premiere: chuck grant directs a super 8 reverie for jesse jo stark's new single
Hollywood princess Jesse Jo is set to open for Guns N' Roses this summer.
Photography Paige Silveria
Jesse Jo Stark has been writing music since she was 12 years old, but only recently began releasing the moody, 70s-inspired rock 'n' roll tracks that are garnering her so much attention. She's been slowly putting out symphonic rock singles like "Driftwood" and "Down Your Drain" to a mounting fan base that swoons for her deep soulful voice with echoes of alt-country singers like Neko Case. Part of the Los Angeles-based Chrome Hearts family dynasty and long-time besties with Bella Hadid, Jesse Jo is Hollywood fashion royalty. And she may have learned a thing or two about music from her godmother -- Cher.
"April Flowers," her latest single, is about the bad choices in love that we repeatedly make, because sometimes the passion is worth the inevitable heartbreak. The video, released exclusively on i-D, was directed by another impressive young artist, Chuck Grant (sister to Lana Del Rey). The two collaborated on the Super-8 production after becoming acquainted through friends. "When I met Chuck, it was really cool because she got me. Usually people try to scale my ideas down, but she didn't," explains Stark. "She wanted to take my ideas to the next level." Here's a quick run-through of Jesse Jo's budding career including producing an EP with Sex Pistols's guitarist Steve Jones and getting ready to open for Guns N' Roses's upcoming show in Prague.
You've been making music all your life, right? When did you start putting stuff out for the public to see?
I started out little things like YouTube videos early on. I've been writing forever. I think I'm just a late bloomer. Some people share when they're 16, but I just wasn't like that. I put out my first official EP in 2014 [the four-track Down Your Drain] when I felt like the work was finally right. It was just the right time and I found the right producer [Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols]. The most recent music that I've put out has been such a shift because I feel like it's really me. I feel like I'm finally in a place where I'm making stuff that I back. Now is the time to play and share it with other people.
You have the residency coming up in September at the Echo in Los Angeles as well.
Yeah. I actually just played there for the first time and it was great. I opened up for three other bands and they offered me the residency that night. I'll be playing every Monday for four weeks and I get to bring on the bands that open for me. It's cool to plan the night.
How long have you been with your band for?
Up until like four months ago, when I actually switched all of the members, I'd played with the same band since I was 13. My previous band was amazing. The guy who played guitar with me taught me to play; I've known him since I was 10. They're all my idols and taught me so much and kind of shaped me. They allowed me to try so many things. But I got to a point where I felt like I needed to grow with my peers. I needed them to fuck up with me and my previous band had already gone through what I still need to. The transition was really hard. But I've been rehearsing every night with the new band and I really love and connect with these guys. It's fun and I feel like they want to be there. It makes me happy. I'm stoked.
So currently you're not putting out an album in its entirety. You're releasing one song at a time accompanied by a video?
I'm putting out a single a month. I just think it's cooler right now for me to release one at a time and build my audience. I'm just making sure I'm putting shit out that I like. But I'm late because of this video, "April Flowers." I really wanted to work with Chuck. She came into my life randomly, through a friend of a friend. She couldn't do it for a month and I told her I'd wait for her.
How did recording the video go? Had you already put the idea together or was it more collaborative?
I wrote "April Flowers" about a year ago. Since, I've been wanting to do this video and have been putting together folders of ideas. Chuck shot it all on Super 8 over a three-day shoot. It was amazing. It's my favorite video I've done with someone. A lot of them I've directed myself with a DP. With her, she really took over and the video really feels like me. It was pretty freeing.
What's the song about?
It's kind of this sick love story. It's about going through this hectic breakdown and realizing that you go and do it all over again. One of my favorite lines is "All the spooky little kids," and that just refers to all the other fucked up kids and their fucked-up love stories — all these messes we create. We all go through these loves, some more poisonous than others. That's the downfall. You hit rock bottom and then you realize you'd do it all over again.
Text Paige Silveria
Portrait photography Paige Silveria
Polaroids Brandon Palas