Jess Chalker is a Sydney-born, London-based singer/songwriter and producer, who started her career as the frontwoman of Aussie New Wave duo We Are The Brave. Since We Are The Brave’s breakup, Chalker has developed a reputation as a highly sought-after collaborator, who has worked with Sam Fischer, Vintage Culture, Isamachine, Gold Kimono, and Passenger. Chalker was part of the the Grammy Award-winning songwriting and production team that cowrote Lisa Loeb‘s lead single on the acclaimed artist’s kids record Feel What U Feel. And recently, the Aussie-born, British-based singer/songwriter and producer composed “Darkest Hour” for the Amazon Original series Panic, performed by Tate McRae.
Chalker steps out into the limelight as a solo artist with her full-length debut, Hemispheres. The album received funding from the Australia Council for the Arts and is slated for a November 5, 2021 release through her own imprint 528 Records. The album was completed under the weight of the pandemic, and as Chalker grappled with the loss of her day job and heartbreaking health issues simultaneously. Much like countless others across the globe, she found herself spiraling and she turned to music for the creative outlet she needed. Collaborating with friends across Sydney, Los Angeles and London, including Dan Long, Josh Humphreys and Chalker’s former We Are The Brave bandmate Ox Why, Chalker wound up finishing what would turn out to be a deeply emotional album. And interestingly enough, she managed to find much longed-for freedom in the process: “Releasing this album is terrifying and thrilling to me,” the Aussie-born, British-based artist says in press notes. “I grew up in a religion that discouraged us from pursuing career success, where women weren’t allowed on stage to address an audience directly. I think it’s why I’ve always tried to avoid the spotlight but, after the year we’ve all had, my perspective on things has changed quite a lot. I’m not wasting any more time doubting myself.”
Sonically, the album reportedly finds Chalker and her collaborators crafting material featuring guitar-driven hooks and retro synths paired with the Aussie-born, British-based artist’s expressive vocals. Thematically, the album deals with themes that explore the dichotomy between depression and hopefulness, self-doubt and self-love and more. Hemispheres‘ third and latest single “Don’t Fight It” was cowritten by Chalker. Grammy Award-winning collaborator Rich Jacques and Martjin Tinus Konijnenburg and was co-produced across Los Angeles and London by Chalker and Jacques. “Don’t Fight It” is centered around glistening synth arpeggios, propulsive, reverb-drenched drums, Chalker’s expressive vocals and her unerring knack of crafting a razor sharp and accessible hook. And while sonically being deeply indebted to 80s synth pop with hints of Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Prince, the song is full of bittersweet longing and uncertainty while featuring a narrator who’s physically and emotionally lost and confused.
“There’s a bittersweetness to ‘Don’t Fight It’ that I love… It feels both joyful and sad to me,” Chalker explains in press notes. ““It was written at a time when I was going through some personal stuff, trying really hard to please everyone, not really knowing where I fit and becoming someone I wasn’t. In the end I really surrendered to that feeling of being lost, because acknowledging that made me realize I needed to change where I was going.”
The recently released animated lyric video for “Don’t Fight It” was directed by Thomas Calder and fittingly the visual is centered around 80s video game graphics paired with a noir-ish color palette and sensibility.