If you don’t know Jacki P, you haven’t been listening to enough local music the last few years. We get to know her a little better with her thoughts on being a band beloved by “the scene,” how the sausage gets made for local bands, and the highs and lows of a dream-driven life.
AltDaily: Watching your musical direction evolve over the last few years, there’s been quite an arch–from the synth pop joy of DJP, to the searching battle played out in the score to VSC’s Shrew, to the new music you’re making with Brett and Josh (below), which is the most dark. Is there a part of you that worries that as much as life guides the music, the music can end up guiding life?
Jacki Paolella: Yeah, definitely. I’m a really porous and incredibly adaptable person, and the downside of that is that I can really fall in line with my environment. Music has been a part of my life this year now more so than ever, and so if the music is going good, then everything seems good. And so the flip side of that can unfortunately be true also. I’m pretty sure you know what it’s like to have your life all wrapped up in your work – it can be incredible to the point where you feel sorry for anyone who never really chased a dream. But when it’s bad it’s like, why am I so stubborn and/or dumb and why am I risking everything. So yes, I do worry about that because it is real.
There’s a line in “Slow Climb”: “Get used to the notion of flickering bliss.” What are the moments of flickering bliss that make your life worth living?
I really love being outdoors and in nature with people I love. If I can get out and hike or kayak or walk the the beach with my family, friends, lovers, even new friends… those are definitely the most blissful moments I can think of. Is that lame? But the flickering part is that these types of moments go by so, so fast – it’s so bright in one moment but the very next moment can be replaced with such bleakness. The song in general relates to how happiness comes in waves. A lot of this music is about how to deal with feelings in a constructive way.
You’re a person who oozes talent, creativity, and energy; clearly you could be successful in any number of fields you chose to dedicate yourself to. This is a very basic sounding question, but I’m curious about your answer: why music? Why do you create music? (Somewhat) related, does the notion of a musical legacy ever enter your thought process?
Wow, thank you Jesse. Sometimes I do wonder if I would be good at other things. So music – there are a few reasons why I’m so focused on it. I didn’t realize it until recently, but my grandma used to admire musicians so much that maybe it got subconsciously ingrained in me. Also people close to me know how I feel about art (and I put music I make under the category of art more so than commerce) and how it’s so powerful. It can be even more powerful that money.
Most of our worst problems as humans come from not understanding each other. You can’t just throw money at this problem and you can’t force anyone to understand anyone else; you can only guide people toward understanding. In the case of Wyteshayds, if two completely different people come together to listen to our meditative raw angsty luscious swirling dreamlike music and love it (not in the same way that everyone loves pizza but in the way that certain people love climbing mountains or making their own bread) then suddenly they have something salient in common. That’s worth everything and it’s incredibly difficult and rewarding.
My niece thinks our music should be licensed for J Crew, someone else says it reminds them of Engine Down, and a third person says that the drum and bass relationship between Josh and I is very soulful. The center of Venn diagram of where these sensibilities meet is incredible to me. As far as a musical legacy… it may be selfish but I’d rather live out the possibility of our music moving many people as opposed to leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for future musicians or historians.
Probably more than any other band in Norfolk, Wyteshayds is surrounded by a certain hipster hype. Is it a double edged sword that some people might be showing up for ‘the scene’ at a Wyteshayds show—to watch the boys flex on their drums and guitar, for how pretty you look when you’re singing from your soul? Or does it matter why people come—you all play for you, at shows other people just happen to be there?
Haha that’s also a double edged compliment too but thanks once again. And hmm… I don’t know… when I think about the people that like our music I think about people who are lovers of art and who are adventurous and thoughtful and open enough to listen to something outside of the mainstream. Lots of older people seem to like our music too – which I love. I feel like we don’t really sound quite like any other band, and we’re playing for no one specific with the hopes that more and more people show up to each show.
Tell us about your plans for the band. What will the crowd-funding dollars go toward? If all breaks right for Wyteshayds, what does your ultimate success look like? Why should people give?
So, our plans are to make a quality record and to market that record at a pretty reasonable cost. I’m an audio engineer so we have an unfair advantage, which we will need to succeed, but we also want to get the records mixed by an engineer who we really like named Jeremy Griffith. Once we mix and master it, we want to press it to vinyl. Not only do our fans seem to being asking specifically for vinyl, but vinyl is one of the few sectors in recorded music sales that is actually growing. We are also working with a publicist at Drunken Piano based out of NYC to help our music reach people who may enjoy it. If we have money left after all of this, it will go toward a van. And finally, if we exceed our goal of $10K, we’re donating the excess to Nuci’s Space (which is a really important non-profit that you can learn about here.)
So why should people give? There’s a hundred reasons that I’m happy to discuss with anyone on the fence – from overcoming the socioeconomic and superficial hurdles that often muffle original music, to being an active part of shaping your own artistic and musical world for the price of a few drinks. But since this is a Hampton Roads-based publication, in the words of one of my most awesome musical clients, “if a band from Norfolk goes national, it’s like we all go along with you. Just look at Seattle.” The success of Norfolk’s artists only make our city stronger and more potent and attractive to quality individuals and businesses, and I don’t even think I need to explain this based on what we’ve all experienced with the Norfolk Arts District this year. So we’re looking to our fans and fans of music and art to give us a push. If we succeed, I hope that it’s the start of something truly great for music and for our city.