BANYULE 20/20
Jade Alice from Viewbank

My parents are musicians and met because of BABBA, an ABBA tribute band. Mum and her friend Kathy began the group and met dad at his audition, they’d play Benny and Frida, who were a couple for a long time. My parents were so committed to the roles they got married! It’s a joke, but funnily enough today my brother and I perform in BABBA.

 

I am Jade Alice. I am a singer, songwriter, producer, and performer. I’ve been writing songs since I was 11 years old and today performing and writing are the main things I do. I was born in 1996 and have lived in the suburb of Viewbank since I was three.

 

When I was little I’d tour with my parents. I’d sleep backstage and see them perform and thought it was the coolest thing. The music became ingrained in me, and as I grew older I found an appreciation for how well constructed ABBA’s pop music was. I’ve played Agnetha for almost two years now; two girls had been sharing the role but both got big breaks and left, so someone needed to fill in. This was in my third or second year of uni, which was weird cause some shows were at Melbourne Uni. I figured I’d be at school anyway so I’d just hop up there and do it!

 

I studied Interactive Composition at the Victorian College of the Arts. We wrote music and integrated it with other media and art forms. At times ‘interactive’ meant the audience would be involved, or we‘d work with students from theatre or film studies. At the end of each year, we’d have live folio performances which were very unique; we all had very different musical backgrounds and sounded completely dissimilar. We had classes on production, theory, and music-making laboratories where we’d write for specific purposes. And we had a music business subject.

 

The business class needed a lot more attention, as it’s one of the things musicians know less about. Many of us aren’t business-minded, so at the end of the course, we felt overwhelmed. A lot of our time is spent on the craft of being a musician and writing, so when we get to the end there’s panic; we know nothing about getting into the industry or what jobs are out there. I was lucky; I won a contest in my first year and got to release music with professionals. That taught me a lot about the industry.

When high school ended I questioned whether to go to Uni. or take a year off and pursue music. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened, but I wasn’t ready to leave the structure of school, and I had always dreamed of going to VCA.  Dad had studied a music-related course at uni and mum did dental nursing. Her family came from Italy in the ‘50s to find work, and had a traditional view on careers and looking after your family. That swayed mum away from studying music, though she still sang in a choir. Then one night she and Kathy were at the Royal Derby Hotel and heard an ABBA tribute band was needed. That’s how BABBA started, and 20 years later this crazy career has taken them everywhere.

 

When I started songwriting in primary school there was no one around me doing that, but my parents supported me. I was a bit geeky then, not into sports, not into girls’ fashion, and a daydreamer, so I got teased. I had good friends though; we’d gone to the local kinder together, then primary school and onto Viewbank College. In high school, music was a big part of my life, and I spent a lot of time at the Banyule Theatre. Being outside the school grounds made the theatre special. It was our own space and time, like a safe place for students in the productions.

 

I had a very sheltered life with my world for so long been this small area around my house. That’s why going to VCA was appealing; I’d be where everything was happening, and with people who did what I did. Back then I thought I’d be defined by my studies, and if I didn’t do music, and only music, I’d have failed. That was my definition of success at VCA, but I also recall being told in business class that many of us wouldn’t end up doing music as a career. Since then I’ve realised that writing music I’m proud of and putting it out for the world, is being successful. Doing other work at the same time won’t define me nor take anything away.

 

I enjoy doing cover work, interpreting and connecting with others’ songs, but for that same reason, I want to create something of my own that people connect with. Being emotional is seen as a weakness by some but if you can be at your most vulnerable, and have others see themselves reflected in your words, or help someone articulate those emotions they just can’t... I think that’s something very strong and very rewarding.