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Baker's Dozen

Moments In The Sun: Nite Jewel's Favourite Albums
The Quietus , November 24th, 2021 12:07

Nite Jewel takes us through the albums that inspired her latest record No Sun, from Miles Davis to Cluster, via digressions on the importance of bad karaoke and Nietzschean philosophy


Jeff Phelps – Magnetic Eyes

Very funky and super obscure … though you’ve arguably played a role in reviving its fortunes. How and where did you first hear this record?

It was a random find in a record store, maybe in LA, I just fell in love with the composition, the way it was created. I think his sister plays on one song, maybe his cousin on the other, it’s this really chill approach, I know he recorded everything at home with a four track. I love so many of these songs, they’re so playful and fun, I ended up talking to him a little bit about how he made this record. He’s a jazz musician, an accomplished jazz musician and pianist. He says he can never recreate the innocence of creating this album. He’s a rocket scientist, he lives in Houston now.

I was talking to him a bit and I had him listen to [Nite Jewel’s 2009 LP] Good Evening, and he was like “yeah I listened to it on a jog before work, and it’s got some great elements to it”; and I felt really honoured by it, that he has listened to it. I think he felt some kindred-ness with the way I approached Good Evening, and he Magnetic Eyes, and I think he valued that naivety that comes through from only having a few elements at your disposal but really needing to sing and compose. There’s just some really true stuff I found on this record. And I love the cover art. One of the best covers ever.

I think its really spooky! Those haunting eyes. Going back briefly to the naivety to having something you just want to express… is that like earlier, when we were talking about Miles Davis, and you said that confidence triumphs over virtuosity?

Yeah, when there’s kind of an economic gap where you don’t have lots going at your disposal, you only have so much… like, Woo, Arthur Russel - they make something really special. That continues to be true, for me. More about ideas than gear. Emotion over virtuosity. I’ve never been virtuoso. I’ve always been about writing, and making poetry. I guess you could say something about class and positionally. They only have so much and they make something special. Something impactful.

When something is really overproduced it often doesn’t work…

Like, someday I will make my prog record. Somehow I’m still living in the economy and grace period, but someday I will get to the virtuosic and histrionic stage.