Photo Credit: Karen Ftouni
Come the end of this week the world will have a brand new EP from three magnificent musicians who met when the biggest thing for their peers was passing their driver’s test. Some years later, Jessi Mac are still as tight as ever and proud to present ‘Border Lines,’ a record that explores a myriad of universal ideas including the realities of adulthood. We talked to Jessi, Dan, and Lorenz about the EP, making things work during one hell of a year, and more in this back and forth.
Kendra: While we don’t always stay the best of friends with people we meet in our teens, there’s an undeniable bond in connecting at that age. Being that you’re still friends after meeting at 16, what do you feel attributed to your lasting relationship on top of music?
Jessi: I think it’s down to the fact that we just love spending time together, whether that’s doing music stuff or not. I think we have also matured and grown together a lot as well. I have confidence that we would all agree, we are not the same people we were five years ago. I think the fact we have been together for a few years now, has just solidified our confidence in our own growth, as people and musicians…I mean I feel like we talk almost every day?!
Dan: I agree with Jessi, things you have in common with people can often become fickle as you move out of teenagehood but a love of music has remained constant for us as well as sharing a similar sense of humor and a love of dogs.
Kendra: There was no place I would’ve rather been as a teen than my bedroom. Every inch of mine was covered from the floor to the ceiling with posters. It was my absolute happy place – but also where my anxieties and depression definitely were harbored. With “Bedroom Years,” I wanted to ask about the aesthetic your bedroom gave off then and how your decor has grown with you over the years to reflect who you are as an artist now…
Jessi: There is something quite romantic about the walls in your room being plastered with your identity, it’s almost as if when you are at that age, you want to be designing yourself as a person from the outside in. My room was definitely dressed from head to toe in Radiohead and Beatles’ posters. Equally, I think there is something symbolic about taking those pictures down and leaving those old tape marks like the process is finished and you now hold all those influences inside of you. That’s how I feel anyway, especially as a songwriter.
Kendra: You’ve noted that ‘Border Lines’ captures the feeling of insignificance, which I think is something that could not be more fitting after the year we just had. For you, were these feelings elevated because of the hit the music industry took due to COVID?
Lorenz: ‘Border Lines’ really reflects some of the lessons learned in this past year, like dealing with mental and physical isolation or looking after the environment as “Carry On” notes to.
Dan: It’s funny because all the songs were written before the pandemic but I think that many of them reflect the universal themes of isolation and uncertainty that are present in youth but have been amplified for everyone by covid.
Kendra: What were some of your conversations like as a band when the reality of the pandemic started to set in and you realized that touring wasn’t going to be a viable option for a while?
Jessi: Well, we were lucky in some ways, we had the EP all recorded. We did a few gigs before the pandemic, but we already had it in mind to take performing seriously after the EP was released. We maybe needed to restructure the release dates of things, but I think we haven’t been too hard on ourselves as far as feeling like we are at a loss. It is what it is, and in some ways, it’s lucky that we are so new as a band, we don’t really have any ties to anything.
Lorenz: Loads of video calls, but It was mostly liaising on how we would finish mixes for the EP. Luckily a lot of that was on my end and could be done remotely. Did any content building in person when government guidelines facilitated those activities. I feel now we are in a good place knowing that touring or gigging isn’t going to be possible for a while longer so we are building an audience online and captivate people via that medium so as soon as it’s safe to perform we would have the fan base supporting us physically.
Dan: It’s been nice to turn our attention to other things too such as filming the music video for bedroom years, it’s allowed us to be creative together in ways that don’t involve playing music.
Kendra: Jessi, you were on an episode of ‘Now What Do We Do?’ where you talked about the value of being signed, but also the importance of never forgetting why you wanted to be a musician in the first place. For all of you, what continues to push you forward and keep you grounded as a musician?
Jessi: We are just constantly writing, creating, and sharing material. We are also at this point, in control of most of the aspects of this project. It would obviously be great to get signed at some point, but for now, I think we are just really enjoying being at the helm of every creative decision we make. I think it’s a really integral part of developing a strong identity as a band.
Kendra: It’s hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
Lorenz: Ultimately building and then when the time comes when people can safely congregate then we continue doing the things that are harder to plan and do remotely then as we smooth into consistent certain months then jump back on stages and showcase the EP live which I am really looking forward to. I wanna stage dive on one of our first gigs back…
Dan: I’m also really looking forward to working on new material and developing our live sound for when we can start gigging again!
Jessi: Writing, Recording, practicing. This dead time is perfect to just be as creatively free as possible. When stuff starts to chill out, we will be able to start creating a tighter set to start gigging with…I also for one cannot wait to see Lorenz stage dive.