I would like to introduce you to an incredibly talented musician that is making a big splash recently in Australia. Jaime Page is an Australian composer, songwriter, and guitarist that is releasing a new album this month. This album marks a transformative moment in Jaime’s life, not just for her music but also for her personally. Jaime has recently came out as transgender and is with this album reintroducing herself to the world in a very big way. I had a chance to speak with Jaime about her music, her life and what all of this means to her going forward.
Stay tuned to the end for an advance review of the album and a sneak peek of the music for readers of Planet Transgender.
Let’s get the obligatory 5 or 6 questions for all musicians out of the way first.
1.) What is on your playlist right now?
Jaime: My Top 10 most listened to would be: (According to iTunes)
Always In My Head – Coldplay
Porcelain – Moby
Time To Say Goodbye (Con te partiro) – Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli
If It Makes You Happy – Sheryl Crow
Moonage Daydream – David Bowie
Perfect Life – Steven Wilson
Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve
Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel
This Woman’s Work – Kate Bush
Paradise – Coldplay
2.) What is your favorite new band/artist?
Jaime: St Vincent
3.) What are your all time favorite artists/bands?
Jaime: I love so many. Led Zeppelin. Genesis, Coldplay, Kate Bush, Steven Wilson, David Bowie.
4.) Who is your personal hero? (Person in your life, a role model, another artist etc.)
Jaime: So many wonderful people. I would say if one person resonated more than anyone else it would be Lily Elbe.
Musically? Kate Bush.
5.) Who or what inspires you? (What is your muse?)
Jaime: I think, dream and write in pictures, so my music is inspired by beautiful art, people and the wild beauty of nature. I particularly love images of the oceans, heavens, spiritual art, and also I love gothic art and imagery. Those are the things that inspire me. When I do write music or lyrics I will be visualising a theme based on those things. The Dark Universe CD was partly inspired by a painting of a lone sad, beautiful woman longingly looking out to sea, for example.
6.) Who were your biggest musical influences?
Jaime: Originally, Jimi Hendrix, Marc Bolan (T-Rex), David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Suzi Quatro ;).
For fun, describe your music using only colors and/or animals.
Jaime: My music in colour:.. A beautiful, rich, warm purple lioness! The matriarch of the pride.
I could go on forever on that one;) !!
So now that we have that out-of-the-way… If I was going to learn about you through your music, which of your songs do I absolutely have to listen to?
Jaime: As far as older songs go, I would listen to Wasting Time by Trilogy and Unchain My Heart by Driveshaft (!). They are very early cries for help, or odes to being trans in their own ways. SS Rejected is the song that really kickstarted this thing. It was an absolute template for the album to come. The new album is much darker though.
The defining song for me is called Deepest Black. It truly delves into the absolute melancholia of my gender dysphoria. Having said that, it is a musical story of ultimate release. It is my masterwork, so to speak. Deepest Black really hit my musical partners hard with its tragic beauty and is the foundation of my musical soul, so to speak. A very bared soul at that!!
While [Deepest Black] is dark, brooding, sad and tearful, it does see the light.
Coming out of the darkness when transitioning, I know how that is. I remember being in that place myself the first time I told someone.
Jaime: Absolutely. Funny you should say that. My next fave from the CD is Dark Universe, which is about my dark place
I love writing music with a cinematic view, and being able to channel my feelings into music and art has been a wonderful, beautiful thing. Without it, I would be long gone. And it feels a little strange to listen to that melancholia now as I have been released from my personal hell. But I still feel it.
So there’s a kind of story progression in your music there?
Jaime: Deepest Black was the catalyst after SS Rejected. SS was a sketch pad to learn to emote the feelings I wanted to emote.
The tracklist is:
- Deepest Black
- Letting Go
- Dark Universe
- Goodbye Angel
They sit in a natural order. Despair, finding the power and the light, letting go, daring to dream, and praying you never lose yourself again.
Letting Go is also a very emotional song. The most obvious ode to being trans. We all cried when we recorded it as we related the story with the music. It was the last song completed, and it hit home hard. Very hard. I love that song so much.
XXX27 was a working title that stuck. I just loved the sound and look of the letters, numbers and mystique of what they might mean, though random.
XXX27 is about empowerment, taking the chances, walking with the wild ones. It also has a very spiritual leaning with some references to particular angels. Angels are a very common thread through this work.
So, is “Letting go” about that moment of fully embracing your new life? Am I understanding that it is the door between your past life and this new one?
Jaime: Yes, for sure. It is also about opening that door and walking through it, taking the chance, being free and being yourself. Letting Go of that past that has weighed you down. It is saying that you can be who you are. Almost quoting the lyrics as I type.
What was that moment of coming out like for you? Had anyone already known for a while or was this very sudden?
Jaime: I had known forever. My partner also had known for a very long time, but we tended to sweep it under the carpet to protect others. I had numerous failed attempts to deal with it but was terrified that my musical career would be affected, and sadly, that I would shame my family. Oh how wrong I was. So scared, sad and deluded.
It definitely can be terrifying.
Jaime: I was actually very relaxed when it became a reality. I had got to the point where I did not care if I lived or died. I just came out and calmly said, well if I was going to die, how would I spend my last day. That gave me the answer. I stopped caring about what others thought about me.
I find that although some losses come from transition the gains are worth it. Do you agree?
Jaime: Yes, yes and yes. Totally agree.
Do I have to live the rest of my life in pain just for everyone else to be happy. No.
The wonderful thing is, is that all my awful fears were unfounded. The acceptance and love has been amazing.
Yes, we have to live for ourselves. And if you are not being yourself you are really denying them your own personal best too!
So I take it most of your colleagues responded well?
Jaime: My work outing was quite scary. I thought I would have to leave. I basically spoke to each person individually, face to face. It went beautifully well. My confidence rose, my fear of loss of livelihood disappeared, and I re-discovered my faith in humanity.
What do you see doing now after transition that maybe you might not have done before?
Jaime: I am now alive. I look forward to every day. I love being the ‘new’ me. It is so good to just relax, let everything find a natural flow. To express as I feel not as I pretend to feel. I am truly loving the feeling of being the woman who I always knew I was after peeling away all the bullshit
I do love yoga now. I have always been a mad reader also, and love art. Yoga and meditation have been a big thing for me. It was so cool to be address as ‘you ladies’ when I arrived for the first yoga session. (with my wife…)
Any other plans for things you still want to do?
Jaime: I am quite simple really. My ideal is to relax into my womanhood.
Having said that, my musical career has taken a huge rise in interest since this has happened, and my dream is to merge the two into the perfect union. The other thing I am hugely passionate about is in the possibility of finding a role as a social worker/counsellor or whatever else I can do as I do love helping others. I have done a lot of charity work over the years.
I think there is a big draw for trans people to find role models.
Jaime: Yes, that was such a problem. Role models. I wish I had one when I was younger!!! Having said that, there is so much more out there for trans people nowadays. So much more quality info, great websites etc. I do see that as my ultimate role in this life despite the excitement of my music career.
Have you looked into talking to your local LGBT community centers around you or into national ones?
Jaime: I am working with PFLAG here. My album launch will be raising money for them, and we are great friends. They have been wonderful. I look forward to joining them on the next pride parade float. Cheerleaders they said. haha, can’t wait!!
Jaime: I also thought that using my album and launch gig as very public transgender outing for me would help massively in breaking down barriers, which it truly has.
Speaking of breaking down barriers, who have been your inspirations and Trans role models?
Jaime: I think Caroline Cossey deserves a mention. Yes, I read her book a long time ago. It was an inspiration. Someone kindly slipped the book into my possession without my knowing. They obviously saw the signs. It magically appeared on the coffee table.
The one thing that seriously resonated with me was the Lili Elbe autobiography/diary. I also loved the fictionalised version of the book (The Danish Girl) and could not wait for the movie, which was good in parts, and worthy of a good cry afterwards.
Politically there is still so much work to be done for LGBTQ rights, what are your thoughts there?
Jaime: In Australia we have seen many great advances but there is still a way to go. Marriage Equality is a burning issue for me. It is a nightmare. It is unjust. Inhuman. Love is love. It infuriates me. Seriously. Grrr.
Your album is coming out very soon. You must be dying with anticipation.
Jaime: The album project started about 5 years ago. I wrote mainly for the joy of writing and to make myself happy, and find release for my extreme emotions.
I am thrilled with my life. Being able to do the album is one thing. Being able to perform it as my true female self is another. That is truly MAGICAL. So happy. HAPPY! Indescribable joy and excitement.
That first show is on April 29!!! Prepping now. All the press, photos and promos lead to that. So, the album gets released on the night I am also released onto the public arena!
There is a HUGE groundswell of support for the show. The hardest thing will be stopping myself from crying uncontrollably!!
What are your thoughts like as that grows near?
Jaime: Yes. She arrives then as a performer, though I am quite out there now in person.
I am nervous, excited, happy, Loving every moment. Playing those songs in itself is cathartic, playing them as a woman… priceless.
You also have to develop your new image for this show right?
Jaime: I am working on the image side a bit, going for maximum impact for whatever press may be there or just for the fans of the music. I want them to be wowed.
Tears of bliss and joy. My makeup had better hold up!!!
There will be NO androgyny to appease the hardcore rockers. Yes, girly girl to the max. Always was. I love shoes, clothes, hair, jewellery, the whole box and dice.
Not to say that there is anything wrong with being au naturale. That is wonderful too. I do look forward to ‘that’ day when I can undress and feel totally free.
Any plans or thoughts on surgeries?
Jaime: No, definitely a high priority. I do want to try to be patient and do it right. I have been working towards my goals methodically, ticking all the boxes, listening to my doctor and counsellors. I have had some brilliant advice from friends that have stopped my freight train from going too fast. Slow and steady wins the race.
I want to let my womanhood flourish first, become the person first, worry about the icing on the cake later. You have to be ready inside yourself, comfortable in your own skin regardless. Otherwise, it is just a veneer maybe? The real you IS you. Regardless.
Having said that, bring it on!! I think the main thing is to just enjoy the ride.
I’m glad you are able to do that and keep your artistic outlet going so strong. Art is clearly very important to you.
Jaime: Art is everything. Food for the soul. You want to be a whole person, with many wonderful facets that are you. Being a woman is one part of that, but imagine where you can be if you want to. Music and art are an intrinsic part of my life.
[This is,] all a part of being the wonderful human being we were designed to be, only now more perfect.
The baby is born, and it’s a girl!
The new album is ‘Dark Universe’ and it is an amazing thrill ride for the heart and the soul. If you want to read my review of an advance copy of the album you can do that right here.
Album Launch Party: Friday, April 29 at 8 PM in UTC+08 The Charles Hotel, Perth, Australia
Teaser trailer for the new album.