Jade Imagine are about to hatch a love letter to low-fi, slacker-fuzz-dream pop bathed in the glow of ’70s surf-music with their debut EP What the F*** Was I Thinking.
Jade McInally, Jade Imagine’s front babe and brains, has been a stalwart of the indie scene since circa 2004. After making her way to Melbourne from somewhere consistently sunny, McInally cut her band teeth with her own electro project Tantrums. Since then she’s fleshed out scene favourites like Jess Cornelius’ Teeth and Tongue and backed the best on bass (you can still catch her onstage with Jess Ribeiro).
With some urging from mates in the know, at the end of 2015 McInally flexed her songwriting muscle, deciding it was time to play ringleader to her own band of musical-mischief makers again. “I’m a songwriter, and it took me so long to realise that,” McInally says. “I need to be writing, because that’s how I feel good.”
Picking up a loaner guitar from Dan Kelly, McInally set about writing all of the tunes for Jade Imagine’s six-track debut EP What the F*** Was I Thinking. “I think that guitar had some kind of good juju in it,” she reflects. “It’s got some amazing vibes. I picked it up and it made me feel like I was sitting on a beach somewhere,” which touches on one of McInally’s obsessions. McInally is almost always California dreaming, albeit via Melbourne. “In my mind, all of my songs are about missing the coast and wanting to go surfing everyday, even if they’re not actually about that.”
After a spot of bedroom recording, McInally sent a bunch of demos to Dave Mudie (drummer with Courtney Barnett). Mudie not only gave them the thumbs up, he took the liberty of laying down some drums and steered pre-production. Buoyed by the outcome, McInally set about acquiring her band members, Pied Piper style. The fluid line-up revolves around Liam “Snowy” Halliwell (The Ocean Party, Ciggie Witch) on bass, producer/guitarist Tim Harvey (Emma Louise, Real Feelings) and Jen Sholakis (East Brunswick All Girls Choir, Jen Cloher) on drums.
Despite the fact that McInally’s out front and had the bones of the songs for What the F*** Was I Thinking under her belt before the band came onboard, Jade Imagine’s no autocracy. “I’m kind of a chill personality when I’m playing music with people and I don’t like to tell people what to play: I’m a vibes guy,” McInally explains.
“I just like playing with people in rehearsal and when we come across a cool sound, it’ll stick and I’ll point it out, but I’m not one to say, ‘you’re playing that and you’re playing that’. All of my bandmates are so distinct in their style and playing, so I never got them to join the band with the intention that I’d get them to play differently.”
Recorded over a six month period at Mudie’s house and in an epic DIY effort in McInally’s bedroom (it involved a lot of blankets, other people’s mics and a “control room” in the hallway) with both Mudie and Harvey driving production at various points, What the F*** Was I Thinking is a melting pot of mid-sixties Cali’ vibes, the Church (McInally’s favourite band), surf music (of course), T-Rex, Fleetwood Mac, the Triffids and the Go-Betweens.
“Whenever I record with Tim [Harvey] we have a little session beforehand and listen to songs from other bands and talk about what sounds we want,” McInally reflects of the experience. “It’s all very measured with him. For instance, on the drums for 'Walkin’ Around', Fleetwood Mac was a reference, but so was Neu and that definitely doesn’t come through. With Dave [Mudie], it’s more, ‘like let’s throw some things at the wall and see what sticks’, in a good way.”
Already, the EP’s first two singles ‘Stay Awake’ and ‘Walkin’ Around’ are earning big props: Rollingstone pegged lo-fi gem ‘Stay Awake’ as “a shimmering summer-invite track”, putting us right back in mind of surf, sun and sky.
What the F*** Was I Thinking comes out on Milk! Records in April.