“Australia has a flood of amazing rock artists in the wings posted to break through on an international level – a la Courtney Barnett or Gang of Youths. Melbourne artist Jess Locke has pushed her way to the forefront of this talented pack.” – The Guardian (Nathan Jolly)
“Jess Locke has again shown why she’s one of the country’s most exciting emerging indie rock stars.” – Double J (Dan Condon)
“…a songwriter capable of balancing introspective reflection with pop-skewed accessibility“
– Rolling Stone
Following an 8-date regional Victorian tour, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Jess Locke today shares ‘Halo’, the fourth track to be lifted off her forthcoming album Don’t Ask Yourself Why out Friday 26 March 2021 via Dot Dash Recordings.
sees Locke employ the album’s producer Rob Muinos for a delicate duet that is at the same time deep and guttural. Locke comments, “As soon as I wrote this song, I knew exactly how I wanted it to feel. Even before I wrote the words, I knew how I wanted them to feel in my throat. I knew I wanted this deep, guttural, almost monstrous sound. There is a Cat Power song called ‘Evolution’ that has a male vocal doubling the whole song and I couldn’t shake that idea for Halo. I am notoriously addicted to doubling my own vocals and I liked the idea of using a male double as a way to achieve that texture but also give more depth than just layering my own voice. I was thinking about who I knew that I could get to come in and sing it for me. Rob suggested that he could sing it as a guide take, so at least we could make sure the idea worked before getting someone to come in. As soon as he did it I knew it was perfect. I love the way our voices sound together. It’s one of my favourite parts of the whole album and it absolutely achieved what I had in my head the whole time. Instrumentally, I always wanted this song to be very minimalistic, but it was hard to figure out how to do that without just being boring. Some of my favourite parts about this track are things I wouldn’t have thought to do myself, like the subtle ambient synths weaving in and out and the slightly meandering bassline that perfectly offsets the relentlessness of the Wurlitzer. It introduces a bit of warmth and optimism to my melancholic tendencies. Even if, lyrically, the song is quite pessimistic, the music itself doesn’t fully submit to that sentiment and that’s the result of collaborating. If it was just me, all the songs would just be downers.”
‘Halo’ follows Locke‘sheartbreakingly humble ‘Dead and Gone’, grungey first single ‘Fool’ and emotional anthem ‘Destroy Everything’. Each have been received to wide acclaim with airplay across Australia and beyond including radio additions at Double J, FBi Radio, 2SER, RTR, & SYN, plus spins on triple j, KEXP & more.
Don’t Ask Yourself Why, Jess Locke’s third album, is twelve tracks steeped in the Melbourne songwriter’s trademark style – raw and honest storytelling, with a tendency for melancholy and at times poetic inclinations. The album traverses themes of human behaviour, our egos and self-reflection. On Don’t Ask Yourself Why, Locke invites contemplation. “I mean the phrase ironically, because really, I do want you to ask why” explains Locke.
Locke and bandmates James Morris and Chris Rawsthorne, worked with producer Rob Muinos (Saskwatch, Julia Jacklin), to record the album in a tiny studio in the back of a guitar shop in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood, before it was mastered by John Davis at Metropolis in the UK (Lana Del Ray, The Killers, Gorillaz).
Where previous album Universe (2017) came out of years of playing live and evolving songs in that setting, Don’t Ask Yourself Whyis more adventurous stylistically. Having little opportunity to perform songs live meant there were no practical limitations of how much instrumentation there would be, as long as it worked for the recording. “For this record I was a lot more open in my writing process than in the past in terms of genre. I tried not to write any particular kind of song and instead just see what kind of style the song wanted to be.” says Locke.
A multidisciplinary artist, Locke also designed the album cover art, as she has on previous releases. Of the work Locke remarks “I did this painting as part of a bunch I was doing based on things I saw when I went on walks. I painted flowers because they are both timeless and temporal and they, I think, invite contemplation. I think the artwork has elements of lightness and darkness in it which to me, seemed to fit the overall feel of the music. Most of all, flowers to me seem honest, which is what I ultimately try to be in my songs.”
Don’t Ask Yourself Why follows on from 2018’s 7” My Body Is An Ecosystem / Nothing At All and Locke‘s acclaimed 2017 LP Universe which debuted at #18 on the AIR Independent Label Album Chart, landed triple j Feature Album, was nominated for the Australian Music Prize and was #20 in Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2017.