At two years old, having been born with hip dysplasia Jessica Winter’s legs were fixed in splits and casts after a series of operations, meaning the only seat that she could sit at was a piano stool. Winter’s grandmother bought her piano lessons and she has been playing ever since. Now, from her bedroom studio in Brixton, where she has written and produced with the likes of The Horrors, Gorillaz and Fat White Family, she releases what she describes as an honest attempt to make pop music influenced by Barbara Streisand to Death Grips.
NEW NOISE: JESSICA WINTER
Meet the Brixton-based singer making pop music influenced by Barbara Streisand and Death Grips.
What’s your earliest memory of music?
Due to hip dysplasia my earliest memory would be around two years old. My legs were fixed into the splits with a bar across the base of my spine. My Mum realised that this stool was a good one for me as my legs would poke through either side of the handles and I’d strike the keys and be entertained for hours.
Were your family musical?
I’d say so, my great grandfather played piano but was never rich enough to own one so he ended up running a piano shop. My Grandfather plays guitar and used to sing for beer money. John Winter, my uncle is a singer songwriter and Snippy (my Dad’s twin brother) is in a punk band called Archive 45. It’s definitely in the blood.
Who did you listen to growing up?
I loved classical, composers on repeat were… Debussy, Liszt, Strauss but when it came to pop music I would listen to everything, whatever mood I was in at the time… I was more goth than anything so would mainly listen to Marilyn Manson, My Ruin, Lacuna Coil, Opeth… but I’d also be into Britney, Madonna and Kylie…. It’s kind of the same now…
Do you remember realising that this was what you wanted to do full time?
I do actually… I was set a GCSE composition piece when my parents were divorcing. I wrote the saddest thing, it was a minimalist piano piece, all in minor. I remember crying over the piano as I was writing it and then after when I finished it, I felt at peace; it must have really exorcised some demons in my head. I realised that music was so powerful to me and a sort of therapy. Now I realise that it’s a therapy to both the writer and the listener, it’s an important unspoken life necessity. I was addicted from that moment.
How would you describe your music to an alien who’s just landed on earth?
An honest human attempt to include most influences from Western society or the more popular / dark pop / Julie Andrews singing Marilyn Manson.
You recently released “Let’s Keep This Shallow” how’s the reception been?
People have been so supportive and encouraging. I’m glad people are enjoying the music. I can’t wait to release more.
How was it performing the song in a tour across Scandinavia?
I was excited to play across the water, I’ve never done a gig outside of the UK before and I was ready for it. The gigs have been really positive, I sold all my vinyl and I signed some autographs!
What are some of the themes that run through the single?
Having a head full of insecurities and not wanting to be exposed of them. Being around friends and missing moments of real interaction.
The single opens up with a South East London brass section played by Alex White of Fat White Family, how did that come about?
I’m one half of Pregoblin, which is connected to FWF. Alex Sebley is the other half who wrote ‘Touch The Leather’ and other songs for them. We’ve been touring with FWF and in the studio together for over the last year. Alex White played the sax and Warren from Meatraffle aka Zsa Zsa Sapien played trumpet.
What’s your favourite of your songs and why?
They are my babies I can’t favour one more than the other, they all hold a special place in my heart. ( but maybe “Sad Music”; it’s the most fun to play live )
If you could collaborate with one person, who would it be?
I’d love to collaborate with Dolly Parton. She’d be fabulous and would teach me a lot of things.
What do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
It’s theirs / anybody’s once I’ve put it out. Have it – feel what you want – it’s yours.
What’s your favourite of your lyrics?
“I want to sleep forever.”
What’s the best live gig you’ve ever done?
A live gig for me must be very different to the person watching. Sometimes I come off stage all excited and people are like… what was that… other times I’m deflated and I’m told it was the best one yet. It’s so confusing. I really enjoyed playing in Stockholm because I was supporting Death Grips so I felt a challenge to be accepted by the audience… by the end of my set the were clapping along and whooping so I felt like I’d really achieved something.
Are you inspired by London?
Yeah I think I am, London is a bit of a bubble though so I like to go to Portsmouth and get inspiration from there too.
Who is one band/musician killing it right now?
I really love Cardi B – I love her music and I love her being she deserves all the love she’s getting.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“If in doubt, shake about.” – Susan Winter
What’s your goal for one year from now?
In a year I’d like to have way more than two songs out… I’d like to have toured to more places in Europe and further… I’d like the event that I run with Hate Zine – Hate The Haus to grow to the point where we can actually raise a lot of £ and awareness for the causes that we focus on. The next one is 11th July at Laylow by the way raising £ for Women On Waves – Women on Waves aims to prevent unsafe abortions and empower women to exercise their human rights to physical and mental autonomy.
If today was the last day on earth, what would you do / where would you go?
I’d call my Brother and we’d get a mojito and then I’d see if he was up for climbing up Big Ben (the clock) to watch London’s demise.
What are you motivated by?
I’m motivated by people and emotions. I love the obvious and I’m obsessed with love.
Jessica will be supporting Bexey next Tuesday at XOYO next week, get your tickets here.