There always going to be a time where you need to step back and find yourself. We all have that moment in our lives. That’s exactly what artist Jessica Rotter (JR) had to do! After years of working with some of the most talented artists in the world and in some of your favorite movies, she realized it’s time to have her voice heard. Literally. And the long wait is over. With her new album Plains out now, you’ll find yourself wanting to hear more and wonder why she didn’t put this out sooner rather than later!
You grew up in a crazy talented family. What was growing up like for you with music naturally surrounding you since you were a baby? Did you have any other career paths in mind or were you always set on music?
JR — It was wonderful! Every child should grow up with music surrounding them! I was always musical and have been singing professionally since I was four so that is a career path my life has always been on. But in college, I studied Directing for theatre and film and did a few music videos and plays after college. I will always be interested in that art form. But that’s the cool thing about being an artist, you can do a million different things if you want to! We have enough years in our lives!
From working in hit movies to working with so many amazing artists, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
JR — Listen. There’s a lot of information coming at us from many different angles in any situation and if you can truly listen, even to body language, you’ll be able to perform better and meet needs more fully. If you’re the person who is listening more than talking, chances are you’ll excel.
You’ve had quite a resume before this album came about. When was it when you realized that it’s YOUR time to release your own music?
JR — I did a lot of searching for my “self” in college but realized that I never really knew what my voice was until I started writing music. I think singing for so many different projects made me more of a chameleon and I had a hard time finding my true identity musically. When I started performing the songs I had written I started finding myself and from there came this really powerful artistic journey. I finally realized that unless I have my own creative endeavor using my own voice, I’ll never be fully myself.
When you were working with other artists, what did you learn from these collaborations that helped you with your new album?
JR — Being around the film music world supplied me with the most powerful knowledge I realized I had when making this album. I could communicate with musicians in a collaborative and artistic way and my experience as a vocalist on recordings helped me understand different techniques I could use to accomplish different sounds. For example, there’s a shout track on the song Let Me Go that’s just buried underneath my vocal for added energy. I learned that from my many disney channel experiences. It’s crazy how I read you wrapped up in November and here it is for everyone to enjoy.
How have you been getting yourself prepared for the release and everything else that happens afterwards (reviews, shows, etc.)?
JR — It’s all so crazy. I really just needed to get a publicist! It’s been nice having opportunities to share about the album and get new people in on it so I didn’t just release it into obscurity and iTunes and Spotify have been great sharing it too. I know there’s a certain element of organic attention built up but it’s definitely tricky being an independent artist and putting so much into a project and not knowing where it’s going to land. I also did a pledgemusic campaign to raise awareness and I’ve gotten a lot of new fans even foreign fans from that. So waiting was smart and I’m so glad it’s out!
Since this was your time to shine and time to put your own music together, what difficulties did you experience that you didn’t think you’d be coming across?
JR — At first, finding my sound was strangely difficult. I had a pretty electronic track that I ended up reproducing for the final album. I think being interested in so many different genres and singing so many different styles posed the biggest conflict in creating cohesive album. But I am really happy with how it turned out. Now my biggest challenge is figuring out how to get to the next step.
Your songs on your album are so good. Is there a track that had to be tweaked multiple times until you got it right after the thousandth time or almost didn’t even make the album?
JR —Thank you! Hit the Ground is the song that I was just referring to but I knew I couldn’t scrape it. It has seen many strange days. But I am happy with it where it is now.
How did you know you were completely, 100% percent finished and had the final product
JR — I don’t think I ever will be. I wrote two more songs that totally could have been on the album shortly after mastering the album. But I guess that’s what album #2 is for. “Stars” has one of my favorite introductions. It pretty reminded me of the television show Outlander and their opening credits.
Having said that, you have very unique instruments being used in your songs. Was it your goal to make it be that way?
JR — Thank you, the intro is actually the melody of an Appalachian spiritual called Am I Born To Die. I heard a really pedestrian recording of a fiddle playing that it almost sounded like a hurdy gurdy and I knew I had to make it the intro. We used a viola and a fiddle to replicate the sound. I know a lot of people are using more and more electronic instruments now, especially with how easy it is to have access to synth stuff. But I wanted human beings playing this stuff. So we found a lot of ways to create sounds with real instruments that might have been electronic upon first instinct. I am really happy with how that pushed us creatively and how it all turned out. I am very fortunate to have a music contractor for a father (he hires musicians for film/tv/albums) and he helped me write those big string parts and put me in touch with some of the best musicians in LA. We recorded a lot of the big instrumental sections at The Bridge in Glendale which is also where I was photographed. Those relationships were essential to getting such an epic orchestral sound for this album.
It may be too early to even consider but will a second album be on the way maybe within the next year or so? Or do you have a pretty much good idea of when you’ll be releasing more new music?
JR — I am currently writing my second album. The first one took a while to create because I was finding myself. But I know this next one will be a full band in the studio album so we can all feed off of each other energetically and really get that rock and roll vibe amped up.
One thing I did want to add was I read that you’re classically trained in opera! So cool. Do you think that skillset will be popping its head soon and we’ll see you perform at an opera house sometime soon?
JR — Haha, I am trained in opera! It is a very serious path to go down and you have to be very very committed to it so I don’t see myself pursuing an operatic career. Though I have considered joining the opera chorus of the LA Opera! That would be way down the line though… I need to rock out a bit more first. But I do still daydream about wearing luxurious opera costumes, playing super dramatic roles and filling an opera house with my high notes!