Last Friday saw UK’s Jade Helliwell release her latest single “Woman I Am” , a powerful song in every respect co-written by another wonderful UK talent Laura Oakes. Jade has amassed a strong fanbase over the past years and this track is the lead single from her upcoming crowd-funded EP, watch out for more news of that to come!
It was great to get the chance to chat to Jade about her music and her insanely busy touring schedule recently, hope you enjoy our conversation! But first make sure you give ” Woman I Am” a listen if you haven’t already done so!
LH Hey Jade, thanks for your time today… looks like you’re talking to me from your music room/studio ?
JH Yeah I’m in my little office/music room at my home in Leeds.
LH You’ve been so busy lately, opening for Tenille Arts one her UK dates, then straight into playing Nashville Meets London followed by Smoke and Fire Festival last weekend …a real variety of shows, do they all bring different challenges to the table, do you like that type of mix?
JH Yeah they do! At the Tenille Arts shows there were a lot of people who had never seen me perform before, and it’s always exciting to try to win them over and get them to like your music, and get them to come and see one of my shows! It’s nerve-wracking but exciting!
LH I caught your set at Tenille’s London show where you got a fantastic reception, and that’s where I first heard your new single ” Women I Am” . Can you talk me through the inspiration, it sounds as if it may well come at least in part from your and Laura’s personal experiences of being females in the music business!
JH So when I set up the co-write with Laura we already had the idea for the hook and the theme. We just started chatting about how I felt like as a female, not just in music but in all aspects of life, people try to put you in a box and tell you how you should look, dress, act and speak. And how as you get older you just start to ignore all of that! You do your own thing, own who you are, and you’e unapologetic and proud about it! Even if people don’t like you’re style you just go forward with what you believe in. Laura and I are the same age, and we were chatting about how maybe 10 years ago we weren’t as confident to be able to do that. But now we’ve grown into ourselves and want to pass the message on, hopefully empowering other women to think ” I am who I am” .
LH Yes, that’s definitely one advantage of getting older!
LH Obviously as you’ve just explained it’s written from woman’s perspective, but it’s empowering message is universally applicable isn’t it? No-one should be afraid to be themselves?
JH Yes it can definitely cross over to anyone….just celebrate who you are!
LH It’s a really transatlantic single too, vocals recorded in London but everything else recorded and the track produced in Nashville by BMG’s Matt Geroux… how did you come across him and why did you choose him to work with?
JH So Matt was brought in for my last single, “Smoke” . I’d not worked with anyone in that kind of way before, where you just send over demos and trusting that they understand what you’ve asked for. But I love what he did with that single so when we started the Kickstarter to get funds together for a full EP I knew I wanted Matt to be the one who produced all the music for it. So I reached out and luckily he was free! It’s been great getting mixes back and hearing the development from the guitar/vocal I send over.
LH I was going to ask about the sound development, did you know the sound you were after or did you trust his judgement?
JH He is really good at me sending over reference tracks and artists who inspire me…and then listening to the demos and picking up on that. I always reference people like Tenille Arts, Carly Pearce, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini …they have that Nashville pop-country sound that I love and really want to go with for my new music. And Matt really hit the brief!
LH I see the vocal producer over here is female, and I’ve noticed more female artists are turning their hand to production lately, is that a side of things you would like to tackle at some point?
JH Personally, no!!! I like to be able to record the basic demos but I want the music I put out to be the best it can be so I’d much rather put it into the hands of someone who’s very good in that field!
LH And even before its release the single is already getting radio play too which is fantastic. As a pretty seasoned artist now does it still give you a buzz hearing your music coming over the airwaves?
JH Yes! Every time I put out a single and people start playing it, or sharing clips about it, it is like the first single all over again! It’s really exciting and I love hearing people’s reactions to it.
LH As we’ve touched upon, it’s the first taste of what’s to come from your new EP …what more can you tell me about that?
JH There will be five tracks on it, a couple I’ve written by myself , others with Laura Oakes and Jess Thristan , and one that I haven’t written! It was written by Jon Stone from American Young and is called ” Drink This Wine” . I’ve been playing it live recently including on the Tenille Arts tour and people seem to be loving it.
LH So what does an outside cut need to have to make you want to record it?
JH It has to be something that I feel I would say, that’s authentic to me. I need to connect with the song, it needs to have a message I believe in. I’ve previously released ” If I Were You” and that was written by Laura Oakes but again, the minute she played me the demo it felt like she wrote the song for me! It was in line with the music I was writing and the same happened this time and when the demo was sent through I immediately fell in love with it. I was very thankful and hopefully it sits nicely with the other four tracks!
LH Well we’ll find out before too long hopefully…do you have a release date in mind?
JH Not just yet, fingers crossed it will be next month if everything lines up properly!
LH And what format will it be it? Is there a physical CD or just a download?
JH There will be physical CDs! It was funded by a Kickstarter campaign as I mentioned so be of the things we offered was to get a CD. And I think that as I’m going on the tour in October people like to pick up a CD at the merch table.
LH I was going to ask you about merch…will there be new t-shirts etc available to coincide with the release?
JH Yeah! On the Tenille Arts tour people were asking ” where are your t-shirts?” but I’ve only got a couple left and decided not to re-order any just yet as I want to concentrate on getting the new ones done. Hopefully in the next month you’ll see loads of new merch available!
LH Is that something you’re hands on with designing?
JH So, I don’t know if people are aware but Jess Thristan is an amazing graphic designer, and she designs my artwork for me! I just have ideas and send her some really badly drawn pictures and she creates everything!
LH Love it! An all-girl collaboration!
LH So you’ve mentioned the “Woman I Am” headline tour, tickets are on sale now, have you sorted the London venue yet?
JH We just announced that yesterday! So I’m going to be playing at the Buck ‘n’ Bull Saloon on the 21st October.
LH Oh great! Sorry I didn’t see that, it’s bound to be a fun evening.
LH But before that you’ve got a couple of fantastic festival appearances lined up… The Long Road and Millport Country Music Festival… how excited are you about those?
JH Very excited! And they are two very different festivals. I’ve not actually been to the Long Road before but everyone has told me how amazing it is, how they make it look like you’re in Nashville, so I’m excited for that. And then Millport feels like worlds away, on a little island off Glasgow, I’ve played it before and it’s an amazing festival and very collaborative… there was jam night last time we played, such good fun! Both of them I’ll have my full band with me.
LH Sounds like a busy time ahead! Thanks again for chatting to me today, good luck with everything that’s to come!
JH Thank you!!
Tickets for all Jade’s upcoming dates are available here https://www.jadehelliwell.com/tour
Keep up to date with all her news at jadehelliwell.com where you can also find links to her socials.
Inteview conducted by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)