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INTERVIEW: Jessy Lanza
Patrick Clarke , November 8th, 2017 17:22

As she rounds of an exhaustive year of acclaimed live shows, we check in with Jessy Lanza ahead of this year's Plisskën Festival in Athens

Jessy Lanza's Oh No was one of the most adored releases of 2016, number four in tQ's albums of that year. The Canadian artist's second LP, it propelled her to a deserved outpouring of acclaim that she's backed with what seems like a ceaseless 2017.

She's matched the fervent reception to her recorded output with a slog of a touring schedule, making her presence felt across the worldwide festival circuit, and she's not done yet.

This December sees one of the last of the year's truly great weekend line-ups - Plisskën Festival in Athens. She's joined on the bill by the likes of Mulatu Astatke, Lady Leshurr, Liars, Hieroglyphic Being, Gaika and more for as delectable weekender as could be imagined to round off the year's gig-going.

To find out more about Plisskën Festival, which takes place from December 1-2, click here. Below, we catch up with Lanza as she rounds off a hectic year, and prepares to re-enter the studio for 2018.

You’re in between albums, how’s your year been?

It’s been good, I wasn’t expecting for this year to have so much in it, but it’s just kept continuing on.

What have been the highlights?

There’s been a lot of great shows, and more to come. One that I’m really looking forward to is an audiovisual festival in Houston, Day For Night. It has a lot of big names, I hear Nine Inch nails’ light show is pretty insane.

Do you prefer years like this where you can take some acclaimed work on the road, or do you prefer to be hunkered down and working on something new?

I much prefer hunkering down. Basically this year has been like earning the downtime, making enough money to not have to do any shows for at least a year, so that I can do nothing but work on new music. After the Plisskën festival and this next set of shows, I’m just gonna be in my studio. I’m really looking forward to that.

So are you not the kind of person to keep writing on the road?

Definitely, I’m not really into doing things on the fly. When I’m on tour I’m involved in the tour. I’m curious how people find the energy to be able to write while on the road. I’m just so tired from playing shows, like being focused for a year at a time.

Do you think about what you’ll be doing next musically?

Seeing other people play is a huge inspiration. Hearing tracks on an amazing system, as part of a DJ set is really inspiring, it makes me want to go home and write. That’s definitely a huge factor. Maybe if I had a sub at home I could recreate that moment, it’s just about seeing people freak out and being caught up in that moment. Drugs and all those things help! But sitting alone in my studio it’s a different atmosphere

You’ve spoken before about how important it is to you to have a routine, how do you handle the slog of being on the road?

I don’t handle it very well to be honest, I’ll bottle it all up ‘til the last or second to last show, then I’ll have some kind of massive private freak out and feel a lot better.

But do you enjoy the moment of playing live, the time you have on stage? Or is touring as a whole simply a means to getting back to the studio?

I think you described it really well, like that hour on stage or however long it is the best part of my day. It’s what makes it all worthwhile. Some shows go better than others but that’s the reason I go on tour. I’ve played some pretty brutal live shows, but you take the good with the bad!

Oh No has propelled you to considerable attention, have you noticed things change as you tour the record?

I can kind of fixate on that, on how many people are coming and how many people care. I can get too caught up in it, there’s an anxiety that comes with that so I prefer not to think about it. I just want to be happy that anybody gives a shit, given there’s so many other things you can care about more than my music.

What effects have the extremely positive reaction to Oh No had on you?

It’s been huge for me, I was really nervous to release the second album, wondering if anyone would be into it, and it’s pushed me to want to do another record. I’m excited to make more music, it’s great motivation when people are in to what you’re doing.

What about the pressures that now come with increased expectation?

Since I’m so far away from releasing something, I haven’t thought about that too much! I’m just starting the process of writing new music. It’ll be fine! I’m not a brain surgeon or anything, life will continue.

How long is the process from now to album number 3?

I hope I can make something happen in the near future. I’ll have something in 2018, I hope. I’m working with Jeremy Greenspan again, we’ll be doing the next record together. He got kicked out of his studio recently because they put an escape room in it, do you have those in England? It’s a thing you go to with friends to solve a puzzle to escape the room. I think it’s themed on Saw, you have to figure out fucking riddles to get a key or a code. Anyway, so he’s been kicked out of his studio for one of those! His mixing console is in storage, hopefully he’ll find another space for it.

Is that the studio you’ve always recorded in?

Yeah, my studio is down the street from his but it’s tiny, and I don’t have a console. Any mixing is in the computer. Both records were mixed at Jeremy’s studio.

You’re back to playing live on your own, having been joined with a live drummer for a while. Why is that?

Money was one factor, it was expensive to have another person along. I just decided that I tried doing live drums and it was alright, but I don’t know if I need it. Playing with her for pretty much an entire year helped my confidence a lot, touring the first record, pumping myself up enough to go out there by myself was definitely a challenge, but yeah. I hope that for the next record I’ll be able to have someone doing extra synth stuff. I’m not against having anyone else on stage, I just don’t know whether live drums were necessarily the right thing for me.

Plisskën Festival takes place in Athens, Greece from December 1-2, and features Jessy Lanza, Mac Demarco, Mulatu Astatke, Lady Leshurr, Liars and more. To see the full line-up, purchase tickets and find out more, click here. Jessy is also DJing at the Camden Assembly in London, Friday 24 November - more details here.

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