NUFFER a solo project by Los Angeles based guitarist Jake Nuffer presents us with his newest single "Big Brain" (listen here), previously doing guitar work for Fashion Jackson, UMI and Victoria Canal, with an EP "A-OK" coming out in August, NUFFER and I had a chat about how he got into music, his newest single "Big Brain", his upcoming EP and what his next steps are!
Hey Jake! Thanks so much for answering my questions, how have you been doing?
I’m great! Just moved to LA a couple days ago getting settled in, seeing friends, very
How did you get into music?
I got into music like most kids, hearing my dad play Led Zeppelin or listening to Metallica
through my older brother’s giant headphones. But I started playing guitar mainly because of the video game Guitar Hero. I got embarrassingly good at the first 3 games and decided maybe I should try it out for real.
When did you start writing your own songs?
I started dabbling with songwriting in college as a response to being tired of playing jazz all the time. I released a couple Soundcloud ditties, but only really got serious about songwriting and production for myself a couple years ago.
How did you go about finding your own sound?
Growing up I was living two separate musical lives, while I was getting into the tension of jazz and jazz fusion for guitar, I would secretly have my own release by listening to rock, indie, and hip hop. I dropped out of jazz school my 3rd year to play in a band but also because the overly analytical and intellectualization of music was starting to get to me. I wanted to simplify things and go back to what gave me that initial serotonin rush in music when I was young. There are still traces of weird guitar riffs and chord progressions, but the EP is a tangible NUFFER effort to become the simplest I could be.
You are going to release your newest single “Big Brain” on July 19th, which is about defying traditional expectations. Can you touch on this a bit more?
This song stands out a little in terms of tone from the rest of the EP. It was the first song I wrote for it, and was a direct response to me dropping out of school. I was at the dinner table with people who were lecturing me about how important a degree was to my life and future, but at the same time they were coming from a pretty unhappy place themselves. “Big Brain” is about poking fun at the classic college path that people in my
life wanted me to follow, but those same people telling me that were a brand of nihilism I didn't want to be associated with.
What was the writing and creative process like for “Big Brain”?
The catalyst for writing “Big Brain” was being inspired by a friend’s song. It was fast, upbeat and biting which was the energy that I was feeling at the time. So I sat down and tried to come up with the catchiest riff I could think of, played it for hours and hours, simplified it, and then recorded a mediocre demo with drum machine sounds.
“Big Brain” has more of a 2000s rock sound rather than today’s indie sound, which is so nostalgic, and fun. How did you go about finding the sound for this track?
My EP A-OK definitely draws a lot from that era of rock and its sound. For “Big Brain”, I was really inspired by Elliot Smith and Dorian Electra at the time, and how their vocal inflection could change the entire message/vibe of the song. So I tried a whispery indifferent vocal delivery over a tightly wound riff, juxtaposing the two to express the satirical message.
What was the recording process like for “Big Brain”?
I held onto the demo for a long time, and eventually got the courage to ask the person who initially worked on the song that inspired it (Alex Agresti) to help me produce it. He basically lifted it up, bringing it to its final form and out of the demo dungeon. For the final touch I went to my brother Tyler’s studio and recorded bass. While there, I thought I would try an angular anti-solo for fun, and while I played, he twisted knobs making the
solo even more demented. It was very in the moment, and the solo heard on the track is the first and only take we did.
You’ll also be releasing your EP A-OK in August, which is so exciting! Congratulations! What can we expect to hear on the EP? What will the vibe be?
The three tenants I was going for when writing it were fun, in your face, and cheeky. I also wanted to capture the inspiration I drew from the two coasts I lived on, the West Coast being my love of 90’s/early 2000s rock and Hip Hop, and New York being more punk and
You’ve also done guitar work on albums, and on stage with UMI which is super cool! What was it like working with UMI? How did this come about?
That was an amazing experience that I was super lucky to be a part of. My friend Mia Garcia was co-producing the album and wanted a guitar player, so she called me out of the blue. We spent a week at Shangri-La (Rick Rueben’s studio) and it was such an easy going and great time working with UMI and all the other crazy musicians there.
Who would you say are your musical influences?
It’s hard to encapsulate all the different influences over the years because there have been so many at different parts of my life. The big ones for the EP are Third Eye Blind, A Tribe Called Quest, John Scofield for guitar, D’Angelo, Dorian Electra, Porches, Milly, Dirt Buyer and Jpegmafia just to name a few.
When creating a song do you write the lyrics first, or make the music first?
The music tends to come first. I write a riff on guitar, or a beat on the computer, think about a general story or message, and then put the words over it. I focus heavily on the rhythm and phonetics of the words first, and how they feel and sound, so it takes a long time to get to the final version.
When creating music is there a certain type of audience you’d like to reach?
I’m usually not thinking about the audience when writing. I’m mostly trying to capture the energy of the moment, and if anything I try to push those thoughts away for something more authentic.
If you could go on tour with any band/artist who would it be?
I have so many friends in bands that would be a blast to go on tour with, mostly my friend dba James who really helped me throughout the writing process. My dream tour for me right now would be with Porches. I very much revere his newest album both sonically and lyrically, and would love to hang with him.
What else can we expect from you besides your EP A-OK?
As of now I have a show on August 9th at the Paramount opening for my friends Rain on Fridays and want to continue to play around the LA area. Also “Deadbeat”, my second single coming out August 2nd, has a music video that will be dropping with it. But other than that just making more music and working on another EP!
We’re all about discovering new bands/artists! Who should we be listening to right now?
Again, my friend dba James is another songwriter/musician I admire who really has his finger on the pulse, and just released some serious bangers. Another would be Milly who are an incredible 90’s inspired slowcore rock band that I love. Also have been obsessed with the duo Jockstrap whose arrangements and production are absurdly good.
Words by Melody
Keep up with NUFFER