Change is never easy, but sometimes it’s necessary. Growing up in a band can be both incredibly liberating and unexpectedly challenging and, for Tay Jardine, that was something she’d come to realize. Frontwoman of the undeniably successful We Are The In Crowd for the best part of seven years, 2017 sees her now making her biggest change yet, as she moves forward into the next chapter of her life. Arriving in the form of SAINTE, her newest endeavour is a true living and breathing extension of herself, which counts as both her most comfortable and fully-realized move yet.
While her previous project wound down to a natural close last year, it was around that same time Jardine became ultra-inspired to move into wholly new territory. Thus, with the help of former bandmates Cameron Hurley and Mike Ferri, SAINTE was born. Providing an opportunity for Jardine to explore the more personal aspects of her own musical inspirations, her new project also doubles as a chance for her to inject even more of herself into her music.
“After touring for so long with my previous project, I found myself evolving as a woman,” Jardine says plainly, proving just how simple and obvious this move was for her. “I was wanting to try something new, which really represented where I am creatively. I started making music just based on what I was feeling now; it felt a little different and it felt a lot more natural. I was nineteen when We Are The In Crowd were signed, and I was so incredibly young. We developed something that was great for then, but now I find myself in such a more comfortable place as SAINTE. It just really represents who I am as a person as well as an artist.”
That’s something captured brilliantly throughout her first release proper, her debut EP ‘smile, and wave’. From the opening chords of ‘Eyes Are Open’, it’s clear that things are entirely on her terms: the confidence that oozes from her first release is palpable, with each song seeing Jardine offering up another bold take on life. There’s a hopeful brightness to each of its synth-tinged offerings that’s matched in both lyricism and musicality, while each track possesses a brilliant catchiness that makes them feel truly anthemic.
Recorded in the mountains just outside San Francisco with producer Tommy English (BØRNS, Andrew McMahon, Tigertown), the debut SAINTE EP arrives bearing seven tracks; a little longer than many might expect. But for Jardine, it was more important to make a fully-realized statement with her debut, than to adhere to pre-conceived limitations. “That’s another part of it being something new and not following that traditional rulebook,” she says. “I had a lot to say and I couldn’t just say it in four songs!
“There were no rules,” she goes on to explain, of the origins of smile, and wave. “There was nothing to live up to and it was really easy for me, and completely liberating,” It became a fresh start for her as an artist, a new beginning. “I think this has come from a totally different place creatively and I’m really, really proud of these songs. They’re something that I can really back.”
It’s that feeling of freedom that’s reflected within the themes of the EP itself. Not only does the seven-track release mark a new chapter for her as a musician, it sees her personally having enough confidence to move on with her life in general. “I think I’ve always written very personally,” Jardine admits, “but all of the songs on the EP do have this overlapping theme. It’s just about having that fresh start, and starting a new life and getting rid of the things that you’re not happy with.” That’s a sentiment poignantly reflected through its title, too. “Sometimes you just need to take a step back to smile and wave goodbye, knowing that what’s on the other side will bring you a better life, and a better part of you.”
And it’s not all just about the songs; with her new release, everything is on Tay’s terms, and that’s given her the opportunity to pursue an array of creative avenues to accompany the music itself. For her videos and the EP’s artwork, Jardine teamed up with photographer Raul Gonzo – who’s previously worked with the likes of PVRIS, Say Anything and Pierce The Veil – to explore a new facet of his ‘Color Madness’ series. With their collaboration first being showcased in her ‘Technicolor’ video – and further work appearing in her ‘With or Without Me’ clip – the bright and bombastic visual pop art adds another element entirely to the depth of her project.
What’s most exciting for Jardine right now, though, is that she’s getting to release something that she wholly believes in. “I always think of SAINTE as more of a thing than a project,” she reveals. “It is my biggest outlet right now. It represents that place where I can completely be myself at all times when I’m there and it’s really just the best feeling.”