Published Sep 06, 2013For electro-R&B songstress Jessy Lanza, the writing process for her upcoming debut effort, Pull My Hair Back was a lengthy and often laborious effort. The Hamilton, ON native took a more organic approach when it came to singing, going with what sounded good rather than what makes sense. She calls it her "cohesive mumble."
"A lot of times it would just end up, like, the [lyrics] aren't cohesive and don't make sense, but it sounds good so I'm going to leave it," Lanza tells Exclaim! of the new record, which was co-written and co-produced with Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan.
Pull My Hair Back fully embodies this idea, as her soft voice is barely audible in some songs, dissolving under a layer of bouncy bass lines and sultry synths. Admittedly, Lanza confesses, she writes with no real theme in mind, letting the melodies take the forefront while she adds lyrics simultaneously.
"I don't wanna make it seem like lyrics aren't important to me, because I think lyrics can totally make or break a song, but I get really anxious about writing and I hate the sounds of lyrics that are too forced or laboured.
"I find the songs that I'm happiest with are distinctive. [I'll use] one phrase to start off the verse, and if it's good, it'll be good enough to carry through a whole song."
As she further explains, her approach to lyric-writing is almost ad-libbed. "What I like to try and do is go and record some vocals, like a whole 10 takes in one night, and not think too much about what I [am] saying. I would have an idea and try and play off of that, but the next day I'd go in and cut up the parts I thought sounded best at that time.
"I kind of mumble a lot, too, when I'm singing, so it kind of obscures the lyrics… but I was just like, 'I don't care; it sounds good in that musical moment.'"
Hear just how it sounds on Pull My Hair Back when it arrives in Canada on Jeremy Greenspan's new Geej Recordings imprint and via Hyperdub elsewhere on September 10. Lanza also has some Canadian dates on the horizon, and you can see those below.
09/27 Montreal, QC – Pop Montreal (Club Lambi)
09/28 Montreal, QC – Pop Montreal (Le Divan Orange)
11/02 Toronto, ON – The Garrison