Jessica Pratt: Folk Pysch-Out

Jessica Pratt: Folk Pysch-Out

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THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM V98. ORDER YOUR COPY NOW AND DON'T MISS A THING

Photography: FUMI NAGASAKA

Styling: TRACEY NICHOLSON

Text: Wyatt Allgeier

Tucked away in the haze of Los Angeles, Jessica Pratt wrote and recorded her sophomore album alone. She had just moved from San Francisco, hardly knew anyone in her new home, and couldn’t drive: a perfect mix for a reclusive, analog project. While sun-scorched L.A., with its superficial gloss, seems like an unlikely origin for an album as intimate as On Your Own Love Again, the isolation it provided for Pratt was crucial. After all, sometimes it requires being surrounded by people to plumb the depths of loneliness.

In our conversation following this, her first fashion photo shoot, Pratt noted the importance of geographical places and the psychic effects they bear on artists. Her tour, ongoing for the rest of 2015, has taken her all over the United States, from New Orleans (“a place that wants to be underwater”) to New York (where “there’s definitely a real magical sort of vibration happening”). Ideas of the psychic are deeply embedded in her washed-out, folk-inspired sound, equally planted in the world of reality as it is in that of the subconscious dream state. With lyrics that gracefully meander between emotional fragility and a surreal use of syntax, part troubadour d’amour, part Gysin/Burroughs cut-up, Pratt’s music supersedes simple comparisons to other folk singers. Her process is closer to that of a painter or an alchemist, informed by color, moods, location, and the search for the secrets we keep from ourselves. “In my mind, it’s very color-coded. Maybe not all songwriters are functioning in the same parts of their brains, but I think about the place where images and music are coinciding…like people with synesthesia.”

On Your Own Love Again is an album on the threshold, like dreams, visions, or emotional delirium, but also one of structure. Pratt enjoys the discipline of hooks, choruses, and bridges even if she often abandons them. This delicate balance explains the wildfire spread of her single “Back, Baby,” which anchors itself down with a memorable chorus of lost love and distinguishes itself with ethereal imagery like, “Saw a paper with the header that your love is just a myth I devised.”

For an artist as winsomely fragile and idiosyncratic as Pratt, the music industry can be the pedestal from which one rises and falls quite tragically. With attention comes pressure. When asked if she is excited to get home after the first leg of her tour, Pratt is hesitant. “I can’t say that too firmly right now, because I will be home for a month and it’s my only time off really for the rest of the year. It’s just going to be a crazy tour. And then starting in January I’ll have all of these months off to conceive of and record another record, which will be the first time I’m doing that in an appointed time slot, which is something that has always scared me about the music industry and being on a label.It’s interesting to think about having to summon all the emotional input you have had for the last year and just marshal your efforts together to create some cohesive thing. i think it ruins some people if it’s done in the wrong way.” But for all of the vulnerability in her music, Pratt in person strikes one as a musician in it for the long haul. In fact, she herself writes it on the wall, with striking prescience in her lyrics: “Never had a second chance before this time, but things walk that they never do recall on, can’t go back, baby.”

PRATT WEARS CLOTHING MICHAEL KORS COLLECTION BELT LANVIN BOOTS AND JEWELRY HER OWN
Credits: MAKEUP ZENIA JAEGER (THE WALL GROUP/BEL)  HAIR KAYLA MICHELE (STREETERS)  MANICURE KELLY B. USING DIOR VERNIS (DE FACTO)  DIGITAL TECHNICIAN CHELSIE CRAIG  PHOTO ASSISTANTS EDUARDO SILVA AND AKILAH RICHARDSON  STYLIST ASSISTANT MARIE ARAI  HAIR ASSISTANT KATHARINE CALI  RETOUCHING COLOR ONE NYC  EQUIPMENT AND LOCATION ROOT DRIVE-IN  CATERING MONTERONE

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