In this month’s local feature, Daydream Machine discusses their new record and the double-edged evolution of the Portland venue landscape in recent years.
Live in Portland November 5 | Holocene
Just about every last one of you reading this has been dumped (If you haven’t yet don’t worry, soon enough the universe will make sure to rip your heart out). Now, while most of us would wallow over a pint of ice cold creamy confection, the fine young cannibal Jessica Boudreaux decided to create a solo record to process her feelings. No Fury comes over November 3 via Boudreaux’s label New Moss Records. You can catch Boudreaux at Holocene November 5 for her release party.
ELEVEN: So with being the solo writer for Summer Cannibals and creating all the demos, do you find that you have any push back from your band mates or are they mostly on board?
Jessica Boudreaux: That’s the way things have always been done and people like Jenny (Logan) and Devon (Shirley) don’t’ have time for that. I spend a lot of time writing Summer Cannibals songs and it’s not like I’m saying “This needs to sound exactly like the demo” because I cannot play like them, especially like Devon, I cannot play drums like that. I know they will start playing it and add to it what they see fit.
11: It’s almost like you’re doing them favor; you’re doing the hard part.
JB: Yeah, and bands that like jam together and write together, that’s just a totally different experience. You have to set things up like that from the beginning. I feel way freer to experiment and try bad things that help push me in the direction of good when I’m alone or when I’m one-on-one with someone.
11: It’s funny because the more and more people I interview, I find that your process is actually the norm. I know that New Moss Records is yours, that’s pretty impressive that you’re in all these bands and you run a record company. What’s it like? Why did you start it?
JB: I started it specifically to put out the first Sun Angle album because I love them and thought they were awesome and wanted to see that record on vinyl. After that, I decided “Well no one is going to put out this first Summer Cannibals record so I’ll just do it myself.” So I did that with the first two Summer Cannibals records. Since then I’ve only put out a comp, and it’s not something I’m too concerned with growing because it’s kind of an impossible industry and a great way to lose money. Also I felt a lot pressure to tour and be on for Summer Cannibals over the last four years and I really didn’t want that pressure or responsibility with No Fury. I wanted to tour if I felt like it. I didn’t want that expectation. So shopping No Fury around didn’t sound too appealing because I knew if someone picked it up I would have a lot more responsibilities. So I did it myself and I actually really love it. I like being able to package all the orders myself and send letters to people, and I don’t mind the emailing and the business stuff.
11: I think it’s cool that you’re putting out your own record. You can control the creative side. It’ll be exactly what you’ll want it to be.
JB: You forget how nice it is to not have to go through people for everything you want to do. And with the election and how volatile it’s been, I want to be close to my family and friends and have my dog around. It’s been a nice break, the second half of this year. I can’t imagine traveling right now.
11: I’m sure also on the road it’s hard to be creative and develop new material.
JB: I had this conversation recently and I have it a lot. It’s the least creative I feel. But when I’m home I write every day. I’m either working on my own or someone else’s music. To be on tour doing the same thing every night and not being able to write puts me in a weird headspace.
11: I read in a Willamette Week interview that you had been spending a lot of time in LA and were thinking about making the move down there. Is that still something you want to do, career wise?
JB: I had a room down there and I was ready but it’s the same thing that I was saying with touring. I started to have a lot of anxiety about it. I guess for me, I have always had a strong drive to be successful and to reach the next milestone or whatever. I want to start writing and producing for other people, and I felt I had to get down there and kind of fight for it. But on a personal level, I started to prioritize family, friends and my home before touring and before a career. So I was thinking I would just push it back a little. I was supposed to be down there the beginning of this year. I started focusing on recording and I decided at least for now, it’s not where I want to be. I don’t want to be away from family, and in this more intense, high stress place. It just didn’t feel right anymore. It’s also more about the commercial than the creative there and everyone in Portland just finds a way to create. Portland is a city that values creativity over other things. At least in the recording or music scene. I did like the diversity in LA. I simultaneously liked the idea of starting over new but it’s a hard place to start over in. I also don’t know if I value the things that most musicians and writers value in LA, at least at this point in my life. I’m comfortable here and I’m creating at a rate that I wouldn’t have been able to down there.
11: So speaking about creating, let me get to No Fury. I Know Hutch (Harris) kind of helped you with writing a few of the songs and Victor Nash built on your songs at his studio?
JB: Yeah, Victor took some of the demos that I had made at my studio and Devon came in and played live drums. Jenny played a little on bass. We kind of just worked off the electronic demos I had made.
11: With this album, it’s a lot more poppy, it’s great. I envision girlfriends singing this together in a car on their way out or while getting ready, but what does the album mean to you?
JB: The whole thing pretty much is based around one almost-relationship that I had. It was emotionally very traumatic for me. I loved someone so much but they just could not get there with me. It kind of felt like they were just stringing me along. The album for me from start to finish is about that, and from start to finish it shifts into the different stages of dealing with that. The album starts with “Ask Me To Stay,”–which is super straightforward–and the first half of the album is like that, and then it goes into a darker, electronic, more introspective, poetic way of looking at things. It ends with this realization that I’m never going to be the thing they needed me to be. For me it’s almost a concept record because I know it’s all about this one thing. It takes a lot of different routes and side streets though to get to the end.
11: I have been in that relationship, so I completely understand. When you started writing this album, had you received closure on the relationship or was writing it a cathartic way to process it all out?
JB: I was not over it until the last day of mixing. I was fully in the thick of it from the day I started writing. Which I’ve never done before. Usually I can’t write about something until it’s over.
11: With the recording process, what were the most time consuming or difficult parts?
JB: It was pretty smooth because Hutch and I had done so much work going into it. With every song, we knew what we wanted it to sound like. The demos are very close to what the finished record ended up sounding like. With a few of the songs all we did was re-record the vocals. “Echo” and “Falling Leaves” were both done at my house before-hand. It was really just the live drums that kind of changed everything else–we had to shift things to fit that sound. There was a little trial and error because none of us had made a pop album before. The biggest obstacle was how I had hang-ups in my head. I had this initial reaction of “Should I be embarrassed? I’ve been in Summer Cannibals and now I’m doing this super pop love record.” Part of me kind of felt like “There’s all this stuff going on in the world, am I neglecting those things by not talking about them?” But the more it went along I realized that just because there are all these things going on in the world, it doesn’t mean that we lose these kind of problems too. It doesn’t mean that these kinds of problems don’t still hold the greatest importance to us in our emotional daily lives.
11: Yeah no matter who the president is, getting dumped fucking sucks. I also think personally with the pop element, it shows your creative diversity. You’re not making the same album over and over again. That is really hard for most musicians. Once they find something that works, that’s what they stick with.
JB: I feel great about it. I’m so happy with it and with the response of people who have been Summer Cannibals fans for a long time. That was a big part of what I was worried about. Like what will those fans think?
11: Do you have a favorite track?
JB: I really love “Echo” and “Televised.” “Televised” was the first track that Hutch and I wrote together. For us, it opened up something because neither of us realized we had these kinds of songs in us. We’ve written lots of songs together since that one–it kind of opened the floodgates. That one means a lot to me. I also really love “All for the Best,” the melodramatic piano ballad. I’ve just never done a song like that so it felt good to sit at the piano. I’m really happy with how it turned out.
11: I love a good ballad! When you’re not recording yourself or other artists, what else do you like to do around Portland?
JB: I’m a pretty big nerd, I just kind of want to work all the time. I’ve been doing some mixing work and assistant engineering stuff.
11: That’s rad, where are you doing that?
JB: Hutch has been recoding people at his house, and he kind of opened up his studio there so a lot of times I’ll just kind of go and engineer while he produces. I’m basically in the process of building a studio in my basement. I have one small room where all my gear is and where we practice and record, but I’m expanding it and trying to get it to a place where bands can come in. That’s really what I want to be doing long-term. So I spend a lot of time reading books about that and reading books about mixing and recording. I’m just a sponge right now and trying to learn everything that I can.
11: I think that’s awesome, I would love to see more women in sound engineering.
JB: Me too. I was definitely searching for a female owned recording studio in Portland. I’ve had the hardest time finding one. Representation matters so much. People see someone who looks like them or is like them and realize “Oh I can do that too.” The more I realize there’s a lack of it here, the more I want to do it.
11: Maybe New Moss will be the first?! So what’s next for you?
JB: I’m not totally sure. I’ve always had the next 6 months planned. I needed a little break from those responsibilities. I am almost finished with a second solo record. I’ve been recording over the last 4 months. Summer Cannibals just finished the fourth album. I have both of those so I need to decide what I want to do with those. Also hopefully I’ll be recording and producing other artists.