Tiffany Daniels 24/02/2010
Los Angeles' Jesca Hoop has recently relocated from her sunny hometown to the decidedly less sunny British city of Manchester; a move I wouldn't wish upon anybody, least of all a talented yet self-aware musician like Hoop; but one I can understand in light of her blossoming romance.
In the past she's been championed by mentor Tom Waits and toured in support of Polyphonic Spree and Elbow; her 2007 debut Kismet was promoted by reliable Californian radio station KCRW and the Los Angeles Times dubbed her one of ten notable artists in the same year.
While media support in Britain has been less motivated, Hoop's been no less attentive. To support and showcase 2009's sophomore album Hunting My Dress, in early 2010 she has orchestrated a tour around the United Kingdom at a rate of knots, scouring the country for gig space and playing established venues in several major cities, to a good critical reception.
She's coming to the end of said tour, with a few dates in Ireland remaining, but before this hectic period of her career comes to an end and she settles down to work on her third album, she has thankfully found the time to talk to God Is in the TV about her life thus far, working with children in Arizona and her thoughts on the music industry:
You grew up as a Mormon. What was that like?
It was a lot of Church! It was great in a lot of ways because the family unit was really, really tight. I enjoyed it when I was growing up because I didn't have anything to compare it to.
You were in several choirs when you were younger; were any religious?
No…I was always in choirs from a very young age but I think the most accomplished choir was in my high school where I was studying core music. [However] I would say that my exposure to traditional [and religious] music has affected my writing, yes.
What made you break away from your religion?
I met my first real friend outside of the Church when I was 16; it was the first person who […] I had a true connection with, a true friendship. It wasn't encouraged for people to be friends with people from outside of the Church at that time. I think things have changed since then, the religion is always evolving but…my parents broke up around that time, and I just took it as a way to get to know the world better, broaden my perspective.
Your Mum set up a theatre in your basement when you were younger; did that run concurrently with your parent's divorce and your break from the Church?
Yeah, that was around that time. The breaking point was a bit later than that, about a year before.
Were you involved in that theatre at all?
I lived down there basically! All my days were spent in the basement with the thespians.
You worked as a counsellor for children a little later on…what made you go into social work?
I was involved with this network of people who practiced indigenous skills to stabilise the living, and survival skills, natural resources and all of that. It was a way to work in that field…it was a pretty rough survival, rehabilitation program up in the high mountain deserts of Arizona.
You infamously went on to look after Tom Waits' children. Did you go into au pair work as an extension of your rehabilitation work?
That was a lifetime afterwards! I was their au pair for quite a while. Just looking after their kids! I needed a job and they needed an au pair.
Who else have you collaborated with; whom have you met that's inspired you?
I toured the US and Canada with Polyphonic Spree…it was my first tour, it was really difficult in a lot of ways because I was touring it solo, and opening up solo for a band of twenty-one is somewhat challenging, but I learned a lot. As far as my tours are concerned I think the best was touring with Elbow in the UK, Europe and US.
I wrote an article recently for GIITV about marketing and how it affects female musicians particularly - does it ever concern you that your sexuality could be misconstrued through marketing or have you not bowed to the whims?
No because I don't have those kind of people around me. I just feel it would be very difficult for me to be anything other than what I am.
What's your recording process like?
It's really simple; Hunting My Dress was really simple. It was a relatively basic process and it took little time.
So do you perform the tracks live when you're recording?
We multi tracked certain things, we recorded certain things live together, but I would start by laying down my parts and then bring in musicians and then take the best bits of what they did. So it's quite a free process, absolutely.
Do you take quite a DIY look at the music industry?
I do right now, yeah, [but] you have to have people to help you. I mean, there has to be people doing certain elements; you can't distribute your own records into stores!
If you could change one thing about how you operate at the moment what would that be?
I'd have a lot more money at my access! It would change everything to have plenty of money to do this.
Do you think money's important then, in terms of creativity?
You need it to drive the machine for a while, you need it to put on productions; whether the venue pays or you pay, it's essential in putting on a show.
What made you move to Manchester from America?
I fell in love with a Mancunian!
Quite a few modern British acts have been quoting you as an influence (I was speaking to Laura Hocking about you the other day); I wondered what the reverse was, which British artists have influenced you?
I can't really quote any modern acts, but Kate Bush is an obvious, and David Bowie would be another. They don't necessarily affect my music though; Kate Bush is more personal to me - I've learned a lot from listening to her, learned how to be more true to myself by listening to her.
She's quite dramatic, going back to your theatre experience, has that influenced you in the long run?
Yes. After a period of time I lost my voice and my Mom was trying to rehabilitate me and trying to teach me to sing in the classical style again, and my voice just wouldn't do it. Then I heard Kate Bush and realised you can sing in so many different ways and I really hadn't had any exposure to someone who could sing so differently. I learned that I have my own unique voice [because of Kate Bush].
Jesca Hoop's new single 'Feast of the Heart' is out now!