Tuning into Tim Shiel’s Something More program a few months ago – as I do religiously each week – I heard Tim wrestling with the pronunciation of an artist called JEFFE. “Yef-aye? Jeff? I don’t know,” Tim quizzed as he introduced the artist’s debut song.
For the record, it’s pronounced as the male name, Jeff. The song was the warping, horn-filled daze ‘Whoever You Love, I’m Cool’ and it stopped me in my tracks.
JEFFE’s real name remains a mystery, but the mystical power of her music will soon become world renowned. The Sydney musician has just the one original song to her name so far, but it’s been more than enough to pique curiosity and excitement about the multi-instrumentalist.
The JEFFE project stemmed from meeting producer Dave Hammer, who influenced the enigmatic artist to lean towards a more electronic-inspired sound.
“I decided to start a new project in 2016. I had no idea which direction I wanted it to go in though, so I just wrote a bunch of different styled songs. JEFFE only really came together at the start of 2017 when I had made a really strong writing connection with my producer, Dave,” said the musician behind JEFFE.
“I was in a band with my mates at school and I was also playing saxophone in the school band. After I left school I went on to be part of an acoustic folk/indie duet for a while and then moved on to an acoustic solo project. Then I met Dave and moved onto a more electronic path and JEFFE was born.”
With the upload of her debut track to triple j Unearthed, JEFFE won a bunch of high-profile fans, including ABC Group Music Director Richard Kingsmill, who gave ‘Whoever You Love, I’m Cool’ five stars. “I’ve been listening to this trying to find reasons not to give it 5 stars. I can’t,” Kingsmill wrote in his mini-review.
The excitement surrounding JEFFE was again buoyed by her cover/remix of ‘Problems’, a track by French producer Petit Biscuit. The song became open to interpretation when Petit Biscuit collaborated with Wavo and Spotify to launch the official remix competition. JEFFE’s version was hand-picked by Petit Biscuit from hundreds of remixes and placed on the ‘Problems’ Remix EP.
JEFFE’s reworking has now clocked over 350,000 Spotify streams since its release in May. JEFFE notes that she jumped at the opportunity when the competition was announced.
“‘Problems’ had been played quite a bit on triple j and I really loved it. When the competition was posted, I jumped into the studio with Dave and we did our own version that was closer to my style. It was such a fun little project completely changing a song up,” JEFFE said of the experience.
While ‘Whoever You Love, I’m Cool’ is a hazy, soft-centred track, JEFFE’s ‘Problems’ rework displays a more fast-paced sensibility to the artist. Although nobody would be disappointed if she kept pumping out songs like her enchanting debut, JEFFE says that ‘Whoever You Love, I’m Cool’ doesn’t set a precedent for her forthcoming releases.
“It’s hard to replicate what happened with ‘Whoever You Love, I’m Cool’”
“There will definitely be more contrasting releases in the future. It’s hard to replicate what happened with ‘Whoever You Love, I’m Cool’ and honestly, I don’t think I’d want to try to make a song that sounds the same. It’s got such a unique flavour to it that would just sound strange if re-created. It’s best to have a bit of diversity.”
Although it’s motivated by a universally relatable experience, ‘Whoever You Love, I’m Cool’ contains lyrics and thoughts not often associated with heartbreak. “Did I ever confess that I love this mess you made me,” JEFFE croons throughout the chorus.
“I was hurting that a guy I liked didn’t like me back, and I was angry that it was making me do things that weren’t really me. But after a little therapy session with Dave, it ended up being more along the lines of ‘I love this crazy emotional, wild, mess of a human, side of me that’s coming out, that may not be for you so whoever you fall in love with, I’m cool with that.’”
“There’s definitely something coming soon.”
JEFFE hasn’t yet announced any future plans for releases, though “there’s definitely something coming soon.” With a tour supporting No Mono approaching in August, JEFFE says “I’m working on mixing up my set to play the songs that I’ll be releasing next.”
JEFFE’s touring dates (supporting No Mono):
- August 25: The Brightside, Brisbane
- August 31: Jive, Adelaide
- September 1: Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth
- September 7: Corner Hotel, Melbourne
- September 15: Studio Theatre, Darwin
- September 16: Monte’s, Alice Springs