Q&A with Swiss singer-songwriter Jaël

We got to chat with Jaël around the release of her latest album Midlife.

– Congratulations on the release of your latest album “Midlife”! Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind it?

My first baby was born end of 2017. He was a high need baby and I ended up totally exhausted and overwhelmed, physically and psychologically at the end after two years. Then the lockdown came in and I had time to heal, but also time to look back and try to understand why I ended up in such a bad state. I found out it had a lot less to do with my baby than expected and a lot more with me as a hsp (highly sensitive person) and with what happened in the first half of my life. Everything that happened came back up meaning depressions, panic attacks and self harm tendencies from my 20s-30s as well as a sexual assault I survived 20 years ago. I looked back but also forward, thinking about what I want to let go for the future, my second half, what I need to change.

I put all of that into my songwriting for Midlife.

– How has your musical style and songwriting process evolved since your last album?

I wrote the majority of the songs on my own due to lockdown and I guess the songs therefor turned out much more intimate as it was very ‚writing diary style’.

The production was done by Cyrill Camenzind at Powerplay Studios and I love how he understood the soul of these songs, let them breathe in their pretty acoustic pop setting and added a tiny americana hint here and there. We wanted a sound that is adult and wide and pleasant. I love for example how ‚new era’ and ‚untouched by grey and rain’ make me feel like driving to the seaside.

– Many of the songs on “Midlife” deal with themes of self-reflection and personal growth. Can you talk a bit about the writing process behind these songs?

I wrote all of these songs during lockdown, some of them late at night. As answered in the first question it was indeed a time I HAD to self-reflect as I was in a bad place.

– You’ve been making music for over two decades now. How has your relationship with music changed over the years?

Well I was 18 when I started professionally and will be 44 this august, so it’s been quite a journey. I guess me and my music, we aged together like two close friends. The whole industry/busines side of it doesn’t frighten me anymore as it used to and I am very pleased with where I’m at. I used to push myself thinking it all needed to be bigger, more successfull etc. Now I am just very happy I get to write songs, perform them, make a living out of it and enjoy being with my family. This urge to ‚climb up the ladder’ has gone and I think I write better songs without it and live a fuller and healthier life.

– You’ve collaborated with many different artists throughout your career. Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

Chris Martins voice is still one of my favourits. I do also love Finks and William Fitzsimmons work as well as Sufjan Stevens. And of course Sting. His songwriting is crazy. My first big gig I visited as a kid with my dad was him. Well there are so many stunning artists out there… But mainly I want to make music with people that also want to make music with me. There is no joy in it if the mood is weird in the room.

– What do you hope your fans take away from “Midlife”?

I love it when my fans feel understood and hugged through my songs. If somebody feels less alone because of them, that’s the best reason for me to make music.

– Your music often features introspective and emotional lyrics. How do you balance vulnerability and authenticity in your songwriting while also maintaining a sense of privacy?

I could not think about that while writing. If I put censorship in it in the process that would totally kill it. When I write I just write what’s there. I can worry about the rest later. I don’t need to tell the whole story. And luckily Swiss people and press are very chilled and respectful…