LK: Are you up in Vancouver right now?
JH: I’m actually on a car ride to my parents’ place. We’re just heading to where I grew up; they only live about an hour’s drive away. I live in Vancouver, but my folks are still in a little city.
LK: Have you got plans to head south of the border anytime soon?
JH: I’d love to, but it’s a matter of organizing things like Visas. So hopefully…if we can get that started. I’d love to put together a fall or winter tour, because it’s much warmer there [laughs]. You can’t really tour Canada in the winter, you know? It’s a lot more dangerous on the roads. I actually just finished a six week tour supporting my album Orchard in Canada. We toured all the way east and all the way to Vancouver, and it ended in May. I’m doing a little jaunt in BC for a festival, a few little trips and one-off shows for the summer, then hopefully we will do another tour in the fall.
LK: Any notable performances on this past tour worth mentioning?
JH: I think the one was a show we did in Winnepig at a place called Ragpickers. It’s a vintage clothing store or an “anti-fashion emporium” and upstairs they have a little small space where they put on shows, and we played with the local marching band. It was so fun, having people with hula hoops and energetic dancing in the room; it was pretty cool. It was the most…like my community in East Vancouver that I sort of connected with. It was almost like playing at home. Very high energy, and all of the ambience was very nice. They also have a little bookstore, a big costume department. They let me have a little tour of everything. I love vintage stuff, and I almost didn’t want to go down there because I would want everything.
LK: Your latest music video for "A Common Bird" is really fantastic, and has a distinctly other-wordly feel. What was it like making the video?
JH: We just made it this past Feburary, and it was one of the few days of the year when it started to snow. By the end of the day, we almost had a foot of snow. I was outside on the river in my bloomers, wrapping up takes and just chattering away. It seemed better, though, when I was looking at the footage afterwards. If it would’ve just been cold, I would've been grumpier. It’s like it was cold with a purpose, you know? That’s my big want as an artist: to create dreamy atmospheres and places. That was the goal with the last record Road: it was more alt-folk and storytelling. When I started making Orchard, I was like ”I kinda want to share dreamy places, invite people into my dreams, and make music of a slightly more ambient nature". Still kind of alt-folk territory, but I guess I'm talking more about the production qualities. I think the record feels pretty dreamy, and layered, and interesting. Hopefully that comes across.
LK: Now that Orchard is finished, do you have anything in mind for the next album?
JH: There are so many options. I have a little pocket full of songs that continues in this sort of dreamy, storytelling vibe. I also feel like I want to make things more upbeat, collaborate with some DJs. I have some local DJs that are looking into remixes from Orchard, and I love dancing. Orchard is pretty…introspective and kind of…there are a couple of upbeat tracks, but it has more versatility. You could cook to it, you could sway to it, you can tap your toes; but it’s not a super rocking album. I’d like to play some stuff that compliments that and my overall catalog, bring out tunes I haven’t recored yet. There are handfuls of songs I have, but not enough for a full album just yet. But I'm definitely wanting to incorporate more rhythmic elements.
LK: If you could pick one song off of the album for a potential new fan to hear, what would it be?
JH: If I were to choose a song that best represents the album...it would be"In the evening" which features both the bluesy alt-twang part of what I do, as well as the dreamy part, as well as the wonderful arrangements of strings on the record. It has a bit of a percussive element, and it’s one of my favorite songs to play live. It takes on a whole new life, depending on what band I’m playing with, if I'm solo, where I am. But the string arrangements... I remember recording them and saying “I can’t believe this is my record!” which was exciting. It encapsualtes much of the record, and hopefully others will think so too.
LK: If you weren't pursuing music, what would you be doing?
JH: Oh heavens. It’s always a weird question, hey? I still have a day job here in Vancouver. I’m a nanny and I watch other people’s children. I’ve worked out my live so that I can work and still get to play music, it's very much like Mary Poppins [laughs]. I always thought I'd end up being a teacher, and maybe if I hadn’t pursued music I would go back to school and get my teaching certificate. I’m not sure though; right now my focus making things, collaborating, connecting with art. Once you start getting momentum, it’s hard to imagine stopping the car. I think also, there’s always a hill to go back up once you go down. It’s an exciting time, and it’s great to release a record I’m really proud of, and getting video projects, and planning remixes. I’m in a really exciting spot as a little singer.
If you're in New Hazleton, British Columbia this weekend you can catch Jess Hill at the Kispiox Valley Music Festival. Her album Orchard is now available on Bandcamp. For more information on her upcoming tour dates and albums, please visit her website or follow her on Twitter.