At 19 years old, Asha Jefferies is considered a new artist, but the years of experience under the Brisbane singer-songwriter’s belt would qualify her as a veteran.
She began writing and performing at the tender age of 11. At 14, she won the Byron Bay Busking Challenge, leading to her performing on that year’s Bluesfest stage. “I thought I’d made it,” she grins, recalling the memory.
That Bluesfest performance was only a stepping stone. The next step: her BIGSOUND debut, where she performed both solo and with her backing band, her intimate songs, including her 2017 single “Coburg,” blowing crowds away.
“That was about a time when I went to [Melbourne suburb] Coburg and nothing really happened,” Jefferies explains. “I just liked being very dramatic and emotive about things. I thought it was a good approach to turn the suburb into a moody and dark place – I think that when you’re younger it’s so much easier to be more dramatic about everything,” she laughs. “I feel so apologetic about it now because I’ve been to Melbourne and people have mentioned they live in Coburg. I’m like, I’m so sorry!”
“Coburg” was developed while Jefferies studied at the Music Industry College in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, a school with a long list of alumni including artists Sahara Beck and Thelma Plum. Students benefit from mentorships from experienced artists, including Rohin Jones of The Middle East and former-Miami Horror member Aaron Shanahan, both of whom offered Jefferies guidance.
“I talked to Rohin when [“Coburg”] was in the very early stages and we worked on that together. He gave me direction for what I wanted the song to have and what intentions I wanted for the song. When I was recording the demos, Aaron helped a lot in the production aspects of it – the pre-production parts. I had lots of support on that song, which was so great.”
Jefferies has since released “Chaos” – shortlisted for the Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition – and her latest, “Everybody Talks”. Those songs will feature on a six-track EP slated for release in October. She describes it as “a group of stories about forming into your own person, and experiencing a lot of loss but also gaining a whole lot from everything going on”. While it is her vision, she sought input from her band and Brisbane producer Miro Mackie, whose credits include WAAX, Dirty Projectors, and St Vincent. She credits them with helping hammering “Everybody Talks” into shape.
“That song is pretty interesting because it formed as a solo little song that I wrote on my acoustic guitar and I didn’t intend to really show anyone. I’ve been practicing with a band, and when I showed them this song they had a lot of input into it and it became this rock anthem. We took it in to the studio with Miro and he turned it into this pop, glowing, shining thing. It was super cool to watch the song be interpreted in so many different ways.”
Much like her studio experience, Jefferies hopes BIGSOUND will include meeting more artists she admires. “Oh my god, it’s incredible!” she enthuses about the line-up. “I got overwhelmed; I don’t know who I’m going to see first. I really want to see Merpire, a beautiful singer/songwriter from Melbourne. I really want to see San Mei, JEFFE... It’s a lot of the female acts that I’m really keen about.”
After BIGSOUND, Jefferies has a lot planned: another single, touring with Thelma Plum, and the release of her EP. It’s a full schedule for someone so young, but she is fuelled by the support of the industry and her fans.
“It’s super lovely! I think the best part of it is being able to write and see people be receptive and connect to it. It’s the most amazing thing.”
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“Everybody Talks” is available now through all streaming platforms.
See Asha Jefferies live on tour:
Supporting Thelma Plum
September 14: Oxford Art Factory, Sydney NSW
September 15: Howler, Melbourne VIC and
October 6: Outside Tribe Music and Arts Festival, Cornubia, QLD
Follow Asha Jefferies on Facebook here.