I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for jazz. There’s just something about it that really draws me in and creates this truly atmospheric experience. But I think as well, jazz as a genre is completely subjective, and the sounds, shapes and colours that the listening experience creates, is something pretty phenomenal.
In line with this particular love of mine, when I got the chance to chat with Loretta Miller, from Jazz Party, of course, I jumped at the chance. I was lucky enough to find out more about their latest single “Talking In Your Sleep” and chat about why the track, as Loretta calls it, is a singer’s dream song to sing.
Let’s talk about your brand new single “Talking In Your Sleep”, where did the idea come from initially?
(Laughs) Well my partner (and fellow band mate) Darcy McNulty, we wrote the song together. He talks in his sleep a lot, it’s actually quite a truthful song.
Oh wow so it’s really based on a whole lot of facts there?
Not exactly, but he does talk in his sleep a lot and will often recount the things that have happened to him that day, that’s really where the idea came from.
The song itself is so incredibly soulful and beautiful, but there’s that real dark undertone and juxtaposition to the sound. Was that purposeful when you were writing it?
Oh thank you! Well not exactly; I felt like when we were actually recording it in the studio, there were a few little things that I started to throw in, that really made it a little darker. I was really enjoying that angle. There’s another song called “Burn Your Playhouse Down” that I’ve always really loved, it has a very similar kind of vibe. Almost like a scorned woman… It probably doesn’t even mean that, but I kind of like the idea.
I feel like people can relate to those sadder or even darker songs a lot easier, why do you think that is?
Because everybody’s had their heart broken I guess (laughs). It’s just something that’s an emotional outlet, when you listen to sad songs or intense songs. I dunno I feel like we’ve all been there. It helps and everyone can go straight back to that feeling.
It’s always nice not to feel so alone too I think!
Totally. (Laughs) Also too, writing happier songs is much harder than writing anything else. I’m not much of a writer myself, but I’ve definitely experienced that!
This particular track, you referred to it as ‘a singer’s dream to sing’?
Oh absolutely! For me anyway.
What is it about this song that really grabs your attention?
It’s really about the music I grew up with, you know those big beautiful ballads by Patsy Cline, Ray Charles and Etta James, like I love all of those tunes. All of those people really work. And so often, the songs that really get you, are the ballads. There’s just something about them that just really takes off a little bit and you really get to hear the vocal do something powerful or beautiful.
I just grew up listening to that stuff and I always wanted to sing something like that. So for me, when Darcy was coming to me with the beginning of a couple of songs and we were both heading into the studio and I was a bit ‘eugh’ about some of them. But then he showed me the bones of this track and straight away I was like, “Yep, that’s the one, that’s the one I want, let’s work on that one”.
Your voice throughout the track, like you said, it’s really the whole backbone of the song, and listening to it I feel like your voice is propelling it forward. It’s such a wonderful listening experience!
(Laughs) Thank you so much!
I really want to ask you a bit about Jazz in itself as well, I know it’s not traditionally jazz although that’s a bit subjective in itself.
Yeah I mean, we’re called Jazz Party, and a lot of people are like, “They’re not doing jazz; what’s going on!”. But the name came from what we started as, which was a party that played New Orleans jazz music and that was the beginning of us. You know, Darcy even yelled it out again at our gig on Monday night. It started as just a drunken stupid thing that caught on, and then we couldn’t really be called anything else after that. Even now I think, “Oh I can’t believe we’re called Jazz Party”, but all good music comes from somewhere else originally. Jazz, soul, R&B, rock and roll, all of that stuff, they are all intertwined and they are all coming from the same place originally. It’s really an umbrella.
“Talking In Your Sleep” really generates a feeling of environment for me. I don’t know if it’s just me enjoying my live music in dark corners of bars, but I really get this whole overarching feeling from the track.
Yeah definitely. When I first listened to it back after we recorded it – I know that sounds funny, but I have a really strong sense of colour when I hear that song – it’s quite blue to me. Which I guess is pretty standard for a sad song, but it’s a very specific shade of blue. Then that combined with the imagery that we used, and the photos that we used, it’s all quite moody and as you say, it can feel like sitting in a dark corner in a smoky bar. All those things together, it’s quite cinematic really.
It almost had me thinking “Is it too early to drink whiskey already or…”
(Laughs) That’s good!
Jazz Party are about to play a whole bunch of live shows soon. How would you describe a Jazz Party live show?
Really, really fun and immersive. So initially when the band first started I was there from day one but I wasn’t a band member. Darcy, who’s the band leader, myself and Jules Pascoe, this was like our outlet on the side. It was a fun thing to do and to just be really musical. I guess being in an intense touring band, we just got to the point where we were having to tour heaps and playing the same songs over and over again. For the boys who grew up in Melbourne and with jazz and in the jazz scene, (Jazz Party) was like an outlet where we could be free and have fun and it was, so much fun, and I would just get up and sing with them.
After a little while I kind of said, “Okay, you guys reeaalllyy need me in the band, you need a girl in the band”. It was almost like, “Just deal with it guys because I’m in the band,”. I definitely forced my way in. (Laughs) We just did a residency at the Evelyn Hotel and it’s just sweaty and loud and crazy. Basically we just want people to dance, and not have people think they are just watching a gig or a show. It’s really about letting yourself go. It’s fun. But I mean, that’s our Monday night thing and now we’re doing bigger shows and festivals so it’s just really interesting for us because I don’t really know what it’s going to be like. We’ve written more and more originals, and some of them are quite moody, and so that’s going to change it again, but we’ll just have to wait and see. But I know it’s going to be fun!
Speaking of festivals, you’re playing Golden Plains very soon as well, which is quite a different environment for you guys as a band, but it must be really exciting though?
Very exciting, I’m really just trying to keep it together. We’ve played some pretty big stages, but this will be my first time sort of up the front on a big stage.
So what’s next for Jazz Party, heading further into 2017?
Short term focus is definitely the single launch at Howler on the 31st of March, it’s a pretty big thing for us. We’ll do our usual fun thing but we’ll add extras as well, all the bells and whistles for that show. We’re also releasing the single on a limited edition blue vinyl which is really exciting. That was something that I really pushed for, I just felt like this song deserves to be on a record. Aside from that, we are working on an album, we’ve got a lot of really amazing songs pretty much done so it’s just about timing and writing more if we want to, but yeah, we definitely have an album hanging around.