Jess Williamson (Austin, TX)

Are you originally from Texas? Where did you live before you moved to Austin?

I am a native Texan and I grew up near Dallas.

You released Native State about a year ago on Brutal Honest. Can you tell me about that label?

It’s a label that I started. Native State is the only release so far, but I am in conversation with a couple of other bands about releasing their music in the future.

Your songs feel very personal. Is everything you write autobiographical or do other narratives find their way into your songwriting?

Everything is tied to my experience in some way, but not all of the songs are autobiographical.

I’ve seen you play several times over the last year and your band seems to be evolving into more of a “rock band.” Is it fun to play louder versions of confessional folk songs? Is there an ideal sound you’re trying to capture that you can try to put into words?

It’s been really fun playing with a band. The ideal sound will somehow merge the two. I don’t want to lose the intimacy.

You have a very talented group of musicians that you play with, including members of RF Shannon, Andrew Stevens, and Jesse Kees. Has playing music with other songwriters influenced your songwriting process at all?

Definitely. They help a lot with the arrangements too. It’s felt very collaborative lately.

You released a split 7-inch with RF Shannon last year on Punctum Records. How did that come about?

We went on tour together last year right before SXSW, and most of RF Shannon accompanied me on my songs on that tour. When we got back we recorded our songs for the 7-inch, so it’s really a document of that time together.

There seems to be a real sense of community within the music scene you’re a part of and not a sense of competition one might find in L.A. or Nashville. What are some things you like about playing music in Austin?

It’s been a safe place to get things started. I have felt supported here and also found opportunities to play shows and record because of the community here. I wouldn’t have had that anywhere else.

You’ve been doing some recording over the past few months. What have you been working on? Do you have any idea when it will be released?

We are making a new record, but I don’t know when it will be released. I hope soon.

Do you have any plans to tour this year?

Yes! But nothing is announced yet.

What draws you to touring? Are there things you miss when you’re on tour?

I love to travel because I am really curious about other places. I also enjoy playing shows when I don’t know anyone in the room besides my band. It’s so freeing to be anonymous onstage. It is difficult to explain. When I am on tour, I miss my boyfriend and my dog and being alone.

Tacos or pancakes?

Dawn or dusk?


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