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Jessy Lanza

Jessy Lanza


With her new song "You Never Show Your Love" feat. DJ Spinn and Taso recently premiered via Annie Mac, we're hoping this is the first of many to come from the experimental R&B singer who wrapped up touring Europe and North America with Caribou in the fall. No big deal. We caught up with Jessy last year following the release of her debut LP Pull My Hair Back on Hyperdub, where we expect she will be releasing her sophomore effort. Energetic and giggly, it's crazy to think such downtempo, rhythmic grooves come from her person—especially when you're trying to talk over a crazy drummer going H.A.M. nearby. Watch her latest and catch the interview down below.

Is this your first time performing in the states?

No, it's not, but it's my first time being at Austin at SXSW.

Have you seen any acts you've been excited for?

Yeah. I played with DJ Rashad last night and that was pretty amazing. Shlohmo played as well as Jacques Greene so that was incredible.

How would you describe your music?

I think the music that I make with Jeremy [Greenspan of Junior Boys] is a blend of R&B and dance music. I come from an R&B background and he comes more from a dance music background so it's like a blend of the two.

Do you have any collaborators you work with?

So far it's only been Jeremy and I but hopefully in the future things will pan out.

How do you guys work in the studio?

The way we usually work in the studio is I'll usually start a track. I'll start the drums and have the structure of the song and then I'll pass it on to Jer and he'll pass it back and we'll kind of pass it back and forth until it's ready to be mixed.

You studied for a master's degree in gendered musicology. Was there anything you learned that stuck with you?

Well, I dropped out. I didn't actually get the master's. I feel bad saying that since I didn't actually get the degree but for the time that I was there we got to watch a lot of Josephine Baker clips and stuff so that was pretty amazing. She's one that stands out. She's the one everyone goes to when they talk about gender and women and music in the early 20th century. She's a pretty cool figure.

To expand on that, who do you currently find inspiration from?

There's tons of different people that I listen to. There's this girl from Chicago who just put out a couple mixtapes. Her name is Tink. I've been really into her lately. A lot of the mixtapes I download for free off of DatPiff. I find that listening to those gives me a lot of ideas for new songs I want to work on. 


What's your history with music?

Both my parents are musicians so they put me in music at a really young age and I took piano from the time I was 5 or 6 then I went to university for music as well.

You taught music for a bit, didn't you?

I was teaching piano lessons and it's mostly little kids and they're hilarious. These little kids are totally weird so it's pretty fun teaching them but I haven't been able to do it since I've been away unfortunately.

Is this your first time on the road?

I've been to the States a couple times before and then I've been to Europe once but this is still very new.

Any surprises that have come up?

No, not yet. I hope that no unpleasant surprises come up. So far it's been pretty smooth sailing, knock on wood.

Who would you love to work with?

I really like Cashmere Cat a lot. He's great, I'd love to work with him. I'd love to work with Shlohmo. DJ Rashad, I'd love to work with him.

Is there any advice you would give to others?

Not to say that you shouldn't take advice from people but I think it's really important to stick to your own convictions and not be pressured by what people around you want you to do or want you to sound like because a lot of times that comes up. You have a lot of people trying to influence your decisions and in the long run you're the one who has to live with those things so just be really honest with yourself about what you want. That kind of thing.

How long ago did you start recording your album?

I started working on it like 2 years ago and it came out in September. It took a long time to make but I'm pretty happy that it's out. And it's been out for a while now.

Any plans for a sophomore album?

By next winter or the fall I'll have released my second record. Fingers crossed.

Photography by Holly Pocsai

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Cal Redback

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