There isn’t a musician alive that hasn’t spent a great deal of their youth listening to records, trying to imitate those sounds as they dreamed of their future on stage. For Melbourne’s Jess Fairlie, it was a mixture of 70’s soul and country pop. Today she’s got a style all her own that combines a soulful vocal with a bit of pop. We talked about those artists, her latest single “White Coats,” and one hell of a mixtape!
Kendra: Typically people always have influences from the states, but rarely talk about the local ones. Do you have any artists from Melbourne that have inspired your music?
Jess Fairlie: Very true! Melbourne music is killing it right now. I think most of my influences in music has come from the artists in Melbourne so I could drop names all over the place haha.
My biggest influence which got me into songwriting in the first place and still to this day continues to strengthen and challenge me in all areas of music is Kate Ceberano. I started touring with her when I was 18 years old, I worked her and another exceptional singer/songwriter, Alison Ainsworth, and began to really listen to their songs, the effect they could create, the freedom they had. I got so jealous, that when I got off tour, I locked myself in my room and wrote the worst songs until they got to a point where I started enjoying them. Now I get such a high-performing them with my own band.
Melbourne music is getting more and more exciting and I’m never not inspired after I’ve been to a gig- artists like The Preatures, Ben Abraham, Dylan Joel, Meg Mac, all with their own flavour inspire me to keep writing, keep gigging and supporting other artists.
Kendra: Stateside you’ve noted Stevie Wonder and Shania Twain. Can we hear any of their influence on “White Coats?”
Jess: No. haha there’s no sound of Stevie or Shania on the track at all. However, those were artists that I grew up on and constantly jammed to their albums on repeat standing on my mums poor coffee table from the age of 2. So if you go way back then, I think they’ve definitely influenced in some way, my confidence and ability to feel for something so strong- whether it be love, protest, strength, heartbreak and just go for it. That’s the thing I love about songwriting. No filter. And in ‘White Coats’, there is zero filter on what’s going on in my head and what I’m currently observing going on every day in society.
Kendra: What was flowing through your inner thoughts when “White Coats” came to mind?
Jess: I had the loop of the outro written a while ago which came to me driving home one night. Thoughts about the current state of Man are always on my mind; where we are mentally and spiritually. Observing the effects this has on ourselves and each other, I began questioning of some of the solutions that are taken.
Kendra: Every time an artist drops a single, it’s a representation of who they are. What do you feel this song says about you?
Jess: To some degree, sure. I think it shows a more serious side, and my inability to be quiet about something haha. It also shows (for myself) my growth as a person in being able to perceive my environment more, and have opinions based on what is true for me. I definitely don’t think the track is a full representation of who I am. It’s probably the most different to the rest of my material. As anyone who knows me knows that me being serious is only 1.3% of my life…and that’s just because I have to decide what kind of pizza I want to order.
Working with James Seymour (Feelds), he helped me embrace the heavy lyrics and vibe of the track to work so that it wasn’t a ‘sad’ song with a ‘sad’ message but something that could catch the listener’s attention and let them be able to interpret the song for themselves.
Will this single soon be followed by more?
It’ll definitely be followed by more songs. Most likely quite opposite vibes, more upbeat and lighter but it’s exciting to explore and create what is next!
Kendra: You’ve said, “Music makes life beautiful to live in.” With that, if you had to make a mixtape that coincided with that sentiment – what five songs would have to be on it?
Jess: Oh shitttttt. There’s SO many! This is in no particular order but for me, it’ll probably be:
Bruce Springsteen – “New York Serenade”
Prince – “Purple Rain” Live at the American Music Awards 1985. The guitar solo makes me cry my eyes out every time!
Debussy – “Claire De Lune” – one of my all-time FAVOURITE pieces of music.
Kirk Franklin – “Smile” – because Gospel sounds make my life whole.
Gene Kelly – “Singing in the Rain” because if that isn’t the happiest song in the world, then I don’t know what is.