Songs, Like Letters is Jasmyne Middleton’s debut EP and is a collection of songs about romantic relationships from different perspectives, from the comfort and security that comes from long-term attachment to the ambiguity of setting yourself up for loss. Drawing from genres like jazz, rock, alt-rnb, and adult contemporary, this EP aims to take listeners on a sonic and emotional journey.
An artist with an affecting voice and song writing style developed over a decade of experience, Jasmyne
Middleton is a singer who provokes emotional responses in her audience. Predominantly a performing
artist who played in small bars and jazz venues around Melbourne pre-pandemic, she has since used the
limitations of a series of hard lockdowns in her city to release recorded music.
Songs, Like Letters is Middleton’s first larger body of work after releasing a trio of cross-genre singles in
2020, New, Relativity, and Separation Altitude. New and Relativity were recorded with Eleven:11 Music Productions and were intended to be leading singles for the EP’s release until a series of extended lockdowns in Melbourne made recording the rest of the EP a much more difficult task than expected. With no idea how long this situation would go on for and her income as a musician completely slashed, she taught herself how to track keys and vocals, create promotional material, and film and edit music videos and finished the EP with the help of local musician and producer Domenic Carrubba.
Songs, Like Letters features the talents of Melbourne up-and-comers Jeremy Siamoa, Caleb Fortuin, Domenic Carrubba, Callum Grange, and Kayla Stokes; it also features veteran musicians Haydn Meggitt (Ross Wilson, Leo Sayer, Vika & Linda), Mark Fogliano (Ciaran Gribban, James Blundel, The Incredibles), Cory Jach (Andrew Roachford, Steve Eales, Natalie Gauci), and the mastering skills of Jherek Bischoff (David Byrne, Regina Spektor, Amanda Palmer). Jasmyne gives Hi Fi Way greater insight in to her new EP.
New (Intro) + New
This EP explores different emotions we can experience in romantic, long-term relationships; I wanted the intro and the first track proper to be New, which was written as an ode to my partner of fourteen years, Stephen. I released it as a single on the anniversary of our wedding. New is an amalgamation of different genres and influences that I’ve internalised in my years as a singer and songwriter. The close vocal harmonies in the later choruses were influenced by the Andrews Sisters and the drum breakdown was inspired by Bjork’s Hunter and interpreted by drummer and dear friend Kayla Stokes. I recorded it at Eleven:11 Music Productions in Melbourne, working closely with producers Mark Fogliano and Cory Jach. The gorgeous keys intro was played by Jeremy Siamoa; the bass was by Callum Grange and the guitar, including the amazing solo that was captured on the first take, was played by Domenic Carrubba. All of us met at uni and they all understand my music to the point that I was able to just put a lead sheet in front of them: they beautifully expressed the dreamy romance and climbing intensity that I was after.
I started recording Songs, Like Letters at the studio in 2019, before the pandemic hit. When it did, overnight, gigs were cancelled, transcription jobs dwindled, and we were locked down. None of us knew how bad things were going to get and the fear of the unknown was something that I grappled with every day until we had more information. Refuse was finished in that time and is about the fear of our loved ones dying: about how death is inevitable and caring for people just leaves us vulnerable, but we do it anyway; about how the people we love help shape us over the years, and how losing them means
losing a part of ourselves. The keys were played by Caleb Fortuin at my home in the Dandenong Ranges and the track was produced by my friend and collaborator Domenic Carrubba.
This is one of the oldest songs on the EP. One sunny September day, about five years ago, I was catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. We were sitting outside while they told me about a recent heartbreak, and by the time we finished talking I was totally red. We couldn’t believe the sunburn I managed in early Spring; even walking away from our meeting and back towards uni, the line “somehow, I got sunburned in the weak September sun” was already forming.
The piano part was developed over a series of lessons I took with arranger, composer, and teacher, Andrew Murray; he also strongly encouraged me to track it myself, and I finally did during one of this year’s lockdowns before sending the keys and vocals off to Domenic for mixing and some sweet, sweet call-and-response guitar.
Inspired by the divorce of someone close to me, Silence is an exploration of the kind of marriage I hope never to be in. It was also a bit of an experiment to see how much intensity I could add to a song without guitars. I tracked the vocals and keys at my home studio, again during lockdown; the bass and drums were recorded at Laneway Studios in Abbotsford by Callum Grange and Kayla Stokes, respectively.
The lyrics for this song were inspired by a Carl Sagan quote that was read during our wedding ceremony: “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love”. I really love how weird that quote is, how it acknowledges the positive feelings of being in love but also the existential angst of being so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I channelled these feelings into the music and lyrics of the song, using lines like “it all ends in chaos, it’s there in the stars… but here in this moment, we reel in our own relativity” as well as chords with a chromatic mediant relationship, lending ambiguity to the harmony of the song. The time signature is obscured in the intro, too, possibly being in both 4/4 and 6/8 until the vocal melody comes in and solidifies the time.
This track was also produced with Eleven:11 Music Productions, recorded in one day-long session with Callum Grange on bass, Haydn Meggitt on drums, and Domenic Carrubba on guitar. The chords for the section with the ripper solo were arranged by Mark Fogliano, who also played keys for the song on top of his production duties. I chose this track to close the EP because of its uncertain feel, which I think is pretty appropriate for a collection of songs trying to portray different aspects of romantic love.