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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Vid Pick: Jessicka – Penniless Fools
Friday, June 08, 2018

There are certain songs you just immediately connect with, and “Penniless Fools,” by Vancouver-based indie alt-pop singer-songwriter Jessicka, is one of those songs.

Inspired by witnessing some of her favorite local haunts being forced to close up shop, it’s impossible not to think of your own favorite local haunts that no longer exist when listening to the song.

“Penniless Fools” follows Jessicka’s other 2018 single, “Broke and Drunk,” and 2017 EP, Uh Oh.

I caught up with Jessicka to find out more about her music, her favorite local haunts that are no more, and what was in her parents’ tape deck during her youth.

You are a fresh face on the scene, so let’s get to know Jessicka. What were some of your first experiences with music as a kid – something your parents would play in the house, albums you cherished growing up, songs you sang during talent competitions.

My grandpa played guitar in a bluegrass band and they’d always get me up to sing “You Are My Sunshine.” That really stuck me with the singing bug. I loved it.

Playing music was big in that house.

My parents went through phases of one tape at a time in the car. For a while it was the Beatles’ Greatest Hits, then Supertramp’s Breakfast In America – sooo good – and Steve Miller Band.

Your new single, “Penniless Fools” was inspired, in part, by seeing some of your favorite local business shut down, and get eaten by mega malls, and giant stores. What are a few of the places from your hometown that you remember fondly, and wish were still around today?

The Hope Drive In. A great diner that would cut your cinnamon bun in half and grill it on the flat top.

Cheyanne’s Sports. For some reason that one made me pretty sad.

Also, the green space that’s getting bulldozed. Just yesterday developers started tearing up the forest beside my parents house.

That is really sad. In the video for “Penniless Fools” you also mention the concept of the traditional hard working individual, the person we’re all told we’re supposed to be, who works 50 weeks a year for 2 weeks of vacation. What advice would you give to people on breaking that cycle … or is it even possible?

I think you’re referencing the middle of the video. That’s actually a quote from Death of a Salesman. It fit so perfectly with the theme of the song.

I really don’t know if it’s possible (to break the cycle). I don’t think it is. There’s the old adage “if you do what you love it’s not work,” but I wonder if there’s more, or less, opportunity to make that a reality these days? Maybe I’m too cynical.

How’d you come up with the concept for the video, and were there any challenges filming it?

Conceptually, the director Daniel Keen and I wanted to pit the warmth, and open space, of a small town against the steel and glass of the city. We also wanted to visually express the lyrics, show a small town with closed shops, but also the perfectly livable homes in Vancouver that are strong plowed to build more and more sterile towers.

I find this city a bit nauseating, and this my little political outcry.

As far as filming, it was very smooth and lots of fun. I didn’t have to worry about drowning, or falling over in giant heels (like with previous videos).

“Penniless Fools” follows your single, “Broke and Drunk.” So you went from broke to penniless … is this an intended theme, or an elaborate ruse to convince your landlord to lower the rent?

{laughs} Nice catch.

The release strategy of the two was just a coincidence, but it is a theme in my life. Whatever I make, I put into music, and we’ll see how long it takes to make a return on that. That would be living the dream.

The songs are wildly different, musically. Would you say you’re constantly in the mood for musical experimentation?

Absolutely. Between “Broke and Drunk” and “Uh Oh” you might not think it’s the same artist.

Also when I’m not playing this material I sing in the avant-chamber pop quartet Gentle Party, and have toured with the folk noir band Hunting.

I got my fingers in a few pots. 

Do you have a favorite place to write, or a place that’s an especially fertile breeding ground for ideas?

Creative seeds seem deeply rooted in my sporadic rage, hence the first EP (Uh Oh), but the softer themes are always popping in my head.

The larger moments come when it’s quiet, and nothing is on the agenda. I wrote “Broke and Drunk” when I was unemployed, and “Penniless Fools” at my parents when I took three weeks off over Christmas one year.

Time and silence are key.

What’s on the horizon for you? Is an EP, or album, in the works?

The next EP comes out soon! No date yet, but I’m thinking early summer, then the full album later this year.

Finally, if you could choose any two artists to tour with, who would they be, and why?

St. Vincent. She’s been a huge inspiration for many years, in many ways. I think ours styles, musically, would be complimentary. I would just feel awkward plunking my basic piano parts then watching her melt minds and faces with her guitar. 

July Talk. They opened my eyes to what a rock performance can be like, and I’ve never looked back. I think that first performance of theirs that I saw is a huge reason I have music out at all today.

For more Jessicka, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM  
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