Jesse Jo Stark
The L.A. born and raised "horrific hillbilly," Jesse Jo Stark, sparked a flame last year with the release of her debut EP "Dandelion." Her Lana Del Rey lyrical and vocal vibe, heavy psychedelic, blues, country, instrumentals, along with her dark and horrific persona, is truly mesmerizing. She's earned praise from a number of musical icons such as Guns N’ Roses, Jane’s Addiction, Sex Pistols, and The Heavy. Although she may be known for her best friend, Bella Hadid, or her parents Richard and Laurie Stark (Chrome Hearts Jewelry), she should not be undermined on her musical abilities. Coeval Magazine had the opportunity to catch up with the singer-songwriter ahead of her first set of tour dates of the new year to learn about her inspirations along with how she's handled the release and last year of touring.
Where did the term “horrific hillbilly” come from?
I’ve read that you’re a very shy person. What does it feel like writing and sharing it with others? How do you build up courage to perform?
Once a song is out and in the world, it doesn’t belong to me anymore. It belongs to everyone listening. I have to share them. In terms of performing, I just do it. And when it's over, I miss it.
How did growing up with such artistic parents impact your musical direction?
My dad influenced my musical taste heavily. He always played the weirdest music on the way to school, and that stuck.
This year you had the opportunity to tour a lot. You not only supported Sunflower Bean but also supported The Vaccines. Firstly, what were you able to take away from touring with another incredible female fronted act? Was there anything you learned about yourself or the way you’d like to move forward with your career?
Touring with Sunflower Bean was such a rad time. Julia, the lead singer is a bad ass. She was very supportive of me and her voice is like an alien angel. I think touring is important. I learned something new every second. Playing every night you learn a lot about your body and your voice. The crowd and what you want to do with them.
Is there a different energy when touring with a male oriented act?
It just depends on the band. Doesn’t matter what gender.
You obviously have a very strong creative vision and presence, which you’ve stated stem from old movies and horror. Are there any specific ones that really left a heavy imprint on you?
Forever: Frankenstein and Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Is there a specific song on the EP that you feel more connected to than the others? Why?
Dandelion sits heavily on my heart. It’s lovely, but grim. Everything I love in one. It hurts to sing, and every time I perform it I feel at peace.
You’re currently not associated with a label and are working independently. Where the decision for this come from? Was this a conscious decision?
Yes, for now.
You released your EP “Dandelion” this past Spring. How have you grown as an artist since first starting to write? Was there anything that shocked you while creating the EP?
I grow everyday more and more into myself. With that my writing does as well. The only shocking thing is finishing a song. That’s the satisfying part.
What was your main inspiration behind the PE? Where did you pull ideas and themes from?
Friends, love, eye balls.
How did the experience of playing a headlining show in London compare to an opening slot?
I think when you are able to make anything your own it’s a difference experience. I dressed the stage with leis and flamingos. The girls in the front were singing my songs with me. It felt like our night. We were all one.
When you first started writing music, did you have any idea that you wanted to take this sexy/horror-esk approach?
I’ve always dug the dead. Sexy comes in time. I just discovered my body.
Leading into the New Year, is there anything you’d like to accomplish or do you have any set goals?
Shows, tour, festival shows, new music, new videos.
Jesse Jo is on the road now in the UK, more info: http://jessejostark.com/shows,6.html
music JESSE JO STARK
photography JESSICA GWYNETH
interview by SARAH MORRISON
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