Take four people with a tertiary music performance background, sieve them through the school of constant gigging then warm them with a dash of rock and blues until their hot debut single is ready to be served. She Loves You have been around as a much-hyped live band for a few years and it’s a delight to see their debut single Dirty Orlean not only out in the world, but also featured on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this April.
Madeline Berry (vocals)
Katie Baya (drums)
Jessie Booth (guitar)
Cassandra King (bass)
Katie: Drum lessons were important for me right from the get-go. Neil Stuart taught me for years and we just focused on technique, playing even notes and speed. Without Neil, I’d be totally lost when it comes to drums. Then obviously high school and then I went to MAINZ. Alan Brown and Josh Sorensen really changed the way I approach music. I’m so grateful to everyone who passed their invaluable knowledge onto me.
Cass: I had bass lessons throughout high school with Jo Shum, she was great with technique and discipline. After high school I was taught by Steve Boag, his passion for music rubbed off on me for sure and opened up an entirely new avenue of influences. I also went to MAINZ and was taught by Johnny Fleury – his musical mind and support is something else!
Jessie: Uni for me – gave me a good basis of theory and taught me about having a strong work ethic and self-motivation
Maddie: I also attended Auckland Uni, studying jazz, with Jessie.
Katie is a session drummer for acts such as Robinson and Lexxa. Jessie formerly fronted Blue Ruin.
Jessie: We first started off with Maddie, Jessie, Tash and Anna in the middle of a musical rut. Maddie, Tash and I decided to study jazz at Auckland Uni, mostly for the technical benefits over the love of the genre! We were stoked to find some like-minded individuals who shared the same taste in music and could make music we were all passionate about. When Tash and Anna moved on we found Cass through a friend of ours and Cass brought Katie into the band – and here we are!
Jessie: In the beginning, it was mostly Maddie and I jamming ideas acoustically and then bringing them to the band to be developed, but these days we have a lot of ways we write together. Whether we are laying down tracks in Logic X, posting ideas to our shared drive that we can have a play with. Katie and Cass may have a jam they are working on, or we just jam it all out together. I think that our current style of writing has boosted the technicality of our songs and productivity.
Katie: I can’t speak for the beginning, but me and Cass have definitely changed the original SLY sound. We have very different influences and styles of playing. We have learnt a lot, and part of that is just discovering how best to write with each other. We all contribute to the songs.
Jessie: Maddie and I were sitting in a songwriting lecture covering the British invasion when She Loves You by the Beatles came on. Up until then, we were planning to call ourselves Sharkweek, but Maddie looked over at me super excited, and we decided then that it would be She Loves You.
Cass: It’s catchy – people who had heard it live, before it’s release, said that its the one that gets stuck in their head. It also showcases our parts really well, it’s simple but driving, and fun!
Katie: I really like the gritty thumpy vibe the song has. It’s super stripped back, but that’s what it’s all about. It’s raw and in your face.
Jessie: Maddie and I were grabbing pizza and when we were talking about the next song to write. It went from an idea of writing a dirty New Orleans blues track to personifying the idea into Dirty Orlean.
Maddie: Jessie and I began writing songs before we even had shows or proper practice times. One writing session I was showing her an artist called Imelda May, and described it as ‘dirty New Orleans blues’. Then we came up with the idea of writing a blues about a woman named Orlean. We wrote it in an hour later that night.
Maddie: I love the ‘doo wah’ bridge part
Jessie: The drum solo / doo wop section.
Katie: I really enjoy the short stabs in the first verse of the song. It adds texture and when we all hit it perfectly it feels so good to play live.
Cass: When the full verse riff kicks in after the first chorus, it feels so full and adds a great dynamic change from the first verse.
It was written by Jessie and Maddie while under the influence of Thai food and wine, and reworked in pre-production with Rich Bryan who also recorded it and mixed it for us at BigPop Studios. Mastered by Luke Finlay from Primal Mastering.
Jessie: The fun story is that we got to work with a real-life wizard – Rich Bryan. And also the Berry parents provided cake and snacks at the studio!
Katie: What others think doesn’t matter, enjoy yourself!
Jessie: That there is no shame in a woman’s sexual freedom and choices.
Cass: That bass is gritty asf.
Maddie: No matter who they are, I want them to feel like they can be themselves and not worry about what other people think.
Katie: That’s hard. There’s obviously specific criteria for a single if you want radio play etc., but ultimately I think the best single is a song that really showcases you and your sound. If it’s true to who you and what you do then you should put it out there for people to listen to. It’s hard to get your music noticed by others, but you gotta be true to yourself.
Jessie: We like to test them out at gigs and see what gets the best response. Which track gets talked about the most after the gig? The tunes that get stuck in people’s heads. Where the crowd dances the most…
Katie: We will be releasing another single in a little bit, but the first rule is that I can’t talk about it. Other than that, we should be releasing an EP before the end of the year which will have all our singles that we plan to release throughout this year.
Cass: Yeah! Releasing more singles, and definitely writing new tunes.
Cass: Because this is our first release we hadn’t actually applied for NewTracks previously! So we are pretty stoked that Dirty Orlean got through. My advice would be just to make sure you’re ticking all the right boxes, as well as keeping track of deadlines. Oh, and if you need help – ask for it! Pretty basic stuff, but sometimes easy to overlook.
Katie: You have nothing to lose by applying, so you might as well do it. Be organised and have your shit together.
Cass: The criteria are all pretty straight forward. It’s just about having everything together and ready – in the correct formats and sizes requested. So the only thing that took a bit of extra time was uploading the track to a visual on YouTube, as we don’t have a video yet.
Katie: I love watching Adam Neely and Rick Beato on YouTube. Love nerding out to music theory and all that!
Cass: Adam Neely is a recent one for me, after Katie flicked a link to me. I also listen to Scott’s Bass Lessons podcasts – he has chats with some great players! I also listen to a lot of comedy podcasts when I’m away from music.
Jessie: I spend most of my day playing music, so when it comes to blogs, Youtube or podcasts they’re usually not music related, so I can give that part of me a bit of a rest. Usually it’s craft, art, or filled with motivation or new ideas.
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Be one with the universe, and the universe will be one with you.