Rapt in doubt and the beauty of human connection
“I made an effort to look outward and try to reflect the hardships I saw humanity face around me.“Rapt
Rapt’s fourth LP Wayward Faith is a reflective folk album that questions God’s benevolence whilst celebrating the love between friends. This ‘semi-retired’ black metal artist continues his exploration of folk music, finding new ways to speak to modern listeners.
Based in Brighton, England, Jacob Ware released his first self-titled album as Rapt in 2019. Turning away from the electronic instrumentation of his debut and Drouth (2021), Wayward Faith captures the slowcore ambience of None Of This Will Matter (2020) whilst maintaining its own identity. “The Nest” makes perfect sense as the lead single, invoking the gentle lilt of contemporaries such as Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear and Novo Amor. Rapt continues his longstanding collaboration with vocalist Demi Haynes on the second single “Threads”, a track that pays homage to the great country duets of the 20th century.
“The diaries document the moment certain ideas and songs started to form, scraps of lyrics and musical ‘lightbulb’ moments litter the pages.“Rapt
Floating down the tracklist, “Last Night In Exile” grounds the record in melancholy before “Fifteen” finds catharsis in introspection. Both tracks feature some gorgeous tremolo work, with classical guitar techniques influencing many of the melodies on Wayward Faith. On “New Pardoner”, Rapt joins forces with self-professed ‘folk boy’ Luke De-Sciscio. As piano and guitar suspend the atmosphere, the duo close out the record with a hopeful lullaby.
Wayward Faith was released on August 27th 2022 after Rapt moved into his childhood home during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the formation of this album, he was recovering from a physical illness which inhibited his ability to play the guitar. Rapt drew on his own experiences and the stories of others to explore the problem of evil. The album confronts the idea that our self-belief and faith in others grow wayward thanks to the crises and distractions of the 21st century. Wayward Faith holds a mirror to the existentialist dread of Millennial and Gen Z culture, but Rapt finds redemption in love.
We were delighted to catch up with Rapt to discuss the inspiration, themes and creative process behind Wayward Faith…
Hi Jacob, thank you for chatting with us and welcome to IAMUR! Would you mind sharing a few details about yourself and how Rapt came to be?
Thanks for having me! I’ve been making music for as long as I can remember, starting with a basic interface and microphone I got when I was 13. I spent many years making extreme metal, I formed and spent eight years playing with the death metal band Enslavement, alongside a black metal project Psalms.
Rapt came from my desire to focus on my other musical influences and interests. The name ‘Rapt’ is outward looking, the project is named after how moving, attention-grabbing and vital music is to me.
Listening to a few Enslavement tracks, I can’t help but wonder what inspired your ‘semi-retirement’ from death metal and genre shift to ambient drone and folk music?
I say ‘semi-retired’ as extreme metal is in my blood and informed much of my playing and influences to this day. I grew up in a house where folk music such as Joni Mitchell, Pentangle and Van Morrison were played. I’d always planned to eventually branch out from metal, Rapt is the result.
I also wanted a project I could totally control. A solo project can only really end with the passing of the creator. If an album goes unfinished or things slow down, I can only hold myself responsible.
Did your approach to songwriting change through the genre shift, or has your creative process largely remained the same?
My process will have naturally changed somewhat, however, I still don’t write chord sequences or use any music theory, just like my metal days I write ‘riffs’ on guitar.
Every single song starts with the guitar parts, never the lyrics or vocals. My approach is simple, I play almost every day, for hours. If I land on a ‘riff’ I like, I dig in until a song is formed. Lyrics come very slowly and when I least expect them, I cannot force them at all.
The Wayward Faith Limited Edition Vinyl & Diaries contains a journal of your creative process. Could you give us some insight into the origins of this album and how you produced its seven tracks?
I was physically ill when I wrote None Of This Will Matter, in some ways it was a selfish and overly personal record, reflecting on illness and the depression it brings. By the time Wayward Faith started forming I was starting to recover and ended up living back at my family home, COVID putting a pause on my plans.
Living back there allowed me peace and quiet, time to reflect on my past, lessons learnt and stories I could tell. I also made an effort to look outward and try to reflect the stories of others and the hardships I saw humanity face around me. Many of the lyrical ideas on Wayward Faith came from very long phone calls I would have with friends and loved ones I hadn’t seen due to the lockdowns. It is not a ‘lockdown record’ though’ I was very aware at the time that writing about COVID would date the material to a specific time, I believe the best music is timeless.
Having lost the ability to play the guitar for almost a year, I decided to push myself with Wayward Faith from a technical point of view. “Fifteen” and “Fallow (I-III)” pushed my playing to its limit at the time. The diaries are a pretty honest and personal depiction of how the record was formed. I documented each mundane and frustrating day of making the record, entire days spent picking up a guitar, procrastinating, listening to records and trying to beat musical ideas out of myself.
The diaries document the moment certain ideas and songs started to form, scraps of lyrics and musical ‘lightbulb’ moments litter the pages. I wrote them for myself ultimately, as a guide to my own creative processes. I hope other musicians find something of use in my ramblings.
Thank you for sharing, the Diaries sound like a wonderful insight into the story behind this record. What inspired you to choose “The Nest” and “Threads” as the singles to promote Wayward Faith?
“The Nest” is probably my proudest achievement, the song came together in an eerily fast way. I hung up the phone after a very long phone call and sat on the sofa, guitar in hand. Half an hour later I had a finished song. I usually have to slave over songs for months before they get to the same stage. I chose “The Nest” as the lead single due to its simplicity and how direct its message is – love your friends always and wear your heart on your sleeve.
I chose “Threads” as I love what Demi did on the track. I told her I wanted to make a cheesy country duet, in the vein of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, with a sombre, slowcore twist. She absolutely nailed what I was hoping for with her vocal parts. We have worked together on many songs over the last few years and this is my proudest collaboration with her.
Enjoy this selection of beguiling folk music by Rapt:
I can hear traces of Ben Howard and SYML in Wayward Faith. I’m keen to know who (or what) were some of the key musical influences behind this LP?
If I had to point to a particular artist, I’d say Damien Jurado was a huge influence. His lyricism and songwriting are incredible, particularly his records The Horizon Just Laughed and In The Shape Of Storm. My other heroes are artists such as Bonnie Prince Billy, Mount Eerie, John Martyn and Grouper.
I was also listening to a lot of traditional Irish folk music and classical guitar playing, such as Paul Brady and Peter Blanchette at the time of writing Wayward Faith. Both virtuosos on the guitar with very different playing styles. The diaries kept by artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman Modern Nature and Smiling In Slow Motion were big lyrical influences, a must-read for any artist in my opinion.
Mount Eerie and Grouper are incredible, and I’m adding Smiling In Slow Motion to my reading list as we speak. Reading your Bandcamp and Spotify biographies for Wayward Faith, I’m intrigued by the thematic concept of finding God ‘too intrusive’. How did your exploration of faith during the pandemic shape this album?
I was brought up as an atheist, with zero interaction with any faith system. I’ve always been envious of people with genuine faith, the belief that there is something more than our flicker of time on the earth must be a great comfort. Despite my attempts to understand Christianity, I could not be convinced. I read about ¼ of the Bible during 2020, and I found some parts of it beautiful but also deeply baffling.
I can’t understand a God that ‘tests’ us by allowing natural disasters, allowing the innate greed of humans, our impact on the climate, how we treat animals, and the need for children’s hospitals to exist. The God I found in the pages of the Old Testament was a brutal, malevolent dictator. I respect faith systems and the comfort they bring people. There is value in the teachings of some faiths but my agnostic brain couldn’t figure it out.
You recently collaborated with The Coward Robert Ford on Black Manifestations (2022) and on Distantly Speaking in the Language of Silence (2020) with savedhistory. What did you learn about yourself as an artist through these collaborations?
I love both of these artists, savedhistory linked me up with Z-Tapes back in 2019 and has supported me since the Within Thrall E.P. I leapt at the opportunity to work with Nadine on a track. I find savedhistory’s lo-fi production and minimalism inspiring.
The Coward Robert Ford is a master at creating a dank, miserable atmosphere in his work, we share similar influences but approach music very differently. I urge anyone reading to check out the project.
Which artist would be your dream collaboration? Any genre, any time — or any discipline!
Hmm…for my folky side I’d love to work with Will Oldham, his prolific songwriting abilities would mean we could probably smash a new record out in a couple of days. For my ambient/electronic side, I’d love to create some twisted forest-sample ambient music with Wolfgang Voigt.
Do you have plans to tour Wayward Faith or play some live shows this winter?
I’m trying to put together a tour for next year and some exciting plans are in the works. I have a few more shows this year. I’m hoping to get a show near enough to Christmas to justify playing “Away In A Manger” live, a strange goal on my bucket list.
Any shoutouts to your supporters, collaborators or peers in your local music scene?
Too many to thank really. I’m grateful for Filip and Angie at Z-Tapes who have supported my music the last two years, Demi for her continued involvement (and beautiful voice!) and all the trusted ears I relied on to help me finish up Wayward Faith this year.
The IAMUR team eagerly await news of Jacob’s touring plans, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated! Rapt’s Bandcamp gives fans access to Minor Places : Vol 1, a cover album of songs by the likes of Bonnie Prince Billy and Little Wings, as well as his unique take on the popular Christmas carol “Away In A Manger”. You can also find Rapt on Spotify, SoundCloud, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
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