Interview • Puma Blue
You’re about to play your first concert in Paris, aren’t you?
First concert in Europe! We’ve played in England but Europe is better! (Laughing)
And what does our city represent to you?
Maybe it’s cheesy, but romance and all these things! It’s just such a stunning city. You walk around and there’s some great music, some great wine! (laughing)
The least we could say is that Puma Blue sounds more enigmatic than Jacob Allen! Could you please introduce yourself in a few words and tell us more about this moniker?
Well, my name is Jacob but I go by Puma Blue. The moniker comes from this longing to pay tribute to the old blues guys that had sort of superhero names like Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf. They had names that represented them in such a magical way, like almost mythical. So, I was thinking in order to make my music the best it can be, I had to become someone else a little bit or channel these feelings. I thought the best would be to capture a name like. I was very attracted to this colour, blue, because I feel very close to water and obviously there’s a lot of blue colours in jazz music. Puma just kind of followed that straight away, I don’t know why. I guess it’s this idea of this old wildcat sitting in a bar, very tired, a bit washed up. And I’m a musician from South London, just doing what I can! (laughing)
You tweeted a few days ago “Not a jazz artist”.
Does it really bother you that music is often described as being jazzy?
It doesn’t bother me that people recognise the jazz in there because I’m very open about that. I love jazz music! I try to pay tribute to the jazz greats but at the same time, I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a jazz artist because the music I make is not jazz. It can be dangerous to be put in a box because as an artist, I want to branch out and I think one too many people described me as “Puma blue…jazz”. I’m something else, I’m something I could only describe as Puma Blue style. But I wasn’t angry, I just kind of wrote that as a joke.
Your debut EP Swum Baby was released in June. It deals with desire, loneliness, being broken-hearted or madly in love. Love isn’t an easy thing for you!
Well, it has been, you know. For the last two years, I was in a really beautiful relationship that has ended now but I think I found love can be easy, even when it’s hard. When you’re a weirdo like me, you have to find other weirdos. I was growing up falling in love with the wrong people who maybe didn’t appreciate me for what I was. Also, I’m very dramatic! I’m very romantic so, if I’m hurt I really fall into it.
On the song (She’s) Just A Phase, you sing “She’s easy to replace” and that, actually reminded me of The Streets’ Dry Your Eyes. There’s plenty more fish in the sea so, did you walk away?
I love The Streets! Did I walk away? She was a friend, that was the problem! I fell in love and then I realised that it wouldn’t work. Instead of for the hundredth time feeling really down and sad, I thought if I just tell myself “you’ve fallen in love like a hundred times and you’ve got all upset and then realized they were wrong for you” then I can tell myself that “she’s just a phase, you’ll be fine so relax!” I think it was almost sarcastic, “she’s easy to replace” … of course, she’s not! She’s amazing. You just have to pick yourself up, that was my way of picking myself up.
I’ve watched a few live videos on the internet and you often wear a suit.
Sometimes, if I feel like it. I bought a jacket today, maybe I’ll wear it. I’m kinda comfy in my jumper right now. Maybe I’ll put my jacket on. just to smart up.
Won’t you dress up? You know it’s Halloween!
Oh! Well… maybe I should have brought my skeleton outfit! (Laughing)
You’ve supported Nick Hakim a few times. Do you intend to see him tomorrow?
A lovely lovely man! For sure!
Do you intend to see anyone else?
I really want to see a guy called Obongjayar who is playing today. He’s an amazing guy from London. His music is a kind of mixture, spoken word and… I don’t know, I have to hear it I guess!
What can we expect for 2018?
I’m gonna quit music to become a fisherman! (Laughing) No, I’m gonna release another EP, some singles. I think I love albums so much that when I do my one, I want it to be perfect so I’m gonna take my time. Maybe by the end of the year it would be almost finished but I think I’ll release it later.
Let’s end this interview with a game. I’m going to give you beginnings of famous songs and you’ll have to finish the sentence with your own words.
What I want for Christmas is … peace of mind.
When I find myself in times of trouble … I listen to Jeff Buckley.
If you wanna be my lover you gotta… get with my friends. That’s a timeless lyric!
I’m up all night to … get moody!
I can’t live if living is without … sounds.
But we are living in a material world and I am … grateful.
I see no changes. Wake up in the morning and I ask myself … “Am I doing everything I can?”
You gotta fight for your right to … be unique, not be a copycat.