midori jaeger’s See is a gorgeous cascade of instruments, a nu-jazz/alternative set that allows for her to leap in with experimentally groovy cello riffs. jaeger is a trained cellist turned indie singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, and her intersectional experience with music gives her a unique mastery. She conjures a funky soundscape that embodies the unsettling experience that she describes, of sleep paralysis – being able to see and hear terrifying things without the ability to interact. I’ve never heard cello music quite like this, and jaeger brings something incredibly sui generis to the table. Thankfully she was able to give us a minute of her time, so following is an excerpt.
We’ve never heard music quite similar to yours, how would you describe your sound, and what genre would you place yourself in?
Since my songs usually begin from some sort of rhythmic cello part, I’d say that the sound is (most of the time) cello-groove-based! Genre-wise, I never quite know how to describe the music but I think it draws harmonically from Jazz and late romantic Classical music, and structurally from the broad ‘Folk’ genre. When I’m writing if I come up with something that sounds too clearly placeable within an existing genre, I often cast it aside to try not to be too reminiscent of anybody…
What would you say some of your musical influences are?
Having gone through 15 years of classical music training in lessons, chamber groups and orchestras, and growing up in a house where my mum was always playing classical piano pieces, I’d say some of my favourite composers such as Bach, Mahler and Schubert have certainly left an impression on me harmonically and formally. This must have contributed to determining what I want to hear when I listen to music, how I want it to change and develop over time, which in turn affects what I want to write. At home my dad listened to James Taylor, as well as lots of Motown, 70s Funk, and growing up with various musical friends, I was introduced to John Mayer, Jeff Buckley, John Martyn as well as ‘World’ ‘Jazz’ artists like Avishai Cohen, Tigran Hamasyan, which I think unconsciously influence me too. Overall, I know what I love music to do, and what effect I like it to have, and try to make some version of that happen in my own music, but I’m led more by emotion than specific musical tools.
The song features many talented musicians and collaborators, could you give us an insight into who your group is, how you started playing together?
So this is going to be a very 2020/2021-esque answer, in the sense that I’ve actually never met some of the people on this track! I met my talented friend Felix Higginbottom, drummer/producer at university, and met Tom McCredie the bass player through mutual Jazz musician friends, and my friend the clarinetist George Sleightholme through a classical gig. The guitarist Rob Luft and synth-player Chris Hyson I had admired from afar before asking them to play on this track. I felt really lucky that I was able to work with a producer and with players whose instincts I respected and trusted enough to let them be free from a distance.
Is this sign of an upcoming album release, a la breeze was to look at us? What plans do you have for your music career going forward?
I’m going to release an EP in June 2021 called See, Touch, Kick and Sweat and I’m really excited to share more information about that soon. Going forward, I just want to keep creating music all the time, not being afraid of changes of style along the way, and being sure to keep expressing what’s true to me. That, and trying to learn how to juggle all the promotion and admin that solo independent artists have to do when not working on the fun bit of making the music!! Contributing musically to other people’s projects is something that I really love too, whether that be touring, playing cello or singing live, co-writing, or recording, so I’m definitely going to continue combining this sort of thing with my own music.
It’s been a rough time for indie musicians, having to work through the pandemic. What would you say is your best advice for aspiring artists like yourself in keeping yourself on your toes?
I would say that the most common thing indie musicians experience is a block in regards to actually putting stuff out there. Most people (myself included) have a ton of voice memos and lyric books full of ideas, but turning those into finished tracks is hard because it requires emotional commitment to a ‘definitive version’ as well as time, energy and money. Or sometimes the finished track is ready, but there’s a crippling pressure on releasing it, because the response means so much. The pandemic obviously makes all of this harder. But I would say to try to keep in touch with that spark and that drive that led you to write something in the first place. What were you feeling that day, what were you thinking about? How did it feel to come up with that bit of music? Do you want to have that again? I think consciously trying to inhabit that creative excitement can be a useful tool for reminding ourselves why all the time and effort is worthwhile. I’d say the ultimate reason we do creative activities is to feel alive and connected and heard, but there can be so much rejection, lack of motivation, criticism or self-criticism along the way and I think to realise career goals it’s sometimes important to take a step back and revisit that initial feeling.
What is the best piece of musical advice you have ever been given?
I found it really helpful when somebody in the music industry simply reminded me ‘it’s a long game’. I think I was asking for advice about PR, or what I can be doing now to get myself ‘out there’, am I doing enough etc. And he said that the only thing I need to do now is just keep making music, and know that nothing happens instantly, but if what you’re making is good and true to you, then you have the best chance. We all want our first ever release to be huge but that’s just never going to happen in most cases. But that release is just a stepping stone, and as long as you’re working hard on the right things and creating constantly in a pace that works for you, I think it’s all good!
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Part-time writer but full-time music enthusiast, I write some of the features on here. I think appreciating a multitude of genres and styles makes me good at my job, so clicky here to see what I've written!