“Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night.” -Tom Wait
Jesca Hoop was Tom Wait’s nanny, the legendary voice that sounds like he’s had one too many nights of whisky and Marlboro reds. As if that weren’t enough to pique your curiosity, when NPR first played her, her song was the most requested for two months running. What does this have to do with astrology? It’s admittedly incidental.
I can’t even find her birthday. But Venus in Libra masters mutual appreciation through sharing, so I’m sharing my new find with you.
Hoop describes her songs as having a wardrobe around them â€” a “landscape,” or an “architecture” â€” and she uses diverse sonic building blocks to construct the songs on Kismet. For example, listeners might hear the winding of a jewelry box, or a film projector, or crows, or a sound that bassist Ian Walker generated to simulate a rope being pulled across a boat.
“The Beatles and Kate Bush: I love how they bring [in] outside elements,” Hoop says. “There’s a theatrical aspect, kind of a soundscape they create from using outside sounds â€” sounds from the outside world.”
As varied as its sonic palette is, Kismet is also full of Hoop’s mutable voice, which frequently morphs into different registers, filters and colors.
“I love that about singing â€” you get to do whatever you want with your voice,” she says. Hoop compares the process to acting. “I think I indulge in that area,” she says, “because we’re not one thing: We’re many, many different things, and we should be able to take advantage of all the different characters we have within us.”
That internal monologue is present as Hoop devises her songs in her head. She doesn’t write down her tunes until they’re fully formed, the result of constant singing to herself.
“I usually am able to hold on to that one â€” the seed of the song,” Hoop says. “And then I keep singing that seed until the seed gets a sprout, and then I just sometimes have to try to remind myself to push the sprout through and start the next section.”
And her recent success? “I have real good luck with holding on to the essence of a song,” she says.