“Are you serious?? That is so funny!” Jazz laughed when I explained that I found her musical alias Jazure through her mum. We met at the Cross Eatery in Town Hall, and the sunny winters day made a perfect backdrop to a light-hearted conversation about music, football, and TED talks. I didn’t know a lot about Jazz’s music except that she had a tender voice like honey, and had a knack for Major 7th chords.
Tell me a bit about yourself? Why do you do music?
Yeah so my parents were musicians when I was growing up so they always encouraged me to pursue music like I remember my dad saying ‘you have to learn the basics of the guitar’ – not that I’d have to get lessons but more in an ‘I’ll show you!’ way. I feel really happy that I got to grow up with parents that could be really creative, and always encouraged my sister and I to try things out.
I think I had a lot of fear about doing music. It’s not very stepwise, there’s no guide telling you this is what you need to do. It’s not a clear pathway. I traveled a lot a few years ago, I went to Africa and the Middle East and America and Asia and started seeing that music is such a universal language, and it’s so powerful for expressing human emotion and human circumstance. It really overcomes and touches every person no matter what lifestyle they have or culture they’re from. I kind of thought you know what screw it! I’m just going to go all in with this and just DO it which feels kind of crazy.
Yeah, that’s cool! So why do you write music?
Self-expression firstly. It just kind of comes out of me as a way to sort of express my emotions. But then secondly I really believe in music as a medium to change things, and I believe art should really make people reflect, as well as being enjoyable. It allows you to really question society.
Do you feel like you have personal examples that reflect that?
Yeah definitely! I had an experience where I was part of my work football team, and I was always the only girl. They were all absolutely wonderful and didn’t hold back which was great, but while I was waiting for the team to come one day, I realised I was the only woman playing across the six different ovals. These guys came up to me and asked ‘are you lost? Do you need help?’ and they were a little aggressive. I wrote a song from that place using the lyrics are you lost. When I record this one I really want to get a whole lot of female vocalists in to create this layer of sound. I think that by being vulnerable and expressing your experience of life, it gives other people a voice. I know that a lot of my creative friends know what it’s like to be the only woman in the room. When you write about that you’re reaching people who can feel it.
How do you know when your songs feel done?
It’s something I’m definitely learning. I’m someone who will sit on a song forever until I get just really sick of it. I think working with other creatives has been really helpful because then it has to be finished because there’s a deadline for the video and for mixing etc. For me I knew when I was happy with it when I felt like I was happy to start showing other people.
Yeah like ‘I’m proud of this now you can look at it’
Yeah! And especially with other friends who are producers and songwriters and I get their feedback as well.
How do you go about finding the right people to collaborate with?
For me I really want to make music about community. I think especially because I produce on my own in my house with my laptop, the writing experience is very different to being in a studio and writing the parts there. I’ve been studying overseas at Berklee College of Music, which definitely helped me create contacts with others who are pursuing music, but I really think that friendships have been my main priority when it comes to collaborating. A lot of the artists that I really aspire to be like create music within a community, and work with other artists in an open way.
So who are these artists that you’re inspired by?
I would say Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, I just think he cultivates an amazing platform where he works with a lot of people that are already solo artists, and they come together to make beautiful things. I feel like he isn’t just bound to music so he creates but he also has his festival that he does, and he works with Kanye West which is such a different genre to him which I think really inspires me.
I feel like that again really plays into the idea of music being really universal, that it can kind of transcend genre
Yeah exactly, and I feel like we put a lot of pressure on ourselves – especially into today’s day and age where it’s a lot about marketing and finding your niche. There is so much music out there and so many narrow roads. I think that what I love about being an artist is that you can do anything really, just go with your gut. I think Justin has a really nice gut!
Yeah! Would you say he inspires you musically as well?
Definitely musically as well, I think his arrangements and songwriting and the way he brings in almost symphonies or synth and brass is so inspiring.
Do you have any other artists that inspire you musically?
I go through waves of what I’m inspired by. Definitely a lot of Fleetwood Mac at the moment – I have been stuck on them for the last few months. Same with disco and funk from that era. Artists like Diana Ross have really funky upbeat music but then the lyrics are quite sad underneath. I really like that contrast.
So when it comes to lyric writing, do you find you need to be over a situation before you can write about it, or do you find the process of writing helps you get through it?
I definitely write during the process a lot of the time, it’s an emotional outlet as well. Sometimes I’ll write something and then I might come back to it a few months later and realise I have a bit more perspective to what I was feeling or be like ‘oh now I really know what that song was about now that I’m out of that situation’. I think I’m definitely led more emotionally as a writer.
Do you feel like your lyrics are obvious? Do you think ‘how does no one know exactly what I’m talking about??’ or do you try and make it mysterious so no one can decipher it?
I think I’m a mixture, I think a lot of the time I like to be a little bit abstract and use imagery, so if you dig a bit or I explain it you can see, but it won’t be like I AM DEVASTATED RIGHT NOW.
I do have one or two songs that helped me realise I don’t want to hide as an artist. It’s interesting to think about how to write vulnerably but not hurt people or yourself. You can really bare your soul, so lyrically to be very honest can be scary. I’m learning to be more open.
What programs do you generally use?
I love Logic – I use Ableton for live stuff, Pro Tools for a bit of mixing, but I love Logic. I think it’s a really clear interface, and pretty powerful for its price.
Where does writing a song start for you?
I’m generally inspired either by a beat, or by a synth sound. I have a lot of plugins I use, like one called Arturia which replicates a lot of vintage synths. I find a sound I love and am inspired by and then I’ll start writing a chord progression, and then from that place, I’ll write the song. I generally loop the progression, add something rhythmic, and then I always mumble the song into my headphones. Generally, in that moment most of the melody will come out.
So then where do the lyrics come in for that process?
Most of the time it’s afterward for me. I really love John Mayer and his songwriting process, I feel like I really relate to it – he was talking about the two spheres you operate in as a songwriter – the divine moments where the song comes flooding out and you try and capture as much as you can, and then the other headspace is more logical and is what gives the song structure. Its more strategic, and I feel like as songwriters we kind of hate that part, we love when it all comes pouring out and it’s all wonderful and you’re vibe-ing with the creative juices, but that second headspace is so important to actually finish the song. I’m trying to do that more – writing out the lyrics and working out the structure and changing things.
Do you generally find songwriting easy or is it something you’re battling with to get done?
I generally find it pretty easy… well, actually it’s probably both haha. I find it easy to write something, but difficult to finish something to the point where I’m happy with it.
You have favourite lyrics you’ve written?
I’m not sure if I do… I think each song is pretty different to each other. I would say there was a song I did recently, and I was really proud of the way I captured how I was feeling. It’s a song called ‘Fool’, and the lyrics come from a place of me kind of falling for someone and just feeling a bit silly about it
I’m a fool
I’m a fool in love
I don’t need your help to break my heart
It’s a little more straightforward – normally my lyrics are a bit more ambiguous. For me, it really summed up how I felt. Like I don’t need the help of someone else to break my own heart because I feel things very quickly and deeply.
Where do you find lyric inspiration from? Are you much of a reader?
I love reading and I love poetry. I love to make my lyrics a bit like poetry – I mean it is poetry. I really love Joni Mitchell. I love her conversational tone, she talks about mundane things in such an artistic way. She makes the day to day feel beautiful and poetic. Her and Bob Dylan. I really appreciate his situational writing, I don’t really write like that but I love when he does.
Can you write anywhere?
I write everywhere. I’m a huge voice memo person. I try to challenge myself to write lyrics first sometimes – the song about the soccer game I wrote out like a poem first and put music to it later. My phone is full of voice memos and notes. When you get those moments where its flowing – I heard someone in a TED talk describe those divine moments of creativity. There’s this woman in a field and when she feels a poem coming up in her, she would run to her table and try and get it out in time before it disappears and passes onto someone else. I really relate to that. You have to get those lyrics or ideas down somewhere.
Do your own songs get stuck in your head?
Yeah, yeah definitely sometimes I’ll be humming something and think ‘oh I think that’s from me?!’
‘I think I wrote that!
But there are other times when I’m working on a song intensely and it will be in my head but not in a good way. Sometimes it feels like when I’m trying to finish a song I almost live in the song for that time.
Do you feel like you’re hard on yourself when it comes to putting up your music or covers?
Yeah, I’ve had to really learn how to get over that. The first time I ever put up anything on Instagram my sister had to hide my phone to stop me from deleting it because all I could see was everything that went wrong and every mistake. You can strive for excellence but if you’re aiming for perfection it’s not going to happen. People don’t want perfect anyway, people like the process. What I love about Instagram is that it allows you to keep it really simple so I can just do it and not think too much about it, because otherwise, I’ll never post anything!
Do you like to reveal your process with your audience or do you like to keep it all mysterious?
Probably a combination. I do little Instagram stories, but I do think you need to be careful because there’s a limited time you have with the song where it’s just yours. I think that’s a really beautiful thing. Just because you have the tools to put out a rough version doesn’t mean you should.
Yeah it’s interesting because as a songwriter you never hear your song for the first time, you’re there from the ground up and anyone who listens gets a first impression, but you don’t get to have a first impression.
How do you feel about immortalizing an emotion you had hoped to get over?
I’m not sure, I think it’s something I’m still learning. It’s hard when you write a song when you feel one way about someone and then later you don’t feel that way anymore. I think I try to look at it like I wrote that song about that person but the actual emotion is a universal emotion – like the emotion of love. It might be hard to sing but it’s a celebration of how I felt and how I can feel again, and how other people feel! I try to be honest and put words to experiences. Sometimes when you feel all the emotions it feels good to use them.
Yeah ‘I deserve to get something out of this terrible experience!’
Yeah exactly! So I try and not write with my head I guess
So what does it mean to write with your heart?
I guess it’s putting words to the experience, and maybe the words don’t make sense to anyone but you, but that’s a good thing. I’d say writing with your heart is when you feel that tug of something that’s important to you, and giving it space. And being an artist means being self-aware and have conversations with yourself that confront how you feel about things and experiences.
What do you want to stand for as a songwriter and musician?
First and foremost, community. Community and vulnerability. I always want to create music that is inclusive to people but also is created in community, and I definitely want to create music that is authentic to my own experiences and is authentic and honest for other people as well.
Jazz is excited to release some music super soon, and you can find her on her socials below!