by Stephanie Casino
Canadian-bred indie R&B artist, Jessy Lanza, gave Quip magazine the pleasure of a short interview prior to her November 2nd show at The Garrison. Quip got a chance to learn more about Jessy’s work process, history as a musician, and her upcoming European tour. Humble and easy to chat with, Jessy gave us insight into her life as a rising star.
Stephanie Casino: How long did it take to craft the album, Pull My Hair Back? Did it turn out to be what you were aiming for?
Jessy Lanza: The album took two years, I think, to become a finished product. When we [referring to band partner Jeremy Greenspan] first started recording everything, we weren’t even really sure it was going to turn into an album. Eventually we had enough tracks that sounded like they belonged together.
SC: Did you have a lot more songs than you actually included in the final version of Pull My Hair Back?
JL: We actually had a lot of earlier tracks that we thought we would end up using, but in the end they didn’t seem to fit. We had to edit a lot. We had 16 songs or something, and with 8 of the 16, we thought “these are shitty” – so we ended up cutting out a lot.
SC: The album turned out sounding very unified, kudos on grouping together the select 8 for your album.
JL: Thank you, I really appreciate you saying that because I go through waves of paranoia where I think my album is just a hodge podge of shit [laughs].
SC: It doesn’t feel like that at all! It has a signature sound. Speaking of sound, how is it working with Jeremy Greenspan?
JL: We both do a lot of work independently of one another. At the beginning, we’d work together in his studio and it would seem to end up being just one of us working and the other sitting on the couch, playing on our phone. I found it worked better when he started a song or I started a song, then we’d pass the files back and forth and work on the tracks independently at our own studios. But when it came to mixing, we always mixed together. I found that even though we are in a band together, it worked better doing things separately and then we’d come together at the very end.
SC: I’ve read that you inherited synthesizers from your father, was he a musician?
JL: Yes he was, he was in a few bands in the Hamilton, Ontario area.
SC: Did he have a big influence in your decision to become a musician?
JL: Yes, definitely. From the time I began to speak, he threw me in different lessons. He would say things like “You’re going to be a singer! You’re going to act!” He put me in dance, singing, and acting classes. I was terrible in dance and acting though, I only liked the music lessons. Both my parents have been super supportive since childhood.
SC: How do you feel being compared to Aaliyah and Kelela in the recent NY Times article?
JL: It was awesome! Aaliyah was a huge influence for me. I’ve loved her music since I was a kid. And Kelela is amazing, her mixtape is just amazing. I was really flattered to be included in that little group of comparisons. I was honestly surprised when I heard about the article!
SC: What a pleasant surprise!
JL: Totally! I wasn’t expecting to be in the NY Times! Let alone being compared to those two. I was like “Sure, I’ll take that!”
SC: So you’re about to embark on a European tour. What are you most excited about?
JL: I’m really excited to play outside of Ontario! I’ve done a couple shows in Montreal, but most of the shows I’ve played have been local. It’ll be really exciting to see how people in completely different places react to my music. That’s what I’m most excited to see – which songs most people get excited for.
SC: It could be a different result in every city.
JL: That’s what I want to see, if it changes in every city!
SC: Will you be taking a break from making music while touring? Or are you planning on jumping right back into the next album?
JL: I have plans to do an EP and another album as well, but not for a little while. I won’t be able to do much while I’m touring. My tour is only about a month, but as soon as I’m back, I plan on picking up some work I’ve already started.
SC: What was your first time performing a track off of Pull My Hair Back like?
JL: My first time was part of an opening act for Diamond Rings, who’s also from Hamilton. It was a sold out show in our hometown and all my friends and family were there, and I was pretty nervous, but it turned out fine. Thinking about performing live was such a scary thought before I’d actually done it. I mean, there’s no one else up there but me, only me to blame if things go wrong!
SC: Thanks for the chat Jessy, good luck on your European tour and we can’t wait for more of your music.
JL: Thanks for having me!