"Tay is still from In Crowd, that’s true, but there is more. The fight to have people see that was the most frustrating thing, but now I feel so clear about what SAINTE is and who am I. It makes me even more grateful to have been able to do anything.” - Tay Jardine.
Today, the brand new SAINTE EP has been released into the world, after being announced last week. We barely had time to prepare for its arrival!
We caught up with Tay Jardine to talk through the lead up to this brand new SAINTE EP, how moving to Los Angeles was an important part of her creative process, still being Tay from We Are The In Crowd, and what the future has in store.
How does it feel to finally have a whole EP of new music out in the world?
Says Tay: “It feels like musical Christmas! Obviously there is the excitement, but more than anything I just feel ready because this project is independent, and it’s just me just me working with people I trust - it feels a bit different. I guess I feel like I have a bit more of a sense of responsibility with it. It’s actually not making me that nervous - it’s just making me feel more proud. With that being said, I am also completely freaking out. I’m still feeling that vulnerability with everything out in the open. I’m just stoked though.”
It feels as though things have been a little cloudy over the past year, both with this project but also with how you are feeling personally. It appears like you are much happier and at peace now though…
“It’s interesting you say that, and I appreciate you noticing the difference. It feels good being noted as happier and more confident, because I am! When SAINTE first started it was this grand idea that had no background or foundation yet. I feel like it was a bit rushed in the beginning in terms of how the songwriting was going and how we wanted to put things out - it’s so weird because now everything is set in place, and all of these different things are happening both now and for in the future. So before when I was talking about it nothing was ready - I was trying to stay active and excited, but I had no idea what was actually coming. It’s like not knowing what tomorrow will be, except knowing that you’ll be there. That sparked a lot of things. My nerves were taking over me, I was freaking out - I was texting my manager constantly and calling whoever else I could and going back on things. So originally we decided that we were going to put the album out this summer, but I kept on saying, ‘No I want to change things’. So many of my nerves came from that. Now though everything actually feels set in stone and I feel more confident in everything.”
It’s almost like when you have that rush of adrenaline to get things going and it stays while things are happening, but the reality is that you’re still going to come down and have to deal with things at some point when it all slows down…
“Yeah, I think that there was pressure in my own head that I had created because I had just finished touring We Are The In Crowd, and putting that last record out was me going, ‘Okay, this is how things move’. There was that normality for me, but then also that realisation that this isn’t how things work when you start things from scratch again - I forgot what that was like. I was 19 when I first started a band, I had no idea what I was doing in terms of the logistics of it. This time around I’m not only more mature, but we are doing this on our own. It’s sort of a double-edged sword because it leaves more room for negotiation and changing your mind when you’re in charge, and there’s a lot of that going on. I do enjoy having the control, but it gets frustrating when you feel like you need the help. Those times where I sit and think, ‘Damn I wish I was signed’ or something.”
In terms of ‘Bad Summer’, it feels as though there has been a proper shift in tone from the songs that appeared on ‘Smile and Wave’. How has your songwriting process shifted between the two releases?
“It’s funny because I have a hard time putting these songs into a particular genre. I’m so used to being in the pop-punk world that I would always just say ‘Oh it’s pop-punk’. That was all I ever had to say, and now I’m like ‘It’s synth-pop, but not really, and it’s indie-rock, but not really’. SAINTE in my head was always supposed to be this sort of sound. When the first EP was written, we weren’t sure - I say we, because Mike Ferri and Cameron Hurley both write these songs with me, and they were both in We Are The In Crowd - about making it too different from We Are The In Crowd. Like, what if we lose all of our fans? Then we weren’t sure if we were just making another We Are The In Crowd album.
“All of these thoughts were happening during that first writing process - we didn’t know what we wanted this to be. The idea of SAINTE was there, but we didn’t know if that was what it was going to be. So we pulled the trigger and said ‘Ok, so this is SAINTE’, because it was different enough and I was ready to move forward. The guys were completely on board with supporting me through it. So we released it and played a couple of shows in the UK, then it was when we left London that we went ‘We don’t have enough songs to actually tour this, we need to keep writing’. We also went ‘This still feels too guitar driven’ - it didn’t feel right to me. We took advantage of the fact that we had to write more songs anyway, and went into the studio with no idea what these new songs were actually going to be.
“I had actually gone into the studio to do a guest vocal for The Vamps, and also worked with Mika who is also the producer on this EP. He was the lead vocalist of There For Tomorrow and he currently has an RnB project. We had toured together in the past, and he has such an amazing voice - I worked so well with him and my voice and how natural nuances of riffs would just come out. He just added this incredible thing to the songs that it feels like I was looking for. It was nice having a friend there who understands you rather than some hotshot producer.
“Before we knew it, these songs were coming out so fast - I don’t think we spent a full week writing them. Another huge asset to these songs was Will Ferri from Against The Current - he came in to help on a couple. That kid is so talented. It all just came together and clicked, and I just felt like this sound was exactly what I had been feeling. It was one of my favourite writing experiences, because we were all able to put our own bit in and come out with these awesome songs. It was truly magical.”
Did finding that suitable niche give you the confidence to open up lyrically in a different way as well?
“It wasn’t necessarily the style of music that did that - it was where I was. I had moved away from New York where I was born and raised - I had this sense of ‘If not now, when?’ about moving after being in this place for so long, and because I hadn’t been touring I had this real sense of wanderlust. Like, where am I going? It was all a bit crazy. I didn’t have to move - there was nothing terrible going on, but I just had this sense that I had to. So I moved out to LA, just like everybody does. It was great - I don’t mean to shit on LA at all, I love that city and the weather is incomparable to anywhere else. I got myself an apartment and was living on my own, and seeking new friends and other opportunities.
“I look at what this life outside of what I had always known was - It worked for a little while, this was around the time that I was writing, but then after a year I was like ‘I can’t do this anymore’. I don’t know what it was, but I think it really came down to missing home and the support system I had there, though I had this feeling of being completely fulfilled with what I had set out to experience - that’s where the positivity comes from. Even though I was sad and miserable about being in this one place, at some points I felt awesome because I knew that I was able to change it. As soon as we were done writing I was already packing up my place ready to move back. It was all very relevant.”
It takes a lot to take that step out of your comfort zone but it takes even more to tell yourself that you’re not as comfortable as you could be and going back. Some people would be scared to go back on themselves and stays put, but then fall deeper and deeper into the hole and are unable to get out…
“Yeah, and I think that’s what is so important about making goals. That’s what I did before I left - I said I was just going to try it for a year, and I told myself that ahead of time. If I go back after a year and think, ‘Damn, what was I thinking?’ then that’s where I start to figure out the next move. Yet if I get to the end of that year and I’m like ‘Wow, this is exactly where I need to stay’ then that would have been the case. Like I said I don’t regret or hate it - I was fulfilled. There were some things I didn’t like, but there were things that I did as well, and I experienced exactly what I had to.”
In the end it produced a completely different sort of art, and at the end of the day that’s the most important aspect…
“Luck plays a huge part too - it’s not always going to be like that, and I do feel grateful. Like, I was terrified - did I really spend all of this money moving everything I had, including my dog, out here to California? It’s crazy, but it was so worth it.”
So, who do you feel like you as both Tay but also as SAINTE are now compared to the Tay and the SAINTE that you were two years ago when you released ‘Smile and Wave’?
“I feel clearer and more aware. I think that’s because when this project was just a tiny idea I said that SAINTE was a place in my head - it was a place in my mind. It’s not an alter ego. I think now I feel like I have finally visited that place - I know that sounds a little weird but before, and it breaks my heart to say this, I feel like I was really trying to detach myself from We Are The In Crowd. Because of the normal pressures and predictions I had made, dancing that line was the reason that first EP sounded like it did. I felt like that was what was missing - it was a place that I had to go and visit. I feel way clearer now about what this is and who I am, even just in terms of being 28 or 29 years old. Like, this is my life - I’m not trying to remember what 22 and 23 were like.”
It’s almost like this unspoken pressure for you to still be Tay from We Are The In Crowd. It’s the same with the other guys as well - it can weigh down on you. Yet when you find that balance between who you are now and who you were then that’s when you can find that clarity you speak of…
“Totally. With that being said, it’s made me even prouder to be a part of We Are The In Crowd. I guess I wasn’t fully appreciating, because I always thought that I was. Yet now, it’s amazing that people are still commenting ‘Where’s We Are The In Crowd?’, and I think that’s down to the fact that we never actually broke up. We didn’t have this crazy falling out - it’s not over. It was very much ‘It’s not goodbye, it’s BRB’. Tay is still from In Crowd, that’s true, but there is more. The fight to have people see that was the most frustrating thing, but now I feel so clear about what SAINTE is and who am I. It makes me even more grateful to have been able to do anything.”
Finally, what’s your next focus with SAINTE?
“Playing shows! I just want to get on stage again. The amount of times I ask my manager what the news is and who needs support and when we can get to the UK per week is constant. I’m probably the most annoying person right now, but that’s the only thing that’s on my mind right now. Then the other part of my mind is like ‘Can I actually remember how I do that?’ Shows are definitely in the works though.”