15 questions with…JORJA CHALMERS
Computer Music|September 2021
From learning piano at age five to teaching music in her teens, Jorja Chalmers was almost destined to be involved in music in some way. Yet even she couldn’t have predicted what followed, and now she has become an in-demand touring musician with the likes of Bryan Ferry and Take That, and a solo artist producing exceptional and mesmerising works…

Looking at Jorja Chalmers’ life thus far you could easily conclude: ‘you certainly make your own luck’. That’s because Jorja worked hard building the foundations of a successful music career early on. At just five she started learning piano; little more than a decade later she was teaching music, and not a lot longer after that she was studying at Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music. Yet ironically, only once she turned her back on studying and shipped over to the UK, did her break come, and she ended up touring with the likes of Take That, Ting Tings and Bryan Ferry as both keyboard player and saxophonist. Wiki describes her as (we’re not proud but we do like this quote) someone who “steals the show, blasting out the sax lines with a refreshing brashness”. Live credentials aside though, Jorja has just unleashed her latest album, Midnight Train. Mixed by Dean Hurley, David Lynch’s engineer, the album ‘cannibalises’ and then rebuilds influences including YMO, Michael Nyman and The Terminator, and has been described as a hypnotic work of Gothic grandeur. Questions, questions…

1 Tell us how you got into music production in the first place?

Jorja Chalmers: “I grew up in Sydney in a musical home. My mum played the guitar and sang and my dad built himself these incredibly powerful speakers and used to play everything at top volume. I started mucking about on the piano when I was about five and eventually started to write my own songs. I learnt saxophone in high school and went on to study at Sydney Conservatorium of Music.”

2 When did you start to feel you were getting somewhere in music?

JC: “I was making a living from music at a young age because I started a tuition business in my teens whilst I was still in Australia. When I moved to London in 2004 I wanted a break from teaching so worked a few office jobs and started playing in bands. In 2007 Bryan Ferry’s PA at the time came to see me play in a new wave band called, Hotel Motel. I went for an audition and got the job doing corporate gigs for a few years. In 2011 I then got the call to tour with Roxy Music alongside Andy Mackay and make the leap to being a full-time session musician. I’ve been working for him ever since. I still teach piano and sax when I’m not on the road.”

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