Talks with Nicki Jaine


Nicki Jaine




Nicki Jaine Live






CEV:  Tell me about your family’s history with music and the arts. Given these influences growing up when did you decide that music was something that would play a major role in your life as well? 

NJ:  My great-grandparents, who were both violinists, immigrated to theUS fromHungary in the early 1900s. My grandmother, an actress and pianist, always brought me to plays, museums, and concerts when I was a child, which really instilled in me a love for the arts. I always loved music and knew that I was going to such an important part of my life. 

CEV:  What instruments did you want to learn at first and did you have any formal musical training either with these instruments or with your voice?

NJ:  I’ve been studying with Rosemary Ostrowski, my dear friend and amazing voice teacher. Rosemary and I are in the process of booking some wonderful shows together featuring music from the
1930’s/1940’s era!  I’m also currently studying guitar with my friend, Chris Shepherd, who is an absolutely amazing musician. Within the past year, I began playing the musical saw! I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to learn about the saw from two amazing players, Dale Stuckenbruck and Katherina Bek. While visitingGermany &Poland this summer I had the wonderful experience of playing saw duets with Katherina inBerlin! I’ve loved singing from a very early age, I became drawn to the guitar soon after and my most recent love is the musical saw!

CEV:  When you first started composing music what style of music did you start off with or did you even have a defined style at first?

NJ:  When I was a little kid, I’d make up songs all of the time which, as I’m sure you can imagine, are quite different from what I write now and I’m sure the music that I write now will, in some ways, be quite different from what I’ll be writing years from now. I feel that style is something that naturally comes about while an artist is exploring and it then changes as the artist changes, it’s an ever evolving thing.

CEV:  As far as the music you listen to personally who were some of the musicians that you would list as influential to what would eventually become your style?

NJ:  I have a pretty broad range of artists who inspire me. When I was a kid, my Dad bought me some Jethro Tull CDs and I absolutely loved them! I loved the songwriting, the inflection that Ian Anderson used when he sang, everything! As strange and as unexpected as it may be, I’d point to Jethro Tull as being one of the first bands to really inspire me. I’m not sure exactly how I’d trace that to my style today, but my love for Jethro Tull was certainly part of the process.

CEV:  When was it that you first felt attracted to the music of the 30’s and 40’s and what was it about this music that motivated you so much to learn it and to sing it?

NJ:  My middle school chorus put on a concert that included some songs from that era, including “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”. I remember loving that song so much! When I started performing my own music, many people would approach me after shows to say that there was something about my performance that had a quality that was so reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich or Lotte Lenya. After hearing this so many times I began to listen to the music of Dietrich & Lenya and absolutely fell in love with it. It brought me right back to that musical era, it brought me back to how much I loved “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” when I was in middle school. Right around the same time my friend and voice teacher gave me an Ute Lemper CD, which made me love this music even more. I felt such a connection to it and passion for this music. I absolutely had to learn this music and start performing it.

CEV:  Was there a reason that you began singing in German as well as English and did you have to learn German or were you already versed in the language?

NJ:  I just began studying German over the past year and I absolutely love it. The music of Marlene Dietrich and Lotte Lenya really brought about this love of the German language for me. I love singing in German and certainly look forward to adding more German songs to my repertoire.

CEV:  Tell me about your relationship to Projekt records and how that came about.

NJ:  I met Sam Rosenthal at a holiday party in 2003 that was hosted by the wonderful owners of the NYC based record label, Middle Pillar. We immediately became friends and that was the beginning of my relationship with Projekt Records.

CEV:   In 2004 you became part of Projekt Records Black Tape for a Blue Girl U.S. tour, how did you feel about being a part of the tour and did it increase your visibility to more fans who might enjoy your music?

NJ:  Touring with Black Tape for a Blue Girl was an absolutely wonderful experience artistically and an amazing opportunity to meet new friends and fans. Some of the recordings featured on my live album are from the tour.

CEV:  How do you feel about performing your music live and what kind of atmosphere do you like to create with your performances?

NJ:  I love to feel as if the performance exists in its own little world that one can get a bit lost in. In the same way that one can get lost in the world of a painting or a good book, I like to feel that the performance has a dimension to it that one can get lost in.

CEV:  Speaking of live music your new release Nicki Jaine Live was released earlier this year. This would be your second release so why did you decide to do a live CD instead of a follow up studio CD?

NJ:  I really love so many things about live recordings...they’re so honest, so genuine, they have a spirit that studio recordings sometimes lack. Naturally, live recordings aren’t technically squeaky clean like music that is produced in a studio, but that’s part of what I love so much about them, they’re raw and real and perhaps a bit imperfect…like life, like art and that’s where their charm lies.

CEV:  Did you have anything in particular in mind when you decided what songs to include on this collection?

NJ:  The live CD features original songs as well as selections from the 1930s/1940s era that I really love. I wanted to combine the two together in a way that they flowed into each other, which I really feel happens on the CD.

CEV:  Do the venues that are featured on this CD add anything to the music that would not have been there otherwise?

NJ:  Yes, I believe so. The songs that I performed at Odette’s are particularly special to me. Odette’s was one of my favorite venues, the people who frequented the place were so wonderful and had such an appreciation for the music and the venue itself just had such great feel to it. Unfortunately, Odette’s recently suffered such extensive flood related damages that it has been closed permanently. I have so many great memories of performing there and seeing shows there and miss it very much. The energy and atmosphere at Odette’s was truly unique and I’m really happy that part of it was captured on this CD.

CEV:  So what’s the early word from your listeners as to what they think of this new collection of live songs?

NJ:  They seem to feel the way that I do: the live recordings have such an intense and truly personal feel to them. The spirit of the performance is really captured on these recordings, which is a wonderful thing.

CEV:  What’s next for Nicki Jaine? Are you going to work on more music for future CD’s or will you be concentrating on performing for now?

NJ:  Right now the live performances are my main focus. I will be working on another recording project in the not too distant future, but right now the shows are what my mind is on! I’ve been collaborating with some wonderful musicians, such as Mary Bichner, of the band Box Five, accordion player, Ray Ashley and drummer, Ned Sonstein. Mary & I recently had the pleasure of getting together for a little musical experiment with didgeridoo player, Mark D. We spent the night creating music as a musical saw/didgeridoo/glockenspiel trio! We will definitely need to incorporate this into a show in the very near future!

CEV:  Any final thoughts you’d like to share with the readers of CEV?

NJ:  Thank you for the interview, I truly appreciate it.

In the near future, video footage of live shows will be available on my website. Some of the videos will include me performing music on my musical saw. Please do keep an eye out for it! Also, it’s always a pleasure to get in touch with new people, so if you feel inclined, please do stop by my myspace page & say “Hello”!  

CEV:  Thanks for taking the time to talk to me and share some of your thoughts with the readers of CEV and I'm sure that we will be hearing more from you in the near future. Good luck.