“Let me wrap my arms around you… Let me be your safe place”, sings Jazz Morley on this bruised yet beautiful track, premiered exclusively here on Notion. Describing the song’s themes, the talented musician describes her own physical and emotional journey back to her hometown of Bournemouth; she also speaks passionately of the emotive power of music, recalling her own post-heartbreak cries to Toni Braxton as a young teenager.
To Morley, music is more than a mere creative outlet; it’s a form of therapy which she implies her listeners to share in. Sonically, ‘Safe Place’ is a fusion of atmospheric electronica and Morley’s flawless vocals, both of which combine to create a musical universe all her own. Ahead of a landmark gig in London next week, we caught up with the emerging star to talk musical inspiration, her former nomadic lifestyle and the ever-necessary importance of transparency.
Jake Hall: Tell us a little about your upbringing – did you grow up in a musical home?
Jazz Morley: I was always surrounded by music – my mum was a touring musician and my dad wanted to be an actor. When I was about 8 years old, my mum went to university and became a music teacher and my dad went into the technical side of entertainment, designing lighting and sound for theatres and venues. I was always singing, making up songs and dancing around like a loon! The stage was my favourite place to be; if there was ever a musical production at school, I wanted to play the main role with all the singing solos. I’ve never been a natural dancer though – at the age of 4 years old I quit my ballet lessons because they wouldn’t let me take my watering can into the class!
Have you always channeled your creativity through music?
Writing and listening to music will always be my therapy. If ever I’ve been in a tough place in life, I’ve turned to music to express my feelings. I remember lying on the school field at the age of 12 listening to Toni Braxton’s ‘Unbreak My Heart’ on repeat after having just been dumped. When I started to put my thoughts and feelings into my own songs, it allow me to say the things I was too afraid to speak. When my brother went to Afghanistan to fight in the British Army, I was able to put all my fears, worries and emotions into writing a song called ‘Disconnected’; afterwards, it felt like I had been in a 6-hour counselling session.
How would you describe your sound to new listeners?
I would say it’s a culmination of all my inspirations. I grew up listening to soul singers such as Etta James, Gladys Knight and Whitney Houston, as well as more traditional ‘singer-songwriters’ like Joni Mitchell and Carole King. I’ve always loved melancholic, soulful love songs. In recent years, however, I’ve entered a long, deep love affair with electronic music, especially when it’s downbeat. I’m loving artists like Christine and the Queens, Shura, Jessie Ware, LANY and Trace at the moment; my sound is probably a semi-conscious regurgitation of all of the above.
Can you tell us a little about the themes of ‘Safe Place’?
‘Safe Place’ describes where I have found myself in life now, both geographically and emotionally. I spent quite a few years without a base, travelling up and down the country gigging and sleeping on floors. It was exciting at first, but ultimately proved really hard for my mind to take; I had no real stability. I’ve now moved back to where I grew up by the sea, and I finally feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. Not only does the sea provide me with a constant source of inspiration, but I feel like I’ve come to a certain level of peace and confidence within myself too, which is a really lovely place to be at.
You’ve been honest about your own struggles – is that transparency important to you as an emerging artist?
I think honesty is more important than ever – gone are the days of the truly elusive popstar. With social media at the forefront of the people’s minds in the Western world, it’s essential that we project a positive and honest example to children and young adults. Mental health is a hugely important issue to me and it’s something that should be spoken about honestly and openly, especially by people in the public eye. I struggled hugely in my late teens, and the pressure to be perfect wasn’t half as much of an issue then as it is now.
What do you have planned in the near future?
I have an important gig in London on Thursday 20th July at the Courtyard Theatre, that’s going to be great fun. I’ll be able to present my new music with a band, which is super exciting. I’ll also be releasing a new EP sometime around October, followed by a small UK tour. On top of that, I hope to get over to Europe and the States to do a few gigs by the end of the year. Things are looking good!