The raven-haired, Strat-rocking femme fatal was born and raised in tropical Trinidad, spending summers in New York where her father had relocated after her parents divorced. This pan-cultural upbringing exposed Dana to a dazzling set of sounds where she managed to absorb everything from riot grrrl and soca to blues and 90’s grunge. Whilst her older brother was on his way to becoming the number one model child heading for a doctors degree, Dana was nurturing the seeds of rock and roll rebellion; with this kind of charisma and a thoroughly sultry growl, Dana is a natural.
Her parents steered young Jade towards learning respectable Presbyterian piano songs, but Dana had already found her instrument of choice – she was wide-eyed over the electric guitar. Looking back, Dana can see parallels between her own teenage willfullness and that of the young Joan Jett, recently portrayed to great acclaim in the hit box office biopic The Runaways. A gum chomping, punked-out leather jacket clad Jett takes her battered 6 string to a tweedy guitar tutor who insists that a girls should stay in the unassuming terrain of gentle folk strumming. Jett of course, is having none of it, a stubbornness Dana can relate to. “I had to change guitar tutors four times before I found someone who knew what rock was”. One even tried to teach her from a book annotated with special diagrams instructing girls how to hold their guitar without losing their lady-like pose. Needless to say, he didn’t last long.
Whilst she was mastering the fuzzed out barre chords she’s now perfected, Dana found herself responding to the eloquently gritty sounds of Tori Amos and PJ Harvey. “PJ is still my biggest influence really” Dana discloses, so it goes without saying that she was pretty proud to have opened for Harvey’s erstwhile cohort John Parish during the summer. Dana cherished these strong women voices, especially when island life meant feeling a little cut off from the musical culture in the West. “It took me awhile to get to people like Patti Smith because you don’t get to hear people like her on the radio when you grow up in Trinidad”. She did, however, get to hear Madonna. “And thank God I did, because I didn’t know you were allowed to be ballsy if you were a girl until I heard her”.
The tropical Trinidad flavours of soca and reggae can sometimes be found in her music beat-wise, though they only began threading into her music once she’d emigrated to London. “You feel things differently once they aren’t around you any more”. Mostly, it was the charged feminist themes Dana heard in Harvey’s music and the religious rhetoric in Tori’s lyrics that she thrived on. She named one of her first song’s ‘Priestess’, a title she’s adopted for her in-progress DIY record label. ‘Priestess’ represented something of a spiritual emancipation for Dana, a growing sense of frustration at how women were made subservient, even vilified, in orthodox religion. “It really pissed me off. Especially with the Catholic church. They’re obsessed with Mary; she’s revered and sacred, but by their definition could never be a priestess. I hated the hypocrisy of it.”
Armed with her Midnight Wine Fender Strat, a distortion pedal and that distinctive voice, Dana set to work. She found herself returning to one theme in particular. “Lust!” she exclaims. “Rock and roll is an African American euphemism for fucking. Rock stars are meant to be sexy; I don’t think there is anything wrong with that”. Jade has an enduring admiration for rebel rouser Courtney Love, and shares a penchant for challenging the status quo. “I get despondent when I watch music TV. I just don’t see or hear anything I can connect to”. Channelling the raucous thrills of the 90’s is part of Dana’s power, but she’s equally forward-thinking, as her first single – a bright, bold cover of MIA’s ‘Galang’ shows. She’s had some major label interest, but is adamant about doing things on her own terms, and plans to stay as independent as possible. In fact, her mantra – “Music or death” sums the singer’s ethic with a fierce simplicity. “People tend to recoil a little when they hear it, but I really have no interest in doing anything else”.