Jessica Winter is our music of the month! Listen to her latest track, Let’s Keep This Shallow, or catch her at Field Day this summer.
How did you first get into music?
Honestly - when I was born I had a condition called hip dysplasia and a bar attached to the base of my spine which pulled my legs into the splits. The cast that kept them in place meant that the only chair I could sit on was the piano stool, I became fascinated with the piano and it’s sound and was hooked ever since. It was only until my parents divorce when I was 15 that I got into songwriting. My homework for music lesson at school was to write a piano piece with no words; the feeling that poured out of me when I did that even when I didn’t sing to it was a feeling I’ll never forget. I realised then that music is magic, it’s more powerful than we know. Writing songs since then has helped me get through some tough times in my life and gives me a sense of purpose.
Can you describe your creative process? How do you transform an idea into something tangible?
It can start in any way - there’s no formula. I’m driven by melody, melodies pop in my head all the time and I’m often whispering into my voice recorder on the bus, middle of the night or walking down the street. Equally as important as melody is the message. With no message, no story to tell you just have an atmosphere but the words and message need to mould and manipulate and take you on a wave of emotion or thought and land you somewhere that makes you feel a little bit more enlightened or OK with the world. I get depressed if I don’t write, I have to write a song a week or begin one at least so I guess the process is just to keep doing it.
What inspires you to create music and perform?
I come from the belief system that the personal is political so what that means to me is that regardless of how ‘personal’ a lyric or situation is it has the potential to be an open discussion. Anything basically inspires me, people I know/things I hear etc. Performing is different, that’s exhausting and it takes it out of me but I can’t imagine a feeling equivalent to that one of performing on stage.
Who/what are some of your musical influences?
Barbara Streisand, Death Grips, Madonna, Lil Pump, Lil Peep, Nick Cave, Skepta, Divine, Marilyn Manson, Suzie & The Banshees, Kanye West, Nico & Lou Reed, John Lennon so loads. Recently I've got into Tirzah, Flohio and Slowthai.
What do you want to see more of in the music industry/scene?
More money for artists to be doing cool shit!
Do you think there needs to be more diversity in the music industry?
I think the amount of women getting into the industry side of things is growing and the awareness of having more of an equality on both stage side and industry side is happening. I have definitely been treated as a sexual object rather than a fellow musician over the years, this needs to stop. On the other side there needs to be a focus of attention not on gender but on talent… once the musical society is balanced I am sure that people will just focus on the talent over the gender, step by step we will get there. I have faith that we’re on the right track.
Why did you decide to start Haunt The Haus?
I wanted to run a night that brought the creative community together under one roof where we collectively used our art to help create awareness of environmental and political issues such as plastic waste, climate change, animal extinction, etc. The name has changed to Hate The Haus as I’ve joined forces with Luisa from Hate zine. Each night has been so positive both for bringing people together that don’t normally get to see each other’s work and also for spreading awareness of a particular issue. There’s so many people doing different things who contribute to each event so it feels really collectively supportive.
The first Hate The Haus was in Brixton, and we brought live music, techno DJs, indie film, spoken word, independent zines, performance art, and sample sales from the gothic underground together to support and raise awareness for Extinction Rebellion.
What are you working on at the moment?
Now that the music is recorded I’m focusing more on the visuals and I’m very lucky to have a friend (who also happens to be a director) on board with my visual language and my life. She’s amazing and her name is Nan Moore. We have no money and have managed to pull off quite a lot so far. You can’t do anything completely alone -that’s important for anyone to remember plus its quite Ab Fab when we run around trying to do these shoots, it’s good to have an ally.
I’ve been booked for a few gigs so I had to get my live set built which includes a light show by blesselska. I’ve also been gigging a lot with my other project PreGoblin which is me and Alex Sebley, we just played two shows at The Lexington with Fat White Family which I actually really enjoyed. It is particularly special sharing the stage with Alex Sebley who is also my very good friend. Currently I’m angling at Frisco (who I saw playing with Skepta in Lisbon a few months ago) to hopefully work on a song with soon. Also releasing a tune with Remi Kabaka from Gorillaz soon.
What advice would you give to people, especially young women, wanting to make music?
You better be rich or have a strong nerve and put so much dedication in to the cause. Beware of older industry type men… some can be angels some can be devils. You need to know what you want, how you want to sound and live by it forever. People will try and tell you how to be, how to look, how to sound, it’s down to you. You change as you grow but as long as you change for you, not for anyone else.