We thought we should check in and see what one of our artists to watch in 2021 is up to.
Vancouver’s Jessia is a bit of a musical experimenter. In a very short period of time she’s left behind a career as a singer for EDM songs to become a bonafide pop singer, having recently teamed up with songwriter and producer Elijah Woods. Since then her sound has blossomed into a blast of pop sensations.
I sat down on the phone with the one-named singer to see what’s ahead.
What have you been up to during the pandemic?
Pretty much just writing as much as I possibly can. I ended up setting some goals for myself and one of them was to quit my job and to just pursue music full-time. And so that’s been what I’ve been doing. It’s a lot of song writing, and just going outside and collecting different things that I can be inspired by, and trying to get through this crazy time. It’s been very interesting.
Has the pandemic itself sparked some great song ideas?
Definitely. It’s just given me a lot of time by myself to reflect and see what kind of artist I actually want to be. And a lot of seeing what’s important to me. So a lot of artist development and trying to be able to write as many songs as I possibly can pretty much, get all of these thoughts down on paper.
You recently shared your Spotify results from 2020. Congrats on a great year.
Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. I was incredibly surprised when those numbers came up. I was like, “This is how many people are actually listening to me?” It was insane, but next year, I’m excited for those numbers to just keep going up. And I’m really, really excited to see what happens next year. I’m really, really proud of what’s going on this year.
Your new single Really Nice To Think About is doing well. Tell me about the song and what it means to you.
It’s kind of a bitter song. It’s mostly about being in a situation or a relationship that you don’t really see going anywhere, and it’s literally just ,”You’re really nice to think about, but that’s it.” And you like the idea of the person and you’re too scared to be alone and you want to just stay with them because it sounds perfect, but there’s just something that’s saying no, that it’s not the one.
Was there a specific person you had in mind when you wrote it?
I wrote it during quarantine and it’s actually written about a couple of different situations. I’ve had a couple of conversations with some close friends who are like, “Yeah, he’s cool and all, but I don’t know. I don’t really see it. There’s just a lot of the back and forth.” And so I was in a similar situation when I was younger, and I was like, “You know what? This song just needs to be written.” So I sat down. And I sent it to a couple of my girlfriends that I had written it about, and I asked, “What do you guys think?” And they said, “Yes, that’s exactly how I’m feeling.” So it’s dedicated to them.
You wrote it with Elijah Woods. How did you hook up with him? Do you think you’ll do more together?
Yes. Elijah’s amazing. I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a total rock star. Oh my goodness. Yeah, we connected on Instagram actually. I’ve found that Jamie and Elijah, they were doing an Instagram Live talent show, and I just reached out and asked, “Hey, can I sing a song?” And I sang the song Really Nice To Think About just on my ukulele and Elijah ended up loving it. And he was like, “Yo, can I produce this?” And I, of course said, “Yes, yes, you can.”
We ended up making it completely work during quarantine. We did it all at a distance because he’s in Ottawa and I’m in Vancouver, and I’m so proud of it. I’m so, so impressed by everything that he did. He just heard my little baby of a song and turned it into now what you guys here. So I’m definitely going to be working with him again in the future. I am hoping that when travel starts lifting up a little bit, I will be able to go out and meet up with him in person and write some new stuff for the EP.
Do you find it’s more difficult, when you’re writing the songs with social distancing, because you’re so far apart?
Definitely. There’s nothing like just sitting in a room and getting a vibe with a producer. It’s just a lot more laid back, and I’m able to see the screen and what he’s doing and we’re able to actually be in real time and it’s not the constant, “Okay, no, you go. No, no, no, no.” You know what I mean? That you have on any sort of Zoom situation. I’ve found that that writing with other topline writers and just writing the lyrics and the melody has been okay. Writing with a producer over Zoom is a little bit challenging. So I can’t wait until we can actually be in a room together and write some really cool stuff. It’s pretty much just been me sending him stuff and then him sending me stuff and us both being like, “You’re amazing.” “Okay, cool. Talk to you soon.”
Your career seems to have amplified in 2020. Take me through your musical change from working with the EDM crowd to creating songs like Really Nice to Think About and Conviction.
My last two years, I’ve just been writing as a topline writer for EDM artists. And so it’s kind of prepared me for writing at a distance with other people because I’ve been writing with producers from all over the world, but they usually send me the tracks and then I just write the topline on top of an already written track. And so, yeah, I’ve been doing that for two years. I realized that I like the spotlight. I looked and I realized that I was feeling, “Oh, I want to be the one who’s getting my lyrics actually heard.” I felt like I was a little bit more of just treated as a melodic part of the EDM world, because it’s all about the producer, is what EDM is. That’s the main focus in that genre. And so I decided to take a step back from that and take more of a minimalistic, wholesome approach and write some indie pop songs.
I decided, in the heat of quarantine, to launch this independent brand and this career, and it’s crazy that I’ve released my first independent song in April, of this year. It feels like it was 10 years ago that I did that. Every single time that I’ve been releasing something, it’s just more and more people are hearing it. And I’m definitely feeling the climbing up the ladder. It’s incredibly rewarding and pushing me to keep on releasing songs. People seem to be liking what I’m doing. So that’s good.
At one point you made the switch to using Jessia. That’s a unique take on your name.
Jessica was taken. I spell my name with a K and I was like, “Oh, this is so unique.” But unfortunately that was taken. But, I just started playing around with my name and I was like, “Oh, Jessie is cool.” And I took out the K. And then also at the time my two biggest inspirations were Jesse J and Sia. And so I was like, “This just makes perfect sense. So let’s do Jessia.” And it just kind of stuck. It was like the first name that I identified with. I was like, “Okay, I can see myself calling myself that.”
This year you won the 2020 Canadian Songwriter Challenge.
It was really, really cool. I ended up coming up with my good friend, and I shouldn’t even be saying this, but it was six hours before the deadline, and I was like, “You know what? We’re just going to submit this.” And I sent him the song and we quickly drew up this little demo and we submitted it. And then we started working with the team and it was absolutely insane. I learned so, so much. And thank you to Music BC and Bell Media for putting this on, because it was a huge growing opportunity, and very validating too, because it was the next thing that happened after my first release, and I was still wishy-washy on whether people liked my music or whether I was a good artist or anything. And for somebody to recognize my song writing and say, “You’re actually kind of good at writing words”, I was like, “Okay, thank you.” It was really good. Really validating.
Let’s chat about Conviction. Tell me about that song.
Conviction. I was just at the gym one day and I was like, “Oh, I just want a song that just gets me pumped”, kind of thing. And so then later on that week, I was supposed to meet this producer, Wavy, the guy that actually won the Canadian Songwriting Challenge, I was going to go and meet him, and I didn’t want to show up unprepared to the writing session. So I just ended up writing Conviction on the subway while I was going to his place. And I showed up and I was like, “Yo, I kind of just want this for myself, I guess, just to listen to at the gym.” And then he ended up producing it and I said, “No, this definitely needs to be released.” I end up doing that a lot, just writing songs, selfishly thinking “Oh, I want a song that sounds like this.” Then I end up writing it and then Conviction just ended up happening and I was proud of it, so it ended up released to the public and the rest is history.
The music video is very edgy. It grabs your attention for sure. How did that one come about?
The whole inspiration for the music video was based on this image of gasoline in a puddle and I just loved all the swirly colors and everything. I have synesthesia, which is where you associate color with sound, and all of a sudden, just seeing that rainbow of acidic colors, just correlated with Conviction, where it’s colorful and it’s something that is eye catching, but also incredibly toxic and dangerous. And that’s kind of what this song is all about. And so I wanted to make this raw, but also, I don’t know, trying to represent, I guess, a gasoline puddle, is the best way to describe the music video.
How about the song Tell Me? What inspired that song?
Totally. That song was probably one of the hardest songs I’ve ever had to write. It was definitely from a very, very raw place. And I wasn’t really able to write anything before that song. I was spinning with a lot of emotions and everything. And finally, one night, I was walking home at like 2:00 AM and I decided, “You know what? It’s time to sit down and write this song.” So I sat in this park and I wrote Tell Me, and just recorded it on my phone as a voice memo, and the sprinklers came on and I was soaking wet, just writing this song. But I knew that if I didn’t get these emotions and everything out in this moment that they would disappear. I was like, “This is what needs to happen now.” So I wrote that song and then immediately said, “This needs to be released.” So it was the first song that I felt “Yep. This is definitely who I am as an artist.” And it was the inspiration of me launching my solo career.
The music video is awesome. What was it like filming in a milk bath and then painting yourself?
I had paint in my ears for weeks afterwards. All of my friends were like, “You’re bathing in paint?” And I was like, “Yeah, its fine. Just do it for the video.” I wanted it to be even crazier and they talked me out of pouring paint all over my face and getting it into my eyes and stuff. They were saying, “You know you could go blind from that, right?” And I said, “Okay. Fine.”
Again, my synesthesia just kind of came into play and I just thought of this idea of being like, “Oh, it’s kind of got this juvenile part of it where you’re painting yourself.” And I’ve always loved painting and always felt, “Oh, I wonder what it would be like to paint myself.” But it just represented washing away that past year that was just incredibly challenging for me. And it was a purifying moment and a time for me to just come to terms with everything and then move on. And that’s what the video represented, just coming clean and moving on.
Will there be a video for Really Nice To Think About?
Yes, there will be. My team, we’re trying to talk about how we’re going to go about this with quarantine. But now that things are looking up, hopefully we’re able to start shooting pretty quick now. But yes, there definitely will be a music video. I’ve got a bunch of ideas that I’m super excited about. We just need to be able to safely execute it.
Now you mentioned that you’re doing a lot of writing, so will there be an EP or a full album in the works?
Yes. The plan is, we’ve got a couple of singles already lined up to be released in early 2021. And then summertime of 2021 is hopefully going to be when the EP is being released, and I get to show off all of my little baby songs that I’m working on right now.
Hopefully you can tour at that time too.
I know. I mean, I’m looking at the timeline and from what people are projecting, hopefully we’re able to start doing some tours, or at least doing some sort of live performances even locally, like in the BC area. I cannot wait till I’m able to play for people and get that live energy.
Is there anything else ahead for you in 2021?
Pretty much just releasing more songs, more music videos. I’m really hoping to come over to Toronto and Ottawa and meet more people. I’m really, really wanting to get over there. And yeah, just keep on going and start writing the next EP, and who knows? We’ll see where life takes me.