“We recorded it all it one sitting with what felt like a hundred mics,” an excited Jessica Louise Dye told AON about her new demo, People (who throw kisses) Are Hopelessly Lazy. Joined by Erik Sleight (of Mittenfields and Friday Night Boys), Lightfoot has picked up considerable steam since the spring and is finally emerging with a solid musical offering later this month. We asked Jess to give us her thoughts on some of the tracks, two of which she agreed to release exclusively to All Our Noise.
Brandon: As I understand, this first track, “As You Can,” is based on some reading you did on the behavior of laboratory mice. Care to elaborate?
Jess: This is gonna make me seem a little morbid, but I was reading about some studies done in the 1970s by Seligman and Maier on the concepts of conditioned hopelessness. Basically, researchers dumped some mice with weights tied to their feet into a bucket of water. The mice would fight like hell to stay afloat. They eventually sank to the bottom but continued to fight until they passed out. As they started to pass out, the scientists would remove them. They did this several times, and it got to the point that they would drop the mice into the bucket without weights at all and the creatures would sink to the bottom willingly and wait to die or be snatched out by the scientists. I’ve always been a big fan of E. B. White, and these studies of learned helplessness tie in perfectly with this line from The Door: “First will come the convulsions (he said), then the exhaustion, then the willingness to let anything be done. ‘And you better believe it will be.” I guess everyone’s bucket of water is different: be it your job, your spouse, your family, your failed aspirations, whatever. I think we all go through this at one point – some more than others.
Let’s talk about another track you’re releasing later called “Beaster.” You get a little wild in its final moments, and there’s a new kind of energy we haven’t seen from Lightfoot in the past. Where did that sound come from?
Ha! I think this is my first “anthem.” I wanted this song to feel like two separate songs altogether. I wanted listeners to feel it building, to feel the tension, to feel unsettled with the desperation of the lyrics. And you’re exactly right; at its climax, it gets “wild.” It explodes the way one might in a screaming match. And I think as a result, it’s a little humble and even embarrassed in the end as it breaks down. The whole song has a sense of cause and effect. Of instigation and retaliation.
“1963″ is a song you’ve recorded previously, if only for personal use, but you’ve finally worked it into a fully formed piece. Tell us about the evolution of this track and why that year may be special enough to deserve your focus.
I started writing this song nearly two years ago. It was originally dismissed by my former bandmates. When I decided to go solo, this was the first song I was comfortable playing. And it’s funny because “1963″ tells a story about fictional lovers that when I wrote it, I couldn’t relate to the way I can now. It’s about reuniting with a lost love many years later and the sadness one embraces when, for an instant, you can fool yourself into romanticizing that maybe love can circle back to its original spark. But the character’s realize that life loops around and around, but those circles, although they may come close to touching, will never intersect again. And I think that realization is the ultimate heartache. Romanticizing a lost love is dangerous because we often completely ignore all the reasons why a relationship with that person failed the first time. Reworking this song has been challenging emotionally because I really connect with its sentiments in ways I hadn’t before. My bandmates really filled out the sound and helped capture its naïve happiness.