Welcome to the stage Jess Kent, the English-born, Adelaide-raised and Bondi-dwelling musician of your ears’ dreams. Word on the grapevine is that the true talent writes a song a day, which is excellent news for us, because it means we can soundtrack our lives to her upbeat, catchy tunes.
We recently had the immense pleasure of being a fly on the wall during one of her recording sessions. Just wow. Our chats with the sparkle joy human touched on finding inspiration in every patch of her life, from boys and food to her Nintendo Switch, the deep layers that can be found in her pop songs if you go digging, and why we should all be staying true to our authentic selves.
Take it away, Jess!
Hi! Let’s jump straight in: How do you think your upbringing helped to shape your worldview?
I traveled a lot from a young age and have mixed race parents, so I've always been exposed to different cultures and people from all over the world. I feel really lucky for that. I also realised from a very early age that music is such a powerful and universal thing. What a gift!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be kind. Stay weird.
Are there any cultural shifts you hope will happen in the next 10 years?
I hope there is a continued push to raise the collective consciousness in terms of being present, aware, informed, and a realisation that we are all connected on this one planet. When we realise how much social media can keep us (myself included!) trapped in fear, comparisons and narcissism, maybe then we can start the digital detoxing.
You’re a very talented songwriter! Outside of other musicians, who or what inspires your creativity?
Thank you! Creativity comes from everywhere: watching films, playing games (right now I'm playing Zelda on Nintendo switch), going to art museums, shows, traveling, getting out and experiencing life… and boys.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
The first song I learned to play was ‘The Tide is High’—the Blondie version—when I was seven. Or, maybe my earliest memory is the Spice Girls?
Are there any subjects or themes you find yourself returning to in your music? Why is that so?
Right now my songs are all about food and boys. There's always an underlying social commentary that weaves through my narrative, but right now I'm obsessed with food and boys.
What do you hope people will take away from your music?
I always love those albums that you have on repeat during a time in your life, and when you play them back they remind you of that time. I hope that when people listen to my music it can soundtrack whatever they're going through. It's fun pop, but there's a deeper layer there to be discovered if they want to go there.
What books/poems have had the most profound impact on you?
The Power of Now and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. My friend Mallrat showed me a great poem the other day called You Are Jeff by Richard Silken.
What role do you think social media plays in your work?
In my work, I think it's such a great tool to have a direct line of communication with people who want to follow me and listen to my music. Personally, I have a timer set now on my phone so I spend more time being present and less time scrolling. I think it can be both a blessing and a curse.
When do you feel most ‘you’?
When I'm creating something that feels authentic, vulnerable and uncompromising. And, when I'm with old friends.
What drives you to keep creating?
Whenever I have an experience that impacts me in some way, I have to write about it, however big or small. It's like my free therapy.
What does it feel like being on stage performing to a crowd?
It can be the scariest thing and the most magical thing! I love it, though. When you all feel connected and you're just having the best time.
What are you most looking forward to in 2020, both professionally and personally?
Professionally, I'm finishing off a body of work that I am extremely proud of, so looking forward to releasing that throughout the year. Personally, I'm feeling like my most authentic self ever, and with that, I have a whole new lease of vitality around my projects and my personal life. This year I'm leaning into the feeling of being the most ‘me’ I can be.
Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?
Absolutely. It can be easy to poke fun at those things, but I think we are all spiritual beings, it just depends on how open to it you are willing to be. I love learning about it and seeing how my internal and external world shifts as I grow and move through life.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Make my bed, make coffee, then minutes of purge writing, without fail!
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What’s the coolest or most interesting thing you’ve learned recently?
I'm learning to make pottery! (Not super well, but all my friends will be getting dodgy mugs for their birthday!).
Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
What does ‘cool’ mean to you?
To me, cool means being and loving the most unapologetically authentic version of yourself.