In Session: J. Lee White of Precious Metals

TROY – On May 27th, Precious Metals, the solo artistic endeavor of local alt-rocker, J. Lee White, released their debut single, “Jacqueline.” Simply put, this song has a great groove. Featuring a guitar intro that is soon joined by bass and drums, White takes no time in setting the energy level. Coupled with that, the interplay between the melodic instruments and drums during the song’s verses is very effective, and the vocal effect utilized is a fantastic arrangement choice. Everything is super punchy in this quick and spicy number; there’s a lot of variations in one song that keep the listeners on their toes. Before long, the song ends as it began, leaving the listeners wanting to hear more from the band.

I had a chance to sit down with artist to discuss the debut single. What follows is our conversation.

Lucas Garrett: Thanks for taking the time to chat today, J Lee! Loving your new song. Tell us a bit about how the music came to be.

J. Lee White: Absolutely! Thanks for checking it out. I’m sure this is the case with a lot of the music coming out these days, but this one in particular was definitely a result of being in lockdown. I’d say I prefer writing in a group setting but when that wasn’t exactly something that was accessible to any of us, I wanted to keep some semblance of forward motion so I spent a lot of time kind of sharpening those tools and doing more and more on my own.

I had a handful of ideas from before that I wanted to revisit and finish up, but during that process I discovered a couple brand new things and this was one of those. I think it really came to life months down the road when I was finally able to get in a room with some people and flesh out the arrangement a bit. Mateo Vosganian and Rich Derbyshire were some guys I was able to spend time with during those days and they actually ended up playing drums and bass respectively on this track when I went to record it.

LG: There’s a lot of sonic texture and variations that occur within just one song. I really like the style. What are some of your creative influences?

JW: Well with this tune in particular I really just wanted to write something with a bit more upbeat, high energy to it. I definitely have a tendency to create sadder tunes and this one still might be but I like the tongue and cheek route of making sad songs in a major key. I was listening to a LOT of Head Automatica and Jimmy Eat World around this time and I think that comes through pretty hard, haha.

I’d say a lot of the credit, as far as textures go, goes to the keys and Dustin DeLuke who did all those arrangements. An interesting part about that is that he had nothing to do with the initial writing process. He was really just given a finished demo after we had a quick chat about what I was looking for out of the keys and then he sat with it for a few days and just did his thing and sent it on back. He really knocked it out of the park on the first go and that was that.

LG: With a lot of releases these days being done solely in an online fashion, what are your thoughts on the current trends that artists are seeing within the industry?

JW: Like everything, there’s pros and cons. It certainly makes the music more accessible which is always good but I kinda miss all the footwork that used to come with releasing music. Like, having CD burning parties with your friends and just totally roasting your crappy laptop’s disk drive printing single after single. Then walking around town, and going to shows and handing them out to anyone who just looks like they might be into the same kind of stuff you are. I grew up with tons of samplers and singles, and I thought it was a lot of fun to discover music that way. I suppose playlists accomplish a similar goal, but it just feels less rewarding.

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LG: Do you have any shows lined up for the band? What’s next for Precious Metals?

JW: We sure do. Nothing we have booked has been announced quite yet by the venues or promoters so I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder but we’ll be around the Capital District later in the summer and hitting up some old favorites out of state around the same time. I can’t wait!

As much as I want to get right out and start playing, I suppose it’s good to have a little more time to finish putting the finishing touches on the album so we can have it ready and rolled out by the time we get to hit it live.

LG: Lastly, is there anything I may have missed that you’d like to discuss? Now’s your chance!

JW: Yeah, yeah, I’ll be getting another single and video out by the end of June to set up the release of the EP Candid Chemicals in late July/early August. You’ll be able to find all those on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple, all those fun little spots. So, check it out and please, please, come say “Hey!” at our show. Any show. Just get out there and support local artists!

LG: Thanks for the chat, and I look forward to hearing more from you!

JW: Thanks, my man. It was a pleasure chatting with you.

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