Nite Jewel


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
05 Monday 05th March 2012

Hi Ramona, it's been a minute since we got a full length from you. What pushed you down the small EP release path?

Well I started recording the record about three and a half years ago and I was releasing other older stuff while I put it together; I’ve been doing different recording things with friends, for fun. It sort of developed into an album format, as it is now, but I'm just always recording music and releasing. It's good to get it all out there.

So you were releasing on different labels?

Yeah, I mostly released stuff on my own label [Gloriette Records], which I started with a friend. It just gives you a huge amount of independence and it's less stressful: you don't have to 'be in the industry', you know? You can release stuff on your own terms for fun. And the other labels were just boutique ones.

Yeah, it's not like you were ever signed to them or anything.

Exactly, it's cool that way.

So why Secretly Canadian for this one?

We were interested in trying a more established format, and we wanted to mix and master it in a way that was more polished. We didn't have the resources to do that on our own, so that's where Secretly came in.

‘Polished’ is exactly the word I scribbled down when first listening to the record. Is equipment the fundamental reason for that sonic shift we can hear?

The gear available to us definitely made a difference. When we first started recording One Second of Love, the idea was to lay down this instrumental hi-fi electronic record. I'd been listening to a lot of electronic music from a certain era that was recorded on tape and had this fantasy of doing the same. That was the first genesis of the album.

Once you start recording on tape, you can't really turn back: you want to maintain that beautiful, rich sound.

Yeah, your vocals sound like they've been pushed to the front of the mix more now, which is great. Which singers have inspired your sound?

I grew up as a young person in the nineties, so I was really into r'n'b. I loved the singers who were working at that time. I was aware of classical and jazz and stuff but the women singing in the early nineties were like the best singers of all time to me. I didn't have a sense of high versus low at that point: it was just 'Mary J Blige and Aaliyah are the best singers ever'.

I've always been influenced by those people, but later when I got into rock and male-oriented styles at college I also picked up cues from male singers like Lou Reed. I'm influenced by this lower tone, when you really hit the sweet spot in the voice, and that comes from the men.

You're about to head to SXSW. How're you feeling going into that manic gigging environment?

I'm definitely not looking forward to it [laughs dryly]. I mean Austin's cool, but the festival's just this psychotic thing. All the crowds and the heat, they stress me out... But I have to say I'm really happy to be representing our label group at its showcase. That's kinda nice.

It does sound like an insane situation for bands.

Yeah, it's kinda masochistic! You're in a group of hundreds of people and can barely move, you know? When I was there in 2009 it was different because I was playing lots of backyards and that was really fun. The main strip? Someone trying to sell you Mountain Dew t-shirts? That's depressing.

And beyond that you've got the rest of your tour coming up, until the end of April right?

I'm excited about that! I love driving through America; it's a really astonishing country at heart. I haven't driven through the entirety of it in years, so I'm looking forward to that. We're basically driving the whole course of the tour.

Finally, could you tell us more about making the new and awesome video for 'One Second of Love' (above)?

The whole thing was completely insane, extremely ambitious and just full of my friends coming into that environment and working for free. We shot it at my friend's house, just got about thirty people in there and shot. It was extremely fun but also totally manic - I don't know if you can get that vibe from watching the video [she laughs].

How was the dancing?

It was just all off the wall. It was my favourite part too. With the rest of the shoot I kept thinking it was all going to break down and we'd just kill each other, but it really came together. We basically shot it for 22 hours, from 9am to 7am, then we went out for drinks. The thing I love about LA is that there are just people in heavy make-up having screwdrivers at 7am right there with you: that's pretty comforting.


Find out more about Nite Jewel on their official website and Facebook page

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