The Boston-based Americana Artist and Singer/Songwriter Jessye DeSilva take listeners on a vulnerable adventure with their recent single "Drifter." DeSilva brings listeners into the experience of a non-binary artist while attempting to figure life out with each endeavor.
The Alternative/Folk artist has been busy navigating their craft and fine-tuning their sound, but Jessye DeSilva offers listeners a slice of serenity with each heartfelt lyric and genuine approach. The greatest tool of Jessye DeSilva's is by far their talented songwriting, as they capture exceptional plots and storylines to allow listeners to ponder and reflect.
Regarding Jessye DeSilva's recent single, "Drifter," we must note the immense emotion they deliver within this four-minute piece. With help from the tender piano melodies and the sweetest of guitar strokes, Jessye DeSilva is able to pour their tender heart over the tune and captivate listeners with each emotional and mind-boggling lyric.
Jessye DeSilva's "Drifter" begins with soft piano melodies that open like a soothing choir hymn. Once Jessye DeSilva starts singing with their passionate and ethereal vocals, we can feel the uncertainty within the mere sound of their vocals, as they bring us deeper into reflection with each emotional lyric. Jessye DeSilva is truly bringing us closer to their sweet sounds with this single, as their descriptive abilities are entirely top tier, offering a chill or two up our spines.
Jessye DeSilva is perfectly complemented by the down-tempo instrumentation, featuring subtle drum breaks, soothing guitars, warm background vocals, and calming piano melodies. Ending the song off with an uplifting sense of well-being, Jessye DeSilva has done an incredible job of bringing us into the "Drifter" lifestyle they experience.
We're floating above our stratosphere with help from Jessye DeSilva and their soothing yet highly emotional single "Drifter." With each melody and lyric, Jessye DeSilva pulls us in close with their vulnerability that moves mountains.
Could you tell us what inspired such an emotional and vulnerable single like "Drifter"? What did you want listeners to take away?
Drifter is a song about my anxiety disorder and how it can cause my thoughts to spiral. I think some folks think of anxiety in the extreme - panic attacks and such - but really, in the day-to-day, it’s often just this total inability to stay present or to focus on the things I’m “supposed” to be focused on. I was going through a bit of a dry spell with my writing and felt like I was fighting the spiraling thoughts of my “anxiety brain,” until I decided to write ABOUT those seemingly random, nagging thoughts. The song is also about how my partner is really a grounding presence in my life. He’s the anchor in the storm. I think in writing about my own mental health experiences, I really just want other folks to feel seen. It’s also a way of empowering myself. Some folks write love songs for their partners - I do too, but sometimes I think it’s important to write a love song for yourself, struggles and all.
Speaking on the subtle and soothing instrumentation within "Drifter," how did you craft the instrumentals to offer this uplifting and ethereal tone?
My producer, Bryan Fennelly at Plaid Dog Recording in Boston, really did a great job translating the intimacy of my live, piano vocal sound to the studio. When I play live, I’m usually by myself, behind the piano, and in this way, most of the songs you’ll hear in a live show are much like they were written. I wanted to find a balance between this nuanced approach and something that built to a slightly more “epic” place. I told Bryan I was thinking something along the lines of early Elton John (i.e. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”). Bryan is trained originally as a drummer, so he likes to start with the rhythm section - drums first to set the vibe, then bass, then guitars, then finally the pianos and the vocals. This was an interesting way to sort of reverse how I write, but it gave me so much to work on within the final takes. The last thing we added was the “choir” backing vocals, which are all just me, layering vocals on top of one another.
Could you tell us what it's like as a non-binary artist when writing such vulnerable lyricism as we hear on "Drifter"? How do you write your lyrics to tell your story and also allow listeners to relate?
I’ve always tried to shy away from the urge to be “universal.” I think that the human experience in all its forms IS universal, and it’s the detail and specificity of some of my favorite artists’ lyrics that really helped me to feel validated in my own. My human experience happens to include navigating a straight, cisgender world as a nonbinary person. Some folks might relate directly to that, but even if they don’t, I think they can relate in some sense to feeling marginalized or “othered” or even just misunderstood. Another way of looking at it is that to some extent I can only write from my own perspective. Even if I write a song that is someone else’s story that has inspired me, I’m still the person writing it, so it’s still got some of me in there... I think listening to music, singing other peoples’ music, and writing my own is what really taught me radical empathy, so in a way, I’m not writing with the intention of “making” others relate. I’m just trusting in the listener’s capacity for empathy and hoping that something in my experience will help them to feel less alone.
How does your single "Drifter" get listeners ready for your upcoming EP? Does the EP share similar themes as "Drifter"?
I think “Drifter” is a really good example both of my sonic palette and my way of storytelling through song. Musically, I live somewhere between the clouds and the dirt... it’s ethereal, while also being grounded in a somewhat rootsy, Americana style, and my lyrics are candid - maybe sometimes uncomfortably so! The overarching theme of the EP is trying to be present. Trying to find a way to stay grounded and empowered. There is a lot about mental health, gender, and other forms of identity, and how our past informs our present. Musically, you’ll hear the same elegant, Nashville-style guitars from Daniel Yoong, coupled with textured drums and held up by the backbone of my friend, the piano! There are thicker, more elaborate arrangements, upbeat tunes, as well as some even more stripped-down, intimate moments. I’m really proud of it and I think you’ll like it!
As this year has been very challenging for the music industry. What has kept you inspired and creative this year?
I think in some of the darkest moments, making music has been one of the only things that are kept me from getting out of bed. But overall, I feel like there is a lot to process in a time of collective trauma like we’re going through right now. Trying to put those things into words and sounds, while also finding and nurturing pockets of joy and beauty has really been what’s kept me exploring, writing, and playing. Also, some really amazing music has been released, despite the challenges! One of the records that have really inspired me has been “Giver Taker” by a friend and fellow Boston artist Anjimile. Check them out.