INTERVIEW: JESS LOCKE
Who are some of your musical influences?
Very early on when I was first learning to play guitar I listened to a lot of Jewel and Rage Against The Machine (courtesy of my big bro), Silverchair, Nirvana... a bit later on Leonard Cohen, Cat Power, Elliott Smith and Smog / Bill Callahan were and continue to be big influences on my songwriting.
A while back I saw you play at Blackwire Records, which has recently had to close. How important do you think DIY venues are to musicians like yourself?
Very important. Especially when I was starting out and particularly as a solo performer, it was very difficult and intimidating trying to find places to play and people to play with. When I was younger I wasn't really sure where I fit in terms of music scenes. I guess I played folk/indie music and had quite a narrow idea about the kind of venues I should be playing at and acts I should be playing with and it often felt quite competitive and isolating. It wasn't until I met people involved in DIY music that I 'found my feet' so to speak. Even though it's typically associated with punk, DIY culture and places like Blackwire were more based on creating an environment where a small community of people could get together and focus on making music and art without the financial pressures usually associated with other venues. I honestly don't even know if I would still be making music, at least not in the same way as I do if it wasn't for DIY spaces and the people involved.
The music video for Better/Bitter is super creative and looked like it would’ve been heaps of fun to make. How did that idea come about?
Well, I originally had a different idea for that video, but then my friend pointed out that another local music had made something very similar... so this was actually kind of plan b. I guess I was thinking about the essence of what the song is about - being a bit of a useless human, but also not being terrible to other humans - and so this was just a really simple idea for expressing that. Chris's friend, Alex Kelaart, shot it on hi-8 film so it it super lo-fi and we did it in a couple of hours one Saturdaymorning.
What inspires you in regards to songwriting?
Well, when I was a lot younger and dealing with depression and just being a teenager in general, I think songwriting was largely therapeutic. It still is in a way, but it's often more about exploring an idea or it might be political... That's a hard question. I guess i could be inspired by anything at anytime, and my songs don't usually have consistent themes. The way I write is also quite reactive in that I don't usually have a strong idea about where a song will go when I start. It usually begins with a small idea and then I just see what happens. I guess in terms of the creative process I am quite influenced by certain philosophies and theories based around the Unconscious and the role of spontaneity and responsiveness in art making. But that stuff is usually all bubbling away in the background.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a musician?
Well I am currently studying Psychology and before that I did a degree in English and Philosophy and I also do a bit of painting sometimes. If I didn't play music I don't think I would be at a loss for things to do, I would probably just have more time! I am one of those people that is interested in everything. I think maybe I am trying to make up for all the homework I didn't do in high school.
Last month you did some shows in New Zealand with Carb On Carb - what were the gigs like over there?
So nice! Everyone was really lovely and we had so much fun. Everyone should go! Also Carb On Carb are the best people/band!
Are you excited for the upcoming Better/Bitter tour?
Yeah! It's only a short one, but we always love visiting Sydney and Brisbane and I'm really excited about all the other bands we get to play with too.
What has your experience been like with signing to Pool House Records?
Great! I guess we are already all friends, so it doesn't really feel like much has changed. It's all fairly relaxed, but we are all very excited about releasing our album with them!
What are your plans for the rest of 2017?
The album will be out later in the year and we plan on releasing another single/video before then. Other than than, gigging! I would like to start working on the next album soon too. The beginning of the year has been pretty tour heavy, so I am getting excited about writing again.
Jess Locke - 'Better/Bitter' single tour
Fri May 12th – Woodys Bar – Melbourne, VIC - Tickets on the door
Thu May 18th – Petersham Bowls Club – Sydney, NSW - Tickets on the door
Fri May 19th – Beatdisc Records – Sydney, NSW - Tickets on the door
Sat May 20th – Barbara – Brisbane, QLD - FREE SHOW