Though the band Deep Sea Diver has only been around for a few years, writer and multi-instrumentalist Jessica Dobson has been on the scene for much longer. Signed to Atlantic Records at 19, Dobson recorded two albums that were ultimately shelved before moving on to collaborating with bands including The Shins, Beck, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Older and wiser, Dobson then went on to form Deep Sea Diver, with this past February seeing the release of their second LP, Secrets.
ATYPICAL SOUNDS had the privilege of speaking with Dobson to get her take on the new album, touring, and life as a seasoned musician.
Congratulations on your album release! Are there any new songs that you’re especially fond of playing live?
JD: Thank you! I really love playing “Wide Awake,” “Notice Me” and “Body on the Tracks” because I get to really step out on guitar on those ones and I think the fans really love that. There a lot of sweet guitar solos and pedals to play around with. It makes it even more exciting for me to do something different every night, especially with “Wide Awake.”
When you tour, how do you prepare to hit the road? What do you do to pass the time while traveling?
We basically start rehearsing about a month ahead and try to get the songs so deeply ingrained in our muscle memory so that by the time we hit the road, we feel totally free playing the songs. Its all about energy and vibe for us at shows, so we want to be emotionally as present as possible, not worried about whether or not we are ready to play the songs. In the van, its easy to tune out and go on your phone for hours on end, I try to read a few books at a time, and keep a journal about whatever I’m experiencing on the road and at shows.
Do you have any places you look forward to visiting when you tour?
New York is always a highlight for us. There’s a distinct energy in the city and we always see it as an adventure when we get to bounce around the different boroughs and eat the best food and stay out way too late.
Seattle might still be best known as the birthplace of the grunge movement. Has any of that culture remained popular in Seattle? Has it come back since the resurgence in popularity of 90s music?
Thankfully grunge has not made another comeback yet, but I think that music business people in Seattle wish that there was another resurgence of a scene that popular (insert $ signs). The music scene in Seattle is thankfully much more broad now and hopefully it will continue on that trajectory.
You’ve been a part of the music industry for about 10 years. What advice can you give to someone looking to break into the field? What do you think the biggest misconception about the industry is?
Music business is basically 99% smoke and mirrors and if you elevate the business end above the creative end, you will most likely be sorely disappointed. There is absolutely zero stability in the music industry and sometimes good art gets noticed, sometimes it doesn’t. You have to do everything you can to keep creating from an honest place and make the best art you possibly can. That is much more fulfilling than trying to pander to music business people and to fleeting musical trends.
What’s it like working with your spouse? Is it difficult to leave the workday behind once you get home?
Yeah its almost impossible to stop our minds from thinking about new songs, record label plans (we started a record label, High Beam Records) and what the next step is for Deep Sea Diver. We fight about silly things like who’s chorus ideas are better, but when we aren’t being immature, it’s the most fun to create with the person you love most.
Are you working on anything with The Shins at the moment?
Nope! I had to give Deep Sea Diver my full attention in order to get this new record out and to promote it as much as possible. I believe they are working on some new songs and I can’t wait to hear what comes of it!
You’ve also worked with Beck. Do you feel more pressure to perform well when you’re working on your own projects, or other people’s?
Performing live is one of my favorite aspects about being a musician and I treat any project or show like its the last thing I’ll ever do. I love the kind of healthy “pressure” that comes with performing, and it causes me to keep pushing my limits live. With that said, if a show of Deep Sea Diver’s gets a bad review or goes poorly, yeah, it stings a bit more because we wrote these songs and they are much more personal to us.
Is there anything you’d like your fans to know before listening to your new album?
If you can tell me who I’m singing about in the song “Secrets” I’ll somehow find a million dollars to give you.