Growing up, I was always infatuated with Australia probably because I watched Disney’s The Rescuers Down Under a lot more than I should have been allowed to. However, now that I am older, I have been exposed to the world through a lot more than simply from the point of view of mice. Music has given me great exposure to the world and my latest discovery? The Jezabels. Hailing from Sydney, Australia, this dynamic cuatro (quartet) has a unique sound which I fought to narrow down; they’re practically uncategorizable with their serious “moody-pop” sound. But I can safely say that The Jezabels, at least for me, are a cross between Karen O and the Kids and the 80s. And while that sounds a little vague, that is the only way I could really describe them without unplugging my earphones from my PC and letting you hear for yourself. Needless to say, The Jezabels is the kind of band that reminds the listener that genuine artistry is still kickin’ around these days.
Due to tour North America in November, this international phenomenon is also set to release their debut full-length album, Prisoner, on September 16th in Australia. (US date is TBD, guys. Don’t worry!) Prior to Prisoner, The Jezabels have only released three EPs, but it has earned them enough recognition to sell out venues world-wide. Their newest single, “Endless Summer” is a captivating musical treat, which is surely setting up the mood for what is to come in September.
If you are a skeptic, don’t hold your breath just yet. Once you enter the world Hayley Mary and company have created, you’ll be happy to become one of their newest prisoners, exploring the complexities of gender and other topics of equally intriguing interest. But don’t worry, while this sounds all very serious and deep, just be on the look out for Hayley Mary making faces at herself in the mirror and you’ll feel right at home with The Jezabels.
ASHLEY JEAN: It’s interesting – band names – their origins are either extremely mysterious or very obvious. With The Jezabels, I think of a race-winning horse. I’m pretty sure that’s not exactly where you derived your inspiration from. So let’s make this interesting: in the form of an acronym, can you explain how you got your band name?
ASHLEY JEAN: I adore this equal balance of genders in your band, particularly because it’s either one girl fronting a band of men, or a group of men and maybe a supporting female to keep up the “image.” For Hayley and Heather, do you see any challenges (stereotypes) that you have to adapt to or attempt to change being in such a male-dominated industry?
HALEY MARY: In the beginning we found occasionally that people thought Heather and I were the girlfriends of the band, rather than in the band, which got my goat a bit. Haha. Also the idea that it’s easy to sleep with heaps of people if you’re in a band is a bit of a fallacy for me as a girl. Male musician friends of mine seem to get hit on a lot, where as I find people just want to talk or get married haha.
ASHLEY JEAN: Have Nik and Sam developed any “womanly” qualities from touring with you ladies?
HAYLEY MARY: They always had them haha, but, yeh I think they are pretty different guys to begin with, neither ashamed of being seen as having some ‘feminine’ virtues or an understanding of the complexity if difference. If anything Heather and I have also probably become more like dudes. Things get pretty gross in the van sometimes.
ASHLEY JEAN: On the subject of tour: When you tour in countries like Europe where the linguistic scale is all over, do you try to learn some of their language prior to gigs in order to better interact with your fans?
HAYLEY MARY: It’s hard because you’re normally only in a country for one day or so and then you move to the next language, but we plan on learning more now that we know we’ll be spending more time over there in the coming year.
ASHLEY JEAN: While we’re discussing expanding our vocabularies, I have to admit that I’m very familiar with British slang, and I was wondering – could you teach me a phrase in Australian slang? Preferably something that will leave a good first impression.
HAYLEY MARY: “Get on with your custard.” It means whatever you want it to mean
ASHLEY JEAN: Let’s chat a little bit about your upcoming LP, Prisoner. I understand there are some gender themes and motifs that run through your EPs, so will your LP have a similar structure? Is there one dominating theme?
HAYLEY MARY: There are certainly some similar themes in Prisoner, such as gender, like you identified, but I think what has developed or changed is the perspective on those themes. While in some places there is more anger and pain than previous releases, there are also moments of hope and acceptance, not seen before now.
ASHLEY JEAN: The Jezabels didn’t formally come together as a band until you all met at Uni. Do you ever use any of the material you learned while attending university in your song writing? (Just curious, seeing as I sometimes think, “What would my rhetoric professor say about these questions I’m asking?”)
HAYLEY MARY: Heather studied classical piano at the Conservatorium, so that certainly has an influence on our writing. I studied a fair bit of English and Gender studies, and, as the lyricist, I have definitely used what I learnt at uni as inspiration. While Sam, who studied arts and Nik, who studied science, probably use their deters less directly, they still influence the politics and attitude of the band in ideological and aesthetic decisions.
ASHLEY JEAN: As stated on your website, and from listening to your music, it sounds like you are indeed a very serious band of people. However, you don’t really take yourselves too seriously, even if your music reflects otherwise. So what are a few idosyncrasies you each possess that is not portrayed through your music? Anyone make faces in the mirror or pretend to text when they want to avoid a stranger?
HAYLEY MARY: Haha I do actually do the latter. Nik taps his feet heaps, can’t sit still.
ASHLEY JEAN: It’s wonderful that your sound is hard to pinpoint in words, but what about images? If your sound were a postcard, what do you think it would look like?
HAYLEY MARY: Probably a combination of the covers of all our releases to date.
ASHLEY JEAN: Finally, because it is monsoon season, which 5 songs (not of your own) do you think are fitting for listening to while watching a thunderstorm?
Originally posted on August 23, 2011