fbpx
Saturday, October 23, 2021

Jhm: Santorini in her sights

Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Jhm on her particular brand of music.

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

For her parents’ 25th anniversary last year, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Jhm wanted to gift them something special, but her hands were tied with the state’s lockdown.

In the end, she took them to Santorini… in song, at least.

- Advertisement -

“We wanted to travel and do something nice for them, but plans changed, so I came up with my own gift,” she grinned. “‘Santorini’ was written in my bedroom and demoed in the space that is now my dad’s makeshift office.”

A colourful, jazz-infused melody that’s paired with strings from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, ‘Santorini’ evokes happy summer vibes amid these cold winter days.

According to the musician, who hails from Kerala, it’s about the way love “can put a glow around any situation if you choose to let it.”

“I hope it feels like laughing and being warm and drinking juice,” she added.

jessie hillel jhm
Behind the scenes of the ‘Santorini’ music video shoot. Source: supplied

READ ALSO: From New Zealand to New Delhi: Meet YouTube’s Karl Rock

Jhm (pronounced ‘Jim’) first rose to fame in 2012 as the runner up of New Zealand’s Got Talent. Performing under her real name Jessie Hillel, the then 11-year-old was praised for her powerful and evocative voice beyond her years.

Today, though, she’s in a different chapter of her musical journey, combining her classical musical training with soul, pop, R&B, and jazz influences while she pursues a degree in music from Monash University.

“It was obviously an amazing experience, but I think of this as a reset. As an artist, I’m still exploring my sound, finding my bearings,” she told Indian Link.

Last year, she was crowned the winner of the Fed Live music competition, a collaboration between Fed Square and music heavyweights like MTV, DITTO Music, and Melbourne Music Week, and won by popular vote with her original song ‘The Rain’.

“I happened to see an ad for the competition on Facebook, just three days before entries closed,” she shared. “I had this song ready from a previous university assignment, and as for the music video element, I put an ad on Fiverr and ended up collaborating with a designer in Nigeria. It all just came together so well.”

Jhm, performing as Jessie Hillel, took home $100,000 worth of career kick-starting prizes and also won the opportunity to perform at the iconic Federation Square.

jessie hillel jhm
Source: supplied

“My songs are inspired by experiences and interesting things that I see in other people. It’s an introspective process. I’ve always loved this quote by James Taylor about song writing as an unconscious process, that the song already exists and you’re simply the first to hear it,” she smiled.

After winning the competition, the 20-year-old was selected as one of five upcoming artists to be signed to Push Labels, a youth-led record label delivered as part of Creative Victoria’s Victorian Music Industry Recovery Program. ‘Santorini’ is one of the little treats served up from this endeavour.

“The past year has been an eye-opener; the pandemic has been tough on the Australian music scene. I do miss the collaboration aspect of music, two people coming together to blend their different experiences,” she mused.

Still, she notes, creating music during lockdown allowed her to upskill and be a bit more self-sufficient.

“The past year has been a steep learning curve. I’m thankful for this opportunity from Creative Victoria to turn the songs I wrote and demoed in my bedroom into full fledged tracks, and work with other musicians to learn and grow.”

READ ALSO: On the spirit of music: meet Sydney band Goldfynch

Source: supplied

Drawing on the orchestral sounds and percussion from her classical background, Jhm’s sound takes inspiration from her Indian-Australian identity. She counts KS Chithra and KJ Yesudas, along with Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, as her musical influences.

“As musicians, we’re just trying to make art for the world. It’s about trying to preserve a feeling and share it with the world,” she said.

And what inspired this stage name?

“I wish there was more of a story there, but really, it came from the name of my Mum’s first dog,” she laughed.

Up close and personal

Currently reading? Libraries have been closed during lockdown, but I’m going through a giant collection of Jane Austen novels.

Currently listening to? “Prepared” by Jill Scott.

Currently watching? The Big Bang Theory – can you believe it’s my first time?

Favourite karaoke song? Probably something from Whitney Houston.

Favourite Indian musician? S Janaki. The scoring is beautiful. It breaks my heart that her recordings are from so long ago and are not necessarily the best quality.

Favourite Bollywood film? Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.


Link up with us!

Indian Link News website: Save our website as a bookmark

Indian Link E-NewsletterSubscribe to our weekly e-newsletter

Indian Link Newspaper: Click here to read our e-paper

Indian Link app: Download our app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play and subscribe to the alerts

Facebookfacebook.com/IndianLinkAustralia

Twitter: @indian_link

Instagram: @indianlink

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/IndianLinkMediaGroup

- Advertisement -
Rhea L Nath
Rhea L Nath is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Sydney. In 2020, she was nominated for Young Journalist of the Year (Premier's Multicultural Media Awards)

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Podcasts

Ep 9: What do young Indians want from love?

0
  Growing up in Indian culture, most of us know that love has never been as popular as marriage. Even in the movies, the main...

Ep 8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s...

0
  To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

0
  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic death...
- Advertisement -

Latest News

Being a ‘Chutney Mary’ and an unlikely romance with India (Book...

0
  For Melbourne-based social and political researcher Valerie Britton-Wilson, India has long held inexplicable allure. In her latest book A Touch of India she details...

The best of Perth

0
  Residents of Perth will proudly tell you that their city is the most isolated in the world. The journey from Sydney on the Indian...
smriti mandhana

WATCH: Smriti Mandhana on joining the Sydney Thunder (WBBL)

0
  Indian star opener Smriti Mandhana, the first Indian female cricketer to score a century in both ODIs and Tests in Australia, is an exciting...
Families ready to reunite with their loved ones overseas. Source Pixabay

Travelling to India after 1 Nov: All your questions answered

0
  Indian Link CEO Pawan Luthra discusses the Australian government's decision to reopen borders on Nov 1 with travel professional Ashwini Sonthalia. Who can go? Who...
Families ready to reunite with their loved ones overseas. Source: Pixabay

Travel exemption applications now open for parents of Australians

0
  As Qantas announced the new flights to India, Federal Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews announced that from today, parents of Australian citizens and...