John Hancock III the man was born in Washington, DC in not unusual circumstances. John Hancock III the artist, however, was forged in the fires of an intense couple of months. Previously frontman to Pitchfork-lauded Miami indie outfit Awesome New Republic, he’d fallen in love, closed up shop on his main project of 13 years and found himself on the brink of fatherhood in the space of half a year by summer 2014’s end – a spiral into adulthood to which there was only one real answer: pop music, duh. ‘Left Me’ was one of the first tracks he wrote and pulses with real-life-shit emotion, beneath a breezy and bubbly, synth-and-drum-machine bounce.
With echoes of Animal Collective, the song might ring familiar to some: soft-released in 2014, it’s now getting a rollout as part of 10K Islands’ one-track-a-week 2016 singles club, as Hancock gears up to unveil more of his kaleidoscopic solo efforts later this year. Think of it as the sunny, human flip-side to his shadowy other project – MJ, as John is known among friends, is also frontman in Viigo, whose two recent singles (‘Move’ and ‘Other Lives’) were released to cult acclaim in January and February respectively.
“You said goodbye then kept trying to say hello,” sings MJ over sprightly keyboards and glitching electronics. “What were your reasons for keeping me on hold?” John Hancock the project, thankfully, is on hold no more. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, check out the video above and get Hancock’s own guide to the song below.
“One of my favourite songs of all time is “Losing You” by Solange. I was listening to that whole True EP on repeat, wanting to make a sunny breakup song when I wrote Left Me in an hour, one day in Miami. It’s about turning a positive into a negative, forward motion, seeing clearly, having fun. It’s a 2 x 1 step track – that classic two-steps-forward, one-step-back routine in the break-up game.
I wrote it in an hour at the studio, then walked it over to the main room where 10K’s secret weapon and my better half in ANR, Brian Robertson, produced it into the jam you hear. The whole thing was done in a day. It was totally natural. Like having a party by accident. The video too. Tucker Tota, who directed it, told me to meet him at a warehouse for dance uniforms out in the middle of nowhere and we shot in front of a big white sheet of paper for an hour.
Where next for John Hancock? I’ve got some romantic jams coming in the next couple months on 10K. I’m also putting together a live group for the summer, and in and out of the studio working on the next batch. Watch this space.”