with Jessica Bailiff
Jessica Bailiff is a long time friend of ours. Her recent release on Morc is called Old Things & is a rarities & b-sides collection. If you haven’t heard her music before, it goes all over the map from folk to guitar noise.
QRD – With your recent rarities release, how much did you not put on there?
Jessica – Any cover songs were left off intentionally, as well as a handful of things. It could have been twice the length, but I wanted to release something that flowed well as an album itself, not a catch-all collection that became boring after the first 70-plus minute CD.
QRD – Was it hard to make the songs fit together to feel like something cohesive instead of a collection of songs with them being recorded over such a vast period of time & I assume using different recording methods?
Jessica – Yes, it was hard, I spent a lot of time sequencing those tracks. But I don’t think the different recording methods or time between the sessions had much to do with it, really. Actually, I wasn’t really sure about releasing the collection at all until Jon Whitney, Wim Lecluyse, & Annelies Monseré gave me some encouraging words.
QRD – You have a lot of collaborative projects going on (clearhorizon, Eau Claire, Northern Song Dynasty, Vlor, & your work in Rivulets), how do you feel the other projects effect your solo material both sonically & in the amount of material you write?
Jessica – I think that the people in the other projects influence me in my own writing, to a certain degree. I am often inspired by them, inspired to go back into my own solo work with new energy. However, I don’t really write that much at all anymore, for myself or others. It’s been years since I’ve done any work with the above-mentioned projects. & the last writing I’ve done on my own was for Feels Like Home, which was finished in December (November?) of 2005.
QRD – I know you’re a fan of shorter albums in the 30-40 minute range. When you write an album of your own, how much material do you have that you trim off?
Jessica – I generally stop when an album is finished. That’s just the way I write & record. I generally won’t finish an idea if it’s not going with whatever flow I imagine the album to have – but I might pick it up (an unfinished track) later.
QRD – Have you found any secret to really get yourself creatively energized over the years?
Jessica – No.
QRD – You sporadically seem to go on week long tours. Do you enjoy playing live or just feel you have to do it to promote your releases?
Jessica – I do enjoy playing live, & the sporadic tours the past 5 years have actually been more like 10 days to 3 1/2 weeks. I really enjoy touring, & would do it more regularly if I could. People aren’t really buying music anymore, so I don’t view touring as promoting releases. If there’s a spike in sales afterwards, I’m clueless. When I go out, it’s because I want to travel, see friends, & meet new people out there who connect with me on that indescribable level via the music.
QRD – If you had the financial backing to have as many people on stage as you wanted, what would your line-up be in your live show?
Jessica – For my most recent set, it was me with Annelies, & it was actually almost ideal. Last year, we had Jesse Edwards with us, & it seemed like it was just fine. I think traveling with more than 3 people can be difficult, so regardless of money, I’d probably want to keep it to that. Just about anything I’ve done lately can be pulled off with 3 people. I’m not writing rock or pop, so there’s really no need for the drums plus bass plus guitar plus vocals lineup. In the early days, for me, 5 people were ideal (drums, back-up singer, etc).
QRD – What’s something you feel has gone wrong on stage you’ll never let happen again & something that’s gone right you plan to always do?
Jessica – Not being prepared to play; in other words, not being well rehearsed, is the worst thing. I hope not to get myself in that position again. Being in a calm state of mind, getting on stage with confidence, I plan to do that from now on.
QRD – With how the music industry has changed over the past ten years, what do you see as the benefit of working with a label instead of just handling a release yourself?
Jessica – Working with a label is great because they have the capital to put out a release, & they handle all of the details (business & otherwise) that I have not the time or desire to deal with. If I could live off of making music (if I was selling enough to even consider it being beneficial to release it myself), I would probably still prefer to work with a label, because that would allow me to spend more time being an artist/musician. Some people have it in them to do it all – write the music, record it, produce it, release it, & deal with the marketing & business of it all. I, however, do not. I can barely find the energy to think about making music when I’m done with work for the day, let alone releasing it myself.
QRD – To you what is music about in general & your music in particular?
Jessica – I can’t really answer this question.
QRD – I know you have a lot of material you have scheduled to work on over the next year. What all is there?
Jessica – Rachel & I (Eau Claire) have been trying to get together, I hope to go to Austin in the next month or two – but I don’t expect we’ll finish much then, as we won’t have enough time. I’m doing an EP for an English label called Distant Noise; it’ll be a solo release, due out in November of 2008. Might be making an appearance on the next Vlor recording. There is always talk of working with others & doing another jb album, but I prefer not to mention those things until they are more real. I did make an appearance on the latest His Name Is Alive release: it’s called “Firefly Dragonfly,” it’s really great. I play some acoustic guitar on it.
QRD – Anything else?
Jessica – No.
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