Jessica Manalo is the Nevada-bred songstress who draws from the touchstones of her R&B and Alternative influences with a connoisseur's ear.
Based in Portland, Oregon, this chanteuse utilizes her infatuating voice and jaw-dropping dexterity over her guitar strings to soothe even the most lock-jawed patrons.
On this year's sonic escapades, Manalo releases "BedHead," a track about being stuck in a toxic one-sided relationship, where one lover doesn't synergize with the other, and the inevitable push and pull are the only forces keeping this counterfeit passion afloat.
Jessica Manalo's "BedHead" has every reason to sound heartbroken, disjointed, and frustrated. Yet, the chanteuse takes us on a buoyant spin down the earthy sonic avenues of magnetizing guitar traces, saturated bass-lines, and a calming piano accompaniment that works together under Manalo's multi-tracked quavering and unison harmonics.
It's an uplifting shot in the dark, where on one side, our Portland Chanteuse is oozing with love and devotion, and on the other, her infatuation is met with a cold wall. Surprisingly, the music's atmosphere never reflects the shade of the sentiment she feels deep inside. As each new chorus evolves from the previously enamoring verses, Manalo's enlightening hook echos into the void with an upswell incantation describing her own determination to love unconditionally—even if that means to love herself.
From sultry guitar solos that mark each transition, festooned string segments that evaporate into the stratosphere, and a soft-packages receptacle of Jessica Manalo's notoriously adhesive vocal performances, "BedHead," stands as the attestation of this young-budding intoner's trajectory upwards in the music industry.
Hello Jessica, thank you for joining us at BuzzMusic to discuss your latest release "BedHead." What were the sentiments you had to channel for the vocal performance you ended up capturing on "BedHead"?
Honestly, when I wrote BedHead I was angry. I was upset and sad that people could treat others like toys, by choice. I felt like I was being tossed around at the time and was being used by the person I was seeing. The longer it went on, the more hurt I became. Lust could be so toxic even when we know it's hurting us. Intuitively, I knew I had to leave, but I stayed. I would go back and forth between, "this is fun!" and, "no, wait. This really hurts." Sometimes, as humans, we stay in relationships, romantic or platonic when it's long overdue. Especially, in my case, it was very one-sided with very little communication on what was really going on below the surface, on my end... I should have spoken up sooner.
Can you explain why you chose to keep the instrumentation and aesthetic of this song blithe when it just as quickly could have been rendered-up to show a more melancholic edge?
I wanted the vibe of the song to have a sense of overcoming this emotional turmoil. I finally decided to love myself. It did feel like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. The light-heartedness approach of the song comes from realizing that I am in control of my life and that I have learned my lesson.
What were the key messages behind this new single that you wanted your listeners to soak-up, and why did you feel this was the right time to drop those messages?
The key message to my song is that I want people to know that they don't have to be trapped in a toxic relationship, no matter what level of toxicity. If something doesn't feel right within your heart, it's time to move on. If the feelings aren't mutual, it's time to move on. Do not wait. Do not waste your energy. I feel like especially now, everybody is at home, quarantined, and alone with their thoughts. It's the perfect time to kind of look within and realizes just how strong we are and that we deserve to be loved unconditionally. I want people to know that they deserve the truest form of love and that it exists.
When you think back about the recording process for "BedHead," what was the biggest challenge and most significant learning experience?
I previously recorded "BedHead" back in 2018 completely on my own using Garageband. I was just experimenting with sounds and I have never fully produced anything like that by myself. I recorded midi drums, keys, bass, guitar, vocals, etc. I wasn't quite satisfied with that initial recording like something was missing. When I re-recorded BedHead this time around, I had some amazing Portland musicians help me out and it definitely fit more of the vibe I was going for. I decided I wanted the vibe to be sort of gospel-soul Esque like Hozier. I started recording this version of BedHead in November of 2019 and got the majority of it done, but COVID hit, so I had to finish tracking vocals in my home studio. I had to send multiple tracks over to Agyei (my buddy that recorded the whole thing), and we got the song done over Zoom and Facetime. It was difficult, sometimes time-consuming, but it was all good fun and well worth it. The biggest challenge was finding the right "sound" for the song, which took some time. Also, physically recording BedHead throughout COVID was not easy, but if there's a will, there's a way!
Can you tell us about any Milestones you're aiming for in your Artistic career for 2020? What steps are you taking to inch closer to those goals?
This year I am shooting to work harder than I ever have. I'm working on building my brand, releasing single after single, and just having as much content as possible. Everyone is indoors right now. It is the perfect time to release music. I put together a project called Magic Mondays where I sing somewhere in Mother Nature, playing originals or covers in attempts to keep live music... well, alive. All my shows have been canceled so I made the outdoors and Mother Nature a stage of her own. My goal is to build a community of music and nature lovers alike and in turn, hopefully... I will capture new audiences of friends and supporters that will join me on my personal musical journey. I plan to keep hustling, growing, and sharing my stories through song.