Jess Jocoy

Feed the Band

Feed the Band

Jess Jocoy

Having a crush at my age sounds a bit ridiculous. I thought that too until the first few lines of “Long Live the Song” started to play over the radio. I knew in those 30 seconds that something magical was taking place. It truly felt as if a long lost friend was reaching out through my speaker. After the song was over I searched desperately to find who was singing it and why I haven’t heard of this person before. This was my first introduction to our next artist on Feed the Band.

This is probably as embarrassing for Jess Jocoy as it is for me. I would like to say that the crush I once had dissipated, but that would be a lie. The more I learn about Jess keeps it living still to this very day. Jess Jocoy and I are aligned on multiple levels. Actually, the only thing that has caused me to blink is her wanting to cut out meat in her diet. Is it a real problem? No, not at all. It’s just the cattleman in me I guess. Other than that, Jess has become someone I admire and respect. Both personally, and at a professional level.

Jess Jocoy is a natural storyteller. She has some amazing stories of her own, but her true genius is being able to jump in and out of someone else’s skin to grab their perspective on life. This gives her the ability to write songs that continually feel like they are living long after the ink dries. Jess has mentioned on more than one occasion that she overthinks things, but it is her thoughtfulness that has led to her latest album.

“Such a Long Way” is a collection of songs that are centered on the journeys we take in life. It is these steps we take in life that define our hearts and who we are as a person. To me, this album feels like Jess Jocoy put stories to paper, packed them individually in a bottle, and tossed them in the ocean in hopes they find the right people. I highly suggest you take a journey to your musical shores and search for “Such a Long Way” and all of Jess Jocoy’s music. There truly is something there for everyone.

Let’s get to the interview! I have been trying to unfold all the layers of who Jess Jocoy is for a while now, but we had official. While you are reading our interview keep your eyes out for the churro recipe she inspired and enter our giveaway at the end. Here is our interview with Americana artist Jess Jocoy

Tell us about your road to Nashville

To say it’s been a long road to Nashville would be an understatement. I used to visit Music City with my parents on vacation growing up; it’s been my dream city for a long time. After my dad passed from cancer in 2013, I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to make the move. Not long after, though, I was accepted into Belmont University here in Nashville to study Songwriting and it’s been all learning ever since. My aspirations as an artist really started to take shape and present themselves with clarity. Since then, I’ve been focused on the ever-journey of making better music.    

In your own words define music?

My music is based on storytelling. I’m a lover of lyrics, which is ironic given the age of short attention spans in which we live. On my new record Such A Long Way, I went for something that would sonically sit somewhere between Jason Isbell and Emmylou Harris. I was raised on country music, which still holds the best parts of my heart. I supposed my music sits somewhere between folk and country – as long as I’m writing better stories, you can call it whatever you want! 

What does success look like to you?

To me, success is reaching a place where you can pay off your debts and still live comfortably. There have been so many people who’ve uplifted me and encouraged me to follow this crazy dream, both emotionally and financially, that I need to work hard enough to pay them back in any way I can. My mom, for example. We’ve always joked that “when I sell a song” I’ll buy her a nice piece of property and build her a house. I need to work hard enough to make that happen. For me, I just want to build a lifetime of writing songs and traveling the world to play them. That’s the ultimate success to me. And to play a few sold-out shows at the Ryman Auditorium here in Nashville. That’s Mecca. 

If you came with a warning label, what would yours say?

If I came with a warning label … it would probably have to say: She overthinks everything. 

We are always developing recipes here at Southern Fellow; when writing music, what recipe do you use?

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but a lot of my inspiration comes when I’m driving. With that, I have about 700 untitled voice memos on my phone (and no storage whatsoever). A lot of times, a song for me will start with a line and then I spend some time trying to dissect what kind of story is meaning to be told and build on that. 

What would you do if you had all the money in the world?

What would I do with all the money in the world? I have no idea. I’m of the belief that money only gets you so much. As I mentioned, I just want to pay back everyone who supported me along the way. I also want to donate to various cancer research foundations; cancer’s been a big part of my family, unfortunately, so I definitely want to spur on research to seek a cure. 

Jess Jocoy on stage

What is your first fond memory of food?

When I think of good food, I think of my mom’s enchiladas. We’re of Hispanic heritage, so it’s in our blood. I always tell her that she needs to open her own enchilada shop. She’d be a hit, I’m sure of it. 

There are many young women that may not feel they fit a particular mold when they dream of being a music artist. What advice do you have for these women?

Firstly, I think anyone (female or otherwise) should be willing to ask themselves what their dream really is. For me, I moved to Nashville thinking I was going to be someone who was going to rock out stadiums. But I came to realize I maybe don’t have the personality for that kind of life. And I’m okay with that. I want to be known for writing great songs. I want to play my songs for people who want to hear them, and I want to do it for a long time. The mold for that kind of life looks like dedication and diligence. Even if your dream comes with a physical or musical “mold”, aren’t we more likely to remember the ones who broke the mold? Why be a sheep when you can be a shepherd? 

Tell us about your album “Such a Long Way”.

Such A Long Way is a collection of eleven songs centered around the notion: you’ve come such a long way, but there’s still such a long way to go. The idea for the album came shortly after I’d written the title track “Hope (Such A Long Way)”. It was like a song for myself to seek hope, always, in all things. I have a bad habit of getting in my own head too much, so I often have to stop and re-assess. Two years ago I was singing in a bowling alley, while this last year saw me playing Nashville’s Bluebird Café not once, but three times – each by invitation. I wanted a record that could say, “yeah, we’ve come such a long way. Find hope in that. And yeah, there’s still a long way to go to get where we want to be. But seek hope in that, too, because the journey is going to be the best part.” 

Are you a hunter or a gatherer? Explain your answer.

I feel like there’s an undertone to this question, but I’m going to say I’m a gatherer – a collector of sorts. This life is made up of ten million little moments, each presenting themselves to you. I believe it’s up to me to keep my eyes open to take in as many of those moments as possible.  

What does the coming year look like for you?

What does this year look like for anyone? Haha! I thought I knew. I was supposed to go on tour following the release of Such A Long Way, but with coronavirus, everything canceled. Even shows I’d rebooked are getting canceled, so honestly, the rest of this year is up in the air. I’m slowly coming to terms with it, though. I’m just trying to use this time to refill my creative well. I’ve also been taking the time to work on my health – inching towards veganism, working out, and doing yoga – I love it!  

If an alien race came to earth what would be the first lesson on humanity you would teach them? Why is that lesson important?

Aliens (and humans alike), I’d just teach them that all people have value. That no one is insignificant. I think some people become so intrinsically focused on their own little worlds – like living inside their phones –  that they adopt a sense of entitlement, even if they don’t realize it’s happening. We could make life a little bit easier on ourselves and others if kindness was our go-to attitude. 

Try this inspired recipe!

If you could write with anyone, living or who has passed on, who would that person be?

This question is so tough to answer; I’ve always had a hard time writing with other people. But, I’d love to try writing with artists like Lori McKenna or Brandi Carlile. They’re such strong storytellers. I’ve also been studying the writing styles of Phoebe Bridgers and Gregory Alan Isakov. Both have really poignant and interesting ways of telling stories.  

If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

So, speaking of Gregory Alan Isakov, there’s one song of his I will never grow tired of, ever. It’s called “If I Go, I’m Goin’” and it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Brandi Carlile sings harmonies and their voices together are both their own characters, but also meld so genuinely-well together. It’s a song that makes me feel both melancholy but powerful (if that makes sense?). 

Is there anything else you want your family at Southern Fellow to know?

I’m very grateful to be apart of the Southern Fellow family. I’m grateful that you’ve found a way to combine your passions and serve artists like myself by way of giving us an outlet to express our little works of art. I hope everyone will go give a listen to “Such A Long Way” and come to a show when the shows get back on the road!

Crush or not, it has been an honor to know Jess Jocoy as an artist and friend. I look forward to watching her story unfold as she unfolds our lives in songs. Jess Jocoy is an artist you need on your playlist. You can find “Such a Long Way” and all of her music on your favorite streaming service including SpotifyApple MusicAmazon, and YouTube. While you are listening to Jess, give that churro recipe a try. Thank you for stopping by. We have a ton of new music and recipes on the way right here at Southern Fellow.

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