Darla Jade has been singing since she was four years old. From the off, music has always been deeply embedded in her life, but it’s only in the last few years that things have really started to take shape.
In October, she released her second EP Only the Paranoid Survive, a collection of deeply personal tracks inspired by a difficult time in her life. Musically, Darla Jade’s latest draws on 80s-style synth hooks and the syncopated rhythms of Scandi-pop. It would logically follow, then, that Darla would be a pop fan. She is, she says, but she wasn’t always. Her first love was musical theatre. It wasn’t until she was around 14 that she ‘really started to love pop music’.
‘After a few years of doing cover gigs I got a little bored of always singing other artist’s songs, so I gave writing a go.'
‘I used to do a lot of the amateur dramatic shows in my hometown, and I really thought that was going to be the path I was going to take,’ Darla says. ‘I even went to a performing arts college, but then I started gigging and really enjoyed it.’
After she left college, Darla realised she wanted to write and perform her own music. ‘After a few years of doing cover gigs I got a little bored of always singing other artist’s songs, so I gave writing a go,’ she says.
She started releasing singles in 2019 with the heartfelt and haunting This Time. After its release, Darla Jade steadily built up a catalogue of work, dropping debut EP Disconnect in 2021. It was also around this time that the seeds of Only the Paranoid Survive were planted. Darla and her family found themselves facing a tough time, with emotions running high. ‘Last year was a pretty turbulent time for me and my family,’ she says. ‘We found out that my younger brother had a tumour on his lung and he had to have two-thirds of his lung removed later last year, so the majority of the songs relate somewhat to all of the emotions I was going through at that time.’
Key track On My Tongue digs into these emotions, speaking to the challenge of looking towards the future when the present is so all-consuming. It also deals with the bitterness of learning that bad things happen to good people, and the powerlessness of knowing that there’s nothing you can do about it. ‘My younger brother is genuinely one of the sweetest people and it just felt so unjust to me that he had this tumour on his lung at only 18,’ she says. ‘The line “When life gives you lemons we make lemonade” was something I really tried to go by during that period, and we were all trying to just think positively, but it was so tough.’
'Because ROCD is something that's hardly ever talked about, I really wanted to speak about it within my music'
While it was a difficult time for the whole family emotionally, Darla says that writing the song helped her process her emotions in a way that was healthy and constructive. ‘I wrote the song with a writing and production duo called Gold Spectacles and honestly it felt a bit like a therapy session, as it was a way for me to get that frustration and bitterness out in a creative way,’ she says.
The EP’s outlier is Imposter Syndrome. Written with RØRY and James Lewis, the electro-tinged Imposter Syndrome deals with Darla Jade’s experience with ROCD, an expression of OCD that manifests through intrusive thoughts about relationships. ‘I really struggled with it so much that I had to go to therapy and because it is something that's hardly ever talked about, I really wanted to speak about it within my music,’ she says.
So far, the reaction to her singles has been resoundingly positive. Darla Jade has been featured across a number of publications, and appeared on major Spotify playlists such as New Music Friday UK. With such key support, Darla Jade has definitely established herself as an artist to watch.