“The common thread in all my music, my lyrics, my shows and my artwork is me, I don't feel like anybody can shift my character.”
Nor should they want to. Jade channels that character — and her creativity — into music that Rolling Stone have described as “a young Londoner’s spin on modern Americana” and which Jade herself calls “kind of country, kind of blues, kind of pop and kind of none of that”. Either way, Jade’s music is passionate, full-bodied commentary that finds this 20-year-old, “funny-on-a-good-day” songwriter singing about the vows we make to ourselves and each other: what it takes to make them, what is required to keep them and what it means to break them.
Jade suggests that the two biggest influences on her work are “experience and idols”, and while she briefly embraced her mum’s penchant for Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson, it was through discovering her own musical heroes that Jade was able to focus her creativity identity, somewhere in the mix of Cat Power, Mazzy Star, The Smiths, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Bob Dylan.
Jade started gigging at 13, kicking things off with a set of dubious covers on a fairylight-draped stage at one end of a Bridgend pub, before hurling herself into competitions with her own songs along with gigs anywhere that’d take her, which involved memorable performances in nursing homes and psychiatric wards. “That period was all quite strange,” she smiles now, “but it taught me everything I know today about how to hold a room.” That came in useful on moving to London, when Jade started appearing at open mic nights at Camden’s Spiritual Bar (whose address, 4 Ferdinand Street, she has since immortalised in Jade’s song Lottery). “A lot of my blues influences came from there,” she acknowledges, “but it was tough. I knew as soon as I got on stage that the owner would be shouting at me about all my ‘pop shit’. It very quickly taught me that I had to grow some balls and write some bigger, better songs.”
In the US Jade’s twist on Americana could easily have been a case of coals to Newcastle but she won major plaudits for her stint opening for Brent Cobb and subsequent network TV debut performing Cathedral on Stephen Colbert’s show. Back on home soil, Jade’s 2018 started with a bang with a place on the BBC’s Sound Of 2018 longlist, and the release of ‘Lottery’. “Lottery was a big one for me,” she says today. “It really felt like the start of something.” It’s been a game changing moment for Jade – following a long stint on the Radio 1 playlist, Jade celebrated with a sold out show at London’s Village Underground – from there she performed the track live on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and won the Grulke Prize after a smash run of shows at SXSW – all in all, she’s become one of the most talked about new artists in the world.
“I’m not confident in the sense that I wake up every morning and yell ‘GO ME!’,” she concludes, “but I feel like with every corner I turn expectations are shattered, and I hope I’ll keep surprising people along the way. It feels like with every step forwards I'm getting a little bit further towards the destination of being able to call myself an artist.”