Jessica Shores is a singer and songwriter that has, from an early age, has been obsessed with music. Born September 26 1985 in Long Beach California, Jessica spent her formative years with her family in Orange California. Jessica started singing at the age of five. Even in a family of musicians, Jessica was the star from a very early age. Jessica loves to sing but also plays guitar, drums, piano as well as other instruments.
She was born with a rare mitochondrial disorder; as a result, she became paralyzed and was told she would not walk again. She proved the doctors wrong. Jessica is not only walking, she is performing her songs live from coast to coast in New York and Los Angeles. This is an exclusive interview with Jessica, to find out what drives the artist to continued new heights and achievements.
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
Jessica Shores: I have been singing since I was five. I remember I would write songs and sing them to my family. I was first chair in junior high school band as a percussionist. I didn’t begin performing at shows until around 2009, but in 2010 I was forced to take a break because I became very ill following a very long hospitalization. I wanted to become a singer my whole life. I fell in love with singing after watching David Bowie in the movie Labyrinth when I was a child. I was so in love with him!
2. I read that you are inspired by none other than David Bowie and Chris Cornel. What grabbed you about 2 artistic icons from totally different music genres to yours?
Jessica Shores: On top of loving their music, I just loved David Bowie and Chris Cornell’s open minded-ness about music as a whole. David Bowie wasn’t afraid to try anything. I remember he said once in an interview that he was “try”-sexual….he would try anything at least once. I was hoping he would “try” me!…as I feel that I am a “try”-sexual too lol. And for Chris Cornell…he wasn’t afraid to take his Soundgarden sound and experiment with both Audioslave as well as alongside Timbaland for his solo album. I’m not sure if I have applied their musical styles to my sound, but I just admire them both as musicians and people.
3. Exactly Which instruments do you play and how did you get to learn to play so many of them?
Jessica Shores: I learned how to play percussion in band in junior high school. My father bought me an electric guitar when I was a child, and he taught me some chords and I would read music books too. I never learned to read music, but I was able to improvise and create melodies and rhythms from my mind. One of my friends in band was jealous because I would always be first chair but I would never really try.
4. Do you write the music and lyrics to your songs, or do you collaborate with other writers and music producers?
Jessica Shores: I write the bulk of my lyrics, seldom seeking outside ideas for lyrics but open to do so if needed. As for production, I usually do collaborate with other producers to create the instrumentals. I have made my own beats for some of my older songs, and I really want to start producing more in the future.
5. Do you think music today is enjoyed more for the beats and rhythms or for the lyrical content?
Jessica Shores: I personally think that music today is enjoyed more so for the beats and rhythms than it is for the lyrics. I grew up listening to the music of the 90’s…which was lyrically very heavy and involved. Songwriters like Kurt Cobain, Alanis Morrisette, and Chris Cornell ruled the radio, and they always had very thought-provoking lyrics. But today, most music is very poppy and bubblegum with pretty shallow lyrics. At least that is true for the mainstream stuff…
6. If you could choose to work with any of today’s successfully established artists or music producers, with whom would you like to work?
Jessica Shores: I’m very content working with my current line of producers. I would love to work, of course, with Chris Cornell and David Bowie, but I honestly don’t have any other particular artists or producers in mind who I would like to work with.
7. Which of your original compositions is currently your personal favorite, and why?
Jessica Shores: It’s really hard to pick a favorite, because each song has a story behind it that is very special to me. I have them all on constant rotation, and my favorite at the time usually depends on my mood. Like when I’m thinking about a past relationship, I like Flip The Switch. Or when I’m thinking about being high and feeling good, I like Rainbows and Unicorns. So it really depends on the mood, and it’s too difficult to pick an actul favorite!
8. Which ingredient do you think is most essential in making your songs sound the way it does?
Jessica Shores: I think the fact that I write all of my songs is very important to keeping a constant factor in them all. Also, when I go to the studio I try to utilize a lot of the vocal techniques which make me sound the way I do. Lastly, I think that using the same group of producers for most of my songs has been important to keeping my sound together and consistent.
9. Which emotion more than any other, currently dominates your writing? Joy, sadness, anger or passion etc. , and why?
Jessica Shores: If I had to choose one particular emotion, I think I would have to choose passion. I like to utilize every emotion in the spectrum when I write, but I think that I draw most from passion. I think that is because passion is such a strong desire, and it holds its roots in so many different moods. You can be passionately angry, passionately overjoyed, passionately in love, and etcetera.
10. Tell us something about the illness that paralyzed you, and how you managed to get to where you are today…performing on stage?
Jessica Shores: I was born with a rare mitochondrial disorder, and I have had a lot of difficulties from it. Mitochondria are known as the powerhouses of the cells, so every part of my body is affected from this disorder. It is almost like I am a car running on 3 cylinders instead of 4. When I was 16, I woke up one day feeling really, really sick. I went to the ER and within hours I had no feeling from head to toe. The doctor performed a emergency surgery on my spine to evacuate a fluid which had built up. The doctor told my parents that I would never walk again, and that recovery was going to be a long, difficult road. I proved them wrong after just a month of hospitalization, but since then I have been in and out of the hospital left and right with multiple surgeries from this horrible genetic disease. I would never wish this on even my worst enemy. I like to use my past medical condition to draw motivation from to perform on stage in front of people. It has worked so well and I’ve been surgery free for 2 months…yay!
11. What aspect of the music making process excites you most, and what aspect discourages you the most?
Jessica Shores: Everything from the writing process to the recording process to performing the song in front of fans excites me. It is too hard to choose one particular aspect, since all of the aspects of music excite me. Nothing discourages me about the process…each aspect is so important and needs my full attention so I don’t have the time or energy to be down about it.
12. How involved are you in the recording, producing, mastering and other processes needed to produce and market your music, and do you outsource any part of this process?
Jessica Shores: The way I look at it is like this…I like to find the people who are best suited to do each task and utilize their abilities. I have done a bit of everything myself, from recording to mixing to producing to mastering and so on, but my songs come out much better when I have a specialist in each area. Not to mention the fact that I like to draw inspiration from each of these people to help make the projects that much better. So for the most part, I usually leave the production up to one of my producers, I leave the recording and mixing/mastering up to the studio that I go to, and I handle the marketing myself. I am currently looking to outsource some of the marketing so that I can expand past my natural boundaries.
13. Do you think the advent of internet and all the new technology, has helped your music and independent musicians in general, or do you think it just creates a mass of mediocre “bedroom artists” who flood the web, making it difficult to distinguish yourself?
Jessica Shores: I think that the internet has both helped and hindered creative people and artists. Back in the 1950’s, you absolutely needed a record deal to have any chance at success as a musician. Your main avenue for listeners was the radio, and the only real way on the radio was through a record label. Nowadays anyone who has the drive can market their own music and be heard by millions of people. On the other hand, the internet does help to create a huge pool of mediocre artists who are falsely led to believe that their music is good. This helps to create more natural competition among people to weed out the talented artists from the mediocre ones. Overall, I think that the internet is a great thing for artists. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if it weren’t for the internet!
14. In your experience, what is the best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far? And one you didn’t follow, but now know you should have?
Jessica Shores: I’d say one of the most important things I’ve learned how to do is to see past fake people in the industry who are just trying to get on your good side for their own personal benefit. I’ve met a lot of fake producers and engineers who have tried to take advantage of me for my money. One very important thing that I should have followed is that we artists should always get everything that is discussed in writing. I’ve had people working on my songs who have told me one thing verbally and tried to revoke it after the song was finished. Get everything important in writing! Even if it is written as an email.
15. Being an independent artist, which is the one factor you currently desire most (increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, club performances etc…)?
Jessica Shores: I’d say that I desire to have more media exposure than I have now. At the time, I need to do everything myself in order to get the attention of people and fans. I need to handle my own ticket sales, market my own Facebook and Twitter pages, and make my own publicity decisions. If I was at that next level, I would garner media exposure by just going out in public and doing regular daily things.
16. Where do you distribute and promote your music ( Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, Your own Website, Youtube etc…) ?
Jessica Shores: I currently use my website, www.JessicaShores.com, to promote my music. When I release my upcoming mixtape, I will distribute it on iTunes and Amazon. I also have a Youtube page where I post my videos of live performances and other musically-related activities. You can check out my videos on www.youtube.com/TheJessicaShores.
17. How do you handle criticism? Who has been your worst critic, if any?
Jessica Shores: I handle constructive criticism just fine. I don’t particularly care for negative remarks regarding my music. There is a huge difference between someone trying to use criticism to make me a better artist, and someone just trying to break me down with negativity. I am all about peace, love, unity, and respect, and all of the positive things in this world. We are all humanoids after all! Well…some of us anyway 😉
18. Is going platinum or winning a Grammy important to you? Where would you like to see your career within 5 years?
Jessica Shores: I think it would be amazing to go platinum, especially with today’s record sale issues. I remember just about 10 years ago or so, it was so much easier to go platinum than it is today. And winning a Grammy would be absolutely incredible! I don’t do this to win awards or achieve benchmarks, but they would be a great bonus for me and my career. Within 5 years, I would like to touch lives all across the world with my music. I want my album to be in the CD players or on MP3 playlists of people of all races across the globe. In short…global domination!
19. What in your opinion is the biggest barrier an artist like yourself, has to face and overcome, to gain any commercial success?
Jessica Shores: I’d say the biggest barrier in the way of my current position and commercial success is money. Right now, I’m still a struggling artist and I’m not making a ton of money from my performances or merchandise sales. They always say that it takes money to make money, and this is really true for upcoming artists because we need to spend money in order to get our music heard by the masses.
20. Tell us something about your latest projects, music releases and collaborations?
Jessica Shores: I just finished filming a music video for my latest single, “Tek Tek Tonic”, and I am waiting for it to be finished with the editing process. I am super excited about it and can’t wait for you all to see it! I also have a new song that is finished and ready to be recorded, as well as a 6-9 song mixtape that I will be releasing as a precursor to the album. So check out www.JessicaShores.com to stay updated with the latest news!
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