Swedish-born, London-based singer / singwriter Axel Jansson is an enjoyable throwback to the good old days of rock, with a gritty yet engagingly melodic sound.
His music has been heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen and 60s / 70s rock generally, which he owes largely to his music loving father. Axel explains: “I’ve been around music for as long as I can remember. My father’s always been a big music lover, he’s got an amazing collection of CD’s that I went through from an early age and that’s where I picked up my taste in music.
“When I reached my early teens, I picked up a right-handed guitar – I’m left handed. It took me a while to get my head round it, but instead of going down the same route as any other beginner guitarist and learning classic guitar riffs, I started composing melodies instead. It came naturally to me, and at that point I realised that this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Axel also ranks the likes of Neil Young and Bob Dylan as role models when it comes to songwriting, and adds: “I started listening to John Mayer growing up. He’s always been on the top of my list when it comes to songwriting and guitar playing. I’ve always been a massive Killers fan too. In recent years my main influences have been Ryan Adams and Jason Isbell, two top acts in my opinion.”
That influence of The Boss himself comes across in leaps and bounds in Axel’s most recent single How It Feels To Lose, which came out last month. It’s lively and rocky, with melodies and gruff vocal delivery that make you want to jig and sing along with him – particularly the jaunty, feel good chorus in which each line ends on a delicious high pitched “Oo-oo.” Check it out for yourself in the video below:
On the single, Axel says: “We worked so hard on getting this song right as I’ve been picky with the sound and James (Bell, producer) has helped steer me in the right direction. The music video has just been released, and I’m super proud of the result. I feel like there’s a sound there that’s really showing who we are. The plan is to follow this up with an EP in the New Year so I’ll be back in the Studio for most of October.”
There’s a really enjoyable rocky edge to Axel’s music that edges towards the sound of one of my all-time favourite bands The Gaslight Anthem. This comes across in his debut single Shine, which was released last year, typified by fun vocal delivery and lines like “You’re in your high-top sneakers and your blue skinny jeans” that prelude a singalong chorus.
In terms of what inspires Axel to write, he tells us: “I find inspiration in different places and situations, mainly by observing life around me. Things I see, hear and read about. I always write my best songs when I’ve been away from music for a few days. E.g. after I’ve been hanging out with friends or just doing random stuff. It usually starts with a melody together with a chord progression but I don’t really have a pattern to how I write songs.”
Axel spent the summer touring the UK with the Foodies Festival, and he’s back on home turf playing The World’s End in Finsbury Park, London, on Saturday (30 September).
Axel adds: “There’s another tour in the planning though and hopefully we’ll land a good support tour. Even if this release continues to do well I will never stop working. it’s scary how quickly artists can disappear from the music scene even if they get a bit of success. That’s why I think it’s important that artists stick to what feels right and honest and keep on doing that until no one can deny you.”
Away from the music, if watches are your thing then Axel is also your man. He tells us: “I’ve got a big passion for vintage watches. It was a hobby that quickly became a big part of my everyday life. I’m working with some amazing and knowledgeable people and together we’re buying, selling and collecting vintage watches. We have a good network around the world so if anyone is looking for a vintage watch of a specific reference, I’m the guy!”