April 2, 2019 Interview – Jess Ribeiro
Out of Melbourne, Australia, the talented singer-songwriter Jess Ribeiro caught a lot of attention with her 2015 album Kill It Yourself. Beginning years ago in Country Rock realm with her band the Bone Collectors, for her solo effort she decided to change it up a bit. Working with former Bad Seed Mick Harvey, they produced a record full of haunting, down-tempo songs; unique to anything Ribeiro had ever done before.
Now, with new intention, Ribeiro is set to release her follow-up effort LOVE HATE on April 12th. Built on the concept of exploring the different phases of love, it could be her most ambitious work to date. Breaking it all down, Ribeiro took the time to chat about her career in music, the work behind LOVE HATE, plus much more.
Cryptic Rock – Involved in music for some time, how would you describe your journey to this point?
Jess Ribeiro – My life journey? Or specifically music journey? They’ve both been oceanic, but I’m still here.
Cryptic Rock – If nothing, it gives you stories to tell, right? You have worked in various genres through the years, but in 2015 released your debut album, Kill It Yourself, which really defines your own style. An album produced by former Bad Seed, Mick Harvey, what was it like working on that as your debut collection of songs to the world?
Jess Riberio – I never thought about it in regards to creating something grand for the world by making my debut. I realize now you probably should, but I didn’t. It was a personal art creation focusing on the process rather than the outcome. Mick was a wonderful mentor. I like his musical aesthetics and hands on approach to producing. It was a great learning experience working with him. We’ve continued to help each other out on other musical pieces since then. If I was more outcome or commercially inclined though, I would have worked with a top 40 producer and tried to make it more marketable. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) It does seem many artists do that nowadays. Almost 4 years after your debut solo LP, you are set to release your follow-up album, LOVE HATE. Best described as a mix of dreamy vocals, ambient guitars, among other layered sounds, you really take things to another level. That said, what was the writing and recording process like for this album?
Jess Riberio – The writing was drafted during a trip through Europe where I was fortunate to stay at Mick Harvey’s family apartment in Berlin. I did a lot of writing, but at the time, I felt nothing was happening musically.
When I returned to Melbourne I fleshed the songs out in Dave Mudies (Courtney Barnett’s drummer) home studio with our mutual friend Jade Mcinally (Jade Imagine) who also worked with me on Kill It Yourself. Dave really helped to make the pre-production demos that I then sent to Producer Ben Edwards in New Zealand. I heard of Ben in Berlin through Marlon Williams’s manager. His manager suggested I work with Ben Edwards because he thought both of our off kilter vibes would connect, which they did. Dave, Jade and myself went to Lytellton, a small industrial sea port village outside of Christchurch on the south island of New Zealand, and worked for ten days with Ben. It was fast, fun, high energy, and in the moment.
There was less reflection than the previous record as we had limited time before we had to return to Australia. The physical environment for LOVE HATE was different to Kill It Yourself, which made in a scuzzy warehouse in Melbourne. This time we were working on top of a mountain in a little wooden cabin studio with views of the sea, sky, surrounding mountains and village below. The energy was different because I came with a new intention, but in true Ribeiro style a lot of music was made on the spot.
Cryptic Rock – The end result is quite good! The title of the album is quite curious as well. What was the concept behind it and do the tracks on the album intertwine with that theme?
Jess Riberio – I’m interested in light and darkness. I’m interested in the “shadow” as Jung calls it. The concept behind this record was exploring different phases of love, not all of these are light and happy. There’s a lot of pain and fear, illusions and changes that come with love. That’s what LOVE HATE is about. Like Yin and Yang.
Cryptic Rock – Very interesting. You also recently released a music video for the song “Chair Stare,” which is an interesting visual pieces shot on Super 8 for a grainy quality. What was the idea behind the music video?
Jess Riberio – The actual song is about lust and wanting to fuck people on chairs. The original idea for the clip was to film my contortionist exotic dancer friend in the garden of roses doing something lusty. She was unavailable, so we had to improvise. The idea is that even wholesome people need to get down, we are all animal sometimes. You can’t keep it all neat and tidy you know?
Cryptic Rock – It certainly makes for a visually compelling video that people should check out. You have some shows in your homeland of Australia, but what about international touring. Is that a possibility in 2019?
Jess Riberio – Any thing is possible. I sure hope so.
Cryptic Rock – That would be wonderful to see happen. In the future, who would you love to tour with?
Jess Riberio – There’s so many artists and groups I love. Touring with friends would be ace- Angel Olsen, We did some touring together in Australia last year. Kurt Vile, Courtney Barnett, King Gizzard, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Mac Demarco. Anyone really as long as they are warm and buzzy; that’s a New Zealand term meaning trippy. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – Your sound is extremely diverse and unique, so you could certainly fit on a bill with any of those artists.. That in mind, what are some of your personal musical influences?
Jess Riberio – The sacred triangle that is David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop. That, along with many others, including Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Suicide, The Supremes, Roy Orbison; all the classics.
Cryptic Rock – Those are some great selections. Last question. Beyond music, Cryptic Rock also covers movies, particularly in the Horror and Sci-Fi genre. If you are a fan of either genre, do you have any favorites?
Jess Riberio – I use to watch Horror movies as a kid. I used to be obsessed with anything to do with aliens and paranormal investigations, like ghosts and human self-combustion, but now I’m too scared of Horror movies. Communion (1989) with Christopher Walken was a good one. I like Blade Runner (1982) and the original Star Wars (1977). Also, A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), I think I cried in that.