Artist Interview. October 26. 2022.
Photography by Yuchen Liu
Merinda Dias-Jayasinha is a Naarm based jazz vocalist and multi-disciplinary improvisational artist.Her work bridges the worlds of contemporary and experimental jazz through artistic exploration of the human voice.
Photography by Tajette O’Halloran
Music has always been a part of my life, since before I can remember. Both my parents (and really, my whole family) are very musical and love the arts. My parents used to say that I learnt to speak by singing along to the ABBA Gold album.
I really started to focus on my love of music and understand my need for creative practice in my second year of uni. That was when I started to write my own music and I felt I was communicating a part of me. Suddenly, I started to wield something larger than just my instrument.
Photography by Tajette O’Halloran
I've personally always responded most viscerally to art that has a cross-disciplinary element, I feel most engaged when more than one of my senses are responding to something at once.
I've wanted to incorporate this into my own work for a long time but didn't know. Sometimes music can feel very separate to other art forms, but I've recently started to diversify my practice to include some performance art elements (as was the case in my piece 'The blue area'). I've also started to think beyond what 'music' means to me and instead of just working with 'sound', in particular, work with 'voice' and 'vocal texture'.
The human voice
Photography by Peter Cahill
I feel most at home when people sing together or use their voices to create something out of nothing, it's just so special. I believe that voice, being from a body, brings a deep, primal level of connectedness and community to any situation. It comes from the air that we all breathe and it can synchronise our bodies in wonderful ways.
I think there's a flow that you can find with voice (whether or not it's singing, it could just be talking or whispering) that isn't found in other instruments.
During the pandemic, I was physically separated from my family - I had just moved from Brisbane to Melbourne and after the enormity of that, wasn't able to see them for huge stretches of time.
It was incredibly difficult, and brought about lots of feelings around family culture, familial proximity, and how I wasn't necessarily seen for who I was away from the visual of me alongside my family.
It has been (and will continue to be) something to unravel slowly, gently, and kindly within myself. I think being able to incorporate some of that work into my practice in an obvious, focussed way has been extremely rewarding, and when it is not the focus, has still allowed me to feel more present within the work and understand the place from which it is emerging.
Jazz in Australia
Photography by Pat Telfer
Creatively, I feel like Australia is on its way to reconciling what jazz actually means to be performed and practiced in a context that is not the United States of America, but still has a really long way to go.
We have to reconcile what it actually means to be playing in a musical tradition that has evolved from serious social/cultural/political struggles, which is sometimes very difficult given that this country has its own work to do and is not a very inclusive place at the best of times.
I think community is super important, and finding like-minded people to make music with that you believe in and are passionate about is one of the most transformative things you can do.
Sense (2022) releases via Bandcamp on November 11, 2022
Sense is a collection of songs that I've written, and a few songs that have been pivotal in my life. As a collection, 'Sense’ is enigmatic. The songs evoke romantic confusion, joy, and longing, and I hope to transport listeners into part of my inner world.
I would describe the creative journey of the record as LONG. It's been a long-time coming since I first wrote some of those songs, but I'm so grateful that I was lucky enough to record with Niran Dasika on trumpet, Matt Hoyne on guitar, and Helen Svoboda on double bass - all of whom I'm just so in love with and proud of.
I hope people hear the joy and togetherness I felt when the four of us recorded these songs with the extraordinary Pat Telfer at the helm.
'Sense' is officially released Friday November 11, 2022 and will be available to buy and listen to on Bandcamp, as well as on all streaming services. There's vinyl, CD's, and digital albums available for all the ears!