It feels like a generation ago when ARIA award winning singer-songwriter Samantha Jade was crowned the champion of the 2012 X Factor, followed by a memorable performance of the winner’s single, What You’ve Done to Me. The euphoria exploded into an aberrated kaleidoscopic ecstasy, “I don’t remember that moment in a way I wished I did,” as Jade reminisced. “I was so positive I wouldn’t win…ask anyone who knew me at that time; it was the biggest mind-blowing moment for me.”
The accolade was a seminal accomplishment for the Perth girl, earning a recording contract with Sony Music Australia for the winning single and the self-titled album Samantha Jade that skyrocketed to the top of the charts on debut. The music label giant has been the pillar of Jade’s musical journey since the momentous night, paving a two-way street of mutual respect, “…when I was on X Factor, I was lucky that I can do whatever I want to do. And when I was signed to Sony, they knew who I was. So I definitely had a really good path.”
Jade also reflects poignantly on the lost that reshaped her outlook, “I remember it has been a big lesson when my mother passed away that taught me more than ever what real success is. Real success is just being happy with your work. Be happy with the product that you put out…”
While 2020 is a year of isolation and separation, Jade refuses to acquiesce in artistic sobriety, instead taking the opportunity to record a number of singles, notably the thematically relevant Back to Back, highlighting the inherent support among friends in times of need, “We speak with each other through work and I find that really tough, and I really wanted to write a song about that, and how friends will always have your back.” Jade homes into specifics in the music video with an all-female cast, underlining the special bond amongst them, “I think girls just understand girls. We have the same struggles, same issues, same triumph…and we get each other at some deep level…”
Through the global tentacles of Sony Music Australia, a world class quality control in the production line is expected, and Back to Back is no exception with the likes of Carmen Reece (Arianna Grande, Fifth Harmony, Guy Sebastian) and G’Harah “PK” Degeddingseze (Chris Brown) molding the single into a sonic enchantment. But music production involving internationally based professionals has been challenging at times, “Carmen is in LA, but we’ve always worked together. Is either I go there or she comes here. And it was so strange to do over Facetime and it felt really weird at first. It’s a process and it takes time.” Thankfully, the subconscious connection between the two ladies bridged the Pacific gap, leading to a perfect entwinement of lyricism and sonics.
Back to Back is a prerequisite track of 2020, a feel-good track that spears the rays of hope through the lugubrious clouds, evaporating the spiritual isolation through friendship. Sonically charged and often causing involuntarily twitch thanks to the deep bass, the track is as congruous in a high brow bar in L.A. as it would be in an intimate party of two in a South Coogee backyard. Sonically charged and often causing involuntarily twitch thanks to the deep bass, the track is as congruous in a high brow bar in L.A. as it would be in an intimate party of two in a South Coogee backyard. The sincerity in the message, such as “When you’ve got no fight and your head don’t feel right…I got your back, babe” is palpable in Jade’s vocals. Lyrical honesty is a key to success – which can often uproot the soul of the artist, and it’s no exception the girl from Perth is the perfect messenger of Back to Back.
At the time of writing, the latest single New Boy has just been released. Jade is excited. “One can literally dance to and forget about the world, and this is what I really like to do most and I feel this song is no exception…it’s a dance floor banger!” The reggae’esq, piña colada-sipping-under-the-palm tree-in-the Caribbean “dance floor banger” is “about new beginnings”. Perhaps this is the track that’ll take us to the dawn of hope in the new year.
The video is a dead set winner, encapsulating a world class choreography of dancers, set in a moody warehouse that somehow appears classy, casting an array of artistic props and repertoire, directed by James Chappell and choreographed by Matt Lee (So You Think You Can Dance). Just like her 2019 Smash Hit Bounce, Jade synchs into the music in perfect harmony, and oozing the kind of sex appeal that screams uber chicness.
From dance floor killers to tear jerkers, the RnB/pop star and sometimes actor possesses the vocal conviction, sincerity and talent to evoke life out of a phone book. If our readers are guilty of stopping short just after the X Factor days, we’d strongly recommend them to rediscover Jade through her work from recent years; a collection of pure musical seduction, that are bound to stimulate our five senses.
We have no doubt our girl from Perth is one of the most talented artists of our generation. Meanwhile, Sheldon Ang considers himself fortunate to rediscover the infectious personality of Samantha Jade in a candid conversation.
Back To Back
Sheldon: I heard you’ve been recording back to back singles. Get it? (Samantha: Chuckles). Was it festered from Covid…given Covid was all about Isolation and separation?
Samantha: Absolutely. I felt throughout Covid we’re always learning about lessons when there are crazy moments like that in life, and I’ve always loved my friends of course, and how the pandemic affect us…we really missed the connectivity and being together, and friendship and community…and I feel that my friends are such a huge part in what I do. My bands are my friends, my singers are my friends, my dancers are my friends, my team and my make-up artists are my friends. And we see each other all the time even through work, and I find that really tough, and I really want to write a song about that. And how friends will always have your back.
Sheldon: This single is female specific…I think the camaraderie between females is more organic, because they tend to open-up?
Samantha: I think girls just get girls. We have the same struggles, same issues, same triumph…and we just get each other on such deep level. That’s not to say guys don’t get that, as I think they do, but is a different connection with girls. And I really appreciate the connection. I never had a sister. So I’m really lucky enough to have best friends who feel like sisters to me, and to give me that kind of connection.
Sheldon: And I noticed the video consists of an all-female cast such as Rachel Finch and the Yellow Wiggles. Does each of them represents a specific storyline or were they randomly chosen?
Samantha: I chose the women whom I’ve met, successful but kind. I’ve met so many people in the industry over the years, and once you get into the industry, you know everyone all of the sudden…and these girls have remained so kind and generous with their time. And from the first time I met those girls, they are exactly the same as now. Some of them have grown into this success and some of them have gone bigger and better that and it is a lot to be said about their character; that they are still lovely people, and the people in the clip are my wishlist. So I was all blown away when they all said yes.
Sheldon: How would you define success? Obviously is not about money, rather more about happiness?
Samantha: Definitely. I think it has been a big lesson this year. I remember it has been a big lesson when my mother passed away, that taught me more than ever what real success is. Real success is just being happy with your work. Be happy with the product that you put out…and it may not reflect on how it appears on the charts or by sales, but if you’re happy with what you’ve put out and stand there and be proud of it, then you’re successful.
Sheldon: And I think you should be proud of yourself.
Samantha: Aww thank you. And I think you have to go through everything and know what you’ve done and stand there and be proud of your product.
Sheldon: And you’re in your early 30s and you’re already giving life’s lessons
Samantha: (Chuckles) From my perspective.
Sheldon: And there are a lot of collaborative effort in the making of Back to Back...such as Carmen who has been working with you for several years, and PK who has worked with the likes of Chris Brown. I heard that you had to collaborate through Skype, is that correct?
Samantha: Yeah it was so weird. Carmen is in LA, but we’ve always worked together. Is either I go there or she comes here. And it was so strange to do over Facetime and it felt really weird at first. Because with a song it’s a process and it takes time. When you’re writing and stuck with an idea, and then you go away and come back and listen to it again…like have coffee…food…that’s the time when the magic usually sparks…but we’re so lucky because we have been working together for so long now, and we’re both women and we both were feeling that way we’re feeling about the world at that time…so the song was so easy to write….so the words just poured down onto the page
Sheldon: There is this perception that if you are contracted to the big name, your personal creativity is put aside. Has that been true in your case?
Samantha: I have been really lucky. I have had that journey before I came to Sony in Australia. And I when I was on X Factor, I was lucky that I can do whatever I want to do. I was very blessed. And when I was signed to Sony, they knew who I was. So I definitely had a really good path. But there may be some occasions where they may not be your favourite projects or songs but I’ve been really lucky to be myself and my team have really kind to me in the way of listening to me and allowing me to take my time to write album…or finesse songs….and if I’m not happy with photoshoots and I can do that again. I’ve never had problem with that. I’ve been really blessed.
Sheldon: Are you a pure lyricist or are you involved in the composing of the music?
Samantha: I am not a producer so I don’t do the music side. But I write the lyrics and the melodies, meaning when a track is played, I come up with the tune. But I feel the music is not necessarily playing…I feel it is in you. Sometimes I sing a melody to a producer and they’ll battle in what the track is doing. You can hear things…is the sonic things….you can hear and it becomes the track.
Sheldon: When I had a chat with Ross Wilson of Mondo Rock, he said sometimes you need to put out the antenna and let the music come to you, rather than you looking out for the music.
Samantha: Yeah that is so true, music is one of those things that is very creative and you can’t force it, and it comes to you when it’s meant to come to you…and that’s why it’s really beautiful and that’s why it’s so special to be a musician, and is not a normal thing – and is a different world; songs and ideas come to you at random times.
Sheldon: So that brings us to New Boy. I believe it’ll be released in two days (20/11/20)? Tell us about it.
Samantha: Yes! New Boy – and I’m so excited about it – comes out on Friday. Basically when I wrote this song – and this is supposed to come out first – and Back to Back came into my world of music – and it had to come out next. But New Boy is something that I’m really proud of…it’s a pop song…is great. And is one of those dance songs that you can literally dance to and forget about everything else, and I love those songs, and is something that I really like to do most and I feel this song is no exception to that…and is literally a dance floor banger!
Sheldon: When I think of this song, it reminds of me being in the Caribbean in a balmy island, then I meet someone on the dance floor, and I’d be too shy to go any further…so I go back to my room, and make a phone call, the rest is…whatever…is that the imagery or am I having a wild imagination.
Samantha: That’s true! It is about let it go and new beginnings…exactly, like you said it is about dancing and having fun…and then going “OK let me figure out if you’re the new boy, I’m not sure yet”
Sheldon: So we have several singles. Are these teasers to an upcoming album?
Samantha: Yeah the album was supposed to come out this year and then Covid came so we had to push them back…and I do rely on my fans and followers to give me advise for this album. I really listen to what they want to hear… I’m so appreciative of them…so when I put out an album, I can see them and thank them in person…the meets and greets…the normal things we do to make you feel close to your community. So we can’t do this year so we’ll push it out to next year, so we can do a tour.
Sheldon: Hopefully you can come to Perth and I can interview you about the album.
Samantha: Of course, for me that’s the whole dream. Perth is my home town and is my family and is where I feel the best, and I can’t do a tour without Perth.
X FACTOR 2012
Sheldon: Hey do you mind if I go back to 2012?
Samantha: Yeah go for it!
Sheldon: How was it like to sing the winning song, What You’ve Done To Me right after it was announced you won X-Factor? You must’ve felt the happiest person on the planet.
Samantha: Oh my god, I was shocked. I don’t remember that moment in a way I wished I did…Because it was so shocking. I was so positive I wouldn’t win…asked anyone who knew me at that time…it was the biggest mind blowing thing for me…I am not going to win…I was like, I’m not going to win, I’m not going into the finals, so that was just unbelievable. Because for me with all of those things that happened to me that only I knew at that time, it was a celebration of me being able to push through, and it was really incredible. And I remember getting off the stage…I saw my mum and dad, and they of course knew what I was thinking…and we just had this moment of, Oh my goshm we did it, we did it. It was so euphoric, it was a 360 moment for me.
Sheldon: I remember when you almost got eliminated in the first round.
Samantha: Oh gosh…it was so upsetting. In my mind if I make it to the live shows, that’s me winning…and then I got to the live shows and I got into the bottom two (chuckles), and I was like, You got to be kidding me, it was so terrible, and then once I got passed that, and I got through weeks and weeks, my new win in my mind was in the top three…and in my mind that was me winning. And it just kept feeling it wasn’t real. And I looked back into my life of that time, I said, How did I get through all of that. It was so hard on my soul, it was tough to pushed up and down.
Sheldon: And your favourite performance?
Samantha: There are two.
Sheldon: Let me guess; the Kanye West song and the UFO song?
Samantha: Yes…the Kanye West song, that’s one…and the other was Scream...it really pushed me hard…there was so much choreograph…and a lot of walking along the stage, and I remember that week there was so much pressure, and Mel B said, “I want you to be sexy, I want you to be a pop star”. And I remember being really nervous, and thinking, how am I supposed to remember all these stuff…and deliver…and went once I got through the performance, I was like, Ah yes I did it – victory. That was great stuff. And then Heartless (the Kanye West song) that was the breakthrough for me. Because I truly felt I was accepted after the performance, and I got so many messages…and I was singing that song to people in the industry, and people got a glimpse of, oh wow this girl was pretty hard done by, and there’s some issues there. And people related with that, everyone’s got that person…so I think that was my turning moment.