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BTD Interview with Talitha Jae

Written by on March 12, 2024

I am going to start off with a very basic question but indeed a very important question. Can you share a bit about yourself and how your musical journey began?

I grew up in a musical family, so music was always a big part of my life. My mum is a singer-songwriter as well, and my parents used to play music at church, which is where I started out really. I moved on to performing at weddings and parties with my Mum, and didn’t start the solo thing until I moved to Cairns in my twenties. It was pretty scary at first but I love it so much! I did also do a few competitions growing up as a solo (and won a few which was pretty cool), but had never performed my own songs until 2018.

Your music is described as a blend of jazz, folk, country, indie, pop, and blues. How do you incorporate these diverse influences into your sound?

I honestly don’t know 😂 I struggle SO much with genre. I think because I grew up with such a mix of different styles of music around me, it all plays out in my songwriting subconsciously. I never know which box to tick when I’m applying for festivals and competitions because it really just sits somewhere in between them all. Some songs do lean a little more country, or a little more jazz, or what have you, but most are a blend. I think that’s starting to happen everywhere though, I think genre is becoming more fluid.

What artists influenced your music?

I always say my big four favourite girlies are Eva Cassiday, Clare Bowditch, Laura Marling and Norah Jones. But I also grew up on things like Jewel, The Corrs, Shania Twain (and a whooooole lot more) so there’s a lot in there.

I know you are from Australia, such a beautiful place. Have you been there all your life? How has your local environment influenced your music, and do you find a sense of community in the Australian music scene?

Yes, I have been. I’ve only left the country once for two weeks so I’m not even well travelled at this stage. I love it here. I’m currently in a regional town and the music scene here is absolutely beautiful. There is a real sense of community and everyone is encouraging and looking out for one another. I’m about to make the move to a big city though which is slightly daunting, but I have made contact with a few artists down there and they seem lovely as well. We are a pretty friendly bunch over here.

I have to dig into knowing more about your highly anticipated upcoming release, “Meet Me At the Window.” Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind this new song?

This song was written while I was signed up to an  I Heart Songwriting Club 10 week challenge (which I did not complete, because ADHD 🙈). This one is about really wanting to connect with someone but being hesitant to put yourself out there, and realizing that others are probably feeling the same over in their bubbles. The window represents the happy middle, the common ground for us to meet and start exploring and getting to know each other.

While we are talking about songs, “Butterflies and Anxiety” explores the theme of love. Can you share your creative process in crafting this song and how your personal experiences inspire your song writing?

This one has a pretty cool story. I had all of the feelings – the butterflies of a new potential  relationship and everything being so sickly sweet and exciting, followed by the “oh my gosh what if this is all made up in my head and they don’t even actually like me and I look like the biggest idiot”. And there was nothing I could do about it because I was in the middle of an eight (I’m pretty sure it was eight, it was a few years ago now) day long intensive (and OMG it was INTENSE – it was our capstone subject) at uni. The lyrics just kept popping up into my head, and I kept trying to push them away and tell them I had no time right now. But they kept coming so I hummed a melody over a blues progression and scrawled bits and pieces in the back of my notebook. The day the intensive finished I got home and finally picked up the guitar and sang it out loud once, then recorded the first little rough video of the song.

Pretty much all of my songs come from personal experience (who am I kidding, ALL of them). I struggle trying to write anything that doesn’t make me feel something, and I struggle not to write when I’m feeling strongly about something. It’s how I process emotions and situations, it’s like my therapy. I used to think I was selfishly sharing the songs because I like them, but more and more people come up and tell me their stories of how they relate to the songs and how they get a sense of comfort and understanding from hearing them – and THAT, is the absolute best. I love that I can take my feelings, and turn them into something that helps other people feel and process things too!

How about your track “Slow” The lyrics describe the early stages of a relationship. How do you approach writing songs about personal experiences, and do you find it challenging to be vulnerable in your music?

It’s always going to be a bit daunting sharing your stories, especially really personal ones (like my song Ada which is yet to be released). But the beauty that comes from it is well worth any uncomfortable feelings that precede it. I kind of just put it all out there and trust that if I’m being true and honest it will resonate with others.

Congrats on your numerous awards and competition placements, how do these accolades impact your approach to your music career?

Thank you! It’s so funny, even with all of these I still have a crazy dose of imposter syndrome and sometimes my brain tries to tell me I’m actually not any good at any of this. Then my friends or family will remind me about all of the wins and awards and it snaps me out of it. I think that’s ok though, it keeps me humble and striving to do and be better, I wouldn’t want to become complacent and take any of the opportunities I get for granted. In saying that, it is also useful to remember that I am actually pretty good at this stuff so I don’t give in to the imposter syndrome. It’s a delicate balance I guess.

As a Regional Delegate at the Australian Women in Music Awards, what insights did you gain, and how do you see your role in supporting women in the music industry?

That was such an amazing experience. Without going into too much detail, I actually went through something really difficult while I was there and it really highlighted that we as women face extra challenges. But it also highlighted the beautiful and nurturing nature we have, in that no matter what level we are at, when we see someone going through one of those relatable struggles, we can rally behind them and bring them back up. I gained so much else from that experience as well, being around so many other female artists, hearing their stories, how they’ve overcome their own struggles, how they’ve gotten where they are, and the amazing things they’re doing now. Walking the black carpet and attending the awards night was definitely a highlight, but the whole thing was such a special experience that will stick with me forever.

I see you have performed at many festivals, how does the energy of performing at these festivals differ from supporting other artists or performing in more intimate settings?

The festival vibe is definitely different from the intimate concert experience, but both are equally as awesome. I absolutely love the intimate settings of some concerts, and people just sitting and listening, but it’s also fun to get out there in front of new crowds and see peoples interest being piqued and them wandering over. It’s fun to then get to be in the crowd for the rest of the festival and have people recognize you and make the effort of coming over to say how much they enjoyed the set. I even had some people who couldn’t find me but remembered me pointing out my Aunt. They bought merch, hunted her down, and asked her to get me to sign it. That made me feel pretty special.

If I was an invisible fly in the studio, what would I see that day?

Haha! Probably a lot of funny faces when I mess things up. A lot of giggles. A lot of tea. No shoes. Just super comfortable and (mostly) relaxed.

After the release of “Meet Me At the Window,” what can fans expect next from Talitha Jae? Any upcoming projects or collaborations in the pipeline?

There are definitely some fun things in the pipeline. I’m hoping to finish recording my next single after I move and get that out by the end of the year. That one is a bit more upbeat and cheeky! I’ve also got a long term project I’ve been working on which hopefully should be a bit easier to put the missing pieces together in a big city so definitely watch this space!

What can you share with our BTD listeners that you have never shared on any other interview before?

Ooh, this is fun! And also tricky. I’m a bit of an oversharer so I don’t have a lot of juicy secrets. Here’s a fun little quirk. I’m a grown adult who still sleeps with a snuggle toy 🙊 I’m a side sleeper when I fall asleep and it helps prop me up, I feel like my chest is caving in without it. I guess I could use a cushion…. But I like the cute toy. I’m a bit of a big kid. My first name means ‘little girl’ so that’s the perfect excuse to stay in touch with my inner child.

Lastly, is there a message or feeling you hope listeners take away from your music, especially with the unique blend of genres and emotions in your songs?

I think my big thing is just to take time to feel all the feels! I get so excited when people come up to me after a gig and tell me that they felt something, even better if they cried. Life gets so busy sometimes that it’s easy to just keep on keeping on and not take time to honour our feelings. I’m guilty of it as well. And I love when I get to have a good guilt free cry during a song or movie. Emotions are a normal part of life, denying them means you’re denying such a big part of life and not experiencing it fully. Experience it!