From the beginning of this decade, we have seen a countless number of British female singers who, after several collaborations with exciting new producers, have focused on their solo careers. The list is pretty much endless, but one immediately thinks of names such as Jessie Ware and Ella Eyre. If their path to success is in any way linked with making the right decisions at the right time, then there are big things to come for Jade Pybus aka Py, who has been around since 2011.
Py’s first step in the music field was nothing less than a shared EP with Throwing Snow named Wallow, in which she provided vocals for all of the tracks. The singer’s soft voice, seemingly fragile, but above all mysterious glued perfectly to the melancholic and sombre background created by Ross Tones. Nevertheless, this wasn’t the usual kind of collaboration, where after working together, both of them go their way. This partnership continued in Py’s own first material, the mixtape Tripping On Wisdom, her most ambitious move until now. This mixtape could have simply confirmed the vocal capabilities revealed in Wallow, but for that she would not need to work with nine producers (George Fitzgerald, Greenwood Sharps or BretonLABS, just to name a few).
On Tripping On Wisdom, Jade Pybus dared to experiment and by doing so she proved her musical creativity. This is most clear in the broader role of her voice, since it had to be extremely versatile in order to fit in in the different musical identity of each producer. However, it also had to be the unifying element on the mixtape. It’s perfectly clear then, why Py decided to do an a capella cover of What A Wonderful World, which is heard in fragments throughout the mixtape, but that’s doesn’t explain everything. Thus, it can’t be ignored that Jade Pybus vocal trademark, “an army of voice” (or an army of harmonies, if you prefer) was a very relevant aspect for the unity of the mixtape.
Last year Champion Records released Polyethers, a song produced by Maths Time Joy, who clearly understood that the track would work perfectly well with a fairly limited number of elements. Therefore, the strictly necessary synth lines were impeccably adjusted to the singer’s delicate harmonies and almost ethereal falsettos.
Now on the 10 th of March, the songstress’ new single Swimming Slow, produced by Starsmith, is going to be released on MTDL_ RCRDS. Through a truly emotional journey that builds up slowly to the outbreak of tension in the chorus, Py is able to achieve here her most accomplished pop song to date.
So, this was obviously the right time to ask Jade Pybus a few questions about the music she’s been making:
Francisco Torres (FT): In the press release announcing “Tripping On Wisdom” it is mentioned that your “experimental work includes surround-sound installations and exploration of the sound of the human when the body is placed under restraint”. Can you tell us a bit more about this? Was this experience valuable to you in your approach to songs like Lungs (the first track on TOW, produced by George FitzGerald)?
Py: Yes this was very valuable to me. I experimented with making my voice change in sound using not plugins or fx. So I would do stuff like hang upside and record my voice, or sprint and then record singing, anyway, I could manipulate the sound manually. I built an installation that was made up 8 speaker cones hanging in a circle. The speakers each represented a voice I had discovered/created. The audience sat in the centre of the circle so they were immersed in sound, I then performed live. I also had visual on hanging TVs. It was a lot of fun! I don’t necessarily work like that now, but that way of working made me think about layering vocals and the space they are in. So now a lot of the music I make has loads of harmony, and what I would call “different voices”: contrasting tones which weave in and out of each other. I like to think of vocals like an army of voice. Sound installations and visuals will always be a huge part of my creative work, and something I continue to do. They do cross over into inspiring music I release but are not always in line with it.
FT: When I heard your mixtape, the first thing that impressed me greatly was its cohesion, since you’ve worked with a different producer on each track. Even given the fact that your voice is always present, the end result could have been easily quite the opposite. How was this possible?
Py: I wanted the mixture to be led by a narrative and vocal, not a bpm or genre as such. Thank you though, that’s a big compliment as it was something I was a little nervous about! Although the concept for me was more about collaboration and experimenting than committing myself to a cohesive album. I think because it had so much truth in it, because it was autobiographical it helped glue everything together, everything I sung about did happen in the order the songs sat, so maybe that’s why people felt it worked.
FT: MTDL Records is going to release your amazing new single “Swimming Slow” produced by Starsmith. Should we be expecting an album soon? If so, will it be produced in its entirely by any of the producers you’ve recently worked with?
Py: I have another single on Mad Tech/MTDL records this year, and then my album will follow that. I am taking my time with it. I would like to work with more than one producer in the way I did with the mixtape, but have a producer who overseas the end production with me to make sure everything gels together. That doesn’t mean I don’t want a few bits that poke out and jab people, personally I find it refreshing when albums take you on a journey you aren’t quite expecting. I am also in love with too many sounds to deny myself the creative freedom.
FT: Finally, if you were an animal, what would you be? (We’ve decided to make this a regular question – Ed)
Py: Obviously a Rabbit.