Jessi Robertson

Jessi Robertson

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It’s hard to pick a single place, but at the moment I’d most like to visit Rome. 

I recently released Trouble, the first single from my new album I Came from the War. If you watched the trailer, you’ll see that we played this song live as a band in the studio. We added a few things later like piano and backing vocals, and Aaron taught me all about mixing magic as we worked on the song, but the meat of what you’re hearing in Trouble is a live performance.

When Omer and I began talking about making this record, he’d always say that he wanted to capture the way my voice sounds live. To accomplish that goal, we knew we’d have to record a real performance of each song. There’s no punching in and out, no splicing together of various takes, no auto-tune. Just me being me, with the help of some seriously talented people. The whiskey didn’t hurt either.

One other thing you might notice is the warm sound of tape. We recorded to tape, mixed down to tape, and mastered from tape. It’s kind of an old-school record. I’ll have more info on the album release date soon.   

Tagged: #thewar #trouble

Trailer for my upcoming album “I Came from the War.” 

Talking yourself in circles

This Sunday we tracked the final notes of my new record. Elated and pensive, I almost want to call it a little death, but that has other connotations which may or may not be appropriate.

Next week I head back to The Bunker Studio to begin mixing with my producer Omer Leibovitz and the uber-talented Aaron Nevezie. In between wrapping up tracking and starting to mix down, I almost got stranded in Nashville and survived yet another storm and its sludgy remains.


I had a long internal discussion with myself this morning about my songwriting process. As we finalized the song decisions for this record, the flow of new songs has slowed to a trickle but I feel something brewing, even though I don’t know what it is yet.

For me, that’s one of the most exciting things about being a songwriter, feeling the idea begin to boil like water in a kettle (only, I’m the kettle), and not really being sure what’s going to happen when the whistle finally blows.

Analog / Analogue

I spent the last two days live tracking the lion’s share of my new record with Omer Leibovitz, Layton Weedeman, and Alex Picca at The Bunker Studio.

The Bunker Studio. Photo by Jessi Robertson.

We’ve been prepping for this for months and it really paid off, especially when we found that we could do without the click on most songs and just let it breathe.

Recording to tape. Photo by Layton Weedeman

I’m trying to think of the best way to describe the two days we tracked: intense, dream-like, frustrating, rewarding, funny, emotional. It was a beautiful, insane whirlwind and I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that it’s over, although there is still so much to do before this record makes it out into the world.

Jessi Robertson playing a Farfisa Compact Organ at The Bunker Studio. Photo by Layton Weedeman

Most of all I feel immensely grateful for the band. They supported me through this entire process and have been completely focused on serving the song and making my vision come to life. I can’t wait for you all to hear this record.

Alex and Layton listening to the final track of the album as Aaron Nevezie engineers. Photo by Omer Leibovitz

Omer and Layton in the control room. Photo by Jessi Robertson.

My life is now a sitcom

This has been an eventful few weeks, including an awkward visit to the ER with a public examination in the waiting room. Thanks doc, I just love it when strange men watch you put a tongue depressor down my throat.

While I was sick I managed to spill a scalding hot cup of tea on myself and subsequently my bed. This culminated in me holding an ice pack against my abdomen with one hand, while blow drying my bed with the other, and crying because I felt so miserably sick. At the same time I couldn’t help but laugh at how ridiculous the situation was. An “I Love Lucy” kind of moment.

Things seem a bit surreal lately, like I might have stumbled into a bizarre sitcom version of my life. I am genuinely living the dream right now. For the first time in my life I’m getting to do everything that I want to. And while this level of contentment can’t last forever, right now I’m just soaking it all in and smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

I’ll be in the studio on Saturday making a record I believe in with every fiber of my being. I’ll be hanging out with my freaking awesome band and a crew of talented folks who are helping pull this project together. I’ll be done with antibiotics!!!

Even the pushy bitches on the subway can’t kill this joy.

24 days until…

We head to the studio to begin tracking my next record on February 1st.

Rehearsals started in late September. It sounds like a long time to prepare when put in terms of months, but this is going to be a very different record than my 2011 release. We’ve committed our time and energy to discovering the right songs, finding the themes that run through them, and trying to express those ideas in the way we play.

This deep collaboration has made me look at my songs differently and examine my writing process. And really, I could gush all day about how much I appreciate my bandmates, both as musicians and friends. But right now there’s work to be done.

I have a name

I’ve been struggling to find the right name for my upcoming album. I had a few good ideas, but none of them felt quite right.

During practice last night, Alex gave me some great advice.

  1. Don’t worry about it
  2. It will just come to you and it will make perfect sense
  3. The story behind the name is what matters

We started talking a bit about the story, the weight of history, and a theme I keep returning to- the cyclical nature of experience, the ouroboros forever eating its own tail (or tale in my case).

Right as I finished telling this story, the name popped out of my mouth all newborn, shiny, unplanned and perfect.

I have a name, and I know it’s the right one.

2014 Untitled Album: Streaming has changed me

What do you do to share rehearsal recordings when you’re preparing to make a record?

My band is using SoundCloud’s mobile app to share private tracks in playlists set up by rehearsal date. This lets us listen to the evolution of our song arrangements whenever we need to, including during the rehearsals themselves.

There’s a great debate about streaming, and whether it’s possible for an artist to earn a living on percentages of pennies (of course it’s not!). The industry is evolving and the solutions to this problem aren’t yet clear

But streaming has changed the way I work as a songwriter and artist. It is an enormous help in learning from rehearsals, and a way to gain feedback on demos before releasing completed tracks.

The first recording I ever made was a demo to get into college. I recorded it in someone’s home studio and received copies on CASSETTE TAPES! Yes, I am old. And it was a cheesy Christian song. And I still sang it like a bad-ass.

But I digress.

I’m grateful for the advantages that technology offers me as a songwriter, these new songs we’re working on are going to make your heads explode, and I’m interested to see how the royalty system matures.

I kind of went off the rails a little bit there at the end.

2014 Untitled Album: Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

I have been spending a lot of time with Omer, Layton, and Alex lately. We’ve been rehearsing hard (which involves beer, deep conversations, and sometimes even bleeding fingers). It’s been both challenging and revealing for me to delve into the meanings of the songs and learn how to communicate what I want.

I’m not technically skilled at arrangements, so sometimes communicating what I want amounts to saying things like, “make it sound like a funeral dirge,” or “make it feel like you’re trapped in a subway car with teenage girls.” 

I’d like to say that it’s this method that has led to our great collaboration skills. But what it really comes down to is the way we have all agreed to be open to new ideas and try things even if we don’t think they’ll work. Trust, respect, and keeping our ears open for those beautiful mistakes that lead to the best moments in a song.

I’m already proud of this album that we haven’t even started recording yet.