Daily Discovery is a feature that highlights a new or recently discovered artist who we’re excited about. See the rest of our Daily Discoveries here.
For some musicians, music is something they come into organically during their life. For others, it’s all they know. Jess Fairfax (aka X ARI), falls into the latter. Growing up with a father who was an actor and director, as well as a sister who was a singer, art was all around. Her interest in music was only natural.
Though she’s been writing songs since she was a teenager, “Float Away” is her first single under her solo project X ARI and it’s an impressive debut at that. The track finds Fairfax’s sultry vocals floating over a slow-building, trip-hop production. It’s emotive and confident, but most importantly, it hints at the huge potential Fairfax has as a solo artist.
Listen to “Float Away” and read our short interview with Fairfax below.
How did you get into music? Give us some info on your background
I come from a pretty artistic family. My father was an accomplished actor and director and my sister followed in his footsteps, along with having a brief stint as a babin’ pop star in the early 90s! So music and the arts have been in my life since day one. I work for an arts organisation in Melbourne, Australia that supports musicians from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds to access the music industry here and I also produce and present a weekly radio show on PBS 106.7FM, an amazing community radio station in Melbourne. When I think about what I’m doing now and how entrenched I am in music I know there is nothing else I could be doing as it’s all I know.
From what I can tell on your website, you’re also a radio producer/host. What came first – that job or your music career? How has being on that side of the radio affected how you approach music?
I’ve been playing music and writing songs since I was a teenager so that definitely came first. In fact it is my love for music and musicians and their individual stories that got me into producing and presenting radio. I love being able to go into the studio each week, play the tunes I’m digging and have intimate conversations with the most incredible and interesting humans. There is no doubt that over the 5 years that I have presented radio, each new music discovery, enlightening interview, in studio poetry performance or musical jam, has piece by piece influenced the music I am now releasing. For one, due to the talent I’ve been exposed to, I’ve been forced to work really hard. The bar has been set high and there is a fine line between intimidation and inspiration!
Also while I was on your website, I read your blog post “Reflections On Love & Radio” which I thought was beautifully written. It was surprising to me though how you said that you see yourself as emotionally awkward, because “Float Away” feels incredibly confident in it’s honesty. Was tapping into that side of yourself difficult?
As I mentioned in that piece, speaking about my emotions is not something I particularly enjoy and my friends can vouch for that! But through both music and radio I am able to go places that I don’t usually in my day to day relations. For some reason on radio, when I have a microphone in front of me and headphones on I can ask questions that normally I would feel awkward to go near. Similarly, with writing, its an honest and quiet place I can go to and really reflect on what’s going on inside and around me. In both spaces it’s like the ego shies away and I’m just left with the moment, and I’m able to naturally move where that takes me.
Who are some female influences that helped shape the sound you have today?
I’m so fortunate to have the most amazing musicians and poets around me as friends who through our conversations, jams and witnessing them doing their thing up close and personal, are my main source of inspiration. Check out the work of Philemon and Saatsuma for great Melbourne based musicians who weave poetics with soft, beautiful voices. Jay Kranz has influenced how I make radio, soundscapes and tell stories, again in a soft and subtle but very beautiful way. Unfortunately, perhaps due to a tyranny of distance, I can not call Warsan Shire a friend, but her poetry and delivery make me tingle. I love when powerful messages and stories can be told through beauty, harmonies, dreaminess and subtly and that’s what I strive to achieve when creating.
What’s next for you? Are you working on an EP or LP? Tour?
I’ve been really enjoying hiding out in my studio writing tunes, composing soundtracks and radio documentaries but I’ve realized there is only so long I can stay hidden away and that there is some really precious moments to come out of getting out of the comfort zone and hitting the stage. So the next step is to get the band together, sounding super tight, playing live and touring. And yes an EP, hopefully mid-year.