I fell in love with Melbourne’s Teeth & Tongue earlier this year when I heard their second record Tambourine. Jess plays guitar, bass, keyboards and rocks a drum machine as well as vocals on the album. Rolling Stone has called her a combination of Patti Smith, Kate Bush & PJ Harvey… have a listen (at the end of the post) and see what you think! I’m looking forward to the new record Jess is currently busy working on.
How did you first come to music?
My mum had an acoustic guitar lying around the house. I think she played it a bit once, but I never saw her play. Her and my dad always had music playing though, and it was my job to pick the music we’d listen to during dinner. I just started playing guitar and writing songs, and making fake radio stations on my cassette recorder.
Your hometown is Wellington, New Zealand, why did you decide to make the move to Melbourne?
I was living in Nelson in this hippy town when I was 19, where nothing was happening. All my favourite NZ bands were moving to Melbourne so it made sense.
Marc Regueiro-McKelvie is a longtime collaborator of yours; tell me about your creative partnership, how did you first meet?
I can’t remember the first meeting; I think he played guitar in a side project I was working in for a while. But that didn’t work out and later I asked him to come and play some songs in Teeth & Tongue. That DID work out, luckily. I’ve always liked what he’s done in his other projects (Popolice and New Estate)
What inspired you to first start using a drum machine?
I’ve always loved them, I like the fake sounds and the portability, and the mathematical grid-like way of programming. I think I was also a bit sick of looking for drummers. But that’s not to say I won’t be using real drums for future albums and shows. The two can be very different, and equally as good.
In a previous interview you mentioned that when you started playing music at 14 you were “a terrible singer… and played very rudimentary guitar” how do you feel about your singing and guitar playing these days?
I think I’ve improved at both, I mean you’d hope so! But there are still plenty of people who hate my voice, and there’s plenty of stuff I can’t play on guitar. You just have to do it for yourself.
Rolling Stone Magazine said that you were a beguiling combination of Patti Smith, Kate Bush and PJ Harvey, are you inspired by those ladies?
Not really. I mean I like them and it’s flattering to be compared to them, but ultimately I think the only reason people make these comparisons is because it’s easy to reach for the most widely-known females making ‘not-particularly-mainstream’ music. I’m just as influenced by males, David Bowie, Lou Reed, The Chills––and female soul singers, even Beyoncé.
What do you wear on stage?
Sometimes I make an effort; sometimes I wear whatever is clean.
How important is your stage outfit to you?
It changes. I’d like to have the time and money to create ridiculous things to wear onstage, but ultimately it is secondary and usually falls by the wayside.
Who are your style icons?
Hah! I don’t know that I have any. Maybe David Bowie in the Labyrinth!
What do you do creatively when you’re not creating/playing music?
I write restaurant reviews and other non-fiction stuff, and try not to kill the vegetables in my garden.
What current projects are you working on?
The next album.
Teeth & Tongue instore:
For more Teeth & Tongue.
Have a kick ass day!