Jade Sisters, the girls from next door

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Meet four sisters – you already know them, or you know girls who are just like them: probably your sister, or your cousins, maybe even YOU!

Ever stood in front of the mirror as a kid and pretend you were your favourite singer?

Joan said, “I was Posh Spice; Amy was Scary Spice; Didi was Sporty Spice; and Erika was Baby Spice.”

Joan, Amy, Didi, Erika. It spells JADE.  They’re the daughters of Joanna Sinteh and Rejoss Moo of Tamparuli, and they really have music in their genes.

“We had musical parents,” Joan continued. “They used to sing in their younger days. We had a tape of them, when we were small, we always listened to that tape. They were singing in a group as well. My dad usually played the guitar.”

Sadly, this was the era of the dreaded CASSETTES!
“It’s all gone – it’s HER fault!” [Points to Didi.]  “She go and dub her voice and she ruined all the cassettes!  Got no more!”

[Doesn’t THAT bring back memories?  In a previous interview, Moses de Silva said he was banned from playing his guitar when he recorded pop songs on his father’s Bible reading tapes.]

They have been singing in harmony all their lives. Amy plays guitar, Joan plays the uke, and Didi plays keyboard. Someone recalled, “When Didi was small, she would wake up in the morning and play the ukelele!  Trying to wake up people with that!  Forever with her musical instruments!”

But these girls are so modest, it took Chris Pereira’s keen ear to give these girls a wake up call.

“We started to take things seriously after we were featured on the My Story event. That was the starting point. Before that, it was like – okay we’re just doing this for fun!”

Chris Pereira seemed surprised. “Serious ah?” he said.

Girls – Yes!

“‘Mr. Stranger’ was the first real song that we had written!” Joan explained.

“We never really think of ourselves as musicians.  I mean, we meet other musicians, we feel very shy, and very small!  So every time we have things to show to the world, it’s like very simple and we wonder:  Is this good enough to share?  Like, you see all the other bands outside, they play their music LOUD, live bands they have collaboration with other people, this and that.”

They all looked lovingly at Chris… “Chris helped us a lot! He approached us. Even after the My Story, he was there, but we didn’t really talk, right?”

Chris said, “I had to find out who they were. I was bugging people. ‘Who’s got Jade Sisters’ contacts?’ ”

Jade recently recorded their first single ‘Janji’ at Eyes & Ears.  It didn’t happen overnight!

Chris said, “It took a while to get everybody at the right place at the right time. I was just like, getting to know them a bit more. I tried to introduce them to other musicians that do what they do. So far I only got them to meet from Pot from the R&B group Innuendo  – Malaysia’s R&B band. He really was surprised by what they had, and he was interested in the talent there.”

Joan added, “We did talk to him last time, and he shared a lot of tips, especially about writing songs. After that, the Janji song came about!”

Amy wrote the Malay lyrics and the melody was composed by Didi.

“I cannot write in Malay! Not the standard one, lah,” confessed Joan.

Chris scolded her. “And you’re a teacher!”

Actually, they are all quite closely connected to the Education field.

Joan is a teacher at secondary school, SMK Tamparuli. Amy said, “I’m a teacher at primary school, SK Mangin,  Kota Marudu.” Erika? “I’m still studying at SMK Tamparuli.” What about Didi? “I do nothing at home😀.  I just finished my exam last year, STMP at SMK Tamparuli.  For now, waiting for my result.  I think I will continue studying. Teaching, maybe…hopefully. Education also… maybe inspired by my sisters.”

[Everybody: Wor!]

Musicians from Tamparuli Jade Sisters, Janji, in Sabahan Genes interview

Jade work and fund their music. “We never ask our parents to buy our musical instruments.  The only thing we asked our parents to buy for us was the keyboard. That was like 8 years ago. It’s so old!  And one guitar, which was sold to our cousin later. Apart from that it’s all from our own money, and the recordings as well. It’s all funded by ourselves. For the EP plan, we really don’t want to ask money from them.”

The sisters write songs from personal experience, Joan explained. “Something that we have gone through. It’s quite hard to imagine things and then put it on paper. It must happen to you first, and then the feeling will be very strong. and then the words will come very easily. Normally the words and story comes first.  But with Janji,  the melody came first. Then later the words.”

Amy said, “The title ‘Janji’ means Promises. Someone promises you this and that. Then you are waiting for that to come true. Then sometimes you feel very down, and then that person comes back to you, and reminds you of that promise they make to you.  It’s an uplifting song. All the music is played by us, there are no extra musicians.”

The sisters are recording their song, ‘Mr Stranger’ at another studio, and the two musicians who accompanied them at the ‘My Story’ event are also on that recording. [Chris on acoustic guitar and Wilson on bass, both from a band called The Breathers.]

Being modest doesn’t mean being casual about their music. “We care about our performance, and everyone tries not to blow off in a negative way, tries not to lose their temper, if something is not correct. But in the end something will explode anyway. We quarrel a lot! Sometimes until tears flowing down and screaming.” said Joan. “But the best thing about having your sisters as your bandmates is that, you will stop, and not talk for one night, but the next morning when you are having breakfast you can smile together.”

Chris is impressed with the way the girls work. “They only started writing songs last year, but they are one of the most disciplined bands in the studio that I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “They came to the studio and they were done in an hour! Including the main vocals, the guitars, the backing vocals. Don’t underestimate the value of discipline.”

“We were surprised it was so fast,” said Joan. “We aimed for three hours. It was like, half that.”

Their single ‘Janji’ is well received in KK, said Chris. “What I like about this song ‘Janji’, when it came out, it was played on KK FM, the morning slot, 6am.  It was played FOUR times between 6-10am. People were requesting for it to be played again and again.”

“But we didn’t know about it until later!” the girls said together.

Joan said, “We wonder if people won’t take our song seriously, because it sounded like, very amateur.”  (Chris makes an angry face!)  “No no!  There’s nothing wrong with the RECORDING!  (Everyone laughs)  It’s just because it’s so simple, we are not expecting it to come out on the radio. Usually the songs that come out of the radio normally got a lot of effects and things like that.”

Jade Sisters have a lovely simple sound. Honest guitar and pretty harmonies. They really are so down to earth, everyone will feel Jade is just like them! Singing in their bedrooms, making a video for youtube…

“We want people to know that we are really normal people that go to work, eat, sleep, Everything is normal except that we love to make music and share it with you. That’s it. We tried some solo singing, but we’re not the diva type, and also we are used to singing in harmony and it feels empty when we sing solo!”

Well, Jade singing in harmony sounds great to me. Why change a good thing? Keep at it girls, and good luck with the single!

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