Jac Xé

by Jac Xe

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Question: Hi, First of all, Jac Xé is a very unusual name, is it your real name and how do you pronounce it?

Jac: It's pronounced 'Shay'. It's a Mayan pronunciation as in Xela which is the nickname for the city of Quetzaltenango in Guatemala. I have a strong connection to Guatemala after spending two years there on and off. It's a magical place and has had an enormous influence on my life. Jac Xe is my stage name – It took a long time to find the right one and it ended up being so unusual because of the internet. Every time I picked a name that sounded good I would google it and find loads of other musicians and singers with that name – so in a way I ended up having to pick something that nobody else had. So if you don't like it you can blame google.

Question: Sounds like trying to get a good email address.

Jac: Yes, but more fun and also it feels really weird at first as if you're becoming a different person when you introduce yourself.

Question: So why did you start writing songs?

Jac: It was one day as a kid when I was listening to the top songs of the year pop chart in my room. I remember being pretty unimpressed by the vast majority of the songs and then I suddenly thought 'I can do better than this' and that's when I first decided to write songs. I wrote about 200 songs as a teenager – most weren't very good and I couldn't play them very well but it was a start.

Question: That was some time ago have you been writing songs since then?

Jac: No, I was put of writing songs at university because some other musicians were very critical. I wasn't mature enough to realise that no matter how good you are there's always some people who are just waiting to shoot you down in flames if you let them.

Question: So how did you start playing music again.

Jac: I was in this amazing place called San Pedro de la Laguna on the shores of lake Atitlan in Guatemala. I'd just had an incredible epiphany about life and synchronicity and I was in a yard listening to someone play guitar and a thought I should get a guitar. I got up and saw this guy walking past with this old beat up guitar so I ran after him and asked him how much he wanted for it. Turned out he was on his way to Panajachel – that's the main town across the lake – and the amazing thing was, that he was going there because he wanted to sell his guitar. So I saved him the trip – I think I paid about $5 for it. It had a splinted hole in its side and didn't tune very well but it worked! It couldn't have been more than five minutes after I'd decided to get a guitar that he walked past – I guess that's synchronicity for you.

Question: That's an amazing story.

Jac: There's a lot more where that came from – I've had a pretty interesting life – sometimes too interesting. But I've met a lot of other interesting people too. In fact I think almost everyone has something that's really fascinating about their life – it's just that often they're hidden away.

Question: So did you bought the guitar did you start writing songs again?

Jac: No, I was just learning and playing covers. I did start performing though, whenever I could – often in the street. I learnt a lot about music doing that. One time I was playing in the middle of a field up in Todos Santos and all these kids came out of nowhere and started dancing. Todos Santos is in the middle of nowhere up in the Guatemalan highlands – they didn't even have TV there so the kids didn't have the cultural baggage about what music is cool and what isn't. I learnt that some songs are just naturally infectious – it's a human thing not a cultural thing. I think in the west we often need some sort of social permission to enjoy great music. I think fashion and trying to be 'cool' are what's harming mainstream music at the moment. It was when not having to be 'cool' really sunk in that I finally gained my confidence to start writing again.

Question: So when did you start writing again?

Jac: In 2009, It was after a really hard year. I started writing poetry at first – it was pretty therapeutic putting all my feelings into words. Then I started writing songs again and a lot of things in my life started making more sense.

Question: Where do you find your inspiration do you have any big musical influences?

Jac: I really don't know. I mean I like a lot of different music and I think that's reflected in my songs, and then if I'm writing a song with somebody they have all their influences too. Sometimes a song can metamophose when I come to record it. 'All Out Of Anger' for example started out as a very 'Dylan' type of song but I just decided to change the key up a few notes , speed it up and play it to a basic drum track and it turned into something entirely different - it can be a very organic thing, and I guess that's what makes it so exciting.


released October 13, 2011



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Track Name: Blue Sky Clear
Reaching for the future; Breaking from the past
I want to see the sunlight rising from my sleep

I want to leave behind what's clouding my mind
I want to feel fresh and new... and clean

And holding on to pain, cause it's promising the same
I handled it before so why not now?
And stepping out the door into the snow
as it's falling...

The family crime was pride; Being right all the time gets you tired
High horses and low brows; You've got that look that says you're
hunted by the hounds you raised and

Hey, hey if you leave this way, you better make it like you mean it
Death and taxes, Sex and lies
But I believe I can feel things shifting...
Blue Skies...
Clear air...
Blue Skies...
Track Name: Broken Promises
The sedition of all else besides the self
Yeah, save us from our wealth

Looking up and down;
Try to put things in a line and wonder where I'm fitting in
and where I should be if I win.

And the haunting of the promises that more will solve it all
are wearing thin.

All your love and fears;
all your instincts used against you to entice you in to buying in
to needing to be led

Broken Promises;
well I guess that they're the making of the cynic
trying desperately to bring it
to a head.

And we're hanging out the meat above the sheets
to tempt the wolf into our bed

Make your mind up, boy!
Make your mind up, girl!
Means the world to know that every toy you get
is only to forget
the emptiness
and we're needing to be touched behind the curtains
that we put up to protect

Played off 'gainst each other
Getting fat on drinking sand
Cause it's branded as a loving mother's milk
She tells me I...

Got to get ahead
When I've come to dread
the very time I spend pursuing what I'm
taught I ought to need
when the real value of it comes to nought

And I've come to see I'll never get
the feelings that were promised when I bought

Something's got to give
they've no alternative
but a hammer and a sickle that were
rusted up and busted from the start
so its the market for us all

Well ain't it time we got together
and we worked out how to run things from the heart?
Track Name: Out of Anger
I got to tell you that I'm all out of anger now
I am all out of anger now
and I'm catching my breath on the last plane home,
and I'm all out of anger now.

When I left I was breaking and my blood was in my fists
When I left I left I was making things too hard
When I left I was crowded in; I felt iron round my wrists
When I left it was cloudy; it was dark.

And I've gotta tell you that I'm all out of anger now.
I am all out of anger now
and I'm catching my breath on the last plane home,
and I'm all out of anger now.

I was looking for a place to start anew
I was looking for a place I thought I knew
I was looking for a place I'd heard where you could touch the sky
I was looking for a place for you and I

Tell me what you want to say, what you really want to say to me
that I would not hear before
Tell me what you want to see what you really want to see in me
that I could not show before
Tell me what you want to hear, what you really want to hear me say
that I did not have the language for
and tell me who you want to be, who you are and who you want to be
when I was just too closed to care – yeah – that was yesterday

and I'm all out of anger now
and I'm catching my breath, I'm on the last plane home
and I'm all out of anger now
Track Name: A Woman Who Knows
I'm looking for a woman who knows
How to kiss like the ocean flows
With eyes like the moon, torn from the clouds
that she's drawn apart
for me

I'm looking for a woman who can fall
Like the cresting of a wave before
the shore
Who can pick me up and churn me
over in her rolling water and then
break herself to pieces on
the beach
I'm looking for a woman to reach me
who can understand the stories
around the edges of my dreams
I'm looking for a woman to teach me
what they mean
Who can fly that kite on that ragged wind and
blow a song along the string
I'm looking for a woman who knows

That music is a dance and not at show
and who knows there's something else out there
but doesn't read a book to tell her where
I'm looking for a woman who can dance

On a mountain peak in a trance
and can move without moving
and hold my power in her breathing
I'm looking for a woman
who knows

I'm looking for a woman who keeps her book
close by when she writes the score
but she'll leave it in the rain outside the door
she has no room in any of her many secret draws

I'm looking for a woman who can tell
when I'm a young boy, when I'm the wiser man
when I'm a broken dog, when I'm a foaming stallion
I'm looking for a woman who knows my moods well

who can rope me to my horses and then
calm them with instinctive glances
I'm looking for a woman who can
let things go

I'm looking for a woman who knows
when to let me push through the snows alone
and will walk with me through the corn
and we'll overthrow the dawn
and I'll crown her in the daylight
but she'll let my voice
command her night
I'm looking for a woman who knows

That inside our heads we'll always be alone
and though it hurts us not to share that part,
it's what makes us who we are
and it's why lovers shun grey skies
but love the stars

And I'm looking for a woman with a beauty
that only I can see
and when I tell her she'll
believe me

and I'm looking for the woman
who can finish this song...