INTERVIEW: Jada

I've always been quite vocal about my love for the four girls known as Jada. This Universal Motown quartet just bubbles with poppy potential, as evidenced by their RedOne produced first single, "American Cowboy". (If you've yet to hear the song, check out their MySpace.) But underneath that pop veneer are four young women who have a harmony that you just don't stumble upon everyday.


When I first heard about Jada (above, left to right: Elle, Jacyn, Lauren & April) a few years back, I was immediately struck by the power behind those four voices. It was the same kind of shiver-inducing moment I got back in September of 2001, when I first heard the ladies of
Soluna sing. Obviously, my love for quartet harmony hasn't wavered, and Jada is the first group in a very long time that has the ability to bring back the words 'genuine talent' into the pop musician lexicon. And it's about time.

I stand by my statements that Jada is a true talent, with a distinct appeal not just for their voices, their harmony or their looks, but as the total package -- as true girls next door that young women can look up to with pride. However, I could talk all day on the subject, but only you can make a decision. So let's let their voices do the talking, shall we? Check out this live performance from last December, of the girls singing The Beatles' "Oh! Darling".



Even the most cynical of cynics has to admit, these girls are kind of the real deal. I was lucky enough to ask the four young women of Jada some questions and get to know them a little bit better. Read on about the girls fave Motown classics, working with RedOne & Akon, forming their signature sound, and recording their debut album (due for release on Universal Motown on September 22, 2009!), so you can tell the rest of the world you knew about these girls when! :) Thank you so so much to the four women of Jada, Anne and everyone who represents them for helping us set up this incredible opportunity to help spread the word! And Jada - next time you're in NYC - let a girl know so I can go rock out front row! :)

-To start: How old are you all, and where are you all from? Are you all from the Boston area?

JADA: We are all in our early 20’s and are from different areas. Lauren is from outside a town north of Philly PA, April is from Hard Hittin New Britain CT, and Elle and Jacyn are from the Boston area. The group is based in Boston, MA and we are in the heart of the city everyday for rehearsals 7 days a week at Bristol Studios! Bristol is an artist development company in Boston that put us together. [Mel's Note: Bristol is also honing the careers of Matt Mariner and Patrice Peris.] Ric and Laura Poulin own the company and are our vocal coach/producer and manager respectively;) Ric has an amazing pop/gospel method that allows singers to learn how to sing like the Mariah’s of the world! We all came in to the group at different levels vocally and Ric has taught us incredible techniques so we can be the best we can be! We love what we do so coming in to Bristol everyday is actually fun for us! We rehearse vocals, tighten up our live show, and work on choreography. We also record here and hone our song writing skills with Ric! Working on the business side of things is also very important to us so we are very hands on in all aspects of Jada from book keeping to promoting. We are involved in it all!

-Were you good students or rebels?

LAUREN: I was a really good student actually! I had glasses and cheesy bangs in school so I really looked the part of the goodie two-shoes. lol I actually liked sitting in the front of the class! I’m such a geek lol… When senior year of high school came around I might have missed some classes but I had major senioritis!!
APRIL: In school I was actually not a rebel believe it or not! Haha. I took all A.P. classes and I got pretty good grades. I was sort of a geek. I always had my hand up to answer questions lol. My junior year of high school I did miss about 35 days of school though, because I was going to NY to audition for plays, films, and dance events all the time. There was this one time I had detention in Spanish class for being late. Oops! So, I guess I was a bit of both! Now I get labeled as the rebel because of my red hair lol.
JACYN: I was a rebel in MATH haha! Actually, I was pretty well behaved. I think I had a detention in French class a few times because my teacher was detention happy (I’m not just saying that). She loved giving them out like they were candy. Let’s just say that if they were actually candy I’d have a mouth full of cavities!
ELLE: I was a really good student until the last couple years of high school because I knew that I wanted to be an artist and I convinced myself that I didn't need school anymore...lol, I was so silly!
-The four of you are a product of the incredible Bristol Vocal Studios. How did you each end up there?
LAUREN: I ended up at Bristol Studios through an audition! I was going to Emerson College at the time and was rehearsing for the Rocky Horror Picture Show (so fun!). I was leaving for the night one night and saw a flyer on one of the audition boards saying: “You Wanna Be a Popstar?” I thought to myself: “Hmm, yes I do!” lol I took the flyer off of the bulletin board (I don’t think I was supposed to do that..haha Oh well!) and went to the audition! I had a big musical theater and opera background so my pipes weren’t conditioned to sing in a more pop fashion and was really nervous about the audition (and I still had cheesy bangs lol). To my surprise I got a call back the next night and then got asked to join Jada! I freaked out! I was so happy. Meanwhile my parents didn’t even know I auditioned for the group so I had to tell them that I was going to live in Boston for the summer and be in Jada! They have been really supportive and I am grateful for that! Since my background was musical theater and opera I had to train my vocals differently for Jada. At first I seriously thought I would never be able to sing like Alicia Keys or Christina Aguilera, but once I really stuck to Ric’s program I was floored by the results I was getting. It was amazing!
JACYN: Bristol IS incredible! When Jada was first being formed, I was studying voice at Bristol with Ric. He and his wife (and co-owner of Bristol and our fabulous manager!) Laura Poulin decided to put a female vocal group together. They looked within their vocal student population and I was the first one picked to audition. I remember being SO excited about the opportunity. I never thought of being in a group. Originally my goal was to do musical theater, or to become a solo pop singer after I had gotten some training from Ric. Once the audition process for the group was complete and I was invited in, I knew it would be hard work and sacrifice, but I was ready. I knew being a performer in any capacity was definitely what I wanted to do in life. So many cool opportunities have come from being part of Jada. It is really amazing how far we’ve come over the years, and how close we (the girls) are with each other. We are together 7 days a week now for 7-8 hours at a time! We are business partners and best friends. We are also very close with Ric and Laura and joke that we are our own “entourage” when we travel. I never really imagined how it would feel to release a first radio single, make a first music video, or meet world-renowned producers and songwriters, or even go to the Grammy’s, but it is all happening and it feels incredible! Our road has been an adventure, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything—besides-we are just getting started!
ELLE: I had been taking a few different kinds of voice lessons for classical, theatre, and what my voice teachers at the time said was “Pop”. Hehe...but I really wasn't getting what I wanted from them so my Mom found Bristol Studios in the Yellow Pages and we drove down to Boston and checked it out. I immediately loved it and signed up. My mom and I drove the hour down to Boston after I got out of high school once a week so that I could take my voice lesson. My teacher at the studio told me about an audition for a girl group and then the same day as I was walking out of the studio, Ric Poulin who is now our producer, stopped me and told me that I had great presence and that I should audition for the girl group. So I did! And here I am...
APRIL: Well, it’s funny that you ask! I was actually in Boston one summer, checking out some Radio Disney shows because I was in a different girl group at the time and I wanted to scope out the competition: these girls JADA I had been hearing about. I saw them perform and I thought they were great singers, so I introduced myself and found out where they studied voice. I signed up for lessons and I traveled to Boston (from CT) by bus once a week every Saturday to take an hour-long voice lesson. After being at Bristol Studios for about 8 months I got an email from the owner (and JADA’s producer) Ric Poulin asking if I wanted to audition for JADA because they were removing one of the members. I jumped at the chance. I had a lot of catching up to do vocally (the other girls had 2 years of training on me) but I was a really experienced dancer. I made a deal that I would do choreography/dance lessons with the girls in exchange for voice lessons from them and Ric. Ric has this amazing Pop/Gospel technique of singing and after a few lessons I had already seen a huge change in my voice. Here we are 5 years later, and all four of us have come a long way in all the areas of performing and singing. It’s crazy!

[Mel's Note: For more information on Bristol Studios, check out: www.bristolstudios.com
]

-Your vocal harmony is striking -- and something that pop music in particular has been lacking for several years now. Was the harmony immediate or was it something you had to work on?

JADA: Thank you!! It was very much something that we had to work on. We all have different voices and over time we have had to learn how to listen to each other and what sounds make the best blend. It’s all about blending! Ric has some amazing techniques where he teaches the art of listening and blending! It’s kind of like a science! We aspire to be like En Vogue and BoyzIIMen who both have harmonizing down! We have picked apart some of their songs to learn how the best groups make it sound so good.
Jada in general is the product of LOTS of work! We have logged thousands of hours at this point--working not only on harmonies and vocals, but songwriting and honing performance skills as well. We still do spend quite a bit of time doing all of that! We feel people can always get better at what they do. As vocalists and musicians signed to a major label (Universal Motown!!) the stakes are really high. You have to always be on your game and when you aren't there will always be ten other people waiting in the wings to take over for you. From day one, we have had a really strong work ethic. We practice and work hard to be the best we can be and are always striving to be better!

Jada performing the USA National Anthem at Madison Square Garden for the HBO Welterweight Championship. Says Jada, "It was an amazing experience to sing at Madison Square Garden! Definitely a dream venue for us to sing at. We felt honored to get the opportunity! The crowd was going so crazy we could barely hear ourselves sing!"
-Jada is now a member of the Universal Motown family -- and you all profess to be big fans of Motown music. If you could record one classic Motown song and give it a modern spin, what would it be?
LAUREN: Wow that’s a good one. “Shop Around” by The Miracles or “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes. I love Motown classics because when I was little every night after dinner I would help my mom clean the kitchen and we would dance and sing to the oldies! My mom would tell me to “feel the music” and I didn’t understand her at the time, but every time I hear these songs now I tell her “I know what you mean!” lol. It’s one of my favorite memories with my Mama! Love you Mom!
ELLE: Love you Mama O'Keefe!! Hehe…I have to say that I love Stevie Wonder so any of his songs would be awesome to record, but I think I would have to go with “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, because I was kind of obsessed with the movie ‘Now and Then’ when I was younger and it was one of the songs that I always sang to when it came on.
JACYN: I have to say, one of my favorite Motown classic tunes is “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight and the Pips. It would be a fun one to modernize. It has great melodic lines, and is very soulful and fun. I really think every female act should have some “Pips”. They add a whole other dimension to the live performance.
APRIL: I absolutely adore The Temptations, my roommate and I jam out in our living room all the time listening to them. I’d say I would love to cover “The Way You Do The Things You Do”. I love that song, and it’s got such a great feel to it. Everyone can enjoy it!
-You recently opened up for Boyz II Men. What was that like?
JADA: Amazing! Lol We actually got to meet En Vogue and open for and meet BoyzIIMen recently all in the same weekend at Showcase Live in Foxboro, MA. Both groups were so down to earth and still such amazing performers and vocalists. During the BoyzIIMen show, Wanye gave us roses during “Mama” and we all freaked out! He even sang to April’s mom over the phone and then Lauren cried lol. After the show we got to meet them and take pictures. It was overwhelming meeting and opening up for our idols all in one weekend! Both groups are true legends to us and we aspire to be just like them! You can see our photos at both shows on our myspace page.
-Your first single, "American Cowboy", is produced by the incomparable RedOne -- who has seen serious success lately with his collaborations with Lady Gaga. How did you come to RedOne? What was it like in the studio?
JADA: We love RedOne! We actually met him about 3 years ago at our lawyer’s office in NYC. We were singing a capella for our lawyer and RedOne crashed the meeting. He said he just had to find out who was singing! He really wanted to work with us, but it took awhile for our “people” to hook it up. And then a year ago at Bristol Studios he was recording with The New Kids on the Block and we were able to connect back up! (He wrote and produced NKOTB’s hit singles “Summer Time” and “Full Service” to name a few!) Funny how a few months later he was back at Bristol to record “American Cowboy” with US! It was great to be able to record at our home studio! RedOne was so fun to work with and we had a blast recording “American Cowboy” together. He is incredibly talented, and gave great direction during the whole recording process. When we would be in the booth he would stand up with his arms stretched out and sing, “You know I’m sexy!” He was hilarious! Akon also co-wrote the song and even though we didn’t get to meet him that day we had his vocals as our demo of the song! We felt he was in the room with us that day. lol.
Recently we did get to meet him when we performed with him at Boston’s KISS Concert at the Comcast Center in Mansfield MA. We hung out and talked with him in his green room and made up a “Jadakon” handshake! Lol He is a really cool guy and put on a slammin show! He was crowd surfing like crazy! Lol We also shared the stage with Black Eyed Peas, Sean Kingston, Soulja Boy, Flo Rida, Jesse McCartney, Ashley Tisdale, The Veronicas, White Tie Affair, 3OH3, and All American Rejects! It was quite a day and so much fun to perform at our home stations big summer concert! We love you KISS!! [Mel's Note: For more info on that performance, visit www.kiss108.com]
-How was the decision made to release "American Cowboy" as the first single?
JADA: We knew it was going to be our first single right after we recorded the first chorus! It was one of those magic moments where you just know! Lol There was major electricity in the air that day! We got to record it with RedOne in our home base at Bristol Studios which made it that much more special! The whole day we were singing, “I know, you know, I’m sexy” with our arms spread out dancing all over the studio! Lol After we cut the song we emailed an mp3 of it to the label and they were so excited!! It was hands down a unanimous decision that “American Cowboy” would be our single!
-You've worked with many different and esteemed producers. What was your favorite experience like in the studio?
JADA: We have to say that the last session with RedOne was one of the best! RedOne was such a pleasure to work with and it was THE session that got us our single “American Cowboy”, which was a huge accomplishment for us. We had been recording our album for two years at that point and at the time we weren’t sure if that was going to be the last session to wrap it all up. When we recorded “American Cowboy”, we knew that it was going to be the single! It was a pretty good feeling to call it a wrap after that one! The album itself is a great mix of upbeat and mid tempo songs with a couple ballads as well. Besides RedOne and Akon we have also worked with Wyclef Jean, Danja (Britney Spears, Jesse McCartney), Andrew Frampton and Wayne Wilkins (Natasha Beddingfield, David Archuletta), The Jam (Brandy), Toby Gad (Fergie, Beyonce), and Ric Poulin (Dropkick Murphy's). We feel really honored to have worked with so many accomplished producers and are really proud of our first album! Two of our songs on the album were written by yours truly! Lol We wrote our mid-tempo track “Can’t Let Go” with our producer Ric Poulin and the ballad “Is it Love” with Toby Gad. Both are love songs about boys of course!! Lol They always give great inspiration for songs…
-A few months ago, we got the chance to speak to The Insomniax, who produced the song "Kiss and Tell" for you. They had so much respect for you and sincerely stated that you will be a group to watch thanks to your strong vocals. Will that song be on the album or will it be released as a b-side?
JADA: “Kiss and Tell” is a great song! We’re still finalizing the album so there’s still a chance it can make the album but we’re sure it’ll get placed for something. It has a great beat and makes you want to dance!
-Personally, I've been aware of you girls for quite a few years now due to your online presence and your success on social networking websites like MySpace. How important do you think the online side of marketing is to commercial success?
JADA: It’s very important! Akon had a great comment about this saying something like: “The one thing you can control about your career is your success online.” That is so true! There are so many channels and ways to get your name out there as a band by using the internet! It's almost scary! You have myspace, twitter, buzznet, facebook and all the blogs and the list goes on. The internet is awesome because it’s all about social networking! It is amazing to be able to reach SO many people with the click of a button. We honestly don't know what bands did before the internet or prior to social networking sites. Thankfully we have these resources! Our favorite is myspace for the band overall. The promotional possibilities are endless! We would love for you to befriend us on all of our sites.
In April, our radio single was featured on the FOX TV show House, Episode 22 of Season 5 called House Divided! If it wasn’t for the internet and all of the social networks such as myspace and Youtube not as many people would have been able to see the clip of the show where “American Cowboy” was featured. You can see it in our news section on our myspace page! It’s amazing how fast news travels and how quickly so many people were able to see that episode!
There is one youtube video that is just a photo of us with our single “American Cowboy” playing with over 100,000 views and out of about 500 comments, most of them came from people who say they heard “American Cowboy” on House! We have gotten tons more fans from our song being played on House and the internet buzz about it! The internet has become one of the biggest if not the biggest way fans can get to know new artists and their songs!

-In your opinion, what is the biggest hurdle the music industry has to overcome?
JADA: Album sales. Bottom line. Because there are so many channels in which to hear music and get a hold of it (including unreleased songs etc.) song/album sales aren’t what they used to be. We are in a single driven market in the music industry. People don't buy albums as much as they used to. It's easier and more appealing to go on iTunes for example and buy 1 song for .99 and move on. You don't even have to wait for the album to come out, and you don't have to leave the comfort of your own home! People in the industry have told us not to base our success strictly on album sales because people just don’t buy albums like they used to.
-What's one thing about each of you that most fans wouldn't know?
LAUREN: That I know a little bit of sign language! My grandparents were both deaf on my mom’s side and she taught me some sign when I was younger. I took a few courses in school too! I’m not fluent at all, but I can get by!
ELLE: That I was born in France! Le Havre to be more specific…we lived right on the water and we moved back to the US when I was 8. I know a little bit of French, but I lost a lot of it from not speaking it for so long. Sad Elle! I can’t wait to go back and visit my old house…that’ll be very cool.
JACYN: That I am obsessed with baking! Not cooking…baking! If I have even 15 minutes to myself (which isn’t often) I love to get my hands dirty in the kitchen and play with sugar, flour, and anything I can find. Lauren is a big fan of my lemon squares, and Laura [Poulin, their manager] loves my baked crème brulee oatmeal! If I ate everything I baked I would surely be at least 350 pounds..eek!
APRIL: I almost became a ballerina, but decided I wanted to be a pop star instead! Haha. I’ve studied ballet extensively my entire life and it is probably my biggest passion above anything else. I went to a Performing Arts High School where I was a dance major, and I performed with the Russian Moscow Ballet and got pre-accepted to Julliard with a scholarship. Then I decided to take a different path. I didn’t want to turn ballet into a job, and just really enjoyed going nuts on stage. Ballet is an acquired taste I think, but everyone can enjoy a pop girl group rockin it out on stage! haha

-Is there a release date for your debut album to drop in stores and online?
JADA: Fans should expect a September 22 release. We can't wait! We hope to hop on a major tour at that point which would be unbelievable. Can anyone hook us up with Usher or Justin Timberlake?? Lol We feel we would be a great act to open up for those guys! Not to mention they are super cute;)
Our single has been released to iTunes and radio so feel free to check it out and call into your local station to request “American Cowboy”! You can also see our music video for “American Cowboy” on our myspace page! We shot it with Ray Kay (Christina Milian, The Dream) in LA and it was so much fun!! Possibly the most exhausted we have ever been, but by far the coolest experience ever! We were up at 5am and didn’t leave the set at LA hotspot LAX until 10:30pm! It was a full day of fabulous hair/make-up/wardrobe and of course slammin choreography that we had been working on for three days prior with our choreographer ninja Adrian Wiltshire. It was such a special day for us because it was our FIRST music video! We even got to have a few of our friends in the video which made it that much more special. When we saw the first cut we cried with joy! Lol Check out the video for American Cowboy at www.myspace.com/jada . Thank you Mel for the Jada love.We really appreciate it!

For more information on Jada, check out the following links, and tell them Melismatic sent ya:

MySpace - http://www.myspace.com/jada
Facebook - Jada
Official Website - JadaMusic.com
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/jadamusic
Street Team - jadastreetninjas@yahoo.com

2 comments

Anonymous said...

Amazing Interview!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Check out Jada new music video trailer for upcoming song "This Party's On Fire" its gonna be real good!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya3GBNCKb0w

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