You won't find a better or more elegiac description of Jesca Hoop's music than the one given by the legendary Tom Waits: "She is an old soul, like a black pearl, a good witch or a red moon," he remarked, in a single sentence evocatively summing Jesca's achingly sensual brand of bewitching folk, which strikes a perfect balance between the tattered, age-old pulpit blues of her childhood, and the contemporary pop of her present, interwoven with the kind of dream-like, lush imagery that'd have Joanna Newsom quaking in her fringed moccasins.
Fresh from a UK Tour with Andrew Bird, Jesca Hoop is promoting her debut proper Hunting My Dress in the UK now - check out her myspace here
Header image by Gordon Reid
Hello Jesca! How are you today?
Iâm alright, thanks!
Youâve been touring around the UK this Decemberâ how have they been treating you so far? Whatâs been your favourite venue?
Itâs all good for me on this side of the pond. Gosh, the venues really blur togetherâ¦ Iâm really fond of the union chapel in London.
Youâve also been doing the European support slot for the fantastic Andrew Bird â your version of âOh Sisterâ is really lovely. How has touring with Andrew been for you? Have you a particular favourite touring moment?
My favourite Andrew Bird tour moment was spending hours in a Belgian spa in Gent.
Do you find that your songs make the translation to live versions well?
Yes in fact I am very excited about playing these shows with my UK band.
Iâve seen a couple of pictures of you using some unusual instruments live âincluding this really interesting-looking box with bellows. Iâve looked it up, and I think itâs called a Sruti Box. How did you begin playing the Sruti Box?
I learned about the sruti box from a Buddhist friend of mine. Itâs the easiest instrument on earth to play!
Your fantastic debut Hunting My Dress is out now. How do you feel it differs from your 2007 release âKismetâ? Do you feel your musical style has developed since âKismetâ?
Kismet was produced by three producers â there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen! Hunting my dress while â still produced by Tony Berg and I â is more of a singular vision. I had gained experience from making kismet and I applied what I had learned to hunting my dress. âLess is moreâ was my motto and I put the vocal and its story first.
Do you have a favourite from âHunting My Dressâ, or a track that youâre particularly proud of?
I really enjoy them all naturally but I am most proud of âWhispering lightâ, âTulipâ and âThe Kingdomâ.
I love the imagery in your lyrics â especially in âIntelligentactile 101â âthe bit where you sing about borrowing someoneâs bones and skin is so beautiful. How do you go about writing your lyrics? What comes first for you â the music or the lyrics?
They often times come together â words shape melodies and vice versa.
Youâve also done a version of your track âMurder of Birdsâ with Guy Garvey of Elbow â how did you meet Guy and how did the collaboration come about?
I met Guy over the phone when he called me to do a phone interview for his Radio 6. I had missed his call twice. When he reached me finally on the third try I was in the bath. I did the interview whilst bathing!
Youâve had such an unusual upbringing â you were brought up Mormon and were pretty much cut off from most popular culture from a young age. What effect do you think thatâs had on your music â do you think itâs made it purer in a way, more like traditional folk music?
I am still discovering music todayâ¦.stuff that was wildly popular when I was growing up (unbeknownst to me). This element is enjoyableâ¦I still have fresh ears. Iâm not sure how it has affected my writing to be honest.
I try my best to sing from my original voice, the one that is uniquely mine.
How did you get into music when you were growing up â was there a particular experience or influence which kick-started your musical development?
My family. We sang together. We were our own choir â five kids and two parents singing in four-part harmonies â charming! Meeting my first true friend, Julie, at the age of 15, who introduced me to all sorts of music I had never heard of and blew my mind open!
Youâve had some unusual experiences in your life â youâve been Tom Waitâs babysitter, youâve volunteered at a rehabilitation centre for troubled kids (very nice of you!) and youâve worked as a farmer and a surveyor. How did you finally settle on music as what you wanted to do with your life?
After months of being up in the mountains I realised that I was missing the stage. I had to find my way back to it. I was quite the rambler but I wanted to travel with a more substantial purposeâ¦.music is that purpose for me now.
Hard question: What are your top three albums of the decade and why?
Bon Iver â âFor Emmaâ because he came out with something gorgeous and truly genuine.
Elbow â âThe Seldom Seen Kidâ because I had life changing experiences touring with them on that record and that record for me holds memories of some of the best moments of my life.
M.I.A â âKalaâ â She is the most original female I have heard since Bjork
Any exciting things planned for 2010?
Tours, writing. A trip to India. Releasing âHunting My Dressâ in the states, Europe etcâ¦lots of travelâ¦buying a water treatment plantâ¦
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First off, can you tell us a little something about yourselves? Your background? How did you meet? Etc.
Hello there! My name is Dan, I was born and grew up in South London, but moved to Brighton in 2003. In the summer of 2005 I was persuaded by my friend Jon to write some songs. I wrote five, and played them to Jon who played bass, and we decided to form a band. We booked a show on October 11th 2005, getting our friends Matt and Ben to play guitar and drums. Between that s... (continued)