Jadea Kelly is at an important moment in her musical career. It’s not a crossroads so much as it is a launching point to new creative ventures, with possibilities of greater professional success, opportunities and rewards down the road.
Already a veteran on the Canadian music scene, the native of Whitby, ON, has been creating her own brand of breathtakingly beautiful, authentically ethereal and grippingly compelling indie-folk music since 2003, with the release of her debut EP It’s Better to Be With You. Since then she has written and recorded a second EP, and four full-length albums, Second Spring (2008), Eastbound Platform (2010), Clover (2013) and Love & Lust, which came out in 2016.
Looking to raise her game and challenge herself not only as a performer but especially as a songwriter, Kelly has embarked on a number of extended working visits to Nashville to collaborate with songwriters and producers in what is becoming a true musical mecca for way more than just country acts. More recently, she has jetted west to arguably the entertainment capital of the world – Los Angeles, seeking to build working relationships and build contacts with a whole new set of collaborators.
“I’ve been going down there for the past two years and L.A. surprised me. I didn’t expect to love the place as much as I did. There’s just so many amazing songwriters but also some amazing producers and other people who exist within the film and television realms who are able to make a living through song placements and licensing in movies and TV. So in that way it has a whole different scope than Nashville,” Kelly said as she prepared for a cross-Canada tour that begins Oct. 18 and will see her tour with Winnipeg pals, Sweet Alibi.
“The thing about L.A. is that it’s so gigantic and huge so you really have to just decide which neighbourhood is your neighbourhood because there’s different types of writers in different neighbourhoods and there’s different types of music scenes and venues in each neighbourhood, it’s a real cultural explosion. Especially for Canadian artists I think it’s important to write with people down there because it’s the big leagues, just like Nashville is the big leagues.”
And speaking of Nashville, Kelly said she has had some of the most rewarding artistic experiences travelling to Music City USA and has built up a solid cadre of songwriting partners over the years.
“Having been going to Nashville over the last few years you wouldn’t believe the number of people who are moving there and so many of them are coming in from L.A. coincidentally. I think it’s because a lot of artists prefer a less congested area and Nashville is tiny compared to L.A. It’s better for family life; it’s much easier to buy a home in Nashville so I can understand why people with families would want to be in Nashville and still have access to great songwriters, producers, studios and musicians,” she said, pointing out that her explorations of Nashville and Los Angeles are just the beginning, as Kelly believes she is reaching a point in her career where she needs to broaden her network and her horizons if she is going to make music not just her passion but her vocation.
“There’s so much of the world left to see and there are so many different writers all over the world. I have written some amazing songs in Nashville and met some amazing people there but I guess I am still really trying to figure everything out. My goal is to be able to have a fulfilling life in music. And definitely with these trips, and others I am planning, there’s more synch opportunities and song placement opportunities that can allow me to live comfortably and build a life and just create new connections.
“And what I want is a sustainable, long career. But it’s different for every artist. I have quite a few friends that are trying to break into Top 10 Country, so Nashville is definitely where they need to be. In my opinion, you can write songs anywhere in the world, obviously. For me, I am trying to push myself out of my comfort zone and I find that in L.A. especially, no-one is trying to be Top 10 Country, everybody is trying to be weird and unique and I find the producers there have really pushed me out of my comfort zone in a positive sense. It’s definitely been a learning curve, but one that’s important If I am going to take my career and my music to the next level.”
Love and Lust is being released in Europe on Oct. 13, and plans are already afoot to tour over there, again with Sweet Alibi later this year or early in 2018.
“I have played Europe two or three times. Especially in Germany they just eat it up and in other parts of Europe but Germany really seems to be open to hearing new music across a wide spectrum of artists. The first time we played over there, I didn’t expect anybody to be at the concerts but they showed up – and we had actual fans there who wanted autographs, so they definitely seemed to get what I was doing,” Kelly said.
“We’re just doing Holland and Germany on that run, and the radio and publicity campaign for Love and Lust has already started and hopefully we will get some new fans over there.”
A follow up to Love and Lust is already in the works, and Kelly promises that it will be somewhat of a departure from the soul-baring, heart-rending, darkly evocative and cathartic experience of that album.
“It’s a collection of songs that were written in Nashville and Los Angeles over the last two years and we’re still deciding which songs to release. I am excited about it. I am thrilled to be doing so many more exciting things. I am hoping that it will come out sometime in 2018. And there will be a lot more happiness and dancing on this record. Love and Lust – I had to write that record. It was me processing my own heartbreak,” she said.
“I am not in that headspace any more. I have a good life and I have travelled a lot and seen a lot and I am grateful and thankful for a lot. So it’s really just going to be a collection of those experiences. But it is important for me to be able to process my emotions and experiences through the creative process. There is a whole history of songwriters that have processed heartbreak in that way and those are some of my favourite records; everyone from Jann Arden to Alanis Morissette – those are some pretty sweet albums.”
What is also going to be pretty sweet is seeing Kelly and her pals in Sweet Alibi as they embark on their fall Canadian tour. The first show is Oct. 18 and the new Signal Brewery in Corbyville, on the outskirts of Belleville, followed by dates in Toronto at the Rivoli the next evening, then dates in Cobalt, South Mountain, London, Owen Sound, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Calgary, Hinton AL, St. Albert AL before wrapping up in Quesnel B.C. on Nov. 11.
For more information on Jadea Kelly, visit www.darthjadea.com.
For more information on Sweet Alibi, visit www.sweetalibi.com.
- Jim Barber is a veteran award-winning journalist and author based in Napanee, ON, who has been writing about music and musicians for a quarter of a century. Besides his journalistic endeavours, he now works as a communications and marketing specialist. Contact him at email@example.com.
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