Jesse Jo Stark tells a story of ill-fated love on “cry on me”—listen
“cry on me” continues to build Stark’s unique sonic world. Many of her songs reflect a unique musical language, born of a broad range of influences, including punk, country, soul and more. That sound is explicit on a track like Stark's 2020 single "Die Young."
While those roots are still on display with this track, “cry on me” hints at a new compositional direction for the artist. The song is subtle, based on carefully constructed instrumentals. Even so, it also possesses a powerful, expansive sound. The release marks a stylistic expansion for Stark, synthesizing her signature sound into something that sounds distinctively modern even as it retains her broad palette of influences.
“Coming into one of the weirdest years ever, feeling more like myself than I ever have, when I think about where I want to go from here, all I can come up with is that I want to keep writing songs, keep making records, keep connecting with people, keep learning and get right back onstage,” Stark says. “I just want to get better all the time. This is the year I want to start releasing the crazy amount of songs I’ve written over the last couple of years.”
“cry on me” represents the latest product to come from Stark’s ambitious vision. She’s also at work on a new album, due in 2022. While we wait, there is still more music to listen to.
We also received a recent glimpse of what's next in the form of an EP and show collaboration. Stark recently made an appearance in the series FRACTURE, appearing along with Charles Melton, Ajani Russell and Tommy Dorfman. She also wrote and performed original music for the series, along with a cover of the Cardigans’ “My Favourite Game.” The project was released as an EP, A Pretty Place To Fall Apart.
[Image by Dana Trippe][/caption]
Can you tell us a bit about "cry on me"? I really love the instrumentation for the track, which makes it sound really sparse and wide open. Even so, it also has a big sound. What were you going for with the track, musically and lyrically?
i wanted to approach this one like an alfred hitchcock movie where yer attention gets pulled along without noticing so you hopefully get lost in the story. i’m telling a story about two lovers being ripped apart by time. lyrically i wanted to show little vignettes that feel like an eternal promise. we used a mix of organic and synthesized instruments and recorded everything to tape so it suspends disbelief of the era.
I draw a lot of connections between your music and some of my favorite country singers as well as some more recent artists who take influence from older styles. Do you approach your music at all in terms of influences/time periods you like? What are some of them?
i grew up on waylon and merle, so that is always going to influence my songwriting. but i listen to everything. i try not to limit myself to any genre or decade. i believe that the song always wins and a good song can be any style and any age.
One of the other things I really like about your music is how you capture this vibe that feels really classic sunny California or old-school Nashville, but you also set it against this very dark, tragic feel. That melancholic world really jumps out on "cry on me." What is your approach to creating a musical atmosphere, lyrics and things like that?
i think that’s the cool thing about writing songs. you just tell stories that feel genuine to you and make the sounds that excite you and it mirrors yer personality. i grew up in california so that will always come through. i have a lot of joy and love in my life but i also have a tendency towards anxiety, depression, and darkness. i am also obsessed with beauty and lushness. i think whoever you are comes out in the songs you write and i hope that i’m always being vulnerable and honest whenever i make music. whether it’s good or not, i just want it to feel like me. the thing i’ve realized through being honest with my music is that it’s a language other people can relate to. once it’s out it doesn’t belong to me anymore and that’s what’s sick.
Can you tell us anything about your upcoming record? How are you approaching writing and recording it?
the songs come in a lot of different ways. sometimes it’s a lyric or a phrase. sometimes it’s a vibe or a story. sometimes just a vocal melody. i still don’t have a formula for how to write a song and i hope i never do. being that it’s my first full length record i am being painfully particular about every single word and every sound and every note. i just grew up in a home where everyone paid so much attention to detail, i want to carry that into this record. i just want it to be exactly how i want it to be. i started building a studio in LA and we’ve been recording the record in a half finished room with all this amazing gear i’ve collected. my friends keep popping by and jumping on the record. everything has felt so organic and fun. it’s the spookiest month of the year. the sun is out. the world is on fire. but art always reminds me to try to look at the world in a prettier way.