Q&A with Canadian singer-songwriter Jadea Kelly

Discussing her new record "Love & Lust" and her show at The High Watt this Thursday

Indie folk singer-songwriter Jadea Kelly is back with a heart-wrenching record that touches on the most intimate of themes. On Love & Lust, Jadea weaves a story of infidelity backed by gorgeous, soaring music with subtle country flavor. In anticipation of her show this Thursday at The High Watt, the Hustler chatted with the award-winning Canadian singer over the phone.

Vanderbilt Hustler: So how did you enter the world of music?

Jadea Kelly: My first instrument was actually the fiddle. I grew up listening to country music, in a very country household. I did competitions all around Ontario, and then when I got a little older I started taking guitar. I had a great teacher who taught me and pushed me to write my own music. I’d do talent shows and sing at my church in a hundred different choirs. I guess I’ve just always been writing, and now I’ve been touring for seven or eight years making records in Canada. This is my first record in the States.

VH: If you were to describe your music to someone who had never heard it before, how would you describe it?

JK: I would describe it as indie pop folk. It’s very ambient, very creepy, and it’s very emotional.

VH: Who do you listen to to get inspired?

JK: I’m really into Sharon Van Etten. I look up to her. There’s a really beautiful darkness about her music, her voice is very staying. There’s also a lot of Canadian artists I listen to, like Hannah Georgas, and some of my friends, like Royal Wood and Zoe Sky Jordan. There are a lot of artists who live in Nashville alongside me that are all pretty amazing artists, and I really look up to them too.

VH: Tell me about Love & Lust.

JK: This album is definitely an album about heartbreak. It was a hard album to make. There’s some darkness within it, but some of my favorite albums are breakup albums. It was very therapeutic for me to record, and I already see how it’s helping people. We released the album in Canada, and we’ve been touring it for a few months; it’s really touching, what it has done so far.

VH: With this album being so personal, was it hard to put those details about your life out there for the world to hear?

JK: Yeah, these are some of the most vulnerable and transparent songs I’ve ever written. It was hard feeling pretty exposed, but I realized that the job of the songwriter is to be uncensored. One of my favorite American songwriters, Lucinda Williams, said that once: that it’s your job to say everything you’re feeling. That’s where the best songs come from, when you’re vulnerable. I think that’s true in life as well, in relationships. Being vulnerable is one of the most beautiful things to achieve as a human being. If you’re able to do that I think life can really surprise you.

VH: It’s been four years since your last record, Clover. How have you changed since then?

JK: God, has it been four years? [laughs] I guess I’ve just grown up. I’ve been writing with a lot of other people; co-writing has been a big part of this album. I feel more aware of myself as a person, I feel awake. I was twenty-five when I released Clover, so there’s definitely been a lot of growth and transformation over those years.

VH: Where do you think you would be if not for your music career?

JK: I always wanted to be a nurse when I was a kid. [laughs] I think that’s why I’m doing music, because it’s a different type of healing. It’s taking care of people. I wanted to be a nurse for the longest time, but I am horrible at chemistry!

VH: What can we expect at the show on Thursday?

JK: I’ll have my full band coming in from Toronto for this one, and there are going to be some amazing local artists opening that night that are incredibly talented: Adam Agin and Natalie Schlabs.

VH: Where do you hope to be in the next few years?

JK: I hope to release more albums and to be in Nashville a whole lot more. I want to be on the road more in the States. I love touring, and when I’m not on the road, I feel like a fish out of water. There are just so many amazing festivals and venues around the country. I’m looking forward to seeing what this album will lead to. 

Catch Jadea at The High Watt this Thursday, April 6th. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased here.

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