How The Great Gatsby, Amy Winehouse and late nights above Bournemouth’s Holland & Barrett inspired Jealous Tina’s lockdown debut.
Jealous Tina are one of the most exciting new acts in the South West’s underground live music scene. She Who Leaves Her Guard Down, their chilled-out debut EP, is a statement that cancelled shows and COVID restrictions can inspire an exciting record too. After meeting as course-mates on Bath Spa University’s growing Commercial Music BA, the band quickly began to permeate the live music scene in the cities of Bath and Bristol. Multi-instrumentalist frontwoman Rosie P (vocals, saxophones) was supposed to be playing a busy run of gigs this summer to support Jealous Tina’s incisive debut She Who Leaves Her Guard Down, but when we met in Bath she was irresistibly optimistic, seeing the rescheduled shows as an opportunity to fine-tune the project before its release. Her bright and unpretentious in-person demeanour may seem at first to be at odds with the sultry and moody singing persona, which evokes the giant figures of Adele and Amy Winehouse with a refreshing sensitivity. Her emotional versatility extends to her musical skills, being at ease equally behind a microphone or a single-reed mouthpiece.
The vitality of their live shows is clearly at the heart of the band, and the live recording of ‘More for Me‘, released as part of their debut EP’s promotion, testifies to their devoted fanbase’s agreement. Jealous Tina’s adaptability to the paucity of performances is surely a consequence of Rosie P’s savviness in orchestrating remote musical collaborations, having previously been called upon to demonstrate the utility of cutting-edge 5G technology for real-time music-making in a long-distance jam session with Jamie Cullum.
Despite its undeniable debt to R&B pioneers from across the pond, this record places the band firmly in the soundscape of contemporary British funk and soul acts. The individual tracks demonstrate a range of musical influences, from Jordan Rakei-esque nu-funk to the neo-soul ballads of Jorja Smith and Arlo Parks. Regardless, in between long cycles through the Somerset countryside, jams to John Coltrane, and playing with her Nintendo Switch, Rosie P spoke about some of the people, places and life-events that informed her band’s long-awaited first recorded project.
Stream She Who Leaves Her Guard Down now
Jax Beats – Pic: Adam Daly
1. Jax Beats
“We were lucky enough on this EP to work with the best studio engineer and producer known to man, (he also happens to be one of our good friends and is always up for a pint which is a massive bonus). Under the alias Jax Beats, Jax helped us record, mix and then master each song. We just managed to record the songs ‘New York’, ‘Kaleidoscope’ and ‘More for Me’ in the studio the week before lockdown but were then cut off from any in-person studio mixing. This made for some pretty long and drawn out emailing back and forth of audio and project files, with any small changes that needed to be made to a track resulting in a whole new version being sent over. Eventually, when it was ruled safe to be back in the same room as each other (in our social bubble), we were able to put the finishing touches onto each song in Jax’s home studio in Bath, and were able to bounce ideas back and forward between each other face to face, which definitely made all the difference to the final sound.”
“Jax is a musician and beatmaker in his own right and has released some incredible music out to stream, save, and listen to (including my personal favourite ‘Older’ with Ben Charlton and Blk Ozwald). The unique smooth sound of ‘Sweet Eyes’ however was down to the nimble-fingered, hard mixing work of our very own keyboardist Jackson Clark.”
2. Arts University Bournemouth
“Although I now know it’s something I only want to pursue as a hobby, there was a time when I thought that I’d like to be a visual artist more rather than a musician. I completed a fine art Foundation year in Bournemouth after finishing school and, while it made me realise that the fine art world wasn’t somewhere for me look for a career path, the course played a fundamental role in my discovery of some of the musical artists that my own music is classed alongside today (Tom Misch in particular, as my friends will recall and ridicule me for; I thought I’d discovered someone really cool and unheard of, but it turns out I was about two years late to their party). Although strictly speaking I lived at home for the year, I classed my second home at that time as ‘Flat 1’ in Bournemouth on top of Holland & Barrett where my three friends Matt, Will (Perry), and Phillip lived. We used their flat (a convenient five minute walk to the beach for many an irresponsible drunken swim) as a hang-out spot and party venue for the year. They had an old speaker on the top of the breakfast bar that people used to plug their playlists into, which was my main source of discovery for new music in this time. It led to me discover huge names (that I shamefully hadn’t previously heard of) like Foals, Rex Orange County, Bombay Bicycle Club, Mac DeMarco, Chet Faker, and a whole bunch more that I owe to my friends’ expansive music choices.”
‘Flat 1’ on a Bournemouth rooftop
“While I arguably didn’t do much in the way of actual ‘art’ in that time, the experiences that came from it, the people that I met and spent time with (shout out to Alice, Angel, Millie, one of my oldest friends Abby, Luke and the boys at ‘Flat 1’), and what they taught me both musically and artistically was far more important than the actual Foundation Diploma. I’ve always been interested in the links between art and music and I ended up using material I’d started during the Foundation year as a basis for Jealous Tina’s cover artwork. The five faces that make up the designs (and the singular one on the ‘Interim’ single) are traces of my own face doing stupid things like brushing my teeth or washing my face, which I re-worked using some new digital skills I learnt since coming to Bath. The monochrome theme has always been a big part of my visual art and I prefer messing around with shape, pattern, and abstraction over experimenting with colour.”
She Who Leaves Her Guard Down cover art
“The idea of picking up the music I listen to from friends has followed me to my studies at Bath Spa Uni where I’ve found yet another group of incredible people that I’m lucky to call my friends who are constantly inspiring and influencing me. I’ve discovered house music, dub, spiritual jazz, and re-found my love of reggae thanks to these people. A particular new favourite discovered through mates is the recent Disclosure release ‘ENERGY’ – it’s an absolute banger, thanks Jax!”
“I am super lucky to be able to say that, for me, lockdown has been a very welcome break from my normal schedule allowing me to concentrate and work on music. As bored as we all are of hearing it, it goes without saying that if things had been normal I probably would have been too busy to devote so much of my time to this EP. The past few months have presented themselves as a bit of a silver lining, and a golden opportunity to be able to reflect and spend time doing what I love. I spent the majority of it at my family home in the New Forest, where I know I have a safe space to record without annoying any neighbours (can’t say the same as a saxophone player now back living in a thin-walled terraced house in Bath). This freedom and ability to record led to a surge in my musical productivity, and I found myself working with people who I never would have thought to reach out to had it not been for the madness going on in the world. Our last Jealous Tina gig before lockdown was at Komedia Arts Café in Bath at an event run by Girls Support Girls, where we filmed the live video for ‘More for Me’. We’re hoping to be back out very soon when it’s possible and safe to do so back at venues we know and love (we’re looking at you, Moles).”
Jealous Tina performing at Girls Support Girls – Pic: Adam Daly
4. Female R&B Artists
“I am so incredibly inspired by and in awe of female R&B artists – the way they are able to present as so strong and confident is empowering in itself. I’m ridiculously bad at making the time for discovering new music myself (see above, bullet-point 2), however over the past few years, having been plunged into the world of neo-soul, I have been addicted to the likes of Mahalia, H.E.R, Biig Piig, Cleo Sol, Lianne La Havas, Joy Crookes and so many more. A lot of this discovery is thanks to Colors Studio’s live sessions on YouTube and the NPR Tiny Desk concerts which are always perfect to listen to even just in the background, (definitely a big-time dream to take part in them one day). I’ve also found that going back through old music from my past is just as important, so it would be a bit criminal not to shout out the original R&B queen herself: Amy Winehouse. I say “original”, as for me as a child Amy Winehouse was easily one of my first insights into the world of contemporary R&B, soul, and jazz. I would have been four years old when Frank came out in 2003, and it’s now my most streamed album on Spotify. One of my good friends Will introduced me to the song ‘Stronger than Me’ to perform as a cover in our old band KUMO, and ever since then it’s been my go-to campfire song if someone ever whips out a guitar.”
5. Band members
“Each member of Jealous Tina is genuinely an absolute dream to create music with, and we’re lucky to have such an open and equal space to share musical ideas in when rehearsing. Outside the band all of us are involved in other projects too, and for this reason as individual musicians we are constantly being inspired by one another – whether that be in terms of playing style, genre influences, or artistically.”
Jackson laying down some harmonies on a Nord Electro 5D
“Jackson (keyboards) fronts an amazing band called Doghouse Outhouse (which I am lucky enough to play saxophone for) and has some lush tunes released and ready to stream that I’d highly recommend to everyone for chill evening listening. I feel incredibly lucky to have him as a friend, and he is one of my hugely important artistic influences, having introduced me to so much new music and playing styles (he definitely indirectly helped me to write elements of She Who Leaves Her Guard Down he wasn’t involved in).”
Josie and Jay in the studio
“Jay (guitar) fronts The Manatees, an incredible South Coast-based indie band which we all know and love who have just released a beautiful acoustic version of their single ‘Have It All’. Mike (drums) fronts the equally as amazing band Genuine Panama, which I have also had the pleasure to session for on saxophone a few times, including for the titular track on their incredible debut EP Itchy Teeth (featuring possibly the coolest guitar lines ever). Josie (my favourite bassist in the South West) plays for an awesome project called Tamasushi (currently undergoing a name change – watch this space) and we’re all eagerly awaiting their first release! I know for a fact that the Tina EP wouldn’t have been half as vibey without her incredible ability to lock into the pocket and carry each tune.”
6. Collaborative Writing Process
“The writing method for each track was relatively similar. In most cases, it stemmed from me expanding on a rough idea I’d had saved as a voice note or written down. Sometimes the demo would be a whole song, other times just a verse or chorus that we’d build on together. Whilst I love to think that one day I’ll be able to produce well enough by myself, for now my DAW skills remain relatively basic. Therefore, I have a lot to thank the whole band for, as each time I brought a new badly recorded demo, they were able to tune in to exactly what it was I was trying to evoke and bring it to life. This was particularly impressive for Mike, as drum-programming is not a strong point of mine. There were many occasions where I ended up sitting next to him by the drum kit trying to beatbox the beat to him until he could understand what I was trying to write.”
Jax Beats tracking Mike’s drum grooves
“‘Sweet Eyes’ was the only song to have been written ‘backwards’ (music first, then lyrics) – it may also have only been the second song we ever wrote together. I wrote a chord outline which Jackson helped to jazz-up and make a bit more comprehensive (it took us all a while to understand and adjust the harmony I’d written for the chorus…). We then headed to a room with just keys and drums and spent a few sessions solidifying the groove, changing up the emphasises of each beat until we had a feel we were happy with. The lyrics were actually added in small chunks at a time, as I remember really struggling with trying to fit in different words and melodies into what had developed into a particularly hip hop fuelled tune. It took writing a lot of nonsense and messing around with many different narrative ideas until we were finally happy with the completed lyrics as they are now.”
7. New York City
“I’ve always had a huge passion for travel and am incredibly lucky in my life in that at aged 21 I can say I’ve visited some absolutely incredible and life-changing countries, including Trinidad and Tobago (where my parents got married), Mexico, and Cuba (this one being at the top of my list of most amazing places on earth). One place that has always had an inexplicable magnetism to me is the USA – New York City in particular. Ruling out the majority of its backwards political complications, the whole visual and emotional charm of such a busy ‘larger than life’ space in the world draws me in. There’s something about the architecture – all fire escapes and trumpet solos at 2 AM on some dingey rooftop of an apartment complex – that has such an appeal to me to experience first-hand. I wonder whether it’s down to the romanticised version I have in my head from films like Baz Lurhmann’s 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, West Side Story, or perhaps simply from having binge watched all 10 seasons of Friends a few too many times.”
“I have visited the USA before, but as the memories of a two-year-old baby go, I can’t say that I remember all that much of it beyond keeping everyone awake by crying through the entire ten-hour flight from the UK to Florida. I am completely aware that if one day I do manage to get there – whether it be for musical business or for pleasure – there is every chance that this idealistic image I currently have will be popped, but there’s also something a bit exciting to me in the risk of knowing that everything I think in my head about it could be exposed as totally fabricated and incorrect. Either way, the song ‘New York’ on the EP aims to encapsulate all of this confusion surrounding my love for a place I am still yet to visit.”
What’s next for Jealous Tina?
“Hopefully lots! I think there comes a point where you’ve been sat on the same project for so long (in theory these songs have been in the works for two years) that it acts as a bit of a creative mental block standing in the way of achieving anything else in that same field. However, now that it’s finally released, I find myself with so much more creative headspace to be able to start writing and working on new things for Jealous Tina. I can’t wait to be able to be in a room with the guys again and start writing some new material (and hopefully put some local gigs in the works for very soon). Until then, we’ll keep writing, collaborating, meeting new people (please feel free to drop us a message over on Instagram), and listening to new music. We’re always up for people to be getting involved with, in whatever vein of art that may be – musically, visually, virtually – so do let us know if you’ve got any ideas, we’d love to hear ‘em.”
Jealous Tina’s debut EP She Who Leaves Her Guard Down, released 4th September 2020, is available to stream now here.
We’ve launched a Reverb Music Spotify account, check out our accompanying playlist below, featuring tracks mentioned in this article:
Interviewed by: Tom Wijesinghe