Interview: Jay Power

Jay Power

Soulful Australian singer Jay Power is crossing the Tasman to play Meow in Wellington on Wednesday night next week, before heading north for a show at The Old Stone Butter Factory in Whangarei on Friday, and four slots at Bay of Islands Jazz & Blues Festival over the weekend. Will Not Fade shot off some questions to try and get a taste for what to expect at Jay’s shows.

Hi Jay, how are you?

Pretty pumped to be coming to New Zealand for the first time. I hear it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world and I will see it for myself!

I can’t argue with that. I’m sure that you will agree when you see for yourself soon enough. For the uninitiated, how do you explain your sound to first time listeners? And what song would you play to show what you are all about?

It’s pop music with soul and jazz flavours over funk and hip hop beats. ‘When You Got Love’ might be a good indication of how I like to play. Laid back grooves with and upbeat feeling.

You’ve just switched from using your real name to the Jay Power moniker. Did this change represent something more?  

It’s partly practical (less letters, more simple ….Google approves) but it’s also liberating to reinvent myself artistically and enter a new phase in my career, which is what I was doing with the music too. I’ve enjoyed doing something new with a new name that’s punchy and to the point.

Sounds good to me. Following on from that, what is your reaction to the following short clip?

It never gets boring, it’s genius every time.

Your bio states that you were a finalist for South Australian Female Artist of the year last year. Tell me about what that involved.

It’s a yearly awards ceremony to recognise what’s happening in the local scene. I’d just released my album and I was nominated as a result of that. It was nice to be recognised by my peers, but I think the best bit about the event was being a part of something bigger and seeing what other artists are creating and achieving. And buying a new dress for it was pretty cool too.

Nice! In fact, your overall bio is an impressive read. What do you consider you greatest achievement to date?

Really? Thanks! The thing I’m most proud of is my album, a labour of love two years in the making alongside some of my favourite people in this world. It’s a big deal, making and album and it’s hard to make something that’s interesting and true to yourself, I think we mostly achieved that.

On this upcoming tour you’ve got both headlining shows, and festival slots. Does each type of performance require a different approach?

Yes it does and that’s part of the adventure. You connect with people in a different way each time and it brings something new out in your performance. In fact on this tour it’s even more varied since we’re playing at a jazz festival, so we might sneak in a jazz tune or two.

Your band boasts an impressive line-up. How did you manage to secure such talent?

Last year I had the pleasure of supporting Hollie Smith while she was touring in Australia. Darren Mathiassen and Marika Hodgeson (both from NZ) played in Hollie’s band and I was of course, super impressed. When I knew I was coming to New Zealand I got in touch to see if they would play with me – lucky me, they said yes. I’m also bringing Mikey Chan with me from Melbourne Australia, we just toured England together and he’s a pretty special guitarist.

You’re playing Wellington on a Wednesday night. Convince me that it’s worth missing out on sleep to come out and see your show.

It’s a Wednesday. What could you possibly be doing on a Wednesday that’s better than coming out to see seriously soul musicians in a great venue like Meow? Add to that the opportunity to see Spitfire play (Myele Manzanza, Ed Zuccolo and Justin Firefly – hell yes!) and I can guarantee Netflix simply can’t compare.

Consider me convinced! Ed Zuccolo used to play with Adam Page a lot so he is a drawcard for me in his own right. I can imagine that you will be busy on this upcoming tour, but you are travelling through some incredible parts of the country. Do you have any non-music plans for your time in New Zealand?

There will be non-music travel activities, but I don’t know what they are yet. I plan to go with the beautiful flow and see everything there is to see along the way. From my understanding I won’t be stuck for things to see and do.

You will be spolit for choice, trust me. I love my hometown of Wellington, and the places up north are stunning. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I hope to see you play at Meow on Wednesday.

Thanks for the interview Joseph.

J Jay xx









Wednesday August 10 – Meow Wellington, with special guest Spitfire

Tickets available here

Friday August 12 – The Old Stone Butter Factory Whangarei

Tickets available here

Saturday 13 August/ Sun 14 August – Bay of Islands Jazz & Blues Festival


EP Review: The Occupants – Hindsight

Occupants Hindsight EP signed

It’s not often these days that I’ll buy a physical CD. I don’t even have a CD player that works, just a CD drive on my computer. But in this case, CD was the only option. No vinyl, no digital download. I liked the two tracks that I’d already heard online, so I ordered the new Occupants CD.

Brothers Luke and Flynn Gower have teamed up with Leigh Davies to form The Occupants, an indie/electro/rock project that has arisen from the ashes of Cog and Sleep Parade.

Cog and Sleep Parade were major players in the Australian prog-rock scene, along with the likes of Karnivool, Butterfly Effect and Dead Letter Circus. The prog elements are still present with The Occupants, but there is more of an indie vibe than hard rock. Two tracks are over eight minutes long, and all the songs are epic, sprawling beauties. And Flynn Gower’s recognisably haunting high vocals still permeate the music.

The EP version of first track “Hindsight” is almost twice as long as the single version that was initially released. The song could easily be far shorter and still sound complete, but the way it cycles and builds, spaced out with brooding bridges – it all adds to the experience.

“Streets” is carried by fast percussion and noodling guitars. This track showcases exactly why Flynn Gower’s voice is so vital for the band. His vocals are the highlight of the track. They range from deep to almost-falsetto, laden with hooks and ear-worms.

“Wonderland” is more melancholic, built on a repeated mantra. The song features an eclectic range of instruments. Electric drums and synths make give a drum and bass feel at times, and a banjo solo leads into extended instrumental progressions.

To start with, début single “I’ve Been Thinking” could almost pass for an old Genesis song. Phil Collins is channeled through the drums and vocals, but without the dated 80’s feel. This doesn’t last throughout the whole song, but the ‘power-toms’ drumming and the chirpy keyboard features here and there.

Hindsight is sublime. I’ve been listening to it every day since it arrived in the mail. It’s not heavy or soft, just a delicate blend of melodies and riffs. There are so many layered subtle parts that new details begin to shine through with each listen, like the usage of horns and banjo. The vocals are the highlight for me, with Flynn’s voice being used as an extra instrument to dominate the high-end. They echo and soar, planting the melody firmly in my brain. Hindsight may only have four tracks, but it provides half an hour of brilliantly crafted music that leaves me wanting more.

Despite having already stated that I have no CD player, I think it was a good move buying this EP. There’s an element of exclusivity, not because I got a signed copy, but more because this EP shows so much promise. I feel like I’m let in on a secret, owning the first release from a band that clearly has bright futures ahead. Although Cog were a fairly notable band, they never got much attention here in New Zealand. I wonder if this new project will garner different results.

Joseph James