A brilliant new track is out there…
and I was eager to speak with the woman behind Penniless Fools. The multi-talented Jessicka discusses the track and what motivated its progress; whether its themes of social dislocation and poverty are indicative of the times in which we live – she tells me what it was like shooting the video for the song.
I ask Jessicka what Vancouver is like for music and whether she will come to the U.K. this year; if there are three albums that mean a lot to her; what advice she would give to upcoming artists – she highlights some new artists we need to throw our weight behind.
Hi, Jessicka. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello! I’m pretty excited. The week has been great: the new video came out and I’m so happy with how it turned out, so it’s nice to be able to share.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Jessicka; an Indie-Pop artist from Vancouver with a dance addiction.
Penniless Fools is your new track. What inspired you to put pen to paper?
It seemed like every time I went back to my small hometown after moving to the city another local shop had closed down and another megastore had opened up. Families I had known my whole life were forced to close their stores because they couldn’t compete with the prices. Watching that transition really moved me; I guess this is my little protest song.
Its video interests me! How did the concept come together – was it fun to film?
This video was so fun to film. I used to spend every summer in Merritt so filming the small-town shots up there was really satisfying; it felt really good to be there. Finally, I got a chance to just be myself in a video, not wondering if I’m going to drown or be constricted to some wacky ballet tutu and a wig(even though costumes are my favourite thing).
Conceptually, we wanted to convey how hard small towns are being hit and the warmth you feel when in you’re in a place like that and contrast it with the harsh glass and steel city feel. It’s a bit of a critique on our little city here and how it’s ‘developing’.
Do you think, as consumers, we are poorer in terms of jobs and opportunities? Have you noticed economic belt-tightening in the music industry?
It’s undeniable that the music industry has tightened its belt: how could it not when you look at the difference in how we consume music? But, it doesn’t make me feel hopeless. If anything, now that the live performance is where you really have to shine and catch your audience, you have to bring it. I’ve been seeing just amazing vocal and musical performances and more experimentation with costume and presentation and, personally, I appreciate that.
As for outside the music world, I’ve felt concern for the middle-class since the first automated checkout. Not to sound apocalyptic but it seemed like the first step in machines replacing people...anyway; this is a can of worms I shouldn’t open here...
What comes next in terms of material? Are you working on new ideas?
YES! My producer, Bradley Ferguson, and I are planning on doing the first E.P., acoustically, on our haunted upright piano. After that, we’re going to start working on new beats for the next record. We have some new inspiration and really want to strike while the iron’s hot.
As a Vancouver-based artist; how have you noticed the music scene change and expand over the past few years?
In Pop music, yes, definitely. It felt like all I kept seeing was this throwback scene that was obsessed with sounding exactly like The Rolling Stones or Neil Young and, if you used one sample or Auto-Tuned anything on your album they would completely disregard you. So, now that we have groups like Little Destroyer, Tei Shi and Youngblood coming out with wicked Pop music and putting on amazing shows, I feel way more excited about at least this scene in Vancouver.
Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?
Yep! I’ll be in Ontario doing the Friday night concert series in Brampton and then Hillside Fest in Guelph right after!
Might you come to the U.K. and tour this year?
That would make me so happy. It’s been too long since I’ve been to the U.K. but, so far, it’s mostly Canadian dates.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Stardom and riches, obviously, but I would love to get on the road and really tweak the live show. Touring would be number-one but I just want to keep creating and get some of this new material off the ground. I’m excited for the next chapter and the new sounds we want to work on.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
This will sound odd, but a few years ago, I helped put on a tribute to the songs of Disney and played with the string trio, Gentle Party. The event over-sold by a couple of hundred and we packed a local venue to the rafters! It was so fun to sing songs from my childhood to a super-enthusiastic audience.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
Strange Mercy - St. Vincent
This was her crossover album: from using lots of concert band instruments to a more Pop sounds. Her use of Moog blew my mind…and those sexy lyrics! Surgeon is a super-sexy tune.
Adventures In Your Own Backyard - Patrick Watson
A gorgeous, engaging album by a wonderful human. This is one of the albums that brought me out of a writing funk.
Anti - Rihanna
Obviously, this is a more recent choice, but as soon as I heard this album my faith in the Pop world was restored. Songs one-through-eight are perfection to me.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Stick to your vision: only you can do it. Your voice is unique. There was a time when I felt swayed to write specifically for radio and the owner of Light Organ said: “Don’t worry about that. Keep doing what you were doing, that’s why we signed you”. All the writer’s block went away and music was fun again.
IN THIS PHOTO: Jessie Reyez
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Well. I’m a bit of granny and like to get out in nature and look at birds. I’m a bird nerd. Photography is another pastime. It’s great to indulge in visuals instead of audio sometimes.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
This is by far the hardest question…
I’m going with an oldie: Hotel - Broken Social Scene