JESSICA UPTON CROWE – INTERVIEW

Photos of Jessica are shot by Katrin Braga at Lebel & Crowe in Toronto. The photos behind her are shot by Laura-Lynn Petrick and Tess Parks.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Jessica Upton Crowe, Jesse Crowe for short. I was born in the small city of Saskatoon Saskatchewan in Canada to a mom who loved to paint and a dad who loved rock and roll. I’ve always had my hands in many creative pots, maybe too many. Growing up I went to a fine arts focused primary school where I learned to paint, dance, act, sing and did whatever else creative was thrown at me. You could say I was a keener. In high school I played saxophone in a fairly terrible multi-genre punk band until I eventually found my voice and realize I was better off singing. At 19 I left Saskatoon to pursue hairstyling in Vancouver where I worked vicious hours and had no time to do anything but work and paint. There was no music to be found at the time so I put those pursuits on hold. I hit a point where I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to make music in Vancouver, so I found my fresh start in Toronto when I was 23 and have been here ever since. I’ve been singing in bands ever since, and in the last couple of years, gained the confidence to play guitar in a few as well. Currently I’m playing guitar and singing in my main project, Beliefs as well as my solo project Praises. On my off hours I still love to paint and take portraits. I also co-own the hair salon Lebel & Crowe.

When did your interest in music, art and photography start?
My interest in the arts started from a very young age. I remember my mom used to paint T-shirts for a local shoe store in this cool impressionist style. I thought it was so creative and cool that she could sell her art for someone to wear. She always had me painting and drawing and making whatever I could out of whatever was around. My dad was the music side (though my mom also loved music) and would play me cool bands like Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and all of the greatest bands from the 60’s and 70’s. There are still songs to this day that when I hear then, I hear my dad singing along. I was also greatly encouraged by my step dad who was a  music teacher. I remember him showing up to my punk bands first show with a live recording set-up (I hope the tapes were discarded). I always treated the arts with a little more care than a lot of kids. I remember getting a camera in photography class and instead of lining up all of the cool kids to take the same garbage picture as everyone else, I took mine home and tried to take weird and interesting photos. I’m sure they looked like garbage, but I was attempting to think outside the box.

Who are your biggest musical influences?
My influences vary. The influences that I’ll always have are mostly from the 80’s and 90’s. I can’t get enough of Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive or The Stone Roses. I love something that feels like it’s taking me into another world while still being able to sing along and lust for the feeling they had when they were making those songs. Currently I’m listening to a lot of Toy, Temples, Kurt Vile, Jagwar Ma and The Horrors along with many many others that change and rotate on a daily basis. I’m trying to get over the long and grueling winter we had here and get into some spring psychedelia.

How long has your band Beliefs been together and what are your future goals?
Beliefs have been together for around three and a half years. Josh and I met at our first bass player’s birthday party and immediately hit it off. We basically agreed to start a band that night. We had no idea who would play with us besides Pat, who’s birthday it was, who played either drums or bass depending on what we were working on. We went on to record our first record (self titled) with three different drummers, one bassist, four guitarists and us two vocalists in three studios over the course of a year. Finally after securing a comfortable live line up, we started playing shows in the summer of 2011. Since then we’ve put our self titled record out on three independent labels (Hand Drawn Dracula in Canada, No Pain In Pop in EU/UK and Manimal in the USA) and are working on our next full length due out later this year. We’ve also had the chance to tour the US and Europe alongside having the opportunity to play with incredible bands here in Toronto. We’re hoping the next year will bring our new record (Leaper) as well as touring to places in the world we’ve never been before.

How does living in Toronto affect your career?
Toronto has a thriving music scene. From the moment I arrived seven years ago until now, there are constantly people wanting to start bands and projects, a lot of which are actually realized. The pace in Toronto is faster than what I was used to in Vancouver or Saskatoon, people don’t fuck around, when they say they want to work with you, they’re serious and when you ask them when, they say “now”. I’ve also found my comfortable niche in Toronto’s hair world and my actual day job practically runs itself. I spend my days talking to other like minded people and sharing ideas, all in the name of a haircut. I’m lucky that way.

What’s the one accomplishment you’re most proud of?
My gong playing on Gallowsbird.

Where do you see yourself in the future?
Living somewhere even more busy, more cluttered and doing enough to give myself a heart attack. I just want to put out a million records really… and be able to print off many many photos.

Where can I see more of your work?
http://www.beliefsmusic.com
http://handdrawndracula.com/artists/praises/
http://struttersandhead.blogspot.ca/
http://www.lebelandcrowe.com
http://handdrawndracula.com/

If you are in Toronto and want to visit Jessica’s lovely hair salon you can go to: 793 Queen St. West Toronto, Ontario Canada.