Artists / Bands, Indie / Alternative, Interviews — June 18, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Interview with The Jezabels

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Music Services Asia was thrilled to chat with The Jezabels ahead of their full-house gig in Singapore, which kickstarted their whirlwind Asian tour. Read our interview with Hayley Mary (vocalist), Heather Shannon (keyboards), Sam Lockwood (guitars) and Nik Kaloper (drums) to find out more about The Jezabels’ dynamic song-writing process, dream collaborations and their aim to be the “forefathers of Asian touring!”

MSA: Your latest record, ‘Prisoner’ explores themes of oppression and emancipation. What was the inspiration behind these thematic elements?

Heather: It’s kind of a push and pull thing I guess.

Hayley: Well it’s weird because we had the title really early on in the piece, “Prisoner”, and I think that probably made us think of those things as we were writing the songs.

MSA: So it started with the title and then built up from there?

Hayley: Sort of, to an extent. While the album is different to our previous releases, it has similarities both musically and lyrically and those are things we have already sort of touched on subconsciously, so for the album it was a more conscious inspiration.

MSA: We love the intensity and atmosphere present in your songs – as a band, how does each different member contribute to the collective song-writing process?

Hayley: It’s kind of like building a house, every person puts a brick down…

Sam: We all have a trade, I’m a plumber!

Nik: I do the ceilings, the roof.

Sam: Hayley’s the plumber, she does the roofing. Nik’s probably the bricklayer.

Nik: I’m the bricklayer, yes!

Sam: Heather, interior design?

Hayley: It’s like that with every song, so an idea will come from it – wait, is it cool if I leave the analogy? (All laugh.) It’s different every time, we go with a guitar or a drum or a keyboard or a vocal idea and then we’ll just kind of add to it.

Nik: It all tends to start with one idea, and then we all start chucking things at it until it makes sense, and somehow we always arrive at something that’s really intense. We never say “let’s make this song really intense, like every other song” but it just happens that way.

Heather: I think it happens because there are four people writing and everyone has to have their input, no one’s really happy to just play along so we end up having this energy in it naturally since it’s coming from four people.

MSA: Now that The Jezabels are signed to Untitled Records, what do you think is in store for the band? How will this affect the growth and development of The Jezabels?

Hayley: We were just talking about how it just seems sensible to stop over in Singapore every time we fly from Australia to London or vice versa.

Sam: We always stop over here anyway, so we might as well hop out and play a show.

MSA: Does that mean you’ll probably play 5 more shows in Singapore in the coming year?

Band: YEAH!

Nik: I’m so excited about the whole idea, to be signed to a new label, and they’re so excited as well.

Heather: They’re so welcoming and helpful and they’ve done so much for us already by just inviting us here.

Sam: And they give us access to South-East Asia, really, without them we wouldn’t have a clue on how to put on a show here.

MSA: So are there any future plans in store?

Nik: We’re gonna try and come back here as often as we can.

Heather: It’s situated really well.

Sam: Yeah, nothing’s set in stone but we’ll definitely be back.

MSA: Do you think more Australian bands should come stop over here then?

Nik: Yeah! Why not? I think we’ll be the forefathers of Asian touring!

Heather: Some people already do, just not many indie bands, so we can try to lead by example.

MSA: The Jezabels have a really unique sound, but if you had to collaborate with any other musical act out there, who would you choose to work with?

Sam: I guess as a band, probably some really good producer that we can work with on an album.. maybe Nigel Godrich?

Hayley: I think the collaboration between the four of us is too much anyway, sometimes!

Sam: Yeah, I’d like to collaborate with these guys. (motions to the rest of the band)

All: Aww!

Nik: It’s hard, whenever this question comes up I always just think about how nervous I’d be working in the same room as some of my favourite artists so it actually just seems like a bad experience!

Heather: We’ve also built up quite a dependency on each other song-writing-wise I think, so it would be hard to kind of add another element to the song-writing process.

Sam: And also to see one go. We wouldn’t realize how much each of us contributes to our songs until one of us isn’t here, and then we realize “okay, we can actually write a song”.

Hayley: I think we’re not at that stage yet, we’re still developing ourselves as a band so we haven’t really thought about it. When it seems like the right time, after a few albums maybe then we’ll probably have a few ideas with regards to collaborations.

MSA: This is not the first time that The Jezabels are touring Asia – what do you think of the music audience here? What are your favourite Asian acts that you’ve played with here?

Heather: Actually Sam and I really liked a band we saw last year in Singapore at Music Matters, they’re called Re-Tros. They’re from Beijing, they seem to be quite well-known in parts of Europe, in the underground scene.

Nik: The only time we’ve toured here was with a touring party with English and Western bands, like bands from New Zealand and the UK, so I don’t feel like we’ve gotten heaps of exposure to the talent in these cities.

Heather: Remember that really incredible pop band in Jakarta, that played before us? That was intense!

Nik: Oh yeah! I forgot their name…

Heather: The whole idea is for us to get to know the local scenes more now.

Nik: Yes, especially this time around, I think we’ll feel a little bit more immersed in the Asian culture. This is the first time we’re headlining our own tour here so we have a lot to learn.

MSA: Which show are you looking forward to the most?

Nik and Sam: All of them!

Nik: It’s a lame answer, but all of them! I really like Taipei but it sucks that we have the tightest schedule over there for the whole tour, we’ll get there at 3 in the afternoon and have to leave at 6 in the morning the next day.

Sam: Maybe after the show we’ll have a walk around, the show’s quite early so that would be good.

Nik: Yeah, I want to get back to Taiwan one day, even as a tourist rather than a band.

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The Jezabels play their last date of the Asian tour tomorrow night (June 19) in Grappa’s Cellar, so if you’re in Hong Kong, be sure to catch their amazing live performance!