We’re all about Jessica 6 at the moment. We saw them live at XOYO a few weeks ago and gave them a rave review – but what we weren’t telling you was that we’d met the band and had a chat earlier in the day. In this EQ interview with Jessica 6, Nomi, Morgan and Andrew give us a little insight as to why they formed after touring with Hercules and Love Affair, why they think freestyle music and the New York City music scene is making a comeback and what we can expect from their upcoming album "See The Light".
So, Jessica 6, how are you?
Morgan Wiley, Keys: Sleepy, but good. We got in around seven thirty in the morning and we had a gig last night in Moscow. We didn’t get a chance to sleep much but we’re pulling it together!
Nomi Ruiz, Vocals: Day three, no sleep!
So what are you guys doing in London?
Nomi: We’ve got one show then we’re doing some press. We’re on a kind of European tour, we’ve been on the road for a week or two.
You guys met playing with Hercules and Love Affair – how did that prepare you for Jessica 6?
Nomi: Well we got to play together a lot, being on stage that much, and we got to needing each other after a while, being so close.
Morgan: I think bands struggle with lots of different things when they first get together, they have to see their way through the creative process and figure out how to make a song and how to make a record. And then there’s always the live aspect of the band, getting to know each other on stage and having people come and see them play and think that there’s something really special going on between the people on stage. I think all those nights we spent getting to know each other and hanging out… We really got that variable in the equation locked. And the way we make music is so informed because we grew to trust each other as musicians. I really enjoyed that aspect of it a lot, actually.
When you guys were with Hercules… Who decided to start Jessica 6?
Morgan, laughing: We were drunk in the back of a bus, on a cold November’s day…
Nomi: Well we actually started a Sade cover band first! For one night only…
Morgan: Valentine’s Day! "Diamond Life"…
Nomi: Well I’d written a song, "Fun Girl", and it was the first time I wrote something like a dance song. And then I knew the guys were making dance music outside the band so I wanted to see what we could do together, and maybe do something after the tour. And then this sound started developing…
We love your track White Horse (below), it was instant for us. What can you tell us about it?
Nomi: "White Horse"… It’s sort of Freestyle Friday! Morgan and I had this Freestyle Friday idea – we’ve been trying to work on freestyle music for a long time, and so we tried to make a kind of freestyle song.
80s Freestyle? There’s a genre we haven’t heard in a while…
Morgan: It’s coming back! It’s not just us, a lot of people are working on it.
Nomi: I wanted us to be the first though! What I thought was cool was freestyle mixed with house… Instead of being just pop or cool.
Morgan: I remember going to see Animal Collective – I got really fucked up then went back to the studio and they were working, going through freestyle songs and choosing textures and I was like: ‘You people have lost your minds!’ But it was pretty cool, we were singing and it was a really fun song. It took a while to strip it away and make it unique to the style of Jessica 6, but I really enjoyed that process.
What can we expect from your album?
Morgan: It’s really, really good!
Nomi: It’s kind of a journey through a bunch of New York towns. I know people are expecting a kind of straight-up dance record, but it goes through house, R&B, soul, funk, psychedelia…
Morgan: My mom heard it and she called it kind of cinematic. She said it’s like a movie, a story that’s told and you can see the landscapes of each song. It’s really trippy. My mom’s got a great ear!
Andrew Roposo, Bass: My favourite song on the record changes a lot. I’m always feeling "Good to Go", which is the second song that we wrote. It always hits me in the right way, it reminds me of Marvin Gaye or really old school music. I’m always kind of shocked at how that song came out – the harmonies on it blow my mind! You get the full range of Nomi’s voice, too.
So you’re New Yorkers of course – what’s the New York music scene like at the moment?
Andrew: For the first time in fifteen years, against all the odds, a lot of new clubs have opened, and there are a lot of new booking agents and promoters in town. People are starting to take the music business in New York very seriously, and it’s really great because you don’t have to fight any more over where to do a show. Everyone’s voice can be heard; every scene now has a niche and a collection of clubs where they can promote and do their thing. That’s not how it used to be in New York, and I really like it a lot.
Nomi: I think the internet and social networking has made people work harder, too. There’s so much out there, especially in New York, so the people that really stand out are the ones that work the hardest.
Morgan: People ask, what makes your night so special? You really have to work for that. It’s cool.
When you get a new crowd, what hooks people in?
Andrew: Nomi’s really great at engaging the audience which is important because we don’t have widespread releases, and people really get it after a while. I think with our music there’s so much that people can feel and grab onto which reminds them of certain times in their life or certain music. I think that alone gets them in there.
So what’s next?
Nomi: Our record’s out May 23rd, and there’s another single too, called "Prisoner of Love". It’s kind of a big, heartbreak song. We’re gonna work on a video, too.
And a final word for EQ readers?
Nomi: Come dance with us, come cry with us! And look for the record: "See the Light". It’s gonna be a fun time.