Recently I had the honor of getting Jordannah Elizabeth to answer a few questions for me on her new record via e-mail. In the interview we talk about her career, music, and the inspirations behind her sound. If you like psychedelic folk music then you will love her new record “Bring to the Table.” If you don’t know her already check out one of her songs below, and find her on Facebook:
So what’s going on in the world of Jordannah Elizabeth?
I have a lot going right now. I am releasing a new record this month, and continue to write and publish articles and essays. I am also working on new music. The process has been pretty balanced, but I have a few projects I am working on. I keep a pretty full schedule Can you tell me a little bit about your upcoming record? The new album is called Bring to the Table and I wrote it in Baltimore, Maryland. My long time bandmate and songwriting partner, Jacob Hales travelled from Brooklyn to help me develop the songs, and we started touring a few cities to promote the upcoming album on the east and west coast with Baltimore based cellist, Kate Porter from August to December 2013. The album was recorded in San Francisco, CA in November 2013. I moved to SF from Baltimore the next month. I took a few months off from playing shows after that tour to get settled, and to develop a nonprofit organization I founded called Publik / Private. Now, I am finally ready to release it, and it feels good share it with the world.
How did the songwriting process go?
The songwriting process was very deep. I have described the album in similar ways for a number of interviews, so I think I am at a point where I can describe the process with a little more perspective: I think the album is dark. I am not sure if a lot of people pick up on that. I had to go through a transformation and some dark times to write it, but I don’t mind singing the songs. Bring to the Table is kind of about surreal love and damaged hearts. I don’t identify with the relationships I was in at that time anymore because I am a different person than I was when I wrote it. It feels like it was written a lifetime ago, but the emotions are still valid because I think people can identify with the ideas of difficult love situations, and complicated interpersonal experiences. There are a lot of interesting guitar lines going on in the background that at times sound almost sitar-like.
What inspires these strange sonic landscapes?
The album was written with cello parts. Kate Porter wrote her own cello parts, and Jacob played bass, and he and I switched off on composing rhythm guitar parts. I write the words and the general melody of most of the songs accept for “Cello Experimental Two”, where Kate composed the music and I just wrote the lyrics. I like to collaborate, and allow people to put their personal artistic touches on my songs. The landscapes are just my style I guess.
How is it an evolution from past work?
The songs are written more traditionally. I had been writing far out psych-soul pop songs, and for this album, I wanted to write a folk record. I started covering Bob Dylan songs to get me back into the guitar structure. Even with doing that I ended up writing the songs with simple arpeggio guitar parts. I also was open to having Kate’s cello playing become a focal point.
Is it a hint at a direction you want to develop on?
Slightly. Bring to the Table is a folk soul record, I am interested in making country songs for the new album. Other than that, I think the new music will be very different, but I am honestly so early in the demo process that I cannot say where the music will go.
The cover art is definitely atypical, what inspired you when creating it?
It is just a shot of me fixing my dress. The photo was taken when I wasn’t looking. I just thought it looked very real. I only show my legs in photographs and when I am going to bed. The was shot in Brooklyn, New York at the then closed music venue, Market Hotel by Chrissy Kovacsics. The place was empty and eerie, harboring a couple of artists who were quietly squatting and renovating the place. …and I wore those cowboy boots almost every day for a year.
You call your music “Psychedelic folk soul,” to what extent do drugs impact your music?
YOU I am pretty private about what I do in my personal time. I do have drug references in my music, but very rarely. I think I learned to write psych music because I listen to a lot of music, and I am kind of strange. I love the genre. Nonetheless, if you are a touring, working musician, there may be times where you could not do a drug at all and be surrounded by them. Drugs are just a part of the culture I navigate through.
You are involved in a lot of different projects, would you ever want to be a full time musician?
No. I like to write and edit. I can take the time and plan a long tour, but it would be booked very far in advance. I think I will continue to write and make music, but I would never want it to take away from my work as a journalist, editor and essayist.
What is the next step for your music career?
I guess I will share some music with people, play some shows and continue to put one foot in front of the other. Finish this sentence for me, “I’ve never told this story before and probably shouldn’t but…” I found out I had kidney stones the day before we flew to tour in San Francisco. I was very very sick. It was an interesting experience. I’d like to thank my bandmate, Jacob for being there with me during that time.
What do you love so much about music?
I love a lot of things about music. The main thing I love about it is that it can be healing and transformative to people from all walks of life. Music has a powerful and usually positive effect on human beings. That is what I love about it.
Any final words of wisdom?
I don’t know if I consider myself seasoned enough to really share any wisdom. I have been making music for about 10 years, and the only thing I can say is that you must survive the process of success before you really arrive at a point where you are able to really pay your bills and take care of your family and friends. The music business and the process of becoming a very popular band is a tough and weary road. I don’t blame people for not wanting to keep going when hard times hit like having a friend dying from an overdose, or having your band break up, or being completely poor and being on touring for months at a time. It is not easy, but the reward after many years of hard work with little return can be great, if you’re open to working on your craft and having a professional mindset along with creating your art.