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:: Spotlight :: Jade Macrae - Australia's soul songstress

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Jade Macrae is one of Australian music’s brightest stars. Her glorious soulful voice shows how talented she is. Jade has been around music all her life and has gathered great experience in surrounding herself with people like Jimmy Barnes, Renee Geyer, Disco Montego, and even UK DJ/producer Ian Pooley, who loved her unique vocal skills. Her overall experience now brings her to the stage of releasing her own excellent recordings and she is thrilled to be on the verge of releasing her self-titled debut album. Her latest single ‘Superstar’ is an example what Jade brings to Australian music in terms of a sexy, sophisticated image. I spoke to Jade about her career so far, leading up to the album release.

Q. You recently had the privilege in paying a singing tribute to Renee Geyer, when Renee was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame at the special ARIA ICONS dinner in Melbourne. You must have been thrilled to perform there…

A. Yes, it was a real honour to be included that night. Everyone who performed, apart from me, is very well established in a music career. So it was pretty special to be asked to perform. I’m a big fan of Renee’s and it was a great opportunity for me to pay tribute to her.

Q. It’s been a time of mixed emotions, as you were a good friend of the recently deceased Darren Dowlut, and you were part of the wonderful group that paid tribute to him, in song, at his funeral…

A. It was incredible to see all these people turn out for Darren. It was a true testament to what a great person he was. He was a talented musician (Kaylan/Disco Montego) and great young man. It was a very sad day for me. I was a close friend with Darren and you develop a certain bond when you write and record together. It’s a tragic loss for the Australian music industry. He had been working on his own music as a songwriter. Hopefully, that will be heard at some stage.

Q. Tell us about your latest single ‘Superstar’?

A. It was one of the first songs that I wrote towards the album. It was at a time when I was first offered a record deal. It was in the early days in speculating what things would be important to me if I became famous and how I would be perceived. The song is basically about that and we see lots of people get carried away with celebrity. For me, it’s important to keep my friends and family close. Be true to your roots.

Q. Good remix involving Phrase too…

A. Yes, it was great to have people on board for the B-sides, like Phrase and Daniel Merriweather.

Q. Tell us about working with Israel, who played a significant role with your album?

A. We did the three singles together, though we haven’t worked together for a while now. It was a good time with him producing.

Q. Who else contributes to the album?

A. My mum sings on a track. My dad plays piano. Jimmy Barnes sings backing vocals on a couple of songs. Diesel plays guitar for a couple of songs too. There’s a cast of thousands.

Q. What’s it been like getting to this point of your career? Has it met your expectations?

A. In the beginning it was just fun. I got offered a few gigs whilst at school and had fun. I’d always been involved in music, mainly on the classical side. It ended up with lots of live gigs and that was convenient for me, as I didn’t have to get a job. I started my own band and writing songs. Then I got more high profile gigs as a backing vocalist. I learned a lot by watching other performers. It’s been an exciting journey so far. Above all, I’ve been mentally prepared in getting to this point.

Q. What modern-day performers do you admire?

A. The music of Prince is still relevant to me now. Neo-soul artists like D’Angelo and Erykah Badu are fantastic. I’m into Gorillaz and Beyonce’s solo work. She is so polished. I also like Janet Jackson. Really, though, I like the old soul classics – as far as singers are concerned.

Q. Were you looking for an urban quality to your album?

A. I wanted the album to be soulful. I consider myself to be a soul singer, but the album comprises mainly pop songs, and they’ve got an urban sound. I sing like a soul singer on them and wrote/co-wrote all the songs.

Q. What are your thoughts on the R&B scene in Australia?

A. It’s certainly growing. It’s a very young scene. There have been a couple of times over the past twenty years when there was some excitement around, and then it faded. This time, there’s a bit of momentum and hopefully that will maintain and increase. There are many good R&B/hip-hop artists in Australia. It’s difficult for them to get their music out there, though. I’m working really hard to get mine out there and, if people respond to that, it will hopefully mean a flow-on effect for others.

Q. Is an Australian identity important?

A. Yes, it’s quite important. It’s probably one of the areas where people in Australia go the wrong way. Many make their music sound American. They think it has to be that way. They have to talk about the jeeps, or the peeps, or whatever. For me, I don’t have a jeep or a peep. I write about my life and my realities. We shouldn’t pretend we’re somewhere else. We’ve got a great life to talk about here.

Q. How important is your image?

A. It’s pretty funny these days. I’ve got about twenty people all concerned about my appearance. I’m pretty happy in a pair of boots and t-shirt, really. Seriously, it’s a big part in the way I am marketed. I do enjoy dressing up, especially for shows. It’s really fun to make an effort. If people look at you, they want to be looking at something nice. I’ve always been interested in clothes and to find things that are different to anybody else.

Q. Having a website is obviously important to you. How do you see it progressing?

A. It’s definitely important in that I’m always looking for ways to expand on it and let it evolve. There are a few new things coming in soon, which are exciting. It’s an effective tool and I want to put some unusual things on there. I love to cook, so maybe I can put some recipes on. I want to put some fun into it. Fans can then get an idea as to my real life.

Q. Are there plans to tour soon?

A. A tour is likely for later in the year. I’m looking forward to it as I’ve done support shows previously. I had a good time on those but now it will be great to do my own show. The Nelly support slot was a privilege for me, even though it can be tough with certain audiences. I was well supported, however. Nelly just likes to party.

Q. Your trips to the USA earlier this year must have impressed the right people…

A. It was very worthwhile. I did those two trips and the second one was especially pleasing as I performed for the legendary Clive Davis, who is a massive music icon. It was pretty cool to get into his office and sing for him. I’m excited at the general feedback and the contacts made. Now, I will concentrate on the album release here. Hopefully, we can then set our eyes on overseas again. I’ll probably start work on the next album in New York.

Q. Do you have other aspirations?

A. Expectations can get high when you grow up. I’m still learning so much about singing that I’m not really thinking about anything else. My writing is something I want to focus on more in the future. I’m also very keen on the production side, having done a lot of it on my album. I did all the vocal production. I like working in the studio. Acting could be another possibility. It’s another aspect of performance. I had a great time making my music video. You never know what’s around the corner. Actually, I would say that one of my dreams is to write and sing a (James) Bond theme. You know you’ve made it when you’ve done that.

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