Article by: Chloe Stillwell | Photos courtesy of Jesca Hoop | Posted: 08/16/2012
Jesca Hoop will make you feel like an asshole. She’ll make you want to take all the electronics in your house, along with any book, movie and magazine you’ve ever pretended to like because people made you feel like you should, and throw it into your front lawn. You’re not done there though. To really get on her level you’d have to then light it all ablaze, using only your mind, while you comb the thistles out of a baby squirrel’s fur from atop a nearby tree. Saying all of that isn’t to diminish or poke fun at Hoop’s holy holistic style at all, but merely point out how charmingly jarring it is to be confronted with an artist whose answers to my interview questions could probably be put to melodies and turned into folk songs. The Madonna accent aside, I realized that Hoop’s commitment to her aesthetic goes beyond skin deep, and that is obvious in her music as well, and probably why people are talking about her.
The UK-based pop singer-songwriter’s music from her new album The House That Jack Built (6/26) is pleasant in its lyrically-driven, spritely melodies and its simplicity. Her voice houses the kind of purity you’d expect from someone whose favorite place they’ve flown is over the Redwood trees through the Northern Lights. (Hoop has a shockingly detailed dream blog.) Her quiet, yet peppy arrangements, combined with her voice, harkens back to ‘90s Gwen Stefani, or even Lene Nystrom from Aqua (you know you remember them, don’t play), but much softer. Hoop’s vocals are also often layered, reminiscent of Florence and the Machine’s debut album if Florence Welch wasn’t power-belting straight to the shores of her homeland.
What’s fun about Jesca Hoop is that every time the whole stick-rattling-princess-of-the-wetlands thing gets a little over the top, she chimes in with something totally unexpected and normal. In one breath, she says in all seriousness that “flying” is a practice that she “very lucidly, very physically attend[s].” (It’s not that I don’t believe her, it’s just that I’m jealous and maybe need to up my dose of Melatonin.) In the next question, when asked what animal she would be if given the choice -- (I’m waiting with baited breath for her to say a unicorn that thrives only on the laughter of fish) -- she says an otter, just chillin’ and floatin’ and eatin’ clams on the North West coast. I ask her what kind of travel she prefers best, she says walking and driving.
I also asked her what time period she would reincarnate to and as what, to which she wrote me this prose poem: “I would live as a squaw princess amongst the Northwest Coast Indians before the settlers came from Europe. I would live in a redwood bark house and wear brain-tanned leather from head to toe. I would have long think black straight hair and I would cook over a fire the salmon from the rivers. I would gather plants from the forest. And collect them into a basket that I carry by a strap around my forehead. I would make Acorn meal. I would sleep under a bear skin blanket.” On that I will let you ponder for just a moment.
It’s only obvious that there are many sides to Hoop. Her lyrics range from deeply personal revelations about her relationship with her father, to odes to nature, to honest-to-God boner talk. Her multiplicity is evident in her latest music video for “Hospital (Win Your Love),” which matches the energetic whimsy of the song with Hoop sporting sprinkle-lipstick lips, and participating in full on choreographed dances; upon further inspection, however, the song is really meant to be about the pain often caused by festering memories from the past. I first thought that Hoop might be a witch, but then I realized that she just pays a lot more attention to everything around her -- a level of attention that I wish I had the capacity for. She says of magic, “Mankind, the Animal Kingdom, our friends the plants and how we came to live and thrive here is nothing short of miraculous,” and it’s that kind of earnest belief in the universe that is hard to find (at least in the public eye) these days. Helping her tap into this oneness is Sketch, Hoop’s alter ego, a tiny skeleton trying to reunite with Jesca’s soul, or something like that. Hoop has a “thing” and she’s going for it, while also making good music. Who knows what time holds for Jesca, Sketch, the Universe or the otters, but it looks hopeful, and hopefully the power of three will set her free.
Jesca Hoop - "Hospital (Win Your Love)"