This past Friday Amanda Bullick of Brutally Beautiful and I got together to do the artwork and promo shots for the Pieces EP. We did it all, from set up to shoot to layout in one day! Thank god for the clarity of dreams that direct your vision and friends with the skills and talent to help realize them! Thank you, Amanda!
The album cover!!!!
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…?
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.
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.