interview: jessica paige
Jessica Paige’s recently released album, Don’t Trust Me, has the opposite effect of its title. Listen to it once, and you trust Jessica completely, as her observations about life and love ring so true. Jessica found her musical legs by busking on the streets of Melbourne, and this has clearly kept her grounded, with the young singer displaying an endearing humbleness. Lip had a chat to Jessica about struggle, inspirations and what ‘making it’ really means.
1. How do you think busking has shaped your direction and drive as a musician?
Busking is the thing that gives some structure to my life. It’s great to have a place to be where I know a lot of people and get to play music. It’s a good sounding board for seeing what music people are in to, and in that way it shapes the music I record and play. I want to play music people like.
2. Do you believe struggle enhances a musician’s ability, particularly with their songwriting?
I believe all people struggle with something in their lives and music can help them to deal with this in a positive way. Writing music helps me to deal with and understand the things that I have difficulty with in my life. A lot of popular singers sing happy songs. These are the most worthwhile songs to write I think. Songs that will bring joy to people. There is enough pain in life without dwelling on it. I decided when I became a musician that I wasn’t going to struggle to make ends meet. Naturally,I have had a lot of disappointments along the way, but in the end, music is music, a life is a life and I am very lucky to live in Australia where I don’t have to struggle in the way many people do.
3. What’s the most important lesson another woman has ever taught you?
To enjoy myself and live in the moment. Michelle Meehan taught me that. She is a great musician and wonderful person.
4. What are three main qualities that are essential for a musician to have in order to make it?
In order to “make it” we need to define what “making it” is for us. For every person it’s different. I used to think I would like to be famous, but I think I would find that life very hard. Always on the road, probably not making the best money. I busk, people appreciate my music, I have a medium sized following in Melbourne and there are no record companies skimming off the top. I am in a much better position than most musicians. I ‘m lucky that people in Melbourne appreciate my music and they help me make my living from it. I guess you have to have drive and passion to “make it”. You really just need to believe in yourself, become the best musician you can, surround yourself with positive people. I guess I just don’t see the point of fame if you’re not going to make money. For me, I just want to keep recording music and live on a farm. Yes, I would like to play with an awesome band, but then again, I think I’d find being on TV and radio all the time pretty stressful. You just have to look at some of the best musicians of all time and at what ages they die to understand the pressures they are under.
5. Describe Don’t Trust Me in 5 words.
‘Years of hard work over’. Or maybe ‘redefine what is good’. Every day I try to redefine what good music is to myself so that I can attempt to make it.
6. As a female musician, what other female musicians inspire your work?
The female musicians that inspire me are KD Lang, Bonnie Rait and Alison Krouse
7. How important is it for young girls to have strong, passionate role models?
It is important for young girls to have strong passionate role models. I spent a lot of time like a feather in the wind for lack of strong role models. Every day I think of how my life could have been different and how I could have dealt with certain circumstances better if I had had strong role models, or been better encouraged by my father. The fact is, you can choose your friends and it is important to choose good ones. If you don’t have a strong role model, or you have people in your family that put you down and make you feel bad about yourself, then it can be very hard. You need to find people you can talk about it with. That is the most important thing, then maybe one day you can talk to that person about it. In my family, there was a long history of abuse through the generations that kept getting passed down. I copped it a lot less than my father did, but it was still damaging. If I have children it will stop with me. I can’t stress enough how important it is to talk these things over with your friends or a psychologist.
8. What’s next for you?
I’m going to launch my CD, keep busking, hopefully one day buy a hobby farm and breed animals. Hopefully build my own studio, and I guess just keep chipping away trying to become a better musician and songwriter. I’ll keep recording albums. I have a lot of songs that have to be recorded. And that’s it. My aim is to live a good life, help the people around me in anyway I can. I guess I would just like to give something back to the community. Whether it’s having kids around to the hobby farm, teaching people how to treat different fibres and wool or joining a knitting group. There is no happier time for me than when I’m part of something. I’d like to have musicians over to my studio to record for free (when I have one) and that’s it.