Jessica Long

12 Jul

“I’m not here to conform, I’m here to create.”

A lot of female performers nowadays can play behind a piano or guitar and completely hold an entire crowd’s attention. Jessica Long plays both of those instruments, commands an entire room, and performs like a true rock and roll artist. Currently living in North Carolina, Jessica recently released her album, Painted, which I have yet to find a bad review of. When I first came across Jessica, the first thought that popped into my head was, “So, this is probably the kind of artist that Christina Perri wanted to be.” Jessica Long has incredible talent that is sure to continue on a long path of success. Recently, I interviewed her and learned more about the girl beneath the exterior.

Q. Did coming from a family of music lovers inspire you to become a musician? Was anybody else in your family a musician?

A. I think more than anything I was given early exposure to great music from my parents’ era (Beatles, Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, Simon & Garfunkel, etc.) and that sparked something in me at a very young age. My parents had great records and my brothers and I would spend entire evenings engulfed in music and lyrics. There were always instruments around our house as well, piano, guitars, violin, banjo, dulcimer, and anything I could try, I wanted to. In addition, my parents played and sang a bit of everything. So growing up amidst all of that, it was inevitable that music would be an important part of my life.

Q. How do you think you differ from the other female singer/songwriters that are showing up in the music scene?

A. That is a very good question, and one that I’ve explored time and time again. I think a lot of it is mindset. What I want to remind the music industry is that women can rock out just as well as men and I don’t mean heavy metal, I mean bringing back the roots- Jim Morrison, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Jimmy Hendrix, even Bono, all incredibly talented, all men. But you don’t see a lot of women these days going that route. There are, for certain, the Stevie Nicks and Jone Jetts of the world, but not a lot. Not that I’m comparing myself to either of these rockers, or ever could, but I do believe I have a passion for competing with the boys. Needless to say, I don’t want to be limited to the “singer-songwriter” status that a lot of girls are pegged with (as respectable as the status still is). And I don’t want to go the other route women often take of selling sex to sell singles. I may be confusing the heck out of this question, but all I’m saying is I’m not here to conform, I’m here to create, if that makes sense.

Q. You recorded your debut album in Nashville, which seems to be a haven for singer/songwriters these days. Is there something about the environment in that city that festers creativity and/or inspiration for musicians?

A. I’ve actually never lived in Nashville, but I know many friends who do. I think there are certainly specific types of music that can thrive in Nashville, but I’ve also heard it’s a tough town to make it in because everyone is dreaming the same dream. The competition, I’m sure is rough, but maybe that’s what drives writers to write and performers to perform.

Q. Your lyrics read a lot like poetry. Is this intentional when you write your songs?

A. My writing process generally involves music before lyrics. Whatever lyrics are drawn from the music is what I write on paper, if that makes sense. I’m definitely flattered by the idea that my lyrics read like poetry, and of course, I want them to invoke emotions from the listeners. I don’t ever begin with poetry, but if I end up with it, I’m thrilled.

Q. You studied music, film, and theatre in college. If for some reason you weren’t able to pursue a career in music, would you have gone into film or theater as an actress?

A. That is also a very good question. I actually lived in LA for a while, and planned on living the Hollywood dream, but became a bit jaded once I soaked the city in. I actually still plan on having some sort of a film career, just perhaps not in LA. I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan and if I were ever cast in one of his films, well, I think I’d just die. I’m also a fairly large fan of Zooey Deschanel who’s been able to have a successful acting career, while performing her musical collaborations with M. Ward, and for me, that’s the sort of career I aim for- living in both worlds.

Q. Describe your dream show, visually and musically.

A. Oh my goodness, I change it up so many times, I don’t know where to begin. I know for certain I would want a stellar light show and an audience that will sing along with all the songs. Seriously, if a stadium of people gathered together just to see me and sing my songs, I’d be overwhelmingly touched. Musically, I want my band and I to be as tight as we can be, so we don’t even have to worry, we can just have fun. Also, I’m a crazy performer, I’m all about gimmicks on stage. And down the road, I’d love to be referred to as a “hurricane on stage.” But most importantly, if the audience (and me/my bandmates) have an incredible experience of a show, then the dream is complete.

Q. What are your goals for your debut album, Painted?

A. “Painted” is very near and dear to my heart, being my first album. I think the biggest goal is just to get the music out there, bring awareness. I don’t expect over-night success, I’d rather work long and hard for it (I’ll probably kick myself later for saying that) but my hope is that people will like the music they hear and want to hear more.

Q. It looks like you’ll be spending a lot of your summer touring the southeast. If you could go anywhere to perform, where would it be?

A. Europe. Most definitely Europe. I would, for sure, be intimidated because in my opinion, a lot of great music comes out of Europe, but I love it there (especially the mountains) and would love to get exposure there.

Q. You started composing your music at a pretty young age. What kinds of things did you write about, and would you perform any of those songs today?

A. Well, you grow up and you learn how to write and what to write about. I don’t think any of my songs before age 20 will see the light of day, haha, we’ll leave it at that.

Q. If you were stranded on an island for the rest of your life and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

A. I would have to say “Don’t You Worry”, not because it’s my favorite, but because I’d need some pretty heavy reassurance if I were stranded on a desert island. Also, a ukulele song seems appropriate for the environment I’d be in.

Here is the title track off of Jessica’s new album, Painted. Enjoy.

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One Response to “Jessica Long”

  1. KK August 19, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    Please! I love your songs… especially “Don’t You Worry”. Put up some lyrics to that (and your other songs!) It will especially give you more advertising for your music. !!

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