Jenie Thai’s introduction to the music industry has been quite the journey — from top notch university music education to sleeping in cold, cramped basements to big name gigs and working with well known musicians.
While her debut EP, Lady Flower, is a sultry blend of jazz, blues and pop mixed with her scintillating voice and unique melodies, it’s any wonder that her debut album is a little different.
Thai became known to the Southern Interior of B.C. when she embarked on a tour doing couch concerts, performing in people’s homes in return for a place to sleep for the night and a small donation. She did one of these shows at a residence on Heffley Lake.
“It’s pretty fun,” laughs Thai, “I met some really good people. They were really supportive, (but) there were definitely some interesting experiences.
“I was sleeping in some dark, cold basements with lots of graffiti and things on walls. Most of the travellers I stayed with were all young, in their mid 20s like me, so there was a lot of partying. So the downside is it’s pretty exhausting too,” said Thai.
After finishing her couch concerts tour, Thai got to work last fall on writing and recording her debut album which, she explains, goes in different directions than Lady Flower.
“It’s still me (but) my EP is pretty cheerful. (The album) is a little bit more broken hearted sounding.”
The album was recorded at Sound Extractor studios in Edmonton, an underground studio, and involved some long hours recording.
“I started over Thanksgiving weekend in October and my band tracked all of the bed tracks (piano, bass, drums) live off the floor. It was really fun (recording the tracks live), it felt like we were just performing live.
“We were in the studio for probably 45 hours in three or four days. I did vocals separately afterward,” she added.
The album was produced by Stew Kirkwood and Thai said that working with Kirkwood was an extraordinary experience.
“We talked a lot about my vision and the direction I’m going for. To have somebody else who has experience and has listened to music for 15 years longer than I have (was amazing). He would take my ideas and extend them . . . he would pull the emotions out of me, that I was trying to convey.”
Born in Chang Mai, Thailand while her parents were overseas travelling, Thai explained that one particular afternoon of recording hit an emotional high.
“We did this one track where we overdubbed a bunch of percussion. My band and I . . . took all of our percussion toys we had at home and plus Kirkwood had bins and bins of (percussion). We just kind of took them all and smashed them, (like) Stomp. It was kind of therapeutic,” she explained.
Thai has tentatively titled the album Only the Moon, the title of a track from the album, and is planning to release it in April. She also plans to get back on the couch.
“I’m going to hopefully do (another) couch tour in March and come back in May and June-ish and do another tour then. And hopefully I’ll be playing a bunch of festivals in the summer in Alberta and B.C.”
Make no mistake, Jenie Thai’s on a road to fame.
For more information visit: jeniethai.ca