I don’t need to get validation from anybody else, I need to get it from myself
Lockdown and isolation has been more than a challenge for most people over the last few months, but one saving grace for me personally has been the conversations I’ve been able to have with people from all around Australia. I was able to talk to Jade Not Jane a month ago about her music and her journey, and dive into what her music is all about
Have you been able to do many gigs in Brisbane?
I have a few acoustic ones coming up in the next couple of months which is exciting, and it will be the first time I get to perform since everything went into lockdown
That will be great! Do you have to rework your songs very much to make them suit more acoustic vibe?
I’m pretty lucky that I wrote most of my songs on acoustic guitar, and my partner plays guitar for me and he’s just such a wizard at it! He has a lot of the songs already acoustically arranged which is really helpful. I don’t have to make huge changes when I do a set acoustically, and it feels like the original intent in the song is still there because they were written on guitar or piano anyway; the production always comes last with my music making
You’re songs have a lot of production supporting the writing, how do you go from writing these songs on guitar to developing it into something with much more going on?
I love pop music and I love the production side of writing. I love hearing the little intricacies and colours that you can add to songwriting instead of just having the acoustic elements. I don’t sing very quietly often, and I need to build up the production in the tracks to support the way that I want to perform my vocals in the track, which has really opened up the playing field for me. I love listening to songs that I like, and finding sounds that I want to use in my own music
I think that’s a good thing, not every idea you’re going to have is going to be 100% original, and I think it’s great when you can take elements you like from songs that inspire you
Definitely, and it took me so long to give myself the freedom to ‘take’ other people’s ideas. Everyone’s taking sounds that they like, and it took me a little while to break that barrier down and be like, no, it’s okay to take those sounds.
I think musicians put so much pressure on themselves to create things that are completely unique. Musicians deal with so much self-doubt and insecurity anyway, we don’t need the extra anxiety of worrying about using a synth sound from your favourite song from 15 years ago.
Exactly, and my music is authentic to me, I’m bringing myself into everything that I write even if its inspired by other people. No one has my voice or my words
How did you get started with music?
I grew up in a bit of a musical family, and my grandma was part of the country music club where my grandpa was the president. We went to these country music events on a Sunday every month, and it was definitely my introduction to music and performing. I was performing in those country music spaces since I was eleven, and I think that’s why I got so passionate about songwriting because country music is all about the songwriting. I don’t resonate much with country music as a genre, but there’s something so beautifully honest about the stories that are written. I think that because my earliest exposure to songwriting was a style that is so raw and honest, it’s been something that I’ve really carried with me my whole life.
We are so much a product of the music we consume, especially when we’re growing up. I think a lot of musicians look back on the things that their parents were listening to or the environment that they grew up in and see it as clear influences for their own style.
That’s definitely been the case for me, and I teach music to children at the moment which has made me realise that so much is ingrained at a young age, and we first learn how to recognise sounds and rhythm when we are young. It’s really fascinating to look back on my personal music history, and be more aware of my specific influences. I was so inspired by big singers like Hayley Williams and Amy Lee in my teenage years, and I would try to replicate their sound which I think is something I still do in my music today. I feel comfortable singing big songs because that’s what I grew up being so inspired by! I got a lot more into indie pop as I got older, and I spent a while trying to find the sound that I wanted to head into
Was it hard for you to settle on a sound that you wanted to release music under or was that a pretty natural process?
I think a lot of it was about self-doubt. I always felt like I was writing what felt right to me, but I just doubted that anyone else would think it was good. I spent a lot of time and a lot of turmoil thinking, no one’s gonna ever like this, no one’s going to ever listen to it, which isn’t a very healthy mindset to have when you’re writing songs and trying to remove other people’s critique from your own process. It took me a long time to just let myself create without these hypothetical opinions that might exist in the future.
It can be hard to figure out how to reach the people who are going to resonate with what you do, because it’s a hard thing to realise that not everyone is going to like what you do. If you don’t surround yourself with people who are willing to be honest, you’re only going to see the people who are succeeding, and you won’t be able to help but see yourself as someone who is unsuccessful
You really need to have self-confidence become a driving force
Let’s jump into your music a little bit, ‘Nothing Like This Feeling’ was the first song that you released in 2019. What made this song feel like the right first release for you?
It’s sort of funny, I didn’t really pick it myself. I took a couple of songs to a producer I was working with and he said he really liked this particular demo. When I heard it I was shocked because I thought I’d send him something completely different! I had this version of the demo with drums and guitars, and it was really rock-sounding, but the demo I sent him was just this initial voice memo I had of me singing the song! It was just completely the wrong file, and it was kind of by chance that he really liked it and saw a vision for it.
It felt really right after we’d done it. And the producer was really accepting and open to all my ideas which was really cool. The song represents the scariest moments of your life, and how nothing else can compare to that feeling. It’s about processing the moment, and wondering what to do next once you get through the scary parts, like, is it all going to be okay? Is it going to get worse? You don’t know because you’ve never had this feeling before. I guess that it was kind of cool to have this song as my first release because there’s nothing like that feeling of taking a chance and being unsure of what’s going to happen afterwards.
It’s a bit of an infectious feeling, and definitely a feeling you have a lot when you do music. You’re doing something that’s out there and different and it could fail, but at least you tried! There really is nothing like that feeling
It feels really dramatic, and once you can reflect it feels really amazing, but when you’re in the moment, it’s so scary.
For sure, and I liked what you were saying about the demo being this accidentally-raw thing because I feel like we can really get stuck in our own heads about our music and our writing, and it can convolute the process. I think it’s nice when you can share something that’s pretty bare because the other person has the opportunity to see the potential in it from a raw perspective. It can almost be better than sending someone a fully produced demo that basically just needs a little bit of polish, because when it’s something that is kind of raw there’s a lot of room for growth and experimentation
Absolutely, and I think it was such a blessing in disguise that I sent the wrong file because it was a very early on version of the song. If it was labeled differently then I wouldn’t have sent it, so it was such a happy accident.
‘Burn’ was your next release which came out earlier in the year in March, how did this song come about?
This song first got started when my guitarist was playing this riff that I really liked- it sounded like ‘I Don’t Know Why I Like You But I Do’ by the Wombats. It was this really funky guitar riff and I always wanted to have a song with something like that in it. We put his riff on a loop and I just wrote some ideas that were coming to me. This was the first song that had the production really built around my influences which was really cool!
I really like the lyric
We would never work
Step into the flames with me
This ones gonna burn
I feel like that’s so visual, and has a similar ‘risk’ feeling to the previous release, what is this song communicating?
I haven’t had too many impactful relationship moments, but I’ve had a big friendships break down over the past year. The break down of that relationship was something that really hurt, and it felt so ridiculous that it was affecting so much of my life! That was what inspired these lyrics, that ‘this isn’t working so let’s get it over with’ sort of feeling
I think friendships don’t always offer that clear sense of breakdown or closure, because if you’re dating someone and you don’t want to date them anymore, at some point you have to actually break up. Friendships can be so much more ambiguous, and it’s not expected to be clear; there’s no rulebook around saying ‘I don’t want to be friends anymore’. I liked that this song is explicit and has this, let’s rip the band-aid off feeling
Yeah, and that’s definitely what that moment was like for me in this friendship. Like you said, there’s maybe a bigger sense of finality when you break up with someone you’re dating, but I was still friends with people who were friends with this person, and there was a lot of weirdness around navigating being around each other. I had also written songs with this person and like, how do we navigate that area as well?
Do you hesitate before writing and releasing something that’s quite personal in that way?
I think that while a lot of my lyrics are very personal, I tend to be a bit vague on exact topics. Because of that, I don’t often get too worried about being too honest, because even if I know the story behind what I’m writing, it’s generally pretty vague for everyone else. I also don’t want to be too petty in my writing, and I want to keep it relatable. Having a separation with another person can be pretty painful, and I think that’s relatable enough even if the lyrics are a little vague
Do you think that that release process helps you process your own emotions about the situation?
Definitely, and even when you asked what ‘Burn’ was about, I didn’t even really know anymore because I really let everything out into the song. Once it’s out there it sort of stops being my story anymore. That’s really how it felt with ‘Burn’, and once I put all my feelings into the song I could enjoy it as a piece of art; it’s not just this painful memory. When I sing it or I don’t really think about that one situation anymore, even though it definitely was the reason why I wrote it in the first place. It was cathartic to write the song; both ‘Burn’ and ‘DNA’ were songs that really helped me process and overcome a lot of emotions so that I could move forward
And ‘DNA’ is your most recent release, I like how the guitar at the beginning doesn’t set up the chords, and the minor progression comes in a little unexpectedly
Yeah! And I can’t take credit for that, it’s all my guitarist Lucas! Often I’ll just bring him a finished song and he figures out some guitar parts for it. I’ll usually explain where I want the melody to go, and he will add this emotional element with the guitars to the track.
‘DNA’ is a pretty upbeat song, but the lyrics aren’t really all that positive. I really liked the lyric,
It’s easy to lie
You know I’ll eat it up
It’s in your DNA
That was actually the first lyric I had written for DNA, and it was a lyric that was sitting in my phone for a really long time. I remember I had a conversation with somebody and I knew that they were lying to me, and I went home and I wrote that line down. I didn’t touch it for a little while, and came back to it when I wasn’t as angry to write the rest of the song. I feel like when I write while I’m angry it just ends up sounding a bit too petty
Yeah, you come back to your lyrics and think, oh my god so dramatic
I definitely had that moment, and some of the other lyrics I had initially written down were very harsh!
It’s good to write those kinds of things down when you’re in the feeling so you can revisit and refine the ideas even if you’re feeling a lot less emotional. If you feel a bit numb towards a situation then it can hard to dig into it to find the words you need to express it. What is this song communicating?
This song came pretty naturally to me at first, but it ended up being a really hard song for me to complete. I went through this crazy eight-month period where I had a really involved friendship break down; a friendship that was really tied to my songwriting. This person had really unhealthy opinions of my songwriting, and they would attack the way I wrote and the way I sang in subtle ways. I spent so long feeling so bad about myself and not knowing why. I realised that these little comments that were being made all the time were really getting to me, and I didn’t write anything for about eight months because I just didn’t feel good about anything I was writing. It wasn’t until I was removed from that situation that I realised I was being hurt. I don’t need to get validation from anybody else, I need to get it from myself, I need to be happy with what I’m doing.
There’s always going to be people who don’t like my music, and that’s okay because that’s part of the joy of making music; you can’t make it for everybody! You make it for different people, and that’s why we celebrate every artist, because everyone brings something different to the table. I don’t need validation from people that are just going to be negative about everything, and I need to make sure that I’m happy with my music myself so that I can reach the right people. I think the message in this song is that people are going to be really shitty sometimes, and they’re not going to like your music, but you can’t let those people get you down.
I think having that sort of self-confidence in what you create is a personal journey that every musician has to go through. There is literally no artist alive that has a fan in everyone, and the fact that people might not like what you do is a hard thing to realise because you can believe so much in what you’re doing and you think it’s great and you’re proud of it. You’ve knitted so much love and effort and time and money into something, and to have someone reject that can feel like they are rejecting you. They’re rejecting your identity because our identity is so much a part of what we create. It’s just not worth being around people who aren’t going to support and lift you up
Exactly. And this song is saying ‘you can keep doing this to me but it doesn’t affect me anymore’. What they say isn’t important to me and it’s not going to hurt me anymore!
A sense of self assuredness is vital in getting over those sorts of relationships because it can be so hard to stand up for yourself. To deeply feel on an individual level that their opinion doesn’t matter to you any more is a hard personal battle, and once you gain that power back you can feel so much more in control of how you’re affected by peoples comments.
Yeah, and releasing ‘DNA’ was really scary for me, more so than my first release because it was such a personal moment for me to express! It felt like I was really overcoming this block that I was having with my songwriting, and it really helped me process the things that were going on. I hadn’t written anything that was so pinpointed to an event or feeling like, you did this to me! Everyone has been so lovely about it which has been so great. I felt like I overcame this barrier because I want to do music more than anything else. It seems silly in retrospect to stop doing music just because somebody else isn’t feeling confident in themselves and has to bring you down
Absolutely, and it can be so hard to shake how others feel about your music. This song has a lot going on production wise, and I love the punchiness of the second verse specially the neo-soul bass lick that comes in for a second!
I love that part too!
It really feels like your band is jamming out to this track, it feels so cool to write a track other people can enjoy playing
It’s a great feeling, and the development of the production for this song came about in a slightly weird way to be honest! I didn’t yet have a second verse for the song when I was asked to sing it at my Uni’s open day for new students, so I wrote the verse that morning to perform it later in the day. During the second part of the open day they were running through the studios and they wanted to have me show the process of self-producing music, so we just recorded it on the spot! We recorded the demo, and one of my lecturers started playing drums, and we were able to fully complete the song which was great! So many elements from that session at the open day ended up staying in the track which was really cool. It felt like the song finally had a life of its own
It’s great when something can come together organically like that, and other people can support it and be inspired to be apart of it
Yeah, and it just happened so instantly! I don’t think you often get a lot of instant gratification when you write a song, but this was the first song I had written in eight months, and I had finished the verse that morning, so it was such a nice moment to have. I think I really needed that
Especially for a song that’s literally about finding that strength in yourself. To have the process of writing the song be completely supported by people who are around you and believe in you is really beautiful
It was such a cool moment
What do you feel like is the main emotion that you write songs with?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, because I don’t always know what to write about when I’m not feeling sad? I think I can often feel lost, and I like the idea of writing about feeling lost and unsure about yourself, and that that’s the kind of feeling I’ve been writing about recently. It’s important and inspiring to unpack those not-so-nice feelings, and I’ve spent a bit of time in that headspace. I recently wrote a song about believing that your life is a movie and not wanting anyone to break that barrier down for you. I think unpacking those lonely feelings is a cool place to write from
It’s important when the process of songwriting can help you figure out who you are and your own identity, because that’s something that people can really connect with. It’s nice when you can invest these positive realisations and affirmations into music, and that can be passed on to a listener.
I think I’ve discovered a lot about myself this year and how I talk about my emotions. I’m such a big advocate for being like, why do I feel this way? What’s around me causing me to feel this way? Even if you’re feeling a little unreasonable and dramatic, its good to unpack that and pay attention to those feelings. You don’t want to let those feelings turn into a huge monster inside of you.
That can be a scary thing to come up against; it’s scary to actually unpack how you’re feeling and figure it out. It’s so much easier to not do that and to just let it fester inside you! It’s so good to have those realisations early on in your life. A lot of people will never face the things that are really destroying them inside. The process of understanding yourself and the turmoil we have in our hearts is horrible, but it’s the best thing for you in the long run.
I think I’m very lucky as a person that I can have songwriting as such a good medium to channel some of those thoughts because it does help so much. It becomes a bit of a challenge! How can I put all these feelings into a song? I’ve sung about it and that’s helped me process it and figure it out
You get to make sense of how you’re feeling, while also creating something beautiful for other people to enjoy.
That’s something that I really love about songwriting, because even if a song is about something upsetting, it can become something beautiful that people can love and connect to. It can make someone feel heard and less alone, and might help them unpack their own emotions. I think when someone can say your own lyrics back to you and say, ‘I felt that’, that is the best feeling!
You’re like, what? You can actually hear what I’m saying and relate to it?? It’s just the best feeling, and it feels like it validates all of the money and time you’ve spent, and all the heartache you’ve had from being rejected from playlists and blogs. Connecting with someone is so special
It feels like such a win, it’s exactly what you want as an artist. To create something and have that impact someone else is just amazing.
What would be your dream collaboration?
I would absolutely love work with Joni Mitchell, she’s my favourite songwriter in the whole world. She is such a cool person, and she was publishing her own music before publishing your own music was a thing! The fact that she’s also recognized as one of the best female guitar players is such a testament to her
She seems so free and open with her writing, it feels like she was a gift to earth from some ethereal beings or something! Very stream of consciousness, while still being down to earth and clever.
My favorite quote of hers is,
I just sit down with my guitar and I tune the strings to the sounds of the day
I really love her attitude. Sara Bareillies is another person I really look up to, and when she started doing musical theatre with ‘Waitress’ I was so blown away!
She’s one of those artists that a lot of girls get really into, and I think it’s so important for young women to have these people that can really inspire them and that they can look up to who are doing music at such an incredibly high level and in such a clever way
Absolutely, and I discovered her in early high school and she was really influential to me. I remember learning that she had no formal training when she started making music, which was just so wild to me
When you’re learning music from an academic perspective it feels like everything needs to be learnt in this formulaic way, and you can forget that music is something you can feel and can be led by your emotions. I think she’s someone who writes like that
And she’s so good at it!
What do you think would be the dream performance environment for your music?
I think I’m torn because one on the one hand I’m a very chatty songwriter, and I love talking about my music in an intimate setting, but on the other hand I love singing these really big epic songs which don’t always suit an intimate environment. I think I’d need a happy medium, a space that was just big enough so it doesn’t feel like I’m screaming at a bunch of people! But small enough so that I can see how people respond to the music. It’s so cool to be able to share music, and I love getting the chance to talk to people that really enjoy it
What’s next for your music?
I’m just finishing up my next single which is called ‘Cherry Cola’; hence the hair colour for the press shots! This one’s a bit more fun, and is probably the most light hearted of all the songs I’ve released
Cool! What’s this one about?
This song is about looking through life with this cherry cola filter, and feeling like nothing can touch you and everything is fine. The opening line is,
Life is sweet like Cherry Cola
Submerged deep in our comas
It follows a storyline of thinking nothing is going to go wrong, and it’s a really poppy sort of vibe
You can check out Jade not Jane below