Every so often we are contacted by publicists or artists themselves and when we listen, we are struck with sudden emotion and the pure joy of what music and artistry truly can be. Jetty Rae‘s debut single, “Queen of the Universe”, is exactly that type of song and Jetty Rae is that type of artist.
She was gracious enough to take a few minutes to chat with us about her upcoming album, Can’t Curse The Free, and a few other more personal tidbits. We are so proud to present, Jetty Rae!
Jetty Rae: Can’t Curse The Free is the first project I’ve had to sit on for over two years. The process from conception to production was quite a journey of discovery and patience. Nashville was in my sights to record this project–although I actually initially had my eye on a different producer. By the time I had all my songs ready and written (or so I thought) I headed to Austin for SXSW. While performing a showcase there on a rooftop bar, I noticed someone in the crowd who was truly listening…like, to every word. Some people listen half-heartedly, but this person was locked in on what I was singing. It was pretty motivating for me. After the set, the promoter told me that there were two producers from Nashville who would like to say hello. Lo’ and behold I met Mitch Dane, the very same locked in audience member. We briefly chatted, and met the next day at a diner, and over breakfast shared life stories…it was over a plate of bacon that I knew I’d found the producer of my next project.
After that, it was a matter of patience–I had my daughter over that waiting period and pushed the deadline back about 3 times. By the time the stars aligned I knew it was the perfect time to record. I hadn’t even written the title track, “Can’t Curse The Free”, if I had stuck to my first deadline. By the time I came into record– these songs had been played and heavily road tested. I knew exactly how I wanted to sing them, and how I felt about each one that ended up on the record.
LM: The new album is a little more rock and western than some of your previous releases, but still holds true to your folk roots. It is fun and full of feeling. How did this sound come about?
JR: I can’t really take credit for the new sound, other than the fact that I came into the studio with an open and eager mind. The evolution of sound is credited entirely to my producer, his vision for the project as well as the musicians he chose to play on the record. The players are at the top of their game, and you can tell they put their own heart and soul into each song.
I really didn’t know how it would sound–but every day Mitch would add layer by layer something new. I’d come in around 10AM, and he’d say, “I’m gonna play you something, let me know what you think.” He played mellotron and all these tribal percussive instruments, that really made each track so uniquely its own…One thing that made the sound, is simply the fact that Mitch knows his gear, and he is an excellent magician when it comes to getting the “sound” right, I swear he has more tricks in his bag than Mary Poppins.
JR: I want people to know that this record is victorious in theme. There is always the struggle, the stretching in life, the breaking–but if you plant your life on the truth, you will be able to overcome. This is a story-tellers album. My past projects have been almost entirely autobiographical. This project is about people I know and love. It’s about my family, my friends, and people that come from the same “emotional” landscape as me.
My last EP was processing the death of my first child…that loss has marked me and changed me. I am so much more aware of the aloneness that people feel…the defeat and sorrow. I wanted to tell some of those stories. “Nose Dive” is about a family in my community who lost a baby boy. I will never forget attending that funeral–a loss like that will put your life in a tail spin–I needed to tell their story, and perspective because of the silence most people live in.
I also wrote a song about a mother whom I’ve never met who lost two sons in a tornado – “In The Garden.” I can’t make sense of loss like this, so I write about it, I try to provide the voice and perspective of the grieving. The album is a balance though…rising is a common theme. Rising from the ashes, and overcoming.
LM: I couldn’t imagine the pain and loss. There are so many stand out tracks, but “Queen of the Universe” and “Can’t Curse the Free” are highlights. I know it is like picking your favorite child, but what is your favorite track and why?
JR: I really love “Can’t Curse The Free”, “Another Town” (Which was co-written with Ryan Horne) and “The River” (co-written with Chris DuPont). Can’t Curse The Free is the song that will change the atmosphere in the room. It’s blatant, passionate and triumphant. It’s a song that will always ring true for me, and no matter how I am being oppressed or lied to it’s a belief to cling to for my personal freedom.
“Another Town” lyrically for me is so vivid. I see the gray town, abandoned, snow covered…I see the emotional landscape on every boarded up window. The song is about being in a place in life that you never would’ve chosen for yourself–cancer, death, divorce, homelessness…so many people can relate to that. It’s a song about all of us who try to pick up the pieces and go on living. “The River” is one of my favorite songs to sing–it’s simple, but it echoes many questions of the deepest parts of my heart. Why would someone who loves you let certain things happen? The idea of being with someone who is good, but not safe.
LM: Speaking of your family, the word is that you, your husband, two children and your pug live and travel around in a vintage 1979 Airstream. It sounds like one heck of an adventure! We have to know how that came about and how that is working?
JR: Well for starters, I’m very fortunate to be married to such an adventurous and willing soul! There is no way we could make this work if it was just my pipe dream. When we were pregnant with our first child, Ella, we were paying off debt like crazy and living pretty minimally. All the change provoked a desire to take it to the next level–I wrote a song called “Off The Grid”, that was the pre-cursor for us getting rid of everything and buying one!
One day I was trolling Craigslist, and I found one for a really good price. We immediately contacted the seller, went and saw it and bought it on the spot. We are kind of crazy like that—we decided to jump into it whole-heartedly. We were both so tired of the idea of the “American Dream” bigger is better, more is better blah, blah, blah. We both felt like we wanted to make a change and focus on the people, not things, that matter in life. Our lifestyle is a lot of fun, but also a lot of work, especially with two kids under three and a pug! The places we get to see, and experiences we have are truly wonderful. From the Pacific Ocean, to Banff, to the desert, to the Grand Canyon we have had some wild adventures–that have shaped, challenged and refined us all.
LM: Speaking of travelling about, what kind of touring schedule will support the new album? Let’s be real, I’m asking this question to know if you are going to be on the West Coast!
JR: Awe–I don’t have any tours planned right now, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be happening. I’m not entirely sure of my plans or schedule right now – as I’m staying close to my parents to support my dad through cancer treatments.
LM: I’m sorry to hear about your dad. Here’s to a speedy recovery. So, you were able to perform at some awesome festival shows like Lilith Fair and CMJ Music Marathon. I think you would be a great fit at Seattle’s Bumbershoot. What type of shows and venues do you enjoy performing the most?
JR: I will have to check out Bumbershoot–I have had Seattle on my tour wish list for years! I love both ends of the spectrum as far as shows go–I love playing a good festival gig (Bumbershoot would be sweet!). The weather, the people, the atmosphere is always so light and fun–and I usually meet lots of new people. I also love playing smaller listening rooms or theaters–simply because of the intimacy of these shows. There is a real depth of connection that happens between the audience and me at smaller venues.
LM: It is always fun to hear the same artist in different venues. It makes the experience completely different! Thank you so much again for taking the time, Jetty!
JR: Thank you so much for listening and supporting indie musicians! It’s so appreciated – kudos on the questions!
You can pre-order Can’t Curse The Free by Jetty Rae on her PledgeMusic page. If not, you will have to wait until February 17, 2017 for the official release!
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