Interview: A Candid Chat with Jade Imagine

Friday, August 2, 2019

Jade Imagine's debut LP Basic Love is a release home to poignant songwriting fused with playful pop-tones and it's utterly magical. Across the duration of the album, listeners will be moved by their gripping and reflective songs. Before the album was released, we sat down with Jade McInally to talk about Basic Love, her creative process and how the album came together.

How are you feeling about the release of Basic Love?

Good. It's been a while in the making. We started making it two years ago or maybe more. We've been playing some of the songs for three years and we just recorded them for Basic Love almost two years ago now. We're pretty excited to get it out, but also very nervous to hear what people think of it.

Why did you decide to do an album instead of another EP?

I think it's because we had more songs. We had 14 or 15 songs that we worked on together as a band and when we got into the studio we were like, "I mean, we've got that many songs, why don't we record?"And then we couldn't fit them all on the record. We had to cut four or five songs, which we might release later.

Would you say that the songs on the album and the EP, share a connection?

I think so. I guess at the very least they are all songs that have come from me, so they would probably share that thing that is the essence of whatever I write. But we really tried with this album to focus on the sounds of each instrument and making sure that we were really happy with them before pressing record so that they didn't need much treatment afterwards in the mixing stages. Whereas with the EP, we really...I went HAM on all of the effects (laughs), like I went crazy on reverb. So I guess the album was more about stripping things to clarify and to make the songs more succinct and therefore, hopefully, bolder and more clearer in their messages and that kind of thing.

You wrote the tracks both on the Sunshine Coast and in Melbourne. How did those environments influence your writing process for the album?

Sunshine Coast always feels like home to me. I feel like a lot of the songs that I wrote up there, whether they sound like it or not, they kind of took on an essence of that place. I suppose when I was writing in Melbourne, a lot of the songs were about missing the coast or trying to find the goodness in the mundane city life. I feel like having that sense of place is really strong for me in this album because place really did influence how the songs came out. I feel like songs that I wrote up there have a lighter feel to maybe the songs that I wrote down here, which feel a bit more structured or rigid.

And as a songwriter, is there a place that you particularly like to retreat to if you do feel stuck creatively?

Good question. I felt pretty stuck creatively for a while. Ever since we recorded these songs, it just took so long for me to finish them and make sure that they were right and then I was just like, "I don't know what to do now with myself". I felt really uninspired and I guess one thing that I have been trying to do is go for big, long walks. I feel like that really helps. Walking in nature, without your phone. That really helps me to just to get some ideas flowing. But I think I broke my writer's block last week because I went to SongHubs, which is this APRA-run thing and it was really amazing. I had to write five songs in five days and with all different people. So I feel like actually forcing myself to have to make songs, in the end, made me feel like writing songs.

For you personally, do you think it helps when you feel stuck to keep on trying to create and not give up?

Yeah. Or even not putting so much pressure on the end result. It's not a huge deal if it doesn't sound amazing. It's all just a process rather than an end result.

Has your process has changed as you've evolved as a songwriter and as a person?

I think my process has maybe stayed the same. It's always a little bit chaotic and I never really know how something's going to come out, but I guess creating for myself in some quiet space and getting outside, going for a walk, doing those things that kind of induce a song.

Picking up a guitar even if you don't feel like playing it can sometimes lead to creating an idea. But yeah, I don't think my approach has really changed actually. Although I've become more comfortable with showing other people what I write early on, I think. That's probably the thing that's changed the most, being a bit more confident to show my bandmates and be like, "Hey, what do you think it is?", and being open to their thoughts. I guess that's probably the main thing that's changed during the process.

So would you say that collaboration is an important aspect to your creative process, instead of working in solitude and keeping everything to yourself until the end?

I like to think that I can write by myself, but I feel like songs just become so much stronger when they've got other people's input. Especially with people who you trust and people who know their stuff. For example, with my bandmates, I trust their opinion and I know that they act in my best interest and the song's best interests, so I feel comfortable sharing the early demos of songs because I know that they get the whole picture and creatively where I would want to go, they anticipate that and help to tease it out of me.

I read that 'Big Old House' was inspired a dream and you came up with the song whilst you were asleep. What's the story of how that track came to be?

I was staying at my mum's house on the Sunshine Coast and I was doing this thing where I was making myself get up every morning and write whatever I could. So just trying to write one song a day or whatever and one of those mornings I woke up and I remember hearing this melody in my dream. It never happens when it would stay with me when I wake up, but this one morning I woke up and I could remember what the song was in my dream. So I just grabbed my phone and recorded it into my voice memos and sat there and just wrote out everything that I could remember about the lyrics and stuff. That formed the basis of that song.

Does that happen often when you have a dream about a song?

It's very rare. I think it's only happened twice to me, but one of the times was that one, and I think another song from the EP had a similar thing. I've had this big dream and that ended up becoming the song. I think it was for 'Stay Awake', one of the songs on the EP.

On the album, I found myself really drawn to 'The Weekend'. It's such an incredible track. What ideas did you want to capture on that song?

It's an interesting song, especially how that ended up being how it is now. I played it all on guitar and then I wrote the bassline, which was part of the chords on the guitar and then when we started to jam it with the band, the band were like, "Instead of you playing...instead of Jade playing everything, like the guitar part, which has the bassline in it, why don't you take that part of the guitar part and the bass plays that?" So we pulled the whole song out of that guitar part. The theory being that each guitar and bass, it all plays a simple element, but it all really works together. Anyway, that was how the band came to play that song.

But the idea of the song, I guess, was living in Melbourne and feeling stuck and I wanted to write it with a feel's not really surf rock, but I want it to have a kind of coastal surf vibe about it. And then contrasting with the lyrics, which are just about living in Melbourne and just feeling like you can't get out of those things.

As an artist, how do you balance the freedom that comes with creativity with those restrictive and mundane parts of life?

I guess I've just never worked full-time. I've always worked part-time because I feel like I need to allocate a certain amount of days in the week to just being able to think or write or practice. I feel like that's the biggest thing for me, is just allocating time in the week. But yeah, it can get pretty hard when you've got pay rent. We've got this big tour coming up and I'm trying to work out how to work more to save, but then also I've got to try and keep writing and it's always that fine line trying to find the balance between practical stuff and creating. Hopefully, the music will eventually build so I'll be able to work less and less.

What do you hope listeners get out of their listening experience of the album?

I hope that it takes them to a place that is the world that I've created, or that the band has created or tried to create. I hope that they will enjoy the feeling of the album. I hope that it's an album that people would put on when they want to go on a long drive or something and just listen to it.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

Listen to Basic Love with Jade Imagine below:

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