Laura Jae is a Greenwich-based singer with a sound described as electro-cinematic. Coming from a musical lineage of parents and an aunt who were singers, Jae’s venture into music was evidently destined.
The rising artist, who previously released the acclaimed EP Silver Lined Hearts, is poised to unleash the follow-up, entitled Cut Piece, this summer. The project’s first single is Underwater, with visuals produced in collaboration with director Joe Woods and designer Christopher Raeburn. If Underwater is anything to go by, Cut Piece is sure to be consumed by unfaltering vocals uttering emotive lyrics over experimental beats, diverse in tempo, with just as strong visuals to accompany.
In a quaint cafe facing a sun-drenched evergreen park, in North London’s Stoke Newington, PETRIe caught up with Laura Jae one late Sunday morning. We discuss how Jae’s musical lineage, by way of her influences, has helped to cultivate her individual sound, working with Christopher Raeburn and the accession of British female artists on music’s landscape.
Jamal George-Sharpe: Your sound has been described as electro-cinematic, how else would you describe your music?
Laura Jae: I would say it is very experimental, emotive, honest and raw.
JGS: How did you initially venture into music?
LJ: I remember the first time was probably when I went abroad to Malia in Greece. I met a guy called Kesi, a member of Rudimental. We were just talking and it naturally came up that I do music. We met again in London and he introduced me to the whole recording and production side of music. So, it started from there really. After that, I got my Garageband on and started producing songs.
JGS: Who would you say is part of your musical lineage, in terms of influences?
LJ: I'm inspired by a lot of musicians, in particular Björk, but also by art and people in the fashion world, like Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. People who are confident, bold and not easily discouraged by others are a source of inspiration for me.
JGS: How did you find your individual voice in music?
LJ: I think it has definitely come from my influences, especially as my parents' taste in music are so opposite. My mother would play country music, my dad would have Michael Jackson, Sade and Toni Braxton playing in the house. Same goes for my aunt, who would play Aaliyah. So, I think it’s growing up with this mix of artists that has really helped me to find my own style.
JGS: What would you count as the highlights of your career so far?
LJ: This is quite some time ago, but it was really nice to get a number one in Malta. That was really cool. Sitting in a room with Hudson Mohawke and his label manager when they all got to hear the upcoming EP Cut Piece— that was really good. It was nice to get their feedback. It’s great when people can see where you're going.
JGS: So let’s talk about Underwater and its emotive lyrics in particular?
LJ: Underwater is about the feeling of being overwhelmed, alone and wondering: “What am I doing here?” It's a song about needing or wanting someone to help you. It's a combination of how I was feeling at the time and how I imagine other people feel too.
JGS: Do you ever feel anxious when releasing music, especially as your songs speak to personal moments of your life?
LJ: Definitely! My team will know I’m the worst when it comes to stuff like that because I do feel anxious. You just never know. I always think about how people are going to view my songs, or whether I´m being too honest. So I do get anxious, but I started to get used to it.
JGS: For the visual elements of Underwater, you collaborated with designer Christopher Raeburn. How did that all come about?
LJ: A director called Joe Woods found me on Soundcloud. He explained that he was working on a project about ethical fashion and sustainability, and that he wanted to do a video for Underwater because the song was so expressive and organic. He told me that Christopher Raeburn said he wants to be a part of it, in terms of collaborating with an artist. It worked out really well and it was a great experience.
JGS: So who are some of your favourite artists of the moment?
LJ: I love Tame Impala and Little Dragon. I actually mainly listen to older music like Sade – that's always good.
JGS: What can we expect from your upcoming EP Cut Piece?
LJ: In terms of sound, it’s very experimental and out-there. It’s nice because it is not just experimental, it has songs that can appeal to wider audiences too. It has a nice balance to it, so there is something for everyone, in a sense.
JGS: Are you planning to tour with the EP? What’s on the agenda for the rest of 2016?
LJ: Yeah, we are going to be touring. I am flying out to LA to play some shows out there. KRCW is a radio station out there and one of the DJs hosts a show, so I will be working with her. We are also shooting some music videos, and of course to start working towards my third EP, which will hopefully be out in September.
Words: Jamal George-Sharpe
Photography: Morgan Hill-Murphy
Copy edited by: Elena Stanciu