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ST JAMES. 5 FAVOURITE FEMALE SONGWRITERS

Aquarius is out now!

Image: Jellan (Clash Studios).


Gold Coast songstress st.james recently unveiled her new single, Aquarius. To celebrate the release, the singer has shared with MILKY her top five female songwriters.


"It’s a dark sexy pop track about seeing all of reality for what it is; veils off, realising we’re in the thick of it and just embracing the pain and sadness. It’s kind of an ode to catharsis, feeling free in the face of the truth. I wanted the track to feel alive, but moody and a little dangerous. Something you can dance to." the singer shares with MILKY.



STEVIE NICKS

My all time favourite song in the universe is Gypsy . It has been since I was a kid, so much so that I named my cat after it. I honestly don’t even know what it’s about. But I don’t really care. It’s just so beautiful. SIlver Springs, Sisters of the Moon and Gold Dust Woman are just witchy poetic magic. I love how Stevie's soul and essence is embodied so clearly in her music and writing. Stevie really knows who the fuck she is. It’s something that can be so challenging for an artist. To be honest about who and what you are and also be palatable to an audience. I think it’s easy to forget that artists of the last half of the last century really paved the way for sound, songwriting and storytelling. Now we upcycle sounds and ideas and make them a new kind of epic, but they really were inventing and creating in so many ways.

BANKS

It’s a very challenging thing, to write literal lyrics without isolating a huge portion of your audience who hasn’t experienced the specific thing you’re singing about. Even more challenging to do it without it sounding cringe. Banks weaves stories with particular, personal and often intimate detail into the most addictive, alluring melodies. She does it with such ease you don’t even notice what she is singing about. Until you do. Then it’s like “holy shit, what?!” From her 2014 album Goddess she sings in the song Drowning - from the girl who made you soup and tied your shoes when you were hurting ..you are not deserving” Like, damn they are specific lyrics. But, somehow it works. I also just LOVE how she fits unconventionally pronounced words into a melody to fit the song's rhythm without it sounding forced. If you want to know what I'm talking about listen to her song Meteorite while reading the lyrics. If I can master how to write like that I will die happy.

IMOGEN HEAP

I know this is meant to be a list of my favourite female songwriters and Imogen Heap is definitely one of mine, but I can’t not talk about the fact that she writes, produces and engineers her own music. She really just said “I’ll just take care of all of this”. She is another one of my favourites because her music is so moving. It’s perfectly crafted words that marry in so well with its instrumental counterpart that it forces you to feel the emotions she is singing about in real time. Imogen is one of those artists who can sing about not only her feelings but current events too and span decades while still being relevant. She just knows what’s up. Last Night of an Empire is an example of that. It was released in 2020. For someone who has been making music since the 90’s, to be able to produce current sounding music 25 years later without changing or losing her signature sound is just cool.

KATE BUSH

Loving the fact that Stranger Things has given a new generation an introduction to Kate Bush. My friend's dad turned me on to Kate Bush when I was in school and Wuthering Heights had an emotional grip on me like no other song I’ve heard. You know how you hear a piece of music and it literally haunts you? Like, when it fucks with your reality and you OBSESS over it… that was me with Cloudbusting. I just played it over and over and over. So many Kate Bush songs come over you and it’s like you’re in a trance. I can’t even pinpoint what it is. Maybe the combination of her eerily beautiful voice, the instrumental, the lyrics.. I am unable to say. But I listened to her a lot when I was kicking around Byron shooting for Baes. It was the perfect soundtrack to my melancholy mood while driving through the cold, misty mountain-scapes of the Byron/Bangalow hinterland.

TAYLOR SWIFT

In reality, she’s my number one choice, so I guess I’ve saved the best for last. I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan since I heard her self-titled debut country album, back in 2008. I don’t have a huge catalogue of country music in my streaming playlists but there is something about the way that country writers tie in the time, place, emotion and events that really make you connect. The way she weaves descriptive, almost-rhyming words to paint such a vivid picture, is something I aspire to. In her song Cardigan she rhymes ‘someone's bed’ with ‘favourite’ And it doesn't sound jarring, it just flows. I mean, come on!!! In her lyric choices, she’s so good at triggering an emotion in you. Couple that with the catchiest hooks and you’ve hit the pop music jackpot. As a writer, producing catchy, melodic hooks that don’t purely follow the chord progression is something of a weak spot for me. It’s something I have to work extra hard on, as it doesn’t come naturally. So when I hear it come through so effortlessly, in Taylor's songs, I am in such awe. She recently earned an honorary doctorate degree in fine arts, and I’ve never seen anything more deserved.



Aquarius is out now!