Well, technically, I was supposed to be speaking with Dune. That’s the name on the interview opp email and press release. But I don’t know Dune very well and I would feel much more comfortable talking about Dune with her creator than to Dune per se.
You see, Dune is the artist name Jade Macrae goes by these days and in order to understand why that is, it would be best to speak with Jade herself.
The ARIA-nominated Australian R&B singer we’ve all come to know from hits like ‘So Hot Right Now’, ‘You Make Me Weak’ and the trashy ‘In The Basement’ is nothing like the artist she was when she broke out eight years ago.
“The music I’m making now is definitely more alternative than what I’ve done before, so I thought it needed its own name, its own identity and personality,” Jade said about her current incarnation as Dune.
“I didn’t want people to confuse the issue with what they’ve heard from me in the past.”
Check out the video for Dune’s debut single ‘Shoestring':
Macrae’s latest offering as Dune feels more organic, experimental and poetic. The soundscape veers towards synth-based indie/alternative material that positions her closer to Kylie circa Impossible Princess than say, Beyoncé, who was an artist Macrae once got fashioned after.
At first thought, you might call Dune an alter ego but in fact, it’s actually unadulterated cosmic-minded Jade Macrae – the way she has always been at heart.
In fact, as we yammered on, I got a feeling that the artist “Jade Macrae” we’ve heard all those years ago was more like an alter ego for her: a straight-up pop/R&B starlet she hammed up when she was forging a name for herself in the commercial scene.
Cast your minds back to Jade’s ARIA Top 20 smash ‘So Hot Right Now':
“I’ve really tried to embrace all that and play a ‘mainstream role’, but ultimately, I’m a musician at heart – and I was neglecting my creative and artistic side in a lot of ways,” she said.
Macrae was raised on soul, blues and jazz music – singing back up for Jimmy Barnes before she carved a career of her own in 2004. Most of her self-titled debut album paid homage to her roots with a balance of warm soulful tracks and radio-friendly pop.
However, the 2008 sophomore Get Me Home dragged Macrae further from her zone with Americanised productions that felt a little too forced and vacant for my liking. [Editor's note: Um. This coming from a queen who can see the silver lining in Sugababes' widely-panned Sweet 7 album? Go figure.]
Watch Jade go full-blown pop vixen ‘In The Basement':
When Get Me Home failed to chart at all, sinking into oblivion with its two underachieving singles ‘In The Basement’ and ‘I Wanna Be In Love’ (you can’t even buy them on iTunes now), Macrae’s confidence took a bashing and she was forced to reconsider her priorities.
“I was a bit shell-shocked after that didn’t work out. It was a hard thing to recover from,” she confessed.
“You know, even though I was ‘playing a role’ – I still put everything into it and I still wrote all the songs, so it’s not like I wasn’t connected to it.
“I was left in a place where I was like, ‘OK. I’ve kinda compromised my creativity and it’s not working out. Do I keep doing that or do I go and do something that would be ultimately satisfying to me?’,” she said.
Macrae’s tentative steps back to music came gradually after she married Melburnian hip hop artist Phrase. She co-wrote tracks on his 2011 album Babylon and from there in their home studio, soon came her own musical rebirth.
“He helped me get to a point where I was confident enough to have another go, and he encouraged me to do something different. Something that I thought was great and not what other people wanted from me,” she said.
Her debut single as Dune – ‘Shoestring’ – which she wrote and produced, reveals reflections of an enlightened artist tackling more emotional and spiritual themes.
“The song is about coming to a realisation that true happiness is not going to come from material wealth or anything like that,” she explained.
“It’s about stripping back and, trusting and following your intuition.”
When asked if she would eventually return to making pop music, Macrae was a bit circumspect.
“I don’t think I’ll go back to making pop music in the same way I did before.”
“I’ve got an EP, which I’ll put out later this year, but I’ve just started recording the next one – and it’s definitely a bit more poppy than the one I just made.”
Stay tuned for more music by Dune, including the debut EP due later this year. For all the latest, check on her Facebook page.