NewTracks New Artist: Alya Jade

NewTracks New Artist: Alya Jade

Alya Jade has made a thoughtful debut with her first single Under Her Spell (Boom). Accompanied by an enticing black and white music video, the tune encapsulates a fusion of roots, reggae, and pop sounds. Made with support from NZ On Air and Te Māngai Pāho this single release will soon be followed by a te reo version. NZ On Air Music added the song to their NewTracks compilation for June. 

What’s your full name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Kia ora! Ko Alya Jade toku ingoa. My full name is Alya Malcolm-Marx, but as an artist, I go by Alya Jade. I’m from Aotea Great Barrier Island, but I currently live in Mangawhai. I play the guitar, and a bit of keys and I actually played the tambourine in a rock band for a couple of years! So a bit of percussion too.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

I went to Western Springs College in Tamaki Makaurau, and I have very fond memories of music at that school. I had a great music teacher named Margaret. One of my favourite parts of my whole high school experience was during music class we were actually allowed to go and sit in a soundproof room and play whatever we wanted! So I loved shutting myself in one of those rooms, turning the lights off to get a moody vibe going and writing songs on the piano. I also loved participating in our school talent quests. I think if you went to school with me then that’s probably what you’ll remember me for, haha!

Any previous projects we might know you from?

Probably not, to be honest, I’ve stayed pretty low-key up until now! But I’m stoked to be currently working on some exciting new projects which I’ll be able to share soon.

What’s the background to how Alya Jade the artist came to be? 

Music has always been a big part of my life and I have been performing for a very long time. At all my schools I was always ‘the singer’. Pretty much anywhere I went growing up someone would hand me a guitar and want a living room concert and things like that. So I guess it’s been expected of me to do something with my music, but I just wanted to do it on my own terms. I’m glad I haven’t released any music until now actually because I’ve had to go through multiple evolutions that have made me into who I am today, and I think that shows in the music I’m creating.

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

A lot of my writing is intuitive and that hasn’t really changed over the years. I need to be really inspired about something to then write a song about it and sometimes that can be my biggest challenge too. I wrote my first song when I was 10 years old, and during that period I was heavily influenced by Brooke Fraser so my songs had more of an acoustic stripped-back and innocent sound. Now, I think my songwriting is multifaceted and can really depend on what’s going on for me at the time. If I’m starting a song from scratch with my guitar, I can often hear other sounds in my head that will go with the lyrics I’m writing and that’s really exciting in the moment. If it’s in a studio setting, I go off how I’m feeling on the day and often just vibe off who is in the room.

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date? 

Anything I’ve done with my dad I will treasure forever. He is a musician too and we have done sooo many gigs together, but I think my favourite one was at the Claris Club on Great Barrier Island on NYE with our band Cosha, I’ll never forget that! I have also loved opening for Leighton Fairlie and Knights of the Dub Table – legends!

What makes Under Her Spell stand out for you as a single?

I think it stands out because it’s unique. I love how it doesn’t fit into one genre and some of the feedback I get when people listen to it is that they can’t think of anyone else who sounds like me, and I think that’s cool! It’s such a fusion of all the things I love.

What is the story behind Under Her Spell?

The song was inspired by a rad summer night that I had a long time ago. We created a character who shows up to a party and the events that followed. This character has an effect on those around her simply by being herself with her natural infectious aura.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

One of my favourite moments is actually at the very beginning when the horns kick in, it gets me excited every time! But lyrically, I couldn’t choose, ahh! I love how in the first verse we created some cool imagery for this character who’s got such an infectious vibe.

Who did you write/record/produce the single with and where? 

I wrote this song with Ben Malone and Macey at Parachute Studios in Tāmaki Makaurau. Every session was fun during the making of this song, but I think when we were throwing around the idea of putting the ‘Boom’ in there, that was a crack-up part of its creation. The boom isn’t necessarily a lyric, it’s more of a sound that describes the experience you feel when you’re in total awe of someone’s energy or in this case, under someone’s spell!

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

To be unapologetically themselves no matter what! Don’t dim your shine to fit into what others think you should be like. You’re not “too much” or “too loud” or “too” anything, you’re you and that’s awesome.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

It’s all pretty fresh to me still as I’ve only released one single up until now but I know I learnt a lot from that release, so I’ll be applying what I learnt to any releases in the future. My next single is called I Tona Wa (Boom) and is the Te Reo Māori version of Under Her Spell (Boom) which is out on the 29th June!

Who else is in your team?

I’m an independent artist, but it’s a team effort! My producer for this track was Ben Malone and I’m managed by Little Giant. PR – Luna Management. Distribution – DRM

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

Absolutely! I’m aiming to release more music later in the year, just in time to hopefully be your next summer anthem!

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

I would have to say…

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others out there?

I’ve been really fortunate to receive NZOA and TMP (Te Māngai Pāho) funding. I guess the criteria is there for good reason and there’s lots of development and work an emerging artist can do in the early stages before applying for funding. I was incredibly lucky to get New Music Development and Waiata Takitahi funding on the first go, but I know that’s not everyone’s experience. I would say just do what’s achievable for you to meet the criteria and delegate if you can. If, for example, all you’re missing is some video content then make that the next thing on your list to try and get under your belt. Doing everything at once can be pretty overwhelming, just do what you can and make sure to have fun!

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

I like to watch artists/bands perform on Youtube on the Colors Show, Tiny Desk, or just live versions of songs that I like. I also love finding beautiful covers!

Who did you make the video with?

So grateful for everyone who was involved!

Producer/Director – Matiu Sadd; Director of Photography – Olly Harris; Camera Assistant – Natsuki Arai; Lighting Assistant – Andrew Garfield; Hair & Makeup – Kath Gould; Production Assistant – Louis Sammons; Editor – Gareth Dick; Production Company – Little Giant.

Any last words?

Ngā mihi nui for listening to my music and for everyone’s support! It honestly means the world to me. Kei te tino whakawhetai ahau, I am very grateful.

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