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  • Smooth Jazz Network

Jordana Talsky: Behind the Beats

Updated: May 4, 2022

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Jordana Talsky.

Jordana Talsky is a fresh voice on the smooth jazz scene and her voice, style and unique sound has already captured deep interest from us here at SJN, as well as Dave Koz, who has featured Jordana on is Dave Koz Radio Show. We sat down with Jordana this week and wanted to share this talented new artist with you.

Tell us about your song writing process.

It’s pretty haphazard ;p I usually do not write from start to finish or complete a song in one sitting. Most of the time I will have an initial idea, run to the loop machine and lay it down, save it, and then return to it to flush out the idea and build it into a song. I tend to approach songwriting from an arrangement-minded base, and I often come up with the groove, chord progression and supporting parts before I know the melody – I attribute that to my choral background. This song was an exception; I just started singing the melody line, using the phrase “oh yeah” as a placeholder (but eventually leaving it in), and then repeating the loop playback, and as with a round, add harmonies to the melody line.

Your vocal looping gives an amazing sound to your songs. How did you get into vocal looping?

I began using the loop machine a few years ago as a composition tool to capture ideas because I couldn’t notate quickly and needed a fast way to document musical thoughts. On my last record, Neither of Either, I used the machine to compose most of the songs but then converted them into full band tracks, with the exception of 3 songs. Those three songs, left as acapella loop songs, were well received and I was asked to perform them at a vocal arts festival, so that’s how I ended up leaning into using the loop machine as an accompaniment tool, although it has taken a number of years to feel comfortable enough to perform shows entirely on my own with it.

… and your process with vocal looping organically?

I’ve attempted to work with pre-programmed looping software such as Ableton, but I’ve missed something about the spark of the moment and the natural feel that comes with on-the-spot performance free of any constraints to a click or other aspects of programming, so that is why I decided to work with a piece of hardware and to not use any pre-recorded sounds when I loop. My background in classical voice probably influenced my having a preference for organic sounds, so my ethos for using this device is to incorporate digital means in as organic a way as possible, to still preserve the live performance element. I may wish to experiment with software in future projects, but this is my approach at present.

Tell us about some of your musical influences.

I have disparate influences. I was trained as a classical singer and was exposed to a variety of styles early on, from opera to jazz, world, RnB, pop, liturgical, and have listened to all kinds of music throughout my life. All of these voices make up my choir of one. Some of my favourite artists include Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Fiona Apple, and I am inspired by other loopers like Imogen Heap, Kimbra and Jacob Collier.

You have received some accolades in Canada for your songwriting… How is it going in the Canadian music scene?

It’s a tough question to answer today. Toronto has had a bustling scene in the past, and I hope it returns. I am spending time on the west coast and look forward to connecting with the music scene there. I’ve been able to work with some great musicians who are based in Canada, particularly Justin Abedin, who produced my last two albums and also co-wrote some of the material. The market is smaller than in the U.S., so in some ways there are more opportunities and in other ways less because the impact is smaller by the numbers. I’ve always been excited to play in the U.S., the audiences are really great, so while Canada is my home I look forward to touring south in the future. I’d love to hear from your audience about cool festivals in their area that I might play!

When did you start singing? Any early, notable experiences?

Great question! I have a pretty clear memory of walking around in my background singing along to a recording of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers when I was about five years old, and my parents took notice of my voice then. When I was six, I had a solo in a school play and following that my mom got me involved in music, first with piano lessons and then finding a professional children’s choir that I sang in for a number of years that I absolutely loved. I eventually attended a performing arts high school and studied with opera instructors, but also explored other genres like jazz, alternative and musical theatre. My parents are not professional musicians but both are music lovers who played in their youth, so there might be something in the genes.

What is next for you?

I would like to tour the album, continue developing my live looping act, write new material, collaborate with other artists, and eventually undertake an entirely new project! Each of my albums have been very different, and that just happened naturally, so I’m looking forward to discovering what is next for me!

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