Lancashire-born singer-songwriter Tobias ben Jacob releases REFUGE (04/12/20), a vibrant new album of electronica-tinged story-songs inspired by people at the heart of the global refugee crisis.
Conceived whilst working six days a week as a delivery driver, Tobias dreamed up the entire concept for the record in lay-bys in his Devon hometown, pulling over to jot down lyrics and record demos on his phone.
The inspiration for the album came after Tobias made contact with Zekria Farzad, an Afghan refugee and former journalist who had set up the Wave of Hope For The Future School at Moria Refugee Camp, Lesbos. Talking with Zekria and hearing some of his incredible accounts of courage and hope during a hellish struggle to find a place of safety for his family, Tobias set out to try and explore more of these inspiring human stories through his songwriting.
Tobias enlisted John Elliott of the band The Little Unsaid to produce and record the album, the two holing themselves up in a remote house in the wilds of Exmoor and recording the entire album in one week whilst storms raged continually outside. A crowd-funder was set up to help complete the album, with additional funds being raised towards new school buildings at Moria Camp. After the tragic fire at Moria, the Wave of hope team went on to rebuild and set up sister schools at other camps in Greece.
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Singer songwriter Tobias ben Jacob has been called ‘uniquely captivating’ by BBC6 Music and ‘inventive and thrilling’ by R2 Magazine. His songs are dynamic, poetic and emotionally charged. He has described his work as ‘a form of soul cartography.’ His live shows are ‘intense and spellbinding’ and deliver ‘many a spine-tingling moment.’ BBC Introducing in Devon have called him ‘one of our best artists’ making him upload of the week four times.
Tobias is one half of the original alt-folk duo and acclaimed live act Jacob & Drinkwater.
He started his career as part of The Roots Union with BBC Folk Award winners Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin (Edgelarks). Their tenure included playing live at Maida Vale Studios for ‘Late Junction’ and recording in Nashville, Tennessee.
In 2014 he formed a duo with Lukas Drinkwater and recorded ‘The Burning Low EP’ garnering airplay and kudos from Fresh On Net, BBC6, Radio 2, Amazing Radio, Louder Than War and BBC Introducing. EP track ‘We Are The First Ones Now’ featured backing vocals from Wildwood Kin.
The 2017 full band album A Polyphonic Life featured a bigger, alternative sound and an all star line up with John Elliott & Tim Heymerdinger of the Little Unsaid, Emily Barker, Phillip Henry and Lukas Drinkwater. The album concept combined the musical term ‘polyphony’ with its use in literary theory to refer to ‘the simultaneity of points of view, perspectives, and voices within a particular narrative plane’
Two songs from the album will feature in the UK indie film ‘Tomorrow’ premiering on 27.09.19 and directed by Martha Pinson with Martin Scorsese as Executive Producer.
Tobias has been involved in a burgeoning London alt-folk scene, playing venues like The Harrison, Betsey Trotwood, Green Note and The Old Queens Head and featuring on the compilation ‘Sonic Blooms – UK Alt-Folk & New Roots Rising.’
John Elliott of The Little Unsaid is a close friend and collaborator; co-producing the album ‘A Polyphonic Life’ and joining Tobias live on several occasions.
He has been a regular on fringe and green field stages at Glastonbury Festival since 2009.
In 2018 Jacob & Drinkwater embarked on their ‘Waters Of England Tour’ combining live touring with wild swimming across the UK. This was followed by the ‘This Old River’ album and UK tour in February 2019.
Tobias was a showcasing artist at English Folk Expo 2018.
In the coming months I will be developing more songs with an immersive, journalistic style approach that deal with humanitarian, socio-political and global themes. The seeds of this can be heard in past recordings such as ‘See My Brother’s A Sailor Too’ dealing with the Iraq war and subsequently used in the CND film ‘Beating The Bomb’, ‘Flowers Of The Arab Spring’ dealt with the war in Libya, the Jacob & Drinkwater song ‘There’s A Shadow On The Sun’ was inspired by first hand accounts of life in War torn Syria and most recently the song ‘Reconciled’ was commisioned by The Foundation for Relief & Reconciliation in Iraq and deals with the persecution and diaspora of religious minorities in Northern Iraq.
‘Really stop you in your tracks’ Fresh On The Net
‘Inventive and thrilling’ R2: Rock n Reel
‘One of our best artists’ BBC Devon Introducing
‘Definitely one to watch out for’ Late Junction .BBC Radio 3
‘A fresh and uplifting sound’ Folk Radio UK
“stand out new Folk… superb.. excellent” Chris Hawkins. BBC Radio 6