It’s a little more than 12 months since Samantha Jade walked away victorious in last year’s edition of ‘The X Factor’. She’s had quite a year since, what with three successful singles (one of which gifted her her first No.1), a highly coveted spot in an upcoming TV drama (playing Australia’s premier pop princess, no less) and a win for Best Video (‘Firestarter’) at last weekend’s ARIA Awards.
Just rewards, perhaps, for someone who’s been putting in the hard yards for a great number of years in the hope of eking out a successful pop career.
Three singles into her career with Sony, we decided it was high time for our first natter with pop starlet Samantha Jade to talk ‘Never Tear Us Apart’, the album (what to expect and when) and her latest single ‘Soldier’. Atten-tion!
We start by congratulating her on the 12 month anniversary of ‘What You’ve Done To Me’ debuting at No.1.
“Thankyou so much. I still go ‘that happened’! I can say I’ve had a number one. That’s amazing. And for someone who’s been in the industry for a long while, that’s the dream. So it’s amazing,” she says, confirming to us that it feels like she’s been given a second chance at a pop career.
“It’s just a totally different game this time,” Sam says. “It’s a lot bigger and better. When I was signed to Jive, it was all behind the scenes. I had a record out, but I never actually did promo for it and got to perform it, so it’s a totally different experience and I feel very lucky.
“A lot of people that I idolize have gone through the same thing. Katy Perry got dropped once. Lady Gaga got dropped once. Alicia Keys got dropped once. They’ve all been through it and they’ve managed to come out the other side and I’m so glad to say that I’ve had the second chance too.”
Although, the second chance is fraught with difficulties. There’s being superseded by the new ‘X Factor’ winner Dami Im – herself a mainstream pop act.
“I’m a big believer in thinking that there’s room for everyone,” Sam says. “Especially in Australia for female artists, there’s room for a lot more. And I think that we’re all very different. Jess and Delta and myself… Kylie’s on legendary status now. We’re all very different and Dami too is different. Luckily we all have our own styles.”
There’s an Australian media that all too readily gives the chance to the big international instead of the local and then there’s finding the balance between creating music that stimulates her, while at the same time pleasing the record company.
“You know what, I’ve been so lucky because DNA are amazing and very close with Denis and everyone that runs Sony. They’re such a great company and to be honest, I haven’t had any problems. They’ve always been very wonderful to me and really listened to me and I’ve listened to them. And ‘Soldier’ and ‘Firestarter’ are songs that I love and wanted to release, so I’ve been very lucky.”
But with such a proliferation of imported pop music these days, surely there’s a pressure on artists like Ms Jade to innovate. If there is, she’s certainly not feeling it.
“I just make music that I think people will love,” she admits. “My thing at the moment is that I want to make sure the album is right. The album for an artist is the biggest release, because it’s 12 to 17 tracks of your hard work throughout that few years or whatever it is and summing it all up in one.
“So I want to make sure the album is great and there’s a great ballad on there and there are great lyrics and the melodies are strong and the artwork’s amazing… I’m very involved in every part of it.”
Samantha tell us that “definitely February” is when the album will see the light of day, but given that’s only a couple of months away, it must virtually be finished.
“It is, yeah,” she confirms. “We’ve just got a few finishing touches, but yeah, it’s nearly done. I’ve had a while to do it, but then when I got the INXS part, that took a chunk of the time to do the record, so we pushed it back again. But it’s actually better. It’s going to be a good record that’s had a lot of time put into it.”
Time – and the talents of producers both here and further afield.
“I’ve been working with some producers in the States too – The Fliptones – who I really love. They did Jason Derulo’s ‘Don’t Wanna Go Home’ and I think they actually did some of Jess’s songs on her new record, but I met them about three years ago when I used to live there. They were just coming up and now I see them on all these records and it’s so exciting, so they’re just lovely. I’m working with them.
“I’m going to London this month for a week to finish up some songs, which will be really fun. But I’m trying to keep it quite Australian too, to be honest, because I think we’ve got so many great musical talents here. There’s this guy called Khalid who’s from Sydney who’s amazing, so I’ve been working with him. And also Cassie Davis who’s a great Australian pop talent.”
And Samantha reveals that she’s incredibly mindful of delivering an LP that’s (to quote an old industry saying) “all killer, no filler”, given the propensity of fans in the digital age to pick and choose which tracks they buy.
“It’s so hard now, because you’ve got to think that every song could be a single, and that’s impossible sometimes if you don’t have enough time,” she tells us. “But because I’ve had a lot of time, I’m feeling a little lucky. I’m just going to do my best, we’re writing great songs, they’re all coming from a place that’s real, so hopefully people hear that.”
Speaking of ‘lucky’ (lucky, lucky, lucky), all eyes will be on Samantha’s performance as Kylie Minogue in the upcoming Channel 7 production ‘Never Tear Us Apart’. In promo shots for the series, Sam bears more than a passing resemblance to the pop princess.
“Yeah, I’ve had the comparison my whole life,” she reveals. “It’s something that’s stuck with me and I will take it – it’s very nice. It was such a fun part to play, especially because it’s late ‘80s, early ‘90s Kylie. So it’s the most fun costuming and wigs and everything like that. It was a great experience.
“I’m very lucky that I got to play the role, it’s a role that I think a lot of people would love to play because she’s so iconic. The guy playing Michael – Luke – is just amazing. He’s going to shock people. It’s a very well cast cast.”
But Sam reveals that there was a certain trepidation in portraying someone who’s so well known in Aussie culture.
“I hadn’t done that much acting before – I’d done one or two things – but they weren’t… this is so much more serious, I like to say, especially because the person I’m playing is still around and can watch it. And it’s playing someone who’s very iconic in my country, so it’s a lot more pressure than a usual role I think. I’ve done my best, I did what I could and I really hope Kylie likes it.”
But those hoping for a Kylie cover single release around the time it screens will be disappointed; Sam revealing that there’s no singing in the role.
For the time being, however, fans are getting their teeth into ‘Soldier’, which although not quite as big a chart monster as its predecessors, still carries considerable pop clout. And a fair bit of meaning for the diminutive singer.
“‘Soldier’ was a very personal song to me,” Sam explains. “I was going through a break-up and I ended up writing about it like us songwriters do. And it was one of those songs that had to be written and it’s actually become one of my personal favourites. I think it is my personal favourite of my songs. I love the drums, I love the beat. It’s a little bit more urban, which I really love too.”
But the person who she wrote it about know it’s about them…?
“You know what? I hope so,” she teases. “He’s not from Australia, he’s from Sweden and he’s back in Sweden, so I don’t even know whether he’s heard it yet. So I guess I’l know if an email flies into my inbox.”
‘Soldier’ is currently marching towards a platinum accreditation and with the album locked in for February, another single to come between now and then and a starring role in ‘Never Tear Us Apart’, from here on in, for Samantha Jade’s career path (to quote Yazz), the only way is up.
Samantha Jade’s singles ‘Soldier’, ‘Firestarter’ and ‘What You’ve Done To Me’ are available digitally.
Her album is due in February.