Our next stop on our tour of Bandcamp’s undiscovered artists takes us to Melbourne, Australia – the land down under. Specifically takes us to one Jesse Glass, a folk singer-songwriter whose music is extremely serine, dreamy, and picture-esque. With only one single out at the time of writing this, Jesse doesn’t have a large repertoire of work to pull from, but the Shouldered Friend single, featuring the title track and the “I Envy You” b-side, is an extremely powerful piece of work. Like a refreshing splash of cool water, this single runs gracefully, bringing chills to one’s nerves. The acoustic melodies are harrowing and melancholic, but not in an overbearing way at all. In fact, Shouldered Friend is a very light listen, but one that leaves me wanting more.
You could say I’m hooked…
Anyway, I had an opportunity to ask Jesse a few questions about pet peeves, influences, and what’s to come in the future.
Sean: First off, I gotta ask, you have more stuff coming, right? I’m gonna be sad if this is a one time single…
Jesse: Thanks so much for the compliment! Well, I definitely plan to record and release a lot more in the near future. This was my first time recording something that is solely mine, having had all my previous experience recording in other bands. I really enjoyed the recording process – It is something I definitely plan to keep doing. I have at least an album’s worth of music ready to go, but I will give it a bit of time before reentering the studio.
Sean: Let’s talk inspiration – what musicians have had the biggest impact on Shouldered Friend?
Jesse: During the period of writing “Shouldered Friend”, I was listening heavily to the album ‘Sculptor’ by Australian band, Luluc, who are based in New York. I love their use of haunting melodies over simple chord patterns. The polarity between the melody/lyrics and chords is something I love playing around with. Another artist I have been listening to a lot lately is Aldous Harding. Her album, ‘Designer’ is scary-good.The songs are all bangers, it’s such a cool album. I wanted to achieve something polished in the same way. Woah, I just realised the two albums I noted here are ‘Sculptor’ and ‘Designer’… spooky.
Sean: A semi-related question – what were some of the first artists you really enjoyed? It’s always interesting to see the roots of one’s music taste. How has your taste in music grown/changed as time has passed?
Jesse: Great question, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit. I recently read somewhere that the music we listened to between the ages of 16 to about 21 has the most impact on us! To be honest, during my late teens I listened to a lot more Coldplay than I care to admit. However, I do really like their early material – I think ‘Parachutes’ was a really great album. I also listened to a lot of Sigur Ros at that stage. I think this is evident in my music making in the way that I also love to repeat motifs again and again, as evident in the ending of “I Envy You”. The first band I remember hearing and then loving instantly, was The Beach Boys. Their use of harmonies are a continuous inspiration. When I was in my early teens, my mum introduced me to the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim – a pioneer in Brazilian Jazz. To this day, he is my favourite music composer. As I grew older I discovered Sufjan Stevens, who I saw live a few years ago when he toured ‘Carrie and Lowell”. I was blown away. Now, in my mid twenties, my music taste has definitely changed and I like to think that I listen to, and perform a wide range or music styles, all of which shape my song writing.
Sean: This release has absolutely beautiful and pristine production, everything sounds so clean and clear. Who produced it? What was the mindset in putting these songs together.
Jesse: Thanks for that! I owe it all to Nicholas Roder. Nick has an incredible ear and is one of the best writers of music that I know. We have been playing and writing music together for about 8 years in Tulalah. I felt really comfortable in the studio with him, and he felt comfortable enough to give me tips on arranging and playing. Nick is an amazing musician as well, and he actually plays some of the guitar parts on this release. Nick knew the songs relatively well going in to the studio, as he plays with me when I perform live. Also, because we have so much history, it just clicked and we both knew the sounds we were going for. Nick also knows me well enough to understand my cryptic descriptions of how I want something to sound! That came in handy.
Sean: What do these two tracks represent to you? Do they have a particular story to them or a memory behind them? I ask because both sound so passionately emotional, I figure there’s a tale underneath them.
Jesse: These tracks are definitely thematic. I chose to release them together because they both represent a similar story. It explores instances in your life which are challenging, and remembering those who are there for you unconditionally – I guess the tunes are an ode to them!
Sean: You play any live shows? If so, what’s your favorite part? If not, you have any plans to do so?
Jesse: I have always loved performing live. I definitely love the feeling you get when the music is well received. It feels good knowing that others are enjoying what you’re putting out there. This project if mine is very new and will bring new challenges. I haven’t played many gigs where I’m not sitting behind the drum kit, so that in itself will take some getting used to. I just can’t wait to perform my new music live.
Sean: How do you approach writing music? It’s a personal process for everyone, so how does it come together for you? Do you have any tips for aspiring songwriters who can’t seem to find that chord progression they’re searching for?
Jesse: I always come up with a melodic idea or chord progression before anything else, like the lyrics. I normally start with noodling on the guitar or piano until an idea arises and then I just go with it and see where it leads or what I hear. In terms of lyrics, once I have my melody, I normally start singing random syllables that I think fit. Then I add lyrics that resemble the syllables and create meaning from them. This informs the rest of the song.
Sean: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Jesse: People who get on the train before everyone who wants to leave has gotten off[…]
Sean: Finally, as is customary in this series, I’m going to send you a few songs your tracks remind me of, I want your honest opinions on them, no matter how brutal and heart wrenching. Two of these are a bit darker than your work, but share that same dreamy folk vibe.
Jesse: I’m actually not the biggest fan of Fleet Foxes, which has surprised many in the past. However, this track, which I hadn’t heard before, was a nice surprise. I really love the rich harmonies, in particular, the chorus.
Jesse: Definitely my favourite of the 3! It reminded me of ‘Slow dive’ and also of the track, ‘Roslyn’ by St. Vincent & Bon Iver. An incredible thing happened – as I looked in related videos whilst listening to it on Youtube, there was a Slow Dive song and ‘Roslyn’ as well. Make of that what you will…
Jesse: This is a really catchy tune. I really love the chorus, and the dreamy lead guitar. I love the build up from the bridge onwards in to that last huge chorus. I really enjoyed this one.
Sean: Thank you for your time.
Jesse: Thanks for introducing me to such great artists, and even more humbling – drawing comparisons to that of my music. Thanks for having me, Sean!