Having performed at water parks, cemeteries, roundabouts, bookshops and back porches, singer songwriter Jess Locke is no stranger to performing in unconventional spaces. It is this that has formed the musician from Avoca Beach and given her the ability to captivate crowds with her easy-going melancholic sound. These days Locke has been seen touring in support of artists such as Paul Dempsey, Tigers Jaw, Into. Over It., Julia Jacklin and most recently The Smith Street Band who she is now label-mates with under Pool House Records.
It was recently announced that Locke’s brand-new album Universe will be released on Friday 20th October via Pool House Records / Remote Control Records. To celebrate this, the title track ‘Universe’ premiered on triple j’s Good Nights with Linda Marigliano along with the accompanying video being released on YouTube.
‘Universe’ is all about the conflicting desire to be your own person while also wanting to connect with other people and things so badly that it will destroy the person you are. “The song is about trying to connect with reality, with the physical environment and with people, literally and emotionally. In order to have some kind of relationship with the world, we have to remain separate from it. Sometimes that’s a lonely feeling, but the flip side of that idea is that by truly connecting with something it would be destroyed in the process. So, some of the violent sounding lyrics are actually a kind of metaphor about that – this conflicting desire to be whole entities while wanting to connect with other people to the point of our own obliteration,” Locke explains, referencing lyrics such as “I’ll break your skin and put my heart into your chest, I’ll break my own and fall in love with all this mess.”
The video for ‘Universe’ is the result of the collaboration between Locke and her friends Mim Montgomery and Marnie Vaughn of Bare Pictures. Filmed at an artist run studio called Monster House, the artistic film clip is half stop motion animation and half video. It features Locke singing to the viewer through a window while its glass panes are gradually covered by the beautiful artwork of Montgomery. The video makes an effort to portray the things that the lyrics of the song are talking about. “The video touches on that theme of connection and separation,” says Locke, “whilst also being colourful and kind of upbeat.”
Universe, the album, consists of both entirely new songs and also older songs that have been previously released as home recordings but have now been rewritten. This really documents how far Locke has come as a musician through years of writing, playing and recording and the album definitely seems to have pushed her further musically than she has ever gone before. Jess explains about Universe; “the album was very much about exploring the sound of things, and capturing an atmosphere, more than any particular concepts. There are definitely themes that pop up, but really, the ideas are quite broad, maybe that’s why I decided to call it Universe.”
One of Locke’s greatest abilities is to match a dreamy pop soundscape with her hypnotizing voice and intelligent lyricism cut with sharply defined commentary. This is a skill that keeps on developing through years of writing music and has been perfectly illustrated in ‘Universe’ and the previously released single ‘Bitter/Better’, as well as the forthcoming album. “I feel like all of my recordings have been me trying to catch up with myself, document my songs so I can start fresh and write new ones. But I never fully catch up,” Lock offers.
Courtesy of Ian Laidlaw
Locke is currently touring around Australia with headlining shows as well as supporting Fazerdaze and Jeff Rosenstock. Fans of Locke, or anyone who is interested, can catch her live at the remaining tour dates below.
Remaining Tour Dates
Wed 13 Sept – Ed Castle, Adelaide SA *supporting Jeff Rosenstock*
Thurs 14 Sept – The Gasometer, Melbourne VIC *supporting Jeff Rosenstock*
Sat 16 Sept – Karova Lounge, Ballarat VIC *supporting Jeff Rosenstock*
Sun 17 Sept – Wrangler Studios, Melbourne VIC (All Ages) *supporting Jeff Rosenstock*
Sat 7 Oct – Punk Rock Pie Night, The Reverence Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Thurs 12 Oct – Til The Wheels Fall Off, Launceston TAS
Sat 9 Dec – Fairgrounds Festival, Berry NSW
Universe Track List
1. Drive To Drink
5. Violent Turn
6. Paper Planes
7. Sublime Anxiety
9. Gut Feeling
10. Border Security