Monday, January 26, 2009

The Cloud 9 Interview with Jessica Domain

New York Nights is proud to present our first interview of 2009 with the lovely Ms. Jess Domain...

Vital Statistics
Name: Jess Domain
Group Affiliation: solo
Hometown: Detroit
Latest Project: Cloud ’09 EP Release (available January 20th 2009)
Next New York Performance: January 28th, 2009-Rose Live Williamsburg, Brooklyn

NYN: First, we need to talk about the new album. We’ve been friends for a while and during that time I’ve seen your music evolve quite a bit. How is the new album different from the first one? And where did the music come from? What inspired the songs?

JD: My latest project is called “Cloud ‘09”. This project is definitely different from my first CD, “Stay”. “Stay” has a pop/jazz vibe, I used a lot of live players in Detroit and I wrote/produced the whole record myself. “Cloud” is electronic & I worked with 2 producers on it-Danny Saber (3 tracks) & Dave O’Donnell (1 track). It took me a while to find producers that I really trusted with my work and I now know that the search was worth it. Although it’s electronic, I have still included some live instrumentation-like a really cool reversed guitar part & an electric Indian tambora, on “Let Love”.

As for inspiration, I wrote these tracks this past year and each one has a different source. My songwriting has evolved since my last CD-just as I have-so it’s a reflection of my place right now. I’ve always been a very honest person-to myself, my craft & the people around me and I think the more I write, the more it shows.

Because there are just 4 tracks on this project, I’ll tell you a little about each one. “Take Me Back” was written for “The Great Gilly Hopkins”, a Killer Films movie that’s in preproduction right now. I met one of the producers last spring, he told me about the movie, I read the book and I wrote the song. It’s a very sad story about longing and doing anything you can to get back to a place that you think was perfect, even though it wasn’t.

“2nd Chance” is pretty self-explanatory, but I wrote it about a co-writer that didn’t give me any credit on a TV cue sheet for a show he got our song on. Basically, he screwed me and I decided to be the bigger person and continue our friendship.

“Let Love” was inspired by my favorite day of 2008-I spent a perfect summer day with a friend in Washington Square Park listening to a jazz quartet. In this song, “love” means enlightenment. It was the first time in my life that I truly felt everything was in the right place-I was understood and I understood. That day is really hard to explain in words, but I felt countless worlds came through right there in the park. I just had to write about it.

“Bullet” has a funny story, actually. I wrote it as an observation of power-what people do with it and how they abuse it when they are unaware or benighted. It’s a warning. But now that I’m playing it for people, the feedback about “Bullet” is that it’s about sex. One of the best things about being a songwriter is that once you’re done with a song and you release it, it isn’t yours anymore, it’s the listener’s. That’s my favorite part about my job.

NYN: You worked in different studios around the country to put this album together. How does being in a different city impact the final sound on the album? And how much has living in New York influence the music you create or how you perform it?

JD: I worked on this project in NYC & LA. I like recording in different places/cities/studios, but I always start my music by writing it at home in NYC on my computers, “Jack the iMac” &/or “Larry the Laptop”. Once I get the songs to a certain point, I take them into a nice studio to buff, shine & pimp ‘em out. J. I think as an artist my surroundings are vital because I’m a sponge-whether I care to admit it or not.

Living in NYC has really changed my personal sound-it’s evident when you listen to the 2 projects I mentioned & all the singles that I’ve released/live shows I’ve done in NYC in between-there’s a staircase that I’m climbing, one song at a time. I think if you look back at any notable artist’s body of work, it shows that during their lifetime their visions need to change-to be able to stay fresh & inspire new possibilities. I think artists have a responsibility to shape the world & change the times. We have to experiment, evolve, display our convictions & challenge popular beliefs with our creative thoughts. There has been a lot of the “same” in this current climate (especially for the last 8 years), so if you consider yourself an artist, you have to have something to say. My mission is to highlight change. I’ve been moved from trying to understand love on “Stay”, to explaining my feelings of enlightenment (Let Love), observing politics (Bullet), & change (Take Me Back), because I now understand that love is always there. That’s been my internal shift & my songs will always be a window into my headspace.

NYN: Tell us about the website. What will we find on it and how often will it be updated?

JD: is really a snapshot of my music career-the work I do & the people I collaborate with. My plan is to update it as much as possible. I have samples of the 4 tracks on “Cloud ‘09” on the site, as well as links to buy the tracks, links to other projects I’m involved with, some charities that I support & general contact info, etc.

NYN: How does New York fit into the plans for your career? Do you plan to stay here or just come into town to perform? And tell me more about the band that you’ve been working with in Brooklyn. Do they appear on the album?

JD: I have been touring since I’ve been 17 and have had the opportunity to travel to over 20 countries and over 250 cities. Hands down, New York City is my favorite city in the world. I will always have a home here. I love everything about NYC-the people, the culture, the neighborhoods; the endless opportunity and all the action- it makes me feel more alive than any other place on earth. Since my first visit as a little ballerina, I always felt like I belonged here. It was pretty evident when a stranger asked me for directions on 14th Street after living here for less than a day.

NYN: When people come to see you from out of town, they probably consider you an expert. What kind of bars, clubs and lounges would you take a friend from out of town who wanted a ‘real New York experience’?

JD: Ask any of my friends that visit, I love being an ambassador for New York City. But as a considerate friend, I always tailor our daytrips to my friend’s interests because there is anything and everything to do here. But, because I am a part of the NYC music scene, I always like to encourage and support the fantastic talent here. And it’s great because we have venues for practically every kind of music in the world-jazz, blues, hip hop, DJ sets-anything you could imagine, really. I saw an African jazz bass player at Zinc Bar on Houston a few months ago that was incredible. The little hidden joints are my favorites. Downtown, Uptown, wherever you go, you’re going to find some of the best musicians in the world here. It really is amazing when you realize how much talent is on our planet and a big percentage of it is in New York City. I’m glad to be a part of it.

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