An Interview with Jessica Louise Dye of High Waisted

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We’re brining it back to NYC this week, with Jessica Louise Dye, the leader of Indie Pop/Garage/Surf powerhouse High Waisted. In 2020, High Waisted released their stellar new record which is titled Sick of Saying Sorry and it’s some of the most energetic and fun music I’ve heard in some time. It’s easily a low-key album of the year, for me. It’s awesome to see that the indie scene is a vibrant as ever. In regards to their latest album, it’s an absolute fire follow up to their debut record, On Ludlow and I believe in time it will be looked back upon as yet another classic within the genre as well as the start of what hopefully will amount to a long career in music for Jessica Louise Dye and High Waisted. With all that being said, if you would like to learn more about the High Waisted, head over to their website here and pick up their records and/or CDs. Also, be sure to check out Jessica’s DJ set’s too. She is streaming weekly on Twitch here. Lastly, you’re also going to want to follow Jessica on Instagram here. She posts all kind of interesting and funny things, and also posts news regarding High Waisted and her DJ sets. Once you’ve done all of that, give this interview a read. Enjoy.

Andrew:
Jessica, thank you for taking the time to speak with us here. It’s been some year, hasn’t it? What have you been doing to keep your mind off the ever-raging dumpster fire?

Jessica:
It’s embarrassing but now I am a video game addict and I’ve fallen down the hole that is TikTok.

Andrew:
Tell us a bit about your backstory. How did you get into music?

Jessica:
I hop from one heart break to the next. It’s all reflected in my music. I started to dabble in music in DC. It wasn’t until I chased another lover across state lines to NYC that things started to click for me musically. It’s scary to finally decide what you want to do with your life.

Andrew:
As an artist, who are some of your earliest influences? As you’ve evolved musically, how have those influences changed?

Jessica:
I grew up listening to Classic Rock. My first concert with Steve Miller. I think as I evolve musically I am pulling less from my early references and more from current music trends. I’m looking forward, not backwards.

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Andrew:
Tell us the story of High Waisted. How did the group come together?

Jessica:
We all met on Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side. We were instantly best friends. We stayed out too late. We were busy falling in love. We bonded over cold beers on hot summer nights listening to The Ventures on vinyl. We were enamored of NYC.

Andrew:
In 2016, you released On Ludlow. I really love this record. What do you remember about the recording of it? What was the inspiration at the time?

Jessica:
You have your whole life to make your first record. On Ludlow told a lot of stories of my life before NYC and what I hope my life in NYC could be. We recorded the entire record in a week, to tape, during a blizzard, inside an old church turned into a beautiful studio in Woodstock, NY. The biggest thing I remember about that week is how easily it all came together. Nothing felt forced. There was no second guessing ourselves.

Andrew:
Let’s talk about Sick of Saying Sorry. This record rocks. My favorite songs are, “Boys Can’t Dance,” “Easy as It Comes,” and “Giving Up.” This album feels like it’s itching to be played live. I bet you can’t wait to get there again after COVID finally is done with us. Tell us more about your latest record. How do you feel both yourself and that band have evolved in the time since you put out On Ludlow? What’s changed?

Andrew;
On Ludlow is about being at the party and Sick of Saying Sorry is the lonely train ride home from the party. A lot of life happened in between making both albums. We learned more lessons than I care to share. I can’t begin to explain how heartbroken I still am that all of our plans for the release of SOSS were canceled due to the pandemic. It’s like having a birthday party no one showed up to. I was left eating all the cake, alone.

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Andrew:
Where can we get your new album and what formats is it available on?

Jessica:
All of our music is available on all streaming platforms. Physical copies can be purchased from our website here or Bandcamp here.

Andrew:
The music and aesthetic of High Waisted has that real vintage vibe. It reminds me of the 60s, the 90s and today all rolled into one. Sonically, the guitars sound like Fender Jazzmasters or Telecasters to me. What type of guitars do you prefer and why? As a guitar player, who do you look to in terms of style and inspiration?

Jessica:
You nailed it. I play a 1963 Fender Jazzmaster. Almost all of the gear on our records are intentionally vintage. We used to tour with these big clunky reverb tanks. Tone is important to me. In terms of guitar players I look up to: Dick Dale, Joan Jett, Vivian Albertine, and Mick Jones.

Andrew:
Let’s switch gears a bit now. Tell me your thoughts on the current state of the music scene these days? What’s it like out there for an indie artist?

Jessica:
It’s hopeless. I have no advice for how to navigate things during the pandemic. Just when I think we’re doing something right, everything changes. It’s one big collective struggle. And that’s OK. Force yourself to write. And if writing feels too painful, forgive yourself for needing time. If you miss performing, stream online. Sing to your plants. Read aloud to your pets. Try to make something every day: a song, an omelette, your bed. It can’t feel so impossible forever.

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Andrew:
There are a lot of artists out there whom are fantastic, but get stuck in the underground, while others go on to great success. What is it about our culture that causes this to happen? Do you think the general public is truly listening?

Jessica:
I’m part of the general public and I’m not even listening enough. I cried about this the other night. Thinking about all of the talented friends I have who make the most amazing music and the likelihood that no one will ever hear it on a large scale. If I knew the trick to climb out of the obscurity I would have already.

Andrew:
In the world we live in today, we are more or less dominated by late stage capitalism and the never-ending barrage of social media. How has this effected music as an artform? Is an artist’s ability to get their music out there hindered by all this, or helped?

Jessica;
I’ve seen artists blow up on TikTik with one 7 second video. I’ve seen friends work for 15 years, promoting on social media and have nothing happen. There’s a lot of people chasing after the same dream. I would prefer to just focus on making music personally.

Andrew:
One pretty disturbing thing I’ve learned is that streaming services like Spotify really don’t pay. What are your thoughts on that? How do we as fans help the musicians we love get ahead and sustain themselves?

Jessica:
They don’t. I’m broke. The best way to help an artist financially is to attend their shows and buy their tangible merch from them in person or from their websites. There are lots of free ways to help too. Engage with artists on social media. Bookmark their posts. Share their music with friends. Use their songs in TikTok videos. Pre-save their albums and add songs to playlists.

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Andrew:
I mentioned before that your music really seems to be primed for the live setting. COVID has sadly disallowed live music for the time being. What do you miss most about live music? A lot of indie venues are in trouble, I think. Do you feel the industry will recover?

Jessica:
The industry is a machine. It will recover but there will be many victims. High Waisted is all about our live performance. I love being on stage more than any other aspect of music. It’s a drug for me. I feel like a ghost version of myself without performing.

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Jessica:
I’ve had my vinyl collection stolen too many times. I am slowly rebuilding it. I like to buy from artists at shows or from small indie shops across the country (which we would visit while on tour).

Andrew:
Once COVID-19 is finished with us, what’s next for both you and the band?

Jessica:
Hopefully we get to have a proper party for the release of Sick of Saying Sorry! And we’ll definitely be releasing more music.

Andrew:
Last question. In a world that’s been so confined by the constraints of capitalism, big business and the alienation caused due to the internet age, how do artists find their footing these days? What advice would you have for younger artists?

Jessica:
I feel like the younger artists have it more figured out than I do. I still feel like a young artist. We simply made music we loved, climbed into a van, and hoped for the best. I think everything will be different in a post COVID landscape and I’ve given up on fortune telling.

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Interested in diving deeper into the work of High Waisted? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.

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