- 03 Aug 18
There's a little purple bird named Becca who wears a bobble hat and lives in a forest named Wagtail Woods. An adventurous sort, she helps her friends to have fun. She'll bring Sylvia the fox delivering mail, Pedro the worm hiking, and help Richie Egan, aka Jape, come up with his most experimental work to date.
Of course, Becca is a cartoon, the titular star of Dublin studio Jam Animation's Nick Jr show Becca's Bunch , created by Conor Finnegan, who Egan got to make the trippy video for 'The Heart's Desire'. In return, Finnegan asked Richie to create the music for his new show.
"I wasn't so sure of what it was at first," says Richie, at home in Malmö, Sweden. "I was like 'that sounds fun... I've never done anything like it, but I'll give it a shot.' Then it turned out that the show was a big deal in the cartoon world. It's on Nickelodeon, and there are 52 episodes."
The job turned into two years' work for Richie, as he created the theme tune (an absolute banger, by the way) and "35-40 songs".
"It was cool, 'cos it's such a different way of working - all the songs are like a minute long."
Steady employment allowed Egan take his foot off the gas in terms of gigging; he could spend time with his kids, and concentrate on new Jape material.
"The cartoon has given me a level of creative freedom," he notes, where I'm not too stressed about getting stuff on the radio. It's very liberating to not have to worry about that. I basically have sort of two eight-song albums done-ish. Just about."
One of the projects is entirely instrumental, sort of. "It's all about using the human voice as an instrument, but without using language. The human voice is so expressive, but once you say something, you're tied to the meaning of what you say."
Richie got friends and family to sing for the album, and turned their voices into "synth patches". While the other record features lyrics, it's still sparse.
"As I get older, standing behind something that I say has become harder. Whereas I there's a universal thing going on in a chord change. That speaks to me on a level that's beyond something lyrical."
Richie made the move from Dublin to Malmö six years ago.
"It made me sad for a while. When you're in Dublin, you're walking down the street and you'll bump into somebody you know. They might inform you of some event that's happening, and maybe they might say, "Oh we need a band for this.'"
This sense of community can be hard to come by in Malmö, where he won't bump into anyone on the streets.
"You come to terms with that. I feel like life is all about learning how to live and it teaches you how to live in a different way. I've noticed that when I'm making music over here, I become a lot more creative and experimental. It's because I've had the time to do stuff that I always wanted to try, but never really could get around to it. I get to make tape loops and think about making music on a deeper level."
The Dublin connections will never fade though, and Richie makes the journey across the Öresund Bridge to fly home from Copenhagen quite a bit. One of the things that draws him back is spending time recording and writing with The Redneck Manifesto - who've just finished their latest album.
"Would you believe it, the Rednecks are going 20 years this year which is mindblowing. So we'll put the record out and do a little tour to celebrate getting old!"
Richie also enjoys coming back to an Ireland that has made great strides on social issues. "I went over to vote in the marriage referendum, but I couldn't get over for Repeal, I'd lost my vote by then. It's great to see young people so politically engaged. That Radical Queers Resist group that were going around covering up the pro-life things are total heroes."
He's back next for All Together Now in Waterford, and looking forward to having a "chill festival".
"Róisín Murphy is on two sets after us, that'll be great - I'd love to check out Jack Colleran's thing too, that's always interesting."
"There'll be a track released beforehand and Egan promises a set balanced between old and new."
"It's nice to give some of the songs people know and then play some of the stuff that excites me, the newer stuff. Should be fun!"
Jape plays the ATN stage at All Together Now on August 4. His new single 'Yeh' was released August 2nd.