How struggles make you stronger: The long road to Facing Jinx’s debut album 

We’ve all had those moments in life when it feels like something we’ve been working on is not meant to be. Times where we start to question our intentions and contemplate giving up altogether. This is exactly what happened to Facing Jinx’s album For The Good of it All.

Dropped from two major D&B labels in quick succession, Facing Jinx came close to giving up on the dream of releasing his debut album – one he had poured so much of his emotion and energy into crafting. But instead of throwing in the towel, Alex Perkins took the gamble to self-release the album on his own label, Peer Pressure Records.

As risky as the decision was, it was an appropriate move given the album holds such a personal connection to Alex’s life. Inspired by the loss of his father at the age of 23, For The Good Of It All is more than just an album, it’s a five year collection of stories with deep-rooted messages related to Alex’s struggles, along with others he has met along the way.

From beautifully delicate liquid and lo-fi hip-hop, to hard-hitting breaks and a moving spoken word piece, For The Good Of It All is an uplifting album filled with beacons of positivity for anyone who is struggling and in need of support.

UKF took a deep dive with Facing Jinx into his debut album to uncover the motivation behind his music.

Congratulations on the album. You should be proud…

Thank you mate! I’ve been so nervous wondering if people are going to listen to it and if they will like it… I’m so happy. It’s a real blessing getting the opportunity to put this music out there, without worrying about whether it’s drum and bass or not.

I imagine it’s pretty daunting self-releasing your debut album.

Yeah it is, especially because the album has gone through a big process. It was originally signed to Med School about a year ago. I finished the album and we went through the whole A&R process, but then Med School closed… It felt like a massive slap around the face. It messed me up for weeks. I had the biggest opportunity ever and it was gone in a flash.

That must have been crushing.

I actually thought the album would never get released after that. I then spoke to Steve Bcee and he signed it to Spearhead. But unfortunately things happened where it ended up dropped again. It felt like a sign not to release the album. I nearly put it in the bin, but then I thought – screw it, I’m going to release it on my own label, Peer Pressure Records.

Did those setbacks make you reflect on what you were doing and why it had happened?

Yeah they did, but I had to look away from that stuff because it’s very negative. To go into releasing an album I needed to be in a positive mindset, otherwise it becomes a shadow over you. Because I loved the music and thought others would, I scooped up what was left of me and away we went again! It’s a small miracle that this music has seen the light of day.

Looking at the positives, you had two really respected labels onboard. That speaks volumes in itself.

Definitely. At the time I was like – if they really didn’t like it then why did they sign it? When Chris Goss, who runs Hospital, heard For The Good Of It All, he told me it was a great piece of music and he had goosebumps because it made him think of his kids. That was exactly what I was trying to achieve. I’m trying to speak to people like him with this music.

That track is one of my favourites on the album. I was so in tune with the message.

It’s great isn’t it how the power of words just compels you and brings you in? I wanted the track to be a statement. At the time I thought – how am I going to put this spoken word piece on a dance music album? But then I realised there are so many people out there who love this style as well. The opportunity to put that on the album was mind-blowing. Every time I listen to it I’m close to tears.

I think it’s fitting to self-release the album because I get the feeling you’ve been on a real personal journey with it.

Definitely. The Hospital setback taught me a lot about myself – that I am stronger than I thought I was. Also, this album helped me learn a lot about myself, and that needed to happen. Those little events needed to slot into place to create the album that it is now. I’m getting philosophical, but all of the tracks are like mini lessons. I suppose the way I write songs is like messages to myself. Remember To Breathe is one of those tracks. It says you do get those big moments in life, but until then you’re still alive, so keep trying.

It seems an ideal message currently with everyone desperately wanting normality back.

Exactly. Sometimes we just need a shunt, and music can do that. If I hear a song that has a particularly inspiring message I will try and translate it to my personal life. Music has this weird way of resonating and delivering a message much harder than any quote or book could do. Trying to put my message into my music has always been the goal. You’ll see my struggles along the way with every track I release.

That was one of the main things I took from the album – that your music often comes from a very raw, personal place.

That’s true. Lots of the tracks on the album have a message related to something quite pertinent in my life that has happened. Overall, the album has taken about five years to write and resembles little pockets of my life over those five years, along with the people who have impacted it.

Is there anyone in particular?

So there’s a track on the album called Here With You, which is the most personal one because the lyrics are based around the story of my dad, who took his own life when I was 23. That track was like what I wanted to say to him – that there’s people here to help and we’ll be by your side. Then the track has a call and response from him, which is – I know this, but I never got chance to say anything because it was too late.

That’s very powerful.

That was my message to him, but also to other people who are in the same situation where they don’t know where to turn and don’t feel like they’ve got people there to support them, when really they do.

I like how you’re not just focusing on the loss, you’re also reiterating the messages of support people in dark places need to help them.

Exactly. It’s almost the acknowledgement as well because when you’re in such a low place you need someone to put their arm around you and say – there are other people here. As much as you might not want it, we can help you. Sometimes one of the only things to build you back up again is love.

Definitely. I’m 25 now and I can’t even imagine how much the loss must have rocked you at that age.

I’ll be honest, by the time I’d woken up from it all I was 30 years old… It was like seven years of my life had passed me by. I couldn’t understand it. But then I switched on and the journey started. I’m 35 this year, and I started writing the album just before I was 30, so it has been a much-needed journey. As horrible as it was, I almost feel like my dad passing away needed to happen in order for me to grow up and take responsibility.

As painful as some experiences are in life, sometimes they provide us with the inspiration to do something special.

Definitely. I was talking to Ewan Phillips, who features on Come Back to Me, and he said “we’re all mining for that uncut stone. The years that follow are you just chipping away at it, making it look nice.” I suppose that’s what it is, taking those nuggets of inspiration and refining them into something presentable.

Your dad provided you with your ‘uncut stone’ of music production, didn’t he?

That was the chap. He had a passion for skip diving, which is the old English past time of looking through other people’s rubbish to find something worthwhile, haha. He found a computer in a skip, rebuilt it, and created this workstation for me. I was 12 or 13-years-old at the time and was quite a disruptive kid, so my dad told me I needed to try something. He sat me down in front of a piano and computer, and I’ve never looked back since. He lit the fire.

Sometimes you need that push in life from someone saying they believe in you!

It’s that arm around the shoulder, he did that for me. I’ll forever be grateful to him. On the album vinyl there is a small dedication to him. It’s a little hidden, so I’m not sure if anyone would have been able to find it without me telling them. It’s on the run out of the vinyl groove. It says ‘For Mick’. That’s my little ode to him.

That’s amazing. Your family seems to have played a massive role in helping you move on from the loss.

Yes they’ve been there to push me in all the right directions. When you have such an emotional trauma you could quite easily go off the rails. I’ve heard so many stories of people who have turned to all matter things and completely ruined their lives. That could have been me. I’m very thankful that I have rocks in my life such as my wife Michelle, my mum, Jeff and my brother who have all helped push me through. Love is the key.

Your track Black Valentine has some deep lyrics about life being worth living, and I can see them relating to Michelle’s impact on you.

You’ve hit the nail on the head, and I didn’t really realise until now that the song was about that… It’s about people saying – look, you’ve got all of this ability, time and energy. Your life is worth every second. You’ve just got to make sure that what you’re putting out into the world is the truth. Don’t spend your life living a lie. Like, I can’t fake enjoying working in an office anymore. It’s not who I am. We’ve all got to put our true selves out there for everyone to see.

It’s brilliant you’re able to open up about your experiences through the album, especially considering mental health and suicide are pressing issues within the music industry right now.

I think it’s really important. I’ve struggled with opening up in the past. Especially with British culture, everyone tells you to crack on and not moan. I’ve recently noticed how that is detrimental to people understanding if they’ve got their own issues, because you end up ignoring them and they become a big problem. You’ve got to deal with your emotions, especially as blokes.

I get the impression Save Your Life is a track hitting home the importance of speaking about such issues, instead of bottling them up.

Yeah that’s it. I wrote that track about my friend as we hadn’t spoken for a while and I was really worried about him, but I didn’t know how to speak to him because he had shut himself off. The track was me saying that he needed to admit something was wrong and speak to me. That’s the story behind it, but I’ve never actually told him.

Maybe he’ll read this interview…

Haha maybe. I didn’t know how much I needed that song until further down the line when it was me who had the problem, as I wasn’t speaking to anyone. I think everyone has those moments. That song meant so much to me back then, and it still does now. A lot of people spend years writing music without having a real connection with it, whereas I feel like I’ve had it from the start.

Through being so open about yourself you’re creating an incredible resource for others.

Definitely. I want the album to help people. I want to continue writing spoken word pieces and tracks relaying both positive and difficult messages. That’s what I’m here for. Lockdown has made me realise the one thing you should really be focusing on is what change you can make yourself, rather than thinking about politics or mass change. If I can continue putting out music that means something then I’ll be playing a small part in helping others.

Your spoken word piece says exactly that – focus on the things in life that are really important.

Yeah it’s about how we get distracted by it all. Like, look at that shiny new synth I could have, or filling our lives with those experiences we really don’t need – such as fast cars and yachts. No one needs that shit. You don’t need expensive jewellery or a cupboard full of shoes. The only thing you really need is love. Every piece Just Some Guy writes is from a place of truth. It’s always so beautiful and inspiring.

It’s rare for a D&B album to go so deep with these topics. Often we hear a lot of lyrics about love and emotion, but not necessarily about something as raw as what you cover.

The one thing I was always scared about was opening up and talking about these things, because it was just as raw for me as it will be for other people listening to it. It’s nice to be able to now look back on everything as a life lesson. I don’t really believe in fate, because I think you create your own path, but with the little bumps along the way you have to question – were they for a reason? Did I need them to happen? It has been a long road, but I feel like I’m finally in a good place to get this album out there.

Facing Jinx – For The Good Of It All is out now on Peer Pressure

Follow Facing Jinx: Facebook / Soundcloud / Instagram