Jessie's first solo album "IS IT FIRE?” was recorded between Berlin and Mexico, and feat. live drums /percussion by Toby Dammit (Iggy Pop, Swans) with guest musicians Budgie (The Creatures, Siouxsie and The Banshees), Martin Wenk (Calexico), and Namosh. Recorded in Berlin by Thomas Stern (Einstürzende Neubauten, Crime and The City Solution) and mixed/ co-produced in Tijuana by Pepe Mogt (Nortec Collective).
With the sensual yet chaotic charm of a shipwrecked sailorette dancing in a hurricane, IS IT FIRE ? ventures into an exotic world of rhythm, reaching from the flesh and beyond to a place where drums conjure up images of latin heroes Perez Prado, Yma Sumac, afro-beat, nu-no wave & a touch of Istanbul, saxophones like a flock of birds guide the traveler through familiar but unknown lands, and trumpets enter like parades of mariachi’s dancing down on Revolution St. It’s a world where you want to reach out to touch the face and arms of strangers, to realize the human form, desire, to be hunted and captured by yr emotion.
“In primitive societies traditions have always been passed down through music and dancing. Music will always represent tradition but where are the real rituals in modern times? Sometimes though we feel the connection –no way to initiate being part of anything. I felt like I was reaching for somewhere warmer, but caught between worlds. Like a mermaid stranded on some beach, the sand is hot like coals of fire, I wanted to laugh and fall back into the sea but I felt trapped in the human form, unable to return to my origin. The title of the record “Is it fire? “ really just means “desire” ‘cos what is desire, but that which is red hot like the sun and always in the distance, pulling on you, tempting you to go further, go out of control. I wanted to make a joke of it ” Is it fire?? Ha ha, well, wait till u get burned.”
Although Jessie spent the past decade playing in bands built from the blood of previous generations in the 70/ 80s punk rock new wave vein, such as San Francisco’s The Vanishing, Autonervous (with Bettina Koster of Malaria!) and the all girl garage goth quartet Subtonix, as well as collaborating with numerous artists like Glass Candy &, Hanin Elias (Atari Teenage Riot), it wasn’t until she got her taste of a drum machine that she truly discovered a unique sound. And so, quietly in her bedroom in Berlin, she began building her first spaceship that would take her to the sun. The heart of the spaceship was constructed out of 808, the rhythms shaped the passageways from the heart to the arms and fingers, to the mind, and the breath that would come out of mouths that spoke. Melodies were translated from string essemble to saxophone, as if their messages were understood by all species of the musical kingdom. Bass provided the wheels that shook the carriage down dirt roads with lots of potholes.
Summer passed and they went into the studio Saal 4 in Berlin, formerly the Communications and Network headquarters of the GDR, to record the drums with Toby Dammit and Budgie. As the two drummers played together for the first time little girls looked in on it, eyes wide with delight like they were lost in a candy store.
With the spaceship nearly finished, Jessie and Toby traveled to Mexico, land of the sun. First landing on a rooftop in Mexico City, they converted a deserted laundry room into a recording studio. While kids rode by on bicycles with megaphones blasting “tamales tamales” and thunder and lighting storms raged, she sang her heart out! Mecca to the Pyramid of the Sun and Moon, to la Playas of Tijuana, where sounds from pieces of the Nortena group Agua Calliente were captured, and singing in Spanish with the help of the amazing blind engineer Luis Elorza. They traveled to Acapulco, driving through hundreds of miles of coconut forests, and rivers of trash flowing into the ocean to arrive at the house of John Wayne, where they set up studio in his bedroom, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, heat seeping through wood shutters, and palm trees blowing outside the window. Floating in a swimming pool at the edge of the world with the ghosts of Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne drinking Micheladas in 50’s lawn chairs she felt like she had died and gone to heaven.
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