Welcome to Almost Famous, a weekly segment where we ask up-and-coming queer musicians some not so hard-hitting questions about music and life and maybe even convince them to share photos of their pets. Get to know intimate details about your new favorite artist or band before they hit the Big Time and become too famous for us to interview for real.
Header by Rory Midhani
Houston-based pop/R&B artist Jess Walker is impressive. At just 22 years of age she’s releasing catchy, radio-quality pop tracks and sharing stages with artists like Charlie Lucas Band, German pop star Nina Hagen and God-Des & She, to name a few. Her future is as bright as her voice is silky smooth. Just a few weeks ago Jess released “First & Last,” a hooky dance floor anthem featuring many cute queers including YouTube duo Bria and Chrissy. Check it out below and expect to hear more soon; she’s currently finishing up her self-titled EP, which’s set to drop in June.
How would you describe your music?
I would definitely consider my music to fall under the Pop genre, but I try to set my songs apart my incorporating characteristics from other genres. My song “Bones,” for example, has hints of Latin music and R&B. So, I guess, Pop + ______.
What instrument/s do you play?
I play guitar, bass, and I sing. I’ve been singing since I can remember and I picked up the guitar and bass when I was 13. Occasionally I like to mess around on the piano or play my cajon, but I’m far from experienced when it comes to those.
Which song would you most like Autostraddle readers to hear?
“First & Last”
What inspires you to write?
As cliché as it sounds, life inspires me to write. I’m the kind of person who is constantly feeling something – either I’m super empathetic or really sensitive? I’ll let you guys decide. Most of my songs are about some sort of hardship that I’ve faced or have seen others face. Writing becomes a way in which I can express myself and I truly believe that music is the best form of communication. In the end, I guess, it comes down to wanting to build a connection between myself and the rest of the world and the fact that singing and writing music makes me incredibly happy.
What was the last song you wrote about?
I’m currently a senior in college and, being so close to graduation, I’ve been filled with a couple of conflicting emotions. So I decided to write a song about having feelings that are bittersweet, being unsure of the future, but trying to embrace that, and what it takes to create a home no matter where you go. The song is called “Moving On.”
What do you get up to when you’re not making music?
When I’m not making music, I’m almost always hanging out with my friends, going out to eat and watching the Amazing Race every Sunday with them (our little tradition). You can sometimes find me out at the bars, surfing Youtube, watching soccer (GO USWNT – Ali Krieger and Megan Rapinoe are my favorite soccer players). I’m also a total movie junkie. Some of my favorites are The Holiday, Eat. Pray. Love., The Green Lantern, and School of Rock.
Have you ever had to work a terrible job to pursue your music career?
All I do is work terrible jobs so that I can pursue music. The first job I had was in high school at a movie theater where I worked crazy hours – 12 hour shifts of the weekends – and served concessions to impatient movie-goers. My boss, on purpose, even tried to humiliate me on my fourth day of work by tricking me into doing something wrong and then, throwing popcorn in my face. In college, I took up 3 jobs at one point to get extra money on the side to record my EP. One temporary job, I literally took out staples from over 70 trashcans filled with stapled papers.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I go to a quiet place in the venue and envision how I want the show to go. Then, I take a deep breath and head to the stage.
If you could share a line-up with any two other artists?
I would choose Jessie J because she’s an incredible songwriter and artist – her voice is impeccable and I love the fact that she’s not afraid to be herself. The other would have to be Paramore. I have been the biggest fan since I can remember and I really want to play an amazing rock show. I can’t get enough of their new song “Ain’t It Fun” and the fact that Hayley Williams is gorgeous is a plus.
Who is your idol?
My mom. She is the best person that I know and has always fought for every dream that I’ve ever had. No matter what, I know she’s in my corner and I can only hope that one day I can be as amazing as she is!
Do you have any pets?
Currently, I don’t. Sadly, colleges don’t allow you to have pets and my apartment doesn’t either. I used to have a dog named Buddy though. He passed away a few years ago, but he’s still my main squeeze.
To hear more tunes and learn more about Jess Walker, head to these places:
If you are, or know of, a queer artist or band that should be featured in Almost Famous, drop me the details via crystal [at] autostraddle [dot] com. Please write ‘Almost Famous’ in the subject line!