IT is exciting discovering a talented…
young artist from Watford. I have not featured a Watford musician since I wrote about The Staves – that was over a year ago, now! Jessica Murae has provided me an excuse to dig into Watford and find out about its music. Murae herself is an emotive voice who is inspired by singers like Stevie Nicks and Florence Welch. I ask her about her latest single, Wild, and the story behind it; her previous track, Still Cold – and how it feels having that song included in Salute Music Makers’ Top-100. Murae talks about her creative process and whether she is making more music at the moment; the gig dates approaching – and whether she will get any downtime before the end of the year.
I ask Murae what her fondest memory of the year has been; the new artists she would recommend to us – and a trio of albums that have inspired and influenced her own music.
Hi, Jessica. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m all good, thanks! I’ve had a busy week trying to organise a gig I’ve got coming up - but it’s been a fun one.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m an Indie-Pop singer-songwriter from Watford with an obsession for vintage clothing and Instagram-ing.
PHOTO CREDIT: Charlotte Epstein
Can you give me a sense of what you’re working on at the moment? Will there be any new material this/next year?
Yes! I’m currently finishing my last single of the year called Like Magic; it’s in the final mixing process and I’m hoping to release it in November with a visualiser video. It’s quite different to my previous tracks: it’s very ambient and does not have a lot of lyrical content; I’ve been mainly focusing on the production this time.
Your song, Still Cold, made it into Salute Music Makers’ Top-100. How did that make you feel and how is the voting coming along?
It’s been a crazy experience.
I was surprised, at first, but I honestly feel very honoured. There have been some artists in the final-hundred that I have followed for a while just as a fan - so, to be in the chosen alongside them has been a great honour. I’m working hard on the voting process. I have a strong group of loyal people around me who are helping me.
Wild, released in June, is your latest. What inspired the song and how has the (positive) reaction to the song affected you?
I wrote the song at a time in my life when I wanted to do something spontaneous. I wanted the song to feel very free and open: the ending is a huge representation of that where I’m mostly ad-libbing. The reaction has been incredible. It’s been pushing me to get more music out there this year - and I’m very excited to get working on the next E.P.
How do songs come together? Do you set time aside to write or is it more natural?
Sometimes, I will keep a day or two free in the week just to sit and write music: other times, I will wake up with a melody in my head or overhear something someone’s said - and feel inspired to write a song about it.
It’s not often a very structured process for me.
Can you tell me how you got into music? Did you grow up around music as a youngster?
I started singing from a very young age with, mostly, musical theatre in mind. This came from my dad, who is an actor. It wasn’t until my late-teens that I started writing music. My taste in music has always been indie pop with a huge 1970s influence - which came from my parents.
My dad was always playing Pink Floyd in the car - and I came to love that music from a young age.
You have been compared to the likes of Stevie Nicks and Florence Welch. Are these artists you look up to?
Absolutely! They’re fabulous songwriters and have a very spiritual side to their writing which, I think, makes them so different to modern Pop artists. Their lyrics are have been constructed in such a way it’s like you’re reading a poem - and not just a generic song.
Watford is your hometown. What is it like for a musician there? Is there quite an active scene for musicians?
It’s definitely growing...
We have a Watford Musicians Collective on Facebook and have the loyal The Horns pub - where The Staves and Chasing Grace have come from. It’s one to always turn to if you’re looking for new people to work with. The LP Cafe is also a popular venue which is seeing more and more live music - and is a perfect hub for local musicians.
If you had to select a memory from this year that sticks in the mind – which would you select?
Filming the video for Wild.
It was a CRAZY day. I had some great people helping me; however, I really blew it when I forgot the costumes. The polka dot jumpsuit you see in the video was definitely not supposed to be in there…
Which new artists do you recommend we check out?
I’ve really been enjoying an R&B artist called Sabrina Claudio. Her voice is like velvet.
Girl band Paradisia are another incredible group who I found through Spotify. Their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark is insanely beautiful.
What tour dates do you have coming up? Any U.K. dates coming up?
I’m performing at Notting Hill Arts Club on Wednesday 18th October and then taking a little break to work on the new E.P.
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Tapestry by Carole King
It taught me a lot about songwriting. Her voice is so honest: it’s like your listening to her personal story each time.
If You Wait by London Grammar
This album has taught me that simplicity is beautiful and okay. Hannah’s voice represents that perfectly. It gives me goosebumps every time.
Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
You knew this one was coming…there’s not much more to say other than that I’ve been listening to this album since I was seven-years-old - and I’ve never grown tired of it.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
I really feel like I’ve still got a lot to learn but, I guess, if you’re just starting out then go to as many gigs as you can and learn from them. Network and build a strong set of songs to get started.
Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?
I’ll be writing over Christmas. I don’t like to stop: I’ve always got new ideas on the go.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Yay! Give Paradisia a go - Dancing in the Dark
Follow Jessica Murae
PHOTO CREDIT: Charlotte Epstein