Australian-born and raised songwriter and singer, Jess McAvoy left her native homeland in 2011 for New York City. Now based in Brooklyn, Jess has spent over two decades mining the human condition for her prolific and poignant music. A stunning vocalist and commanding live performer, McAvoy stylistically combines blues, pop, rock within each hook-laden melody.
Simple and serene, her recent single, “All Alone,” performed with Alicia Madison, ardently delivers a vocal sincerity within every note. Pulling the listener back to the familiarity of home and the people that love you. “All Alone”reflects upon how we’ve all set forth to follow our passions and dreams, leaving behind the familiarity of home in search of lands anew. Whether it be a scent, sight or sound reviving our childhood memories and careening ourselves back to the thought of home, we realize that no matter how near or far, we’re ultimately connected to where we’re from and the people that love us. We’re truly never “All Alone.”
We also get to sit with McAvoy to discuss her new single and more!
Hi Jess, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I’ve been good! New York busy of course which is why I came here. I’m so excited to be releasing music again now that I live in the greatest city in the world.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “All Alone”?
Absolutely! All alone is such a wonderful song to sing live. In some ways it’s surprised me that it’s resonated with so many people. I wrote it when I had first been away from Australia for three years, I was pretty scared about going back, I had left Australia pretty broken and I thought the things that I had been running from were waiting for me there. Of course, you never leave your mess behind, and I had done a lot since leaving, including getting sober from Alcohol. For me, a lot of my emotional process can be sped up with songwriting, so I channeled my efforts into remembering the things I knew for sure I connected to about my homeland. As a result, I was transported into some pretty beautiful memories, and reminded how much the landscape is a huge part of my feelings of home.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
I’m anticipating that the lyric video will be ready soon. I’m editing it myself and I’ve chosen to look through old footage from when I was performing back in Australia in the early 2000’s- with any luck the tapes I have digitized (they’re being fedexed to me as I write this) will have something useful on them. It has to all come together this weekend! It’s a bit of a lucky dip, really, I have about 90 hours of footage on all kinds of analogue tapes that were recently brought over from Australia and there’s a lot in there that could be useful, I’m hoping that perhaps I can find a documentary film maker that might take the rest of it on. There’s stuff in there from 1998!
How was the recording and writing process?
The writing process was a solitary one, as most of them are, but the recording process has been pretty interesting. The song itself was written about five years ago so it’s really only existed in a live setting- so recording it was pretty smooth. I did the guitars at home and Alicia Madison and I met up in a studio in Manhattan and put down the vocals in about an hour. I love working with professionals!
What role does Australia play in your writing?
It depends. I don’t consider myself a purveyor of specifically Australian music, though I did come up with a lot of incredible Australian artists, and those people influenced me for sure. I guess the older I get too, the more I realize which parts of me are inherently Australian, and how much of that makes me proud. My dialect comes in quite strong in All Alone, which is pretty unique to this song, to be honest, and not something I did on purpose. I guess the song wanted it that way. I consider myself very much a world citizen at this stage, and all of the places I’ve been have a part to play in my work. I can’t escape the dialect though, so it certainly helps me seem exotic!
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than in your own?
Kind of, yes and no. I find that especially in writing with younger artists, I tend to be more of a teacher and mentor. But it’s pretty different depending on who you are working with. It’s like any intimate relationship, really, it depends on what each party is bringing to the table. I’ve been writing seriously since I was about eleven so I have a lot of confidence in my solo work, but I am still growing a lot when it comes to collaborations. I’m excited to do more.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
Yes. Expect new material! I’ve been so quiet for so long on the release front, that I’m stoked to be putting things out now. For the time being a lot of it is going to be single for single, with a couple more coming down the pipeline already. I’m working with my good friend and co producer Joel Taylor out of Melbourne to get the next few tracks ready. We’re working on “Do What You Want” right now, so with any luck that’ll come out well before Christmas. We’ll drop another few singles and eventually I’ll think about doing another full-length record. I mean, I put out so many in Australia that I have since archived, so I want to really know that it’s the right time before I do another.
Will you keep diving into themes of being homesick and loneliness on this new material?
I don’t think so. I have found such a deep sense of self since moving to Brooklyn – I feel more at home in my skin than I ever have. From here, I’m excited to explore some uncharted territory for me, really do some deep work and pursue the songs that really represent who I am now. Maybe for the first time in 24 years- make that self titled album. That’s the dream.
Any plans to hit the road?
I’d love to! I have a tour back to Australia in February- but with any luck something will come together next year as momentum builds. I love performing live, it’s a whole different process.
What else is happening next in Jess McAvoy’s world?
Making the things, singing the songs, searching for enlightenment. You know, the usual.