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The time has come. One of Aotearoa’s most impactful artists (and one we've been watching in recent years), JessB, is back with the new track Talk Of The Town. The liberating song that explores JessB's discovering the superpower of not caring about what people think, accompanies the announcement of her upcoming debut album Feels Like Home. Coming July 5th, the album features artists like Kranium and Gold Fang, and was made alongside producers including Brandon Jonak, IAMMXO, MOW Music, Open Till L8 and TUZI.

“Feels Like Home is a marker in my journey that has been and is still evolving," JessB says about the album. "Navigating a career in music, whilst also navigating finding identity & self simultaneously. ​ One could not have expanded without the other. For me, the music that has been created over the last 4 years for this album is a direct reflection of the changing sounds of my life. It has been a process of finding a home in how I see myself & how I choose to show up in the world.” We spoke to the artist about crafting such a monumental body of work:

Congratulations on the release of Talk of the Town. Tell us about the starting point for this song - what was the catalyst? What did you hope to evoke in this song?

Thank you! This song was inspired by the feeling of speculation and gossip - people being invested in your personal life. The song speaks to the feeling of being the “talk of the town” literally - whilst also reinforcing the idea that none of that actually matters. At the end of the day it is best to follow what makes you happy, rather than for the approval of others.  

Who did you work with on this track? What did they bring out of you?

I actually wrote and recorded the song alone in the studio on a beat that my friend + producer from Auckland ICEY had sent me. I’ve grown to really love spending time in the studio alone and building out an idea - learning to record my own vocals really has helped with this creative process. Being alone lets me try things that I might not have tried with someone else in the room, and also means that I can spend as much time on sections as I want!

You’ve just announced your debut album - we’ve been long time listeners and are so excited for this announcement. Why is now the right time for the official debut album release?

The journey to get here has been a long one. There have been so many bumps in the road along the way to finally arrive at this point. I feel like I have grown into myself both as a person and a musician simultaneously. There is no better time than right now :)

What do you hope people take from listening to this album?

I hope that this album is a representation of growth. That a person’s evolution never stops. I don’t believe that we ever arrive at a point where we have it all figured out. But every now and again, it’s a beautiful thing to turn around and see how far you have come, the confidence you have gained. How more and more, being yourself feels like home.  Also that there is no one way to express who you are. My musical journey has seen me experiment and try out different styles and they all still represent me. We are multifaceted ! Sometimes I want to act a fool, be braggadocious and other times I want to lean into the deeper , emotional parts of who I am.  

You have collaborated with some incredible artists on your debut album. Was there one that was specifically rewarding?

He doesn’t know this , but I was in Kranium’s top 0.1% of spotify listeners a couple of years ago. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love his music, so getting to be in the studio with him and having him as a feature on my album was such an exciting and cool moment for me.

What have you learnt about yourself through the making of this album?

I think I have learnt to have grace for the person I was, on the way to where I stand. My journey with my identity - who I am, how I want to present to the world has been something that has happened over time.   The person I was when I started creating this album isn’t who I am now - but she had to crawl so I could run for real.  People often talk to me about how confident and unapologetic I seem / my music seems - but there have been so many moments of fear, being unsure of myself and trial and error with who I am that I have had to work through behind closed doors. That is what I am really proud of.

You have great visuals for the project - tell us about bringing these songs to life visually?

I think that the visual aspect of music is so important to helping tell the story. I love music videos and spend a lot of time watching them. If I could make a music video for every song I would!  I like to be resourceful and lean into metaphorical themes to help build the world visually -it’s a part of the job I really enjoy.

Who are you excited about in music right now?

I’m excited to see the Afro-diasporic communities across Australia and Aotearoa really start to make a mark. Aside from front runners like Genesis Owusu and Sampa the Great who are already killing it - there is so much Black talent under the surface right now. It’s time that some of us start to break through and have their voices heard. I’m excited for the landscape of the industry to change.

What’s next?

My focus for this year is my album rollout, tour and everything in between ! I would love to get back over to Europe and play some international shows.

Listen to JessB HERE.