With her fifth album out and doing brisk business, and an acclaimed duets record with Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam in the rear view mirror, Jesca Hoop is the toast of all things indie these days. A new deal with Sub Pop has consolidated that cool and her live performances are attracting attention. The California-cum-Chorlton singer is in town this week, so we took her temperature. By Alan O’Hare.
“I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.” Tom Waits said that. He says a lot of things, Tom, but he’s more or less nailed the music lover’s condition with that belter.
Jesca Hoop, in town this week to play The Magnet, knows a thing or two about Waits… but she also knows a thing or three about wringing exquisite melodies from tough tunes. The Californian songwriter, who moved to Chorlton, Manchester in 2008 after a meeting with Elbow and their team, released her fifth album ‘Memories Are Now’ earlier this year and is on a roll.
Sure, us music journalists still bring up the fact she was nanny to Waits and Kathleen Brennan’s children back in America, but Hoop has ploughed her own furrow for a while. A startlingly singular performer, her recorded work is now attracting the same attention as those eye-catching in concert performances. The release of the acclaimed ‘Love Letter For Fire’, a duets record with Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam in 2016, saw her stock rise and Hoop recently signed with seminal indie label Sub Pop.
“I recorded this new album before ‘Love Letter For Fire’,” she says. “I was very pleased by what responses I came across for that record, though. People seemed to feel the love and that was the idea – touring it was pure joy.” Hoop is now back on the road with her latest laments, so I had a chat ahead of her Hardman Street date…
How’s life with Sub Pop?
So far, so good. I’ve had quite a bit of experience with both major and independent labels and this is the first time that I have felt such teamwork.
That matters more than people think…
I like the folks at the label… they are real people! Imagine that. I feel the benefit of their support and that counts for a lot.
You’ve had a lot of support from our friends up the M62 in Manchester haven’t you?
My relationship with Manchester is mixed. I love the people…
I have a ‘love/hate’ relationship with the place. I’m a California girl, so I don’t love that low hanging sky. I do very much love the people, though, but I feel Manchester is behind the times in many ways – it’s a beautiful city, but rarely does it show its feathers. It needs the sunshine for that.
What can you tell me about the new album?
A good dose of doubt can go a long way in bringing one to the task. I’m really enjoying playing the new material and the feeling of entering the ‘now’ with them.
You’ve received great live reviews, sounds like you’re enjoying it. What’s on the tour bus stereo?
Lots of music from East Africa in the seventies.
Nice. Why call the record ‘Memories Are Now’?
My objective is to live in balance, work hard, stay relaxed and celebrate as much as I can before my life ends.
So, are we all too obsessed with an easily accessible past?
It’s hard to say, not knowing.
Wednesday April 5th 2017, 8pm
The Magnet, Hardman Street, Liverpool
Pic courtesy Sub Pop