In Studio: Jackie Queens

May 18, 2017

Released on Women's Day 2016, Jackie Queens' single 'Girls' was a collaboration with Deslynn Malotana and Bonj Mpanaza that dealt with the realities being a woman. For her follow up she invited 4 strong, female vocalists and writers to work on the project with her, with each one featuring on a different song with Jackie. Centering around love, the project allowed the singers to explore this theme in their own writings. We spoke to Jackie to find what made her decide to do a follow-up, who she chose to work with this time round, the sound she was aiming for and what she hopes to see happening with the 'Girls' project.

You’re in studio working on a follow up to last year’s Girls released on Women’s Day. How was that received and what made you decide to do a follow up project?
That project went really well. I wasn’t expecting it to transcend beyond South Africa. Because it was a very specific project that was close to home. Releasing it on Women’s Day and making it about women and girls being empowered and body positivity. That is something that we all felt was something that was close to us. We had some good feedback and responses from people who are beyond the borders. That was really nice and made me realise that what we were talking about is universal. That we could translate what we were saying to any woman. That was a beautiful experience. I really enjoyed that.

When I decided to do this project I wasn’t really sure whether I should repeat what I did the last time, what I knew is that I wanted more people! I wanted more female vocalists on this project and it warped into this idea of going with a theme, the theme being love and how would each person translate what they think about love into music. I chose the tracks and then we thought about how we would write the songs and sing the songs but I wasn’t really expecting anything. I was just like this is what I want to do, this is the theme, let’s work. That was really nice. All the stuff that came out of it was wonderful surprises.

Who did choose to collaborate with this time round?
I chose Shannon Devy who is one half of a queer alt-pop group called Lo-ghost. I’ve known Shannon for many years and it’s been this running joke that we were going to do something together at some point. She’s a really strong writer. She has a great way of crafting beautifully written songs. And her voice is just so amazing.

And Lana Crowster is well known in the industry and the Cape Town scene. She’s been working on the scene for a very long time and she’s somebody who I respect immensely. She manages her own career, she’s very successful at it and a very good writer. She’s an arranger and a composer. She has a band and writes the horn parts for her band. So I was like, I need some of that! So the song I have with her, she did the horn part.

Deslynn (Malotana), we worked on the first Girls together and I just love her voice.  The first time I heard her sing I was really blown away by her sincerity of it. And when you meet her it’s like an extension of that. Also I hadn’t had much experience when we worked together the first time of her writing so I really wanted to hear more of her own writing and I was just so fortunate to have chosen something that resonated with her, so she did something really beautiful.

Andy Mkosi is my favourite rapper, my son’s favourite rapper. I love how her music and her life are one thing. Because sometimes you get musicians where what they write about is completely divorced from who they are, but when you see Andy and you hear her music, that’s one and the same thing. She has a great way of writing social commentary. I needed someone that could bring that type of lens to the project.

In terms of production what kind of sound were you looking for?
In terms of production what I did was I put out a call on my social media for anyone who wanted to contribute to the project with some soulful stuff. The idea was to do something soulful. The last time we did that and I thought it worked. So this time I thought I would extend it. And I thought it would be interesting because not everybody would be comfortable with house music. Because that’s the kind of music that I do and I’m mostly known for afro-house. I wasn’t thinking of coming in and doing more of what I do already. So I thought that would be comfortable and I think for everybody, except maybe Shannon, in one way or another, they do soulful music. So that is how it panned out in my head when I was thinking about it.

I got some tracks, some people sent me some really amazing tracks and the process in choosing them was ‘how do I think this is going to fit this particular person’. So I had to think a lot about not just what it sounded. I also had to put a bit of thought into how I matched a track with a particular vocalist. So when I sent the tracks out I was very anxious because I wasn’t sure. They better say yes because I didn’t have more tracks! I told them I could find another one if they didn’t like it but secretly I was hoping they’d say yes.

Is this the end of the Girls project or do you see it continuing?
I’d really like it to be an annual thing. After this whole process I discovered that I don’t have to be singing on every song. I think from here it’s going to grow into something that I could curate. That’s my hope. So that it would be that process of matching producers with vocalists, putting something together. The big dream is taking it on the road and actually perform as groups of women kicking ass!

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