Many musicians work out from a young age that music is their calling in life. Melbourne singer-songwriter Mariah Jayne is no exception. Putting her all into music throughout her schooling career, Mariah found herself going on to study an Advanced Diploma of music. It was one gig in particular, at the Secret Garden in St. Kilda, that was the defining moment of her career. The moment where she realised she was doing the right thing for her and will continue to do it.
“It was a cover gig, and there weren’t that many people there. I was with my guitarist, and we played an original song, because [someone] in the audience requested it. And I didn’t actually know these people, but I was like ‘yeah okay, I can probably play an original song.’ So, I did, and I remember during the second chorus, a group in the audience started singing along to it. I’ll always remember that particular moment, it really stuck with me. Just the feeling of hearing someone sing along to one of my songs, it was then that I realised that that was what I wanted to do, 100%, and it’s exactly what I meant to be doing.”
Despite now writing her own music, Mariah spent many years singing covers with even dancing being on her cards. It was only until starting her Advanced Diploma in Music that her song writing began to develop. In fact, you can catch the first song she ever wrote, ‘Here I Am’, on her EP ‘The Beginning’.
“I tried to write songs. I’d play some chords and write, but I never actually wrote a song until that one. It came out really quickly as well, I was going through a bit of crap at the time with relationships ending and all that sort of thing, so it just happened really quickly. I was really proud of myself after that, it was like ‘wow, I wrote a song that I really like, and I think it’s good!’”
Mariah credits the course for helping her develop into the artist she is today, having now heard people throw around artists’ names such as Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum and Fleetwood Mac when it comes to describing her sound. She also met her current band at the university.
“I made a lot of amazing friends and some contacts that, well if wasn’t for them, things would be a lot different. I actually met my band that I currently play in all through uni as well, which was really nice, and that very first year, I developed a lot as a performer, rather than just you know, a little singer that sings some songs. I really found my place, I guess, as an artist and started song-writing as well. That was a big change for me, as I had only really just done covers, and I didn’t really think of myself as a songwriter and I didn’t really think I was ever good enough to do that sort of thing.”
Whilst NMIT was the institution that helped put Mariah on her path, from the age of seven, she has always been involved in music in some way. Growing up in Sunbury, she was enrolled in singing and dancing lessons at a local school, and even though she liked dancing, she admits to favouring singing, and singing suiting her better also. Mariah then went on to attend high school in Sunbury, before moving to Essendon Keilor College, to focus heavily on music there.
“My family always said I had a good voice when I was little, but it started to develop and change when I started having private lessons, so at around 13. That’s sort of an age where things develop anyway. I moved to Essendon Keilor College which had a better music program. I ended up doing music there, I did three music subjects in year 11 and 12, which was pretty fun. My teachers weren’t exactly thrilled that I was doing that many music subjects, but I didn’t care because that was all I wanted to do.”
Now consistently song-writing, Mariah has found the process that works for her, saying she tends to get a lot of ideas in some commonly odd places. Admitting to struggling to talk about her feelings, she lets her song writing be the voice that allows her to express her emotions.
“It starts with a really good chord progression. I tend to get a lot of ideas in the car, and I have heard a lot of people say that they do all their thinking in the car, or a lot of their ideas come to them in the car. And in the shower, which is another strange one. Sometimes, I’ll be mucking around on the piano, and I’ll find something that really resonates with me, and then I’ll find it quite easy. Melody and lyrics come quite easily after that. I’ll never be like ‘I want to write a love song, or I want to write a break-up song’, it sort of just happens. The topic just sort of comes out. I never really think about what I’m writing about, it just flows.”
Having now written her first EP, ‘The Beginning’, she has been able to put it all together and release it for the world to hear. She admits it was definitely a change for her, having gone from putting on predominantly cover gigs, to now driving the creative input for her own project and creating and producing her own music. The original songs that were written sound slightly different to what is on there now, however.
“I was definitely out of my comfort zone with the whole process, because all the songs started as classic singer-songwriter, ballads piano. I then went and showed my producer, Marcel, the songs, and he asked me a bunch of questions about what I wanted from it. I was really unsure, just because I couldn’t hear much beyond what they were at that stage. He played a really vital part in making the songs how they sound today. He had quite a bit of input, and I was happy for him to have that.”
Mariah will be launching ‘The Beginning’ at The Workers’ Club, in Fitzroy, on October 28. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity; however, to chat to her more about the EP before the night and pick her brain about the standard songs, and the songs that mean the most to her. There are two songs she says are her favourites, but for two very different reasons.
“I think my favourite song from the EP, instrumentally, probably Beautiful Nightmare. That song started as a classic ballad, so to make it upbeat and change it so it’s got quite an up vibe is quite fun. And I do like the way it is. But I think, probably The Beginning is one of my favourites, just because it’s quite a motivating song. It was speaking to myself, like don’t give up on your dreams etc. I was in a bit of a crappy space at the time with my career and I wasn’t really sure where I was going with it and feeling quite lost. And then I wrote The Beginning and it was kind of like me pepping myself up to some extent. And I think it will hope other people, and they will be able to relate to that as well.”
You can buy tickets to ‘The Beginning’ EP Launch on October 28 at The Workers’ Club here.
Written by Jordyn Hoekstra