic of a calling, of being who you're supposed to be in this life. Don't make any compromises, just move forward. I thought that was a cool thing to be inspired by. It really spoke to me.
And you said you keep some rap influence in everything you do?
Yeah, I think that rap is one of the most influential kinds of music for today's time. It's always changing throughout time, I guess. I mean, for a period of time, doo-wop influenced everything in popular music, as did R&B and pop and rock. But hip-hop is like that today. It allows you to use a lot of words to let you say what you need to say. I try to use that to my advantage. You can really speak your mind as a rapper.