Tag Archives: jess hill


Not too long ago – mere days really – I posted a little note on my facebook wall asking for someone to come forward and save me from my bio writing woes.
Who should appear with words in tow?
The one and only Shane Koyczan!
Shane and I are old friends and so when I sat down to read the words he had penned in my honour I very nearly sobbed.  Compliments of the highest order that even as I go to post this to share them with you are making me blush.

“Jess Hill plays eardrums as if playing guitar is just a hobby. There is a rich mercy to her voice. One that reveals itself slowly… like a good book… chapter after chapter… pulling us toward a conclusion that we don’t want to have happen because we can’t bare the thought of an ending. She pulls the sound out of herself like a thread. She unravels her own tapestry to offer you the raw material so you can build your own warmth. Her songs remind us to bundle ourselves against this cold world; to keep heat between us like a wild animal turned happy captive through a satisfied curiosity… an unending wonder. If you listen to an audience that is listening to Jess you can just make out the slight sear as there blues turn red. Jess Hill’s music is sound and colour waltzing down staircases like laughter tumbling toward safety… she is the last petal on the stem after all the “love me not’s” have been pulled away. Jess Hill is the love.” Shane Koyczan (poet)

Nothing I write will ever compare to that but knowing that my face is likely the colour of a beet and my heart is fluttering like a moth storm tells me that I don’t feel comfortable sending it out into the world of press as my bio. 😉
I am nonetheless extremely touched and I think I might even be glowing. You tell me…?

Cover photo

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Pieces EP

Nostalgia can be a beautiful thing. The warmth generated in one’s heart by memories of bygone and idealized times feels like nothing else in the spectrum of emotion.
As a songwriter I sometimes feel my work is about building little altars for moments. Every note, every silence, every beat, is an item placed just so, to pay homage to a memory, a dream, a feeling or an idea.
Time passes and then – assuming the works are good enough –  the moment is archived and that wistful feeling swells in my heart. So many of these poetic, structures of reverence get lost for a time.
They sit, unknown in the muse’s attic collecting dust and humming quietly to themselves until life decides either by fate or circumstance to make them relevant again.
I always have a desire for songs that bare a kinship to one another to live in the same archive, spinning out their days into old age, and so certain tunes get set aside and nearly forgotten. It’s hard to sometimes imagine what “present” means when I realize I am on stage playing a song I wrote when I was 23 years old. Yet, every time I find music can truly be transportive. A 6th sense as integral to our memories as the olfactory world.
Such is the story with the 5 tunes I just recorded for the Pieces EP.
5 songs all penned pre Orchard, between 2006 and 2008.
A time when I lived in the basement suites of tree lined streets in East Vancouver.
A time when I broke my own heart with assumptions and insecurities, and then felt it heal and swell with curiosity.
I suppose my return to the single life, through either fate or circumstance 😉 has made these songs live again.
They stand together, reminding me that my heart still breaks and I still heal and feel full of wonder and love for this life.
You might remember that I went into the studio late December with the incomparable Jesse Gander. In two days, with the help of two special guests (Khari McLelland and Tim Tweedale) we recorded 5 songs. We left the studio and headed into the fray of the festive season with one element untouched. I wanted the song “It Don’t Matter” to be a duet.

I imagined a voice that was both sweet and rusty. A voice full of grit and honey. I never imagined that that voice would find it’s way onto the song via satellite signals and networks and modern miracles of technology.
Just yesterday my dear friend and Buffaloswans front man Scott Bell performed his half of our long distance duet somewhere in a studio in Oklahoma, USA. Today I heard the first mixes of what I can only say made me swoon as I felt the thrill of making new memories while archiving old ones.

The Pieces EP will be my first release in over a year. Orchard came out in March 2011 (can you believe it?) and the making of it was an incredibly detailed and lengthy process (we recorded it in 2009). This time I moved quickly and within the notion of capturing moments in the studio. Jesse Gander once again proved to have the most enthusiastic love of music and tireless, talented ears. Bringing Pieces together feels like a tying up of loose ends for the songwriter in me. The next year or two is already mapped out in my head with the hope to head back into the studio twice more to record some songs that are just now taking their first breaths and some others that have been begging for some special and extravagant attention for years while they waited for new siblings to be born.

In the mean time and the near future I’ll be gigging around Vancouver (house concert and release party TBA soon) before heading off to Toronto in March to perform at CMW and do a couple shows in the surrounding area.
I also have big dreams of finding myself on a jet plane en route to Europe in the fall. Drop me a line if you have something to say about that. 😉

2013 is the year of the dream and I’m dreaming vast.


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Waldorf Hotel Cabaret Wednesday January 16th

It’s happening. What it will be remembered as is currently unknown but, no matter if it’s the grand finale of East Van love in’s at The Waldorf Hotel Cabaret or not it will be a spectacular night…(and with any luck we’ll get to do it again)

We will party and play like there’s no tomorrow because, well, there just might not be another chance to saunter into the Tiki Bar, shimmy across the Cabaret stage or get lost in The Hideaway. Time will reveal the future of the Waldorf Hotel and give us more insight into the depth of Mayor Gregor Robertson’s commitment to the arts.

For more information on exactly what is happening to the Waldorf Hotel visit and read the following:



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Studio Dec. 22/23

Spent the weekend recording at The Hive Creative Labs with Jesse Gander. We recorded 5 “new to you” tunes in 2 days. It was such a treat to flesh out songs that have been collecting dust in my heart. Hearing trumpet, pump organ and pedal steel come to life was literally a dream come true. The Pieces EP will be released this spring online. Stay tuned to here, for details as they unfold. In the meantime here are some pics from the studio this weekend.

Jesse Gander at the helm.

My “Please, no more Clickety The Chickadee” face. The click track of doom!

After dinner. We ate it all!

Tim Tweedale making me swoon with his pedal steel.

Tim Tweedale brings my dream of trumpet to life!

Man sings in the shadows. The incomparable Khari McClelland sings harmonies on Pieces and Capsized.

Jesse Gander lays down his first ever guitar solo!

Electric guitar dreams coming true!

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The days go by…

We wait for buses…

We dine and read…

We see bright lights…

We hear men and women sing…


We exist amidst the deep and eerie, the dark and dreamy…

The mind holds echoes and cultivates inspiration…

And then songs are born!


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Singing With Strangers

Some days a moment can feel miraculous.
To truly find yourself in the present tense, feeling, seeing, interacting with a quiet abandon most think reserved for children is such a gift.
Such curiousity.
So much compassion.
Last night, after a day filled with beautiful conversations, delicious food, and many works of art (I went to MAKE it Vancouver – the handmade revolution) I grabbed a few groceries and headed out into the brisk night to catch the bus home.
At the bus stop I was reminded by my fellow transit users posture and averted eyes just how unfriendly this beautiful place can be. Perhaps we can blame the rain and the low hanging clouds. Perhaps, they force us to gaze downward and raise our shoulders up to our ears as we flit from awning to awning, trying to keep dry. But last night, yesterday was sunny; not a cloud in the sky. I suppose a habit is made.
Each time I return home from another city I notice it a little more and so I have made efforts to combat it in myself. I sing as I stroll, smiling at strangers and randomly saying hello, giggling at the confused expressions I encounter and feeling elated when someone returns my gaze warmly.

Every smile is a little revelation that no one is truly alone.

The bus came and we all piled on; most remembering to move to the back, taking care to leave the courtesy seats for those in need.
I sat in the middle of a crowded bus as a familiar face appeared. An indigenous man who sits carving works of art on a nearby street corner got on the bus carrying a bag and his crutches. He refused the offer of a seat and kept on strolling to the back of the bus and an open seat within view. He sat down, I smiled at him, he gave a smile and a wave in return. Then an elderly black man a seat away from me uttered something about the poisons of alcohol and Listerine addiction being the end of us. Just then our eyes met, we each nodded, and quickly averted our gazes again as the woman between us got off the bus. An empty seat remained for several stops. I hummed quietly, in my usual manner, singing my observations out into the din under enunciated but melodic. The man a seat away began to sing too. We sat with our ears leaning into the empty seat between us quietly in song as people hustled about all around us seemingly unaware of the music moving from our breath.
When I got off the bus we shared a smile so true and warm, so human that my heart filled with light.
I was in awe at the grace a moment offered me.
My appreciation for the diversity of mankind suddenly even more enormous than before.

We are each a thing of beauty and every moment is capable of affirming that. To live aware and artfully in your senses can bring small magic with great and uplifting consequence into the mundane.

We sat, we sang, we smiled, we shared.

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Last Monday evening I went out to BCIT to do an interview with Kirk of Doom from 3am Revelations for Evolution1079.
The audible fruits of that conversation and the live performance that followed will be aired on Evolution1079 twice more this week!
You can stream it online or tune into the good ol’ fashioned radio and catch at the following times:

Saturday March 19 @ noon
Tuesday March 22 @ 6:20pm

Also, I can’t get enough of this:

Saw it on the weekend and fell in love with those Dusty Flower Pot Cabaret kids all over again!

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