JailBird Sage Interview: “I get very ambitious with my projects”

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JailBird Sage is a rising underground indie hip-hop artist based in Melbourne, Australia. Blending genres and pushing artistic boundaries since 2013, JailBird Sage launched the non-funded label Moonlit Audio in early 2018, creating a platform or stepping stone for other young independent artists waiting to break out fully into the spotlight of the industry, taking the initiative to put artists music on streaming and download platforms so the world can hear them. Although originally known for abstract instrumentals, Sage has always referred to himself as a songwriter before anything else, and has shown that with the release of his debut vocal project, The Cliché Kid EP, as he pushes into new territory for the underground scene.

JailBird Sage carries on his niche sound of ambient hip-hop with his new single THE HILLS, after teaming up with fellow Melbourne artist and producer Drest, who produced and engineered the track, and executive produced and mixed Sage’s upcoming EP, from which THE HILLS is the lead single of. The track sees JailBird Sage take his sound to new heights, with crisp-sounding drums and deep vocals, as he delves into carefully crafted lyrics regarding his hometown, growing up, falling in and out of love, and even touches on social media’s glorification of suicide. THE HILLS is the first taste of JailBird Sage growing into himself, which will be heard in full upon the release of his sophomore EP just aidan, later in the year.

We had a little chat with him about the new single, the upcoming EP and what else he has planned for the rest of the year.

Hi, how are you today?

I’m pretty good. I’m sitting at my desk listening to Drake, and colouring in. Chilling out, and planning out my releases for the rest of the year, I’ve written a lot of music in isolation and I‘m always impatient to put new music out ahah.

For those that haven’t heard of you yet, how would you best describe your sound and who have been your biggest influences so far?

I would say I’m an ambient hip-hop artist, with different edges dipping into pockets of alt-pop, lofi, emo, and singer-songwriter areas. I never set out to be a “rapper” as such when I started out making music, but I grew up reading a lot of poetry and I’m very word-driven, so that side of me just sort came out of me, and people called me a rapper so I started listening to hip-hop more, and now it’s about 70% of what I listen to. I identify myself as a songwriter before anything else honestly, but I’ve had a lot of support from various underground hip-hop scenes, so I’m proud to have become a part of it, and sort of creating a different sound then what I would have called ‘hip-hop’ when I started out.

If you can picture what Lorde would sound like as a 17 year old boy rapping over The xx’s instrumentals, I think that’s probably the best way to describe my sound

I’m influenced by a lot of different stuff, but I’d say lately my music has been directed by The 1975, Oliver Francis, and Frank Ocean.

You have just released your new single ‘THE HILLS’. Can you tell us how that track came about?

It’s the second song in the tracklist of my second EP, and was the second song I finished for it. It was produced by my engineer, another underground hip-hop artist called Drest, I told him a couple songs I was really liking at the time and inspired by, and sort of used them as almost a template to what direction to move towards, and I wrote the song pretty organically, the mood of the beat just bought the lyrics out of me. I keep my songs honest to me and my thoughts at the time of writing, and try not to overthink it.

And was there a particular style you were looking for when you wrote it?

The whole EP sort of carries the same themes and tone across most of the tracks, messages of personal identity, being confined to a hometown that I both thrive in and am frustrated by, growing up through regrets, love gone sour, and also realising all of these ‘negative’ aspects of life made me and that’s ok. I think THE HILLS sends these subjects across pretty strongly, with a dark, nostalgic sound that continues my usual ambient sound, but with enough of a different tone to make it stand out. I’m pretty proud of it, if you can’t tell lol.

Can we expect a new EP or even an album from you in the near future?

The EP is called ‘just aidan’, and will be out sometime before 2021. I get very ambitious with my projects, and I’ve already announced ‘it’ll be out sometime next month!’ twice on my Instagram ahah. We’ve had everything written and produced since around June, but we swapped out one of the tracks so the feature artist had more time to get their part perfect on it, and the last song on the EP has been a pain to record. I’m really good at writing flows and melodies that are too hard for me to actually execute, I forget to factor breathing into my songs sometimes it seems ahah. And also I’m still in high school, and Drest is in his first year at uni, so other priorities take over the process sometimes. Drest mixes and masters everything I put out, and I guess I should probably call him my executive producer or something, coz he always adds little touches and changes to the tracks to improve them and make them all cohesive, whether he produced the instrumental or not.

The coronavirus outbreak has obviously affected everyone’s plans, but what have you got in store for the rest of the year?

I honestly just want to get the EP out into the world ahahah. It’s my best work so far, lyrically, production-wise, and even just in audio quality, and we’ve spent the better part of 2020 trying to bring it to life, so I’m just really excited for the world to hear it. I’ve written a lot more material during the process, and in isolation due to coronavirus, so the plan is to release one single every month after I release the EP, and then when I get bored of that I’ll start the next bigger project.

And finally, what is your dream ambition to achieve as an artist?

Telling my stories, making music I’d enjoy as a listener, and performing to people who sing the words back at me. I’ve done a little bit of lowkey performance, and I was a festival producer for a year, so I spent a bit of time on the ‘other side’ of the curtains, but would really love to start getting some gigs under my belt as my music progresses and my fanbases grows. Hopefully, coronavirus dies soon so live music can be a thing again.


JailBird Sage’s new single THE HILLS is available digitally as of now. Have a listen via the player below.

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Indie is not a genre

Indie is not a genre