Jesca Hoop: This Record Was A Joy To Make

Like it or not, most of us are destined to lead terribly standard lives. But whilst we’re all boring, there are people like Jesca Hoop.

Some people seem bound to live their life outside the realms of what is usually expected of people. Like it or not, most of us are destined to lead terribly standard lives. But whilst we’re all boring, there are people like Jesca Hoop. Having been raised a Mormon, she later became a childminder for the great Tom Waits. Not content with already having a back story that trumps pretty much everybody else’s, she’s gone and made one of the most intriguing and beautiful records of the year in ‘Hunting My Dress’. We ask her a few questions before the albums release:

You were raised in California, but you’ve since chosen to move. Of all places, why Manchester? Does the persistent rain annoy you? It does me.
I fell in love with a man from Manchester. Home is where the heart is, yes? I was living in southern California where it was sunny all year round. That really annoyed me. No seasons. I am from Northern California where it is very cold and rainy throughout the winter. This is more extreme but still closer to what I am accustomed to. I love the rain. The setting of the sun at 4:20 is what is tripping me out.

You’ve commented that throughout your childhood, you were unable to watch MTV. How much would you say that your Mormon upbringing has affected your music?
Well it certainly delayed my exposure to popular music. There is still much about pop culture that is relatively new to me. My religious upbringing in combination with years of living like a wild forest creature off the grid with no TV or radio definitely strengthened my idiosyncrasies.

It’d be difficult to get through an interview with you without mentioning Tom Waits…
Believe me I know it would be hard to get through an interview without asking about Tom, but it is possible. You could be the first! Go ahead… give it a go… I know you can do it!

Okay then, let’s give it a try. You’ve also spent time helping at a rehabilitation centre for troubled children. What was that like? It seems like you’ve experienced an entire lifetime already.
I was also a farmer and I worked in carpentry and in surveying. I have lived a few lives thus far. Working for the survival program was intense. We were in the high mountain deserts of Arizona through each season. This is not a camp, this is a bare bones survival program. No lighters. Flashlights… no cabins or plush gear. The kids are traveling for two months in the desert with just a string, an army issue sleeping bag, a rain poncho, a metal cup, a pen and paper and a food pack with the minimum calorie requirements to remain alive. The only way to cook is to make fire by friction… no lighters. I loved it. I learned a lot. I treasure that time in my life.

Now, onto ‘Hunting my Dress’. Many people have commented that it’s got a definite hint of Kate Bush’s early works running through it. Have you spent much time listening to her work? If not, which artists are you a fan of?
I absolutely love a period of Kate Bush’s records The Sensual World, Hounds of Love and The Dreaming more specifically. And she has influenced me, I’m happy to say.

The record encompasses a lot of different sounds and arrangements, from the stripped back ‘Whispering Light’ to the catchy, pop inspired ‘Four Dreams’. What themes do you feel are most prominent upon the album? Would you say that there’s one song that you’re proudest of?
For me The Whispering Light, The Kingdom, and Tulip are the outstanding tracks as they have an other worldly feel. I am quite fond of each of them as they each show their own unique light.

Having also worked with artists like Public Image Limited and Beck, what was it like having Tony Berg co-produce your album? How would you say that he helped form the sound of ‘Hunting my Dress’?
Tony is great!! He is a good friend and support. Tony is really good at helping make clear decisions. This is the second record we made together and this time around our roles were a little more balanced as I was now a little more experienced and had a very clear vision. We shared that vision in common. This record was a joy to make with him and our friend and engineer Shan Everett. We had a right laugh!

Your debut album ‘Kismet’ earned you a lot of good press, but how does your new release relate back to that? How would you say that your music has changed since then?
Kismet was a compilation of my lifetime of writing up to that point. It is like a mixed tape in a lot of ways. My inexperience shows on that record, in a good way I think. Hunting my Dress was written in a season and recorded in season as well. The songs are more closely related. I feel I grew as a writer during the time that I was conceiving Hunting My Dress. I am oft times conscious of writing to far to the left as to not alienate the listener. I abounded that fear and just let myself write exactly what I wanted. This body of material is more idiosyncratic, I think.

Finally, what can we expect for the future? Any big plans that you could share with us?
If I knew what the future holds I would have money coming out of my ears. I would love to know… I’m quite excited about the prospects. For now though I can tell you that I am on tour with Andrew Bird in Europe at the moment. I have a UK tour coming up in February and a US release in January followed by touring of course. Until then its happy holidays to everyone!

Jesca Hoop’s second album ‘Hunting My Dress’ is available from 30th November on Last Laugh Records.