Jess Spahr isn't your run of the mill musician. She picked up the violin at the age of 6, going on to train as a classical pianist. Young Jess started winning eisteddfods all around Sydney, receiving countless awards and high fives along the way.
In 2018 she recorded and released her debut single, 'Betray Me'. The track channelled the electronic downtempo vibes of Morcheeba and picked up spins via unearthed and triple j. Over the past several months Jess has been writing and recording, churning out tracks to get a feel for her artistic sense of direction. This brings us to her follow up single, 'Tensions'.
Despite being a quirky and catchy-as-hell slice of Electro Pop, the lyrical content of 'Tensions' is more serious, describing the challenges and unwarranted propositions most young women experience throughout life.
"Tensions was written about my personal experience with sexual harassment. Unfortunately an older man took the conversation I was having with him to a whole other level. It is an experience I have to say, no matter what age you are, still shocks you and you go back over in your head thinking 'did I do something to lead him on like that?'. The answer is 'HELL NO'.
So, to put a dampen on some of my rage and anger, my friend Luke Carra (also my producer) thought I should write about it. TOOK ME DAYS TO WRITE THE BLOODY LYRICS with Luke sitting there and saying 'write about misogyny'. When composing the song I wanted it to be upbeat and not a 'down and out, feeling sorry for myself' kind of piece. I wanted the piece to be more of an anthem for women who get extremely irritated by men who think it is ok to touch us inappropriately. It is a totally 'stick the middle finger in their face' song."
- Jess Spahr
Serious lyrical content aside, Jess loves the collaborative nature of making music. She is delighted to have found her ideal collaborator and producer in Luke Carra from Sydney band, Caravana Sun.
"Luke has been a good friend of mine for many years and, not only has he helped create these songs, he has helped build me into an artist and really understand the ins and outs of the industry – he is a real support unit. He is great with ideas and hearing a whole piece of music – I usually come in with the foundations (my choruses are usually changed, cause they suck most of the time haha) and magic all happens within the studio; it is a real creative space."
- Jess Spahr
Stream 'Tensions' here.
Question: How would you describe your music?
Jess Spahr: Upbeat, electronic, dance, move your booty with a glass of wine in hand (laughs).
Question: What originally inspired the song, Tensions?
Jess Spahr: The song was inspired by an encounter I had with sexual harassment. I was out one night with my friends when an older man took the conversation I was having with him to a whole other level.
Question: How difficult was it for you to relive this experience when writing Tensions?
Jess Spahr: It was difficult in the sense, that I felt like I didn't stand up for myself enough. I was in such a state of shock, I didn't yell (which is so not me, I am an extremely vocal person) I literally just stood there and walked away. Ridiculous!
Question: Would you say writing Tensions was a therapeutic experience?
Jess Spahr: Definitely yes. It was such a frustrating experience and I felt I didn't really express myself enough. But that's where music is fantastic, I can say anything I want and say the words I should have in that situation.
Question: What message do you hope Tensions spreads?
Jess Spahr: My hope is – that young girls and women stand up for themselves. Stick that middle finger up to the guy that hurts you. Don't be afraid to call for help, you aren't alone. You are strong and independent and absolutely AHHMAAZZINNGG.
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Jess Spahr: When my heart gets broken... But really it is such a strong emotion, I was 21 when it first happened and it was a shock to the system. I had never felt those feelings before; totally took over my body and mind. Lyrics and music just pour out at those particular times.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Jess Spahr: I have a range of artist that I listen to and it honestly goes from my beloved Vivaldi and Bach to London Grammar; there might be a sneaky spice girls song snuck in there (laughs).
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Jess Spahr: My violin was the inspiration, I loved playing on stage when I was young, and I was never scared, I used to whip out a good old Irish jig whenever I could. From there I progressed into other instruments, but I always knew I would be a musician.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Jess Spahr: I would love to collaborate with London Grammar or Kate Miller Heidke, absolutely amazing artists.
Question: What's next for you?
Jess Spahr: I am currently working on a new EP, which should be released by the end of the year YAY!
Also going to be touring Europe in September/October, which is going to be such an adventure.
Question: Can you share your socials?
Jess Spahr: Facebook.com/jessspahr12/
Interview by Brooke Hunter