SPECIAL INTERVIEW: Jessica Braithwaite

THEAUSSIEWORD.COM catches up with Jessica Braithwaite.

How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?

Sitting around the campfire with family on camping trips, passing the guitar around, each person singing a song and all of us singing along. Music for me has always been more about that sharing, communal experience as opposed to the more flashy side of it. When I started going to music festivals as a teenager, I started to watch the other performers and think to myself – wow – I reckon I could do that. And that’s when I started to dip my toe in to the ‘industry’ and take it a bit more seriously.

What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?

For me it’s an internal creative drive. It’s the feeling I get when I’m jamming a song with my brother and we play something that gives me goosebumps. And the feeling when you’re in a recording studio and creating something that makes you feel all buzzy and happy.

I’m not as motivated by external factors, (ie big crowds, acclaim, etc). For me it’s all about getting into the flow state of creating the music in the first place. 

What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish?

I’d love to hop in a van, and travel from one side of the US to the other making music – collaborating along the way, taking my little audio recorder to record the sounds as we go (ie the sound of the trains, rivers, bars, people we meet) and incorporate it into a whole travelling musical album. I’d record sessions singing around campfires and jamming in hostels and try to bring that travelling musical experience to life.

What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?

I’m releasing a Christmas song! I gave audiences a sneak peak of it at the Adelaide Christmas pageant and it unexpectedly ended up making the iTunes rock charts! So I’m really excited to officially share this song with the world and spread some festive cheer this year – we’ve definitely earned the right to get silly this silly season!!

Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?

Who You Know was recorded in LA with producer Stuart Brawley (Celine Dion, Michael Jackson). The big shot producer invited me to record with him after he heard my original demos recorded in my brother’s bedroom back here in Aus!

I wanted to write an unashamed, joyful pop song and we decided to write a song celebrating the people we know and love in life. It seemed like a good thing to show gratitude for the people who hold us up in life.

Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs?

Most of the time I feel like the songs are already written inside me somehow, and then when I pick up the guitar, they just tumble out. Sometimes I write songs in my sleep. I wake up from a dream and have to quickly grab my phone and sing the melody into the voice recorder before I forget! My songs tend to come to me when I’m NOT trying to write songs. Ie – while I’m running, while I’m in the shower. I have lots of voice memos on my phone!

Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music? 

I used to write songs with hidden meanings and ambiguous lyrics, but during the process of recording in LA, I decided I wanted to be more obvious with my writing. You only have such a short amount of time to get the listener’s attention and make an impact on them, so now I try to be captain obvious. For example Who You Know centres on that one line “It’s all who you know – and I know you” – I probably couldn’t be more obvious!

Success, what is the secret to it?

Gosh I wish I knew! Sometimes I don’t think there’s such a thing as success – because whenever I achieve something I’d set out to, I’m always constantly moving on to the next thing. So success definitely isn’t a final destination, because the end point is always moving. I think success is more about enjoying the process of the journey you’re on, instead of viewing it as one final point to reach in life. 

What has been your biggest career highlight so far?

Actually just last weekend! I was standing in the middle of Adelaide Oval with a stadium full of Christmas cheer for the Adelaide Christmas pageant. Father Christmas came out on to the oval in this HUGE sleigh and the stadium erupted in excitement, and at the end of the broadcast, I heard my very own Christmas song (‘I Still Get Excited For Christmas”) playing in my earpiece as the telecast finished. It was such a thrill to be part of that event and have my music featured. 

Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?

Taylor Swift for her “haters gonna hate” girl power. 

Bruce Springsteen for his ability to create near religious experiences for audiences.

And bands like The Waifs who just hit that road – touring, touring, touring and building careers of the back of miles and miles of music. 

Are there any new projects in the pipeline?

Right now I’m focusing on my brand new Christmas song ‘I Still Get Excited for Christmas’. It’s just coming out as I write this and I’m looking forward to sharing the festive vibes all the way up until the end of the year. I’m a real Christmas tragic, so as far as I’m concerned, this is my time to shine!!

The music industry is constantly changing, where do you see yourself a few years?

I’d like to have a hybrid role where I maintain my role in TV presenting while continuing to make music on the side. I love working in TV, and I love the ability to combine both broadcast and musical elements of my career. 

What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why?

My favourite part is sitting on my lounge room floor in my trackpants writing songs and jamming with friends.

My least favourite part is the actual process of releasing the music. All the self promotion, plugging myself on social media (it always feels a little odd) and pitching for playlists, etc. Sometimes all that stuff can be pretty soul destroying!

Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.

Fanny Lumsden.

Electric Fields.

And of course I’d better mention my amazing hubby Thom Lion!

The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?

I feel sad about the way digital technology impacts music creation. Like sometimes it feels like audiences now only have 15second attention spans (because of reels and Instagram stories), and we have to follow the rules of the alogrithms. Songs are apparently meant to be shorter, and have hooks appear at certain points to satisfy the streaming trends, and there’s a system that just requires artists to just keep churning out content on social media to feed the system. Sometimes I worry that the actual music gets lost in all of that.

How will you continue appealing to the international market?

I always just bring it back to the music. Forget about markets and trends and borders and just make music that comes from my heart. If I do that, then I know that music can find it’s audience out there, wherever they may be in the world. 

Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?

I’d love to do a duet with Daryl Braithwaite! Partly because I spent my childhood tricking people and telling them he was my uncle!

Or maybe a fun bush ballad with John Williamson!

What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Run your own race. Do your own thing. Try to look left when others are looking right. And don’t think that you have to be the same as what other people are doing. You do you. 

A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans?

I’m so thankful for the support I receive on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I love reading the comments (most of the time haha!) and sharing the experience of this crazy journey with my friends online – so the more people who want to join me for the journey, the merrier!!

Any last words?

Now it’s time to get silly for the silly season so if anyone wants to share the excitement of Christmas with me with my new song, I’m all in! 

Website: www.jessicabraithwaite.com

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