Published on October 26th, 2018 | by Craig Silliphant0
INTERVIEW: Taylor Jade
One of the best albums from Saskatoon in the last year was Taylor Jade’s, ‘Dreamy is the Night.’ We chat with Jade about her music.
One of the best albums out of Saskatoon in the last year was Taylor Jade’s, ‘Dreamy is the Night.’ Jade sings songs in a sadder vein, with a dream-pop-folk bent. Her voice is beautiful she’s a great songwriter, and she’s a stellar guitar player, especially when finger-picking. The songs on ‘Dreamy is the Night’ are often filled with melancholy, but not without hooks or energy. Some sublime harmonies too. Some of these tracks sound like Stevie Nicks with a mouthful of Xanax. Dreamy, ethereal, moving.
Jade doesn’t aggressively promote herself, but this record could easily hold its own with any albums of its ilk. I recommended it to the other Polaris Prize jurors, and while I’m not allowed to reveal details of that conversation as it’s a private forum, it’s safe for me to say that several other jurors were thrilled to discover the album. You can take a listen (and purchase a digital copy) of ‘Dreamy is the Night’ here.
Or, you can watch the video for the single, ‘Ghost.
Because I’ve been listening to this album consistently over the past yearish, I wanted to chat with Jade, to learn more about how and why she does what she does. She gracefully accepted my invitation to do so, and here we are! Enjoy!
THE FEEDBACK SOCIETY: How did you get into music?
TAYLOR JADE: My parents used to make music together, and that’s how I came to be. I think that my dad receives a lot of the credit for my abilities, because he plays music to the public so often. Most people don’t know that my mum is an incredibly skilled singer and naturally talented player as well. I grew up watching them and their friends sing folk-rock songs around the kitchen table and at different social functions. Listening to them really helped me develop an ear for harmonies and I think I can wholly attribute my musical tastes to what they raised me on. James Taylor, CSNY, Little Feat, Jim Croce, Bonnie Raitt, David Bowie, Elton John, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, the list goes on. Music was always kind of the main focus in our household and It’s been imbedded in me to make it a priority in my life.
Editor’s Note: Taylor’s Dad is Saskatoon musician Kelly Read.
TFS: I love your guitar playing. Did you take guitar lessons or are you self-taught?
TJ: Mum & Dad taught me my first few basic chords, because when I was like, eight years old, I so desperately, for whatever reason, needed to learn how to play ‘Behind Blue Eyes.’ Those were my first G, C, D, Em Chords. Once you know those, you’re good to go.
From then on, I was self-taught. I learned things by ear. To this day, I can’t read music or tablature. I’m still learning all the time. I wouldn’t even say that I’m much of a guitar player now, but it opened the world of songwriting to me. So, I’ll keep pluckin’ away at it.
TFS: Without using genre, how would you describe your sound?
TJ: Instinctively, I always wanna say, “sad.”. But I think I need to get a little more creative, as people tend to ask me that a lot. Maybe, lyrically and vocally oriented. Light while also being contextually dark. It’s depressing, but it’s pretty. Loved by both moms and metalheads alike.
TFS: Hahaha, I like that. I think you hit upon the right description. What is your writing process?
TJ: Honestly, I wish that I had a, “writing process.” I’m able to crank out a good song like, once every four to six months. It never happens when I sit down and decide, “I’m gonna write a song today.” It always happens very suddenly and when I’m not ready for it. My inspiration is so incredibly fleeting. So, when it pops up, I feel this panicky need to run home and pick up the guitar. And once it’s in my lap, the song just falls out of me and it’s over. If I have to sit there any longer than thirty minutes, I’ll give up. Because by then, I’m forcing creativity.
TFS: That makes sense, oddly enough. I end up with a lot of horrible songs that I discard for that exact reason. But I never really considered that it was because I was forcing it after a certain point. I’m going to remember that going forward.
Are there any overarching themes on Dreamy is the Night?
TJ: Dreamy is the Night is a collection of songs I had written over a span of about four years. Even stretching back into when I was performing with Little Criminals. Overall, the album is super sad. Heartbreak, substance abuse, anxiety and depression, death. Nice stuff. I think the only real theme there was dealing with the trials and tribulations of becoming a grown-up, becoming a solo performer, and discovering what drives me to make art.
TFS: Can you tell us about the recording of that that album?
TJ: I recorded that album with Mike Lefevbre at his studio, The Sweat Shoppe, in Saskatoon. I knew Mike from being involved in the heavy music scene over the years. He always expressed such a genuine appreciation for my music. I had pretty much all of the songs demoed beforehand and I knew exactly what I wanted, so it was a breeze. I had Stephen Fischer and my dad play guest guitar on a few tracks, and Mike suggested I have Nykki Atkings from New Jacobin Club play cello on a few songs, which was maybe the best idea ever. She nailed it. Everyone nailed it. I love being in the studio.
TFS: How do you translate the album, which can be a pretty atmospheric affair, to a live show, especially when it’s just you and an acoustic?
TJ: To me, the album and the live show are two separate entities, which some artists and listeners don’t agree with, but whatevs, to each their own.
When I play shows, it can get very personal, both for me and for those in attendance. I don’t write in deep metaphor and I’m very honest. And I think that if I’m in the right room, it really draws everyone in. Such vulnerability can be captivating.
When I record a song, I have the freedom to utilize all of my musical superpowers. I can arrange all parts of the songs and layer the harmonies and add and subtract whatever and wherever I want. There’s all this room to experiment and collaborate and change my mind if I want to.
Making an album, in my opinion, is comparable to making a piece of physical, tangible art. Whereas, performing is like having a brief and intimate conversation.
(Jade with another very talented Saskatchewan/BC songwriter, Steph Cameron)
TFS: How do you measure the success of your music?
TJ: People tend to measure success in terms of popularity or money or whatever. And because of that, I think the word “success” makes me uncomfortable, as I don’t really place a ton of value on either of those things. I think I can measure the success of my music based on how well and how often it helps me to process and survive the events in my life. Songwriting is the only real way I know how to pull out and deal with my thoughts and emotions. And if other people are hearing these songs and feeling less isolated in their own suffering or uncomfortableness, that’s enough for me!
TFS: What album are you obsessed with right now? Anything you just can’t stop listening to?
TJ: I have a few albums I’m cycling through on repeat right now. Adrianne Lenker’s ‘abysskiss,’ both Aldous Harding’s, ‘Party,” and self-titled albums, Haley Heynderickx’s, ‘I Need to Start a Garden,’ Emma Ruth Rundle’s, ‘On Dark Horses,’ and Sleep’s ‘The Sciences.’
TFS: What’s a band or record you can’t stand hearing?
TJ: MeatLoaf. Mumford & Sons. Any type of like…techno or rave music. (laughs)
TFS: Who is your favourite local act?
TJ: I don’t know! So many of them are my friends and I love them all. But if I have to choose, I’ll choose all the local punk and grindcore bands, because there are so few but they’re my favourite shows to go to.
TFS: What’s the best live show you’ve seen lately?
TJ: Blitzen Trapper played here recently on their Furr anniversary tour. Eric Earley is one of my favourite songwriters and that’s one of my favourite albums. So I choose that one. Also, Kimya Dawson played here a little while ago and that pretty monumental for me.
TFS: What is your bucket list show?
TJ: Crosby Stills Nash & Young. Which will likely never happen. But I can dream. Otherwise, I feel like I’ve seen most of my real big deal bucket list shows.
TFS: Anything I’ve missed?
TJ: I’m recording another album this winter! And doing some interesting collaborations. So, there’s some cool new stuff to look forward to.