Sax Life in Tottenham

Tottenham has it's fair share of successful musicians and one that we caught up with recently is professional sax player Jorja Chalmers. Jorja's main gig is with Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music, but she has also played with the likes of the Ting Tings, Patrick Wolf and Hotel Motel as well as working on her own solo album. Read her chat with Rachel Ho below about her music journey and how she ended up in Tottenham.

Jorja Chalmers. Photo credit: Matthew Becker.


Where did you grow up and what did your parents do?


I grew up in Sydney, Australia. My Dad was a carpenter and my mum was a country music singer.

How did you end up in Tottenham and what are your thoughts about the area? 


We moved to Tottenham in 2012, excited about the prospect of cheaper living costs, more space with great links and you could see there were loads of creatives doing the same. We love it! The sense of community is so strong and we have made friends for life. Tottenham has also been a huge source of eye-opening and grounding inspiration for me as a musician writing my own music. 


You have had quite the career as a working musician, including playing sax & synth for Roxy Music & Bryan Ferry. What has your journey been like and how did you get into it professionally?


I studied classical saxophone at Sydney Conservatorium and then moved to London soon after, where I started playing in bands and broadening my musical taste. I was playing a gig in New Wave band Hotel Motel in Bar Music Hall and Bryan's personal assistant e at the time saw the show and sent me a myspace message asking me to come and audition for his band. I got the job and have been working with him for 11 years now. 

What are some highlights from being on tour and favourite venues performed at?  


There are too many great venues to mention but the top two would be the Hollywood Bowl and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens. 

Being on the road can also be full of funny adventures. We once accidentally left our bass player in a service station 100 miles outside of Coachella and didn't realise he was gone until the next morning! 

Jorja performing at Hollywood Bowl. Photo credit: Cath Roberts.

What advice would you give to women who are starting out in the music industry?


Think carefully about the image and product you want to project before you put it out there. Then be persistent! If you can be creative enough to be doing something unique and authentic then people will pay attention.  As a woman, how do you think Tottenham has changed? What would you like to see change?


There has been a huge influx of creatives to the area and that has made a difference for me. I'm always meeting women who are passionate about their work and it's inspiring to be surrounded by that energy and purpose. I'd like to see an even stronger network grow so there can be more collaborations. 

Favourite thing to do in Tottenham? 


Taking the kids to the park and checking out the new local bars that are cropping up everywhere! 

Jorja has her debut album coming out on L.A. based label Italians Do It Better in 2019. 


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