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Jessy Lanza 2020

Dazed Mix: Jessy Lanza

The Canadian musician puts together our latest selection and talks to us from quarantine about her new album All the Time

TextSelim BulutIllustrationCallum Abbott

Four years after her last record, Jessy Lanza is returning with her third studio album, All the Time. The Canadian musician wrote and produced the record with her regular songwriting partner, Junior Boys’ Jeremy Greenspan, after leaving her hometown of Hamilton, Ontario for the lights of New York City. Acclimatising to the new city was hard, though, and Lanza found her frustration filtering into the album, where raw lyrics contrast with a pristine pop songwriting sound and sensibility.

All the Time’s latest single, “Face”, was inspired by people’s faces on the subway. “I was fantasising about what everyone was thinking based on their expressions,” Lanza explains. “I found myself projecting my own feelings onto the strangers I was looking at. I went home and wrote the lyrics imagining that the commuters were having telepathic conversations with each other.” After Lanza’s European tour ended abruptly earlier this year due to the global pandemic, and the lease on her apartment expired, she left New York and travelled to San Francisco to stay with family, shooting the video for “Face” with Winston Case on the road trip there.

To tie into the release of “Face” and ahead of All the Time, Jessy Lanza put together our latest Dazed Mix, featuring tracks that inspired the record. She also spoke to us from her lockdown location in San Francisco to discuss that album and what she’s doing now.

Hi, Jessy. Are you in New York right now, back in Canada, or somewhere else entirely?

Jessy Lanza: I had to leave New York because the lease for my apartment ended pretty much when the lockdown started and I couldn’t find another place quick enough. I put my stuff in storage and packed what I could into my van and drove across the country to San Francisco to stay with family. So that’s where I am now.

How is lockdown going for you? How are you filling the time?

Jessy Lanza: It has been pretty relaxed, which I’m grateful for. I’ve been keeping myself busy making videos for my new album and going for lots of walks. Taking lots of baths, too, because this is the first time in five years I’ve had a tub.

Have you felt the pressure to be creative during this time?

Jessy Lanza: Definitely, but I feel pressure to be creative or to be doing something most of the time. It’s actually been easier for me to shut off the need for constant productivity, because what is there to do right now other than take care of yourself and others? I’ve felt more pressure to focus on important things like connecting with my family and keeping perspective during this situation. I think that’s where all the baths come in.

Now that it’s been a few years since Oh No came out, how do you feel about that album looking back today?

Jessy Lanza: I feel really positive about it. It’s been a few years and a lot has changed for me since it came out, but Oh No is a capsule of what I was going through at that time, and it helps me to remember how far I’ve come from that moment in my life.

Was there a specific catalyst that led to the songs you started writing your new album?

Jessy Lanza: Yeah. I realised I had an anger management problem, which led me to question my whole relationship with myself and the people around me. Working on the album became a way for me to reconnect with myself and start a conversation about where all of that anger was coming from.

“I realised I had an anger management problem... Working on the album became a way for me to reconnect with myself and start a conversation about where all of that anger was coming from” – Jessy Lanza

How has your process evolved or changed since then?

Jessy Lanza: I try not to obsess over songs that aren’t working and move on. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, but it definitely feels good to be honest with myself when a song isn’t going anywhere.

What song are you most excited for people to hear, and why?

Jessy Lanza: I’m really excited for people to hear the whole album! I’m really proud of the whole thing, so I couldn’t pick one song. I spent a lot more time on the lyrics with this album and feel like I’ve moved into a time in my life being more comfortable sharing how I really feel with people.

What have you been inspired by recently?

Jessy Lanza: So many friends have released amazing albums that I’m really inspired by. So much great music is being released right now, despite the circumstances: new Caribou, Lorenzo Senni, India Jordan, Yaeji, Ikonika, Addison Groove, to name a few. 

What can you tell us about your new song, “Face”?

Jessy Lanza: I wrote “Face” while I was riding the subway in New York. I was looking at people’s faces and started imagining what they were thinking or what they might say to one another based on their expressions. The conversations went from confrontational to sexual and back again. I was being a bit creepy, I realised, but I took the idea home and wrote “Face” based on the telepathic subway conversations I had imagined the other riders having. I shared it with my writing partner, Jeremy Greenspan, and he added a lot of strange sounds he made on his modular that really brought the track to life. 

What’s happening in this Dazed Mix?

Jessy Lanza: My mix is made of songs that inspired “Face” and my new record, All the Time. While I was working on the album, I drove back and forth from New York to Hamilton a lot and I listened to the same songs over and over on the eight-hour drive. This mix is filled with those songs and is a time capsule for me and anyone listening to hear the music that directly inspired All the Time

What are your plans for the future with your new music, now that touring has been put on hold?

Jessy Lanza: I really don’t know what the future holds, but I’m going to figure out the best way to bring these songs into people’s lives, even if we can’t be in the same room. Other than that, being grateful and figuring out how I can help other people is my main focus right now. I think that’s the most important thing.

Jessy Lanza’s new album All the Time is out via Hyperdub on July 24