Phoebe Day on why she thinks Jazz is misunderstood in Australia

Phoebe Day is an emerging Jazz/Soul singer hailing from Sydney. She has just released a heart-felt track called ‘A place in time.’ The smooth and sultry artist effortlessly blends old and new music inspired by the greats of jazz, soul, RNB and blues. Her sultry manner is giving us of Amy Winehouse and Adele vibes.

We chat to Phoebe about her first jazz track she listened to, her inspirations and why she thinks jazz is misunderstood in Australia.  

What was the first jazz artist you listened to, and how did it make you feel?

It’s hard to think of the very first jazz artist I ever listened to. I was so young when my father introduced me to the genre that I can’t really recall a time when I wasn’t listening to jazz. It must have been John Coltrane – A Love Supreme. I remember feeling a strange infatuation and being completely drawn into the sound. I closed my eyes and imagined a story as the music played. I think maybe that’s what I loved about jazz – every solo and every melody tells a different story with a different mood. 

Who are your inspirations?

I’ve always been heavily influenced by the great jazz vocalists – Billie Holiday, Anita O’Day, Chet Baker, and Nina Simone to name a few. But I’ve also been greatly inspired by instrumentalist such as Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix. Any artist who plays with honesty and feeling will inspire me almost every time. At the moment one of my greatest inspirations is Melody Gardot. She is the perfect example of an artist who does so much with so little. It’s all about the detail and nuances in her vocal and her arrangements. She also blends classic jazz and soul sounds with contemporary production and songwriting. It’s a joy to listen to and a real inspiration.

What do you have coming up next?

It’s a very busy time at the moment! I’ll be releasing two more singles over September and early October. I’m feeling very excited about sharing these tunes. Together they tell one great story of my experiences while I was writing. We’ll be playing a show towards the end of October to launch these new tunes. I’ve also been working with saxophonist/producer Joel Sena. He’s releasing his second EP very soon and I was lucky enough to sing two of the songs on his recording.

How do you see the jazz industry in Australia?

That’s a very good question. I think the jazz industry is a little misunderstood in Australia. I think there’s a general misconception that all jazz artists are a little pretentious. I also feel like maybe the industry is slightly divided between jazz purists and more contemporary artists. Perhaps jazz in Australia isn’t really appreciated in the same way it once was and I would really love to see it flourish again in a new light. I’ve always felt that jazz is less about how “out” you play and more about how you connect with your audience and the musicians you’re playing with. It’s a language in itself that is based on connection. I hope that one day there’s a bigger audience for jazz in Australia.

Why ‘Day’ to the end of your name?

Phoebe Day was my family’s nickname for me while I was growing up. In fact, my Father still calls me Phoebe Day to this day! It’s also nice to pay homage to one of my greatest inspirations Billie Holiday, or Lady Day as she was often called.

What stimulates your soul?

My soul is stimulated by the creative arts. When I listen to music or view an artwork or see a show, I want to be moved. I think that’s what art is all about - or great art at least. I’m energised and inspired by artists who can communicate emotion through a single note or the single stroke of a paintbrush. It makes you feel alive.