Following the release of her debut EP, Californian native Jesse Jo Stark cements her place as the coolest girl in the world.
Jesse Jo Stark has been touted as many things over the years, but with the recent release of her four track EP Down Your Drain, successful musician can be added to that list. Coming into the public eye through the lens of the infamous photographer Cobra Snake during the mid-noughties, whilst still a teen, collaborations with Vans as well as Chrome Hearts, (which happens to be the family business) soon followed. We catch up with her from her Venice home, where she fills us in on making music with Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols to writing her first song at twelve.
What are your earliest memories of music, what music were you raised on?
I feel like when my dad used to play on the way to school, like country and Brian Eno and David Bowie and I hated it because I was younger and didn’t really understand that; I wanted to listen to the Spice Girls, but now I’m stoked because that really influenced my music now! My dad and mum were always into it, that scene, they were always making clothes for all these rock stars so I was always always in the mix of a creative space. Recently though…I actually just downloaded Lola Wolf, Zoë Kravitz’s band and I’ve been listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, The Cramps, Mazzy Star, that’s been my week.
You’re from an extremely creative household, and you’ve dabbled in both music and fashion, have your parents ever given you any advice?
They were always just supportive. My dad bought me a guitar for my birthday when was little and they let me take music lessons; I was never really sporty so music was my outlet.
When did you first start playing guitar? What’s the writing process like for you?
I was like 10, I actually play with the guy who taught me to play Kurt; he’s in my band with me now. The first song I ever wrote was called ‘my hearts on fire’ and I was like 12, so you can imagine, it wasn’t that great! I don’t play guitar on stage though, but I do write with my guitar. It’s always actually lyrics first. I get the name of my song in my head and then I build a song around that. I wrote a lot in the studio with my drummer Isaac. I have all these really bad voice notes on my phone, and then we’ll go and lay it down and spice it up.
You’ve been working with Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, how did that come about?
Steve, who’s also now producing my album, came to one of my shows, and he said Baby Love doesn’t work, so I was just like come to the studio and make it work! I asked him if he would produce the rest of the EP. It’s strange because he was in a punk band and my music is not punk at all! It’s kind of pop rock, that’s really influenced by 50s Americana and horror and Fleetwood Mac.
You’ve always been heavily involved with fashion, in the past you have done collaborations with Vans and Chrome Hearts; do you have any projects in the pipeline?
If I’m not in the [recording] studio then I’m working at Chrome Hearts, designing in the studio. You know Vans was a few years ago now but it was so much fun I would do that a million times more; I’m always down to make stuff for people to wear.
How would you describe your style, and how do you think someone who doesn’t know you would describe your style?
I’m kind of… I pick outfits for a week and then don’t really change. And I’m 23 now so I’m a bit more put together; I’m not as punked out as I used to be. I just try a little bit more, I never understood my mom when she said ‘I’m too old to wear this’. I guess I’m grungy but yeah, I’m a little bit more together these days.
What was it like growing up in Malibu?
It’s so nice I find myself always coming back; I live in Venice now, which isn’t too far away. But you know Malibu’s a small town and you know everyone there, everyone you grew up with which I love. And it’s always hot, for the most part, and I love the beach so I’m always coming here.
What have you got planned for the future, are you working on an album?
We’re going to finish the album, I’m booking some shows, just play out more and work out the rest of the record and come up with some weird ideas.
Are you planning on coming to Europe to play some shows?
100%. I’ve actually played in Paris but I’ve never played in London. Recently though my friend Atlanta djed this Refinery 29 party, at Paris Fashion week and she played one of my songs; that was awesome.
Where do you want to be in 5 years’ time? I just hope that I’m still playing a lot and writing and …..I will still be playing whether it’s to 5 people or 5000 people!
Words: Siobhan Frew.