After her beautifully eclectic performance on the not-always-inviting stage at The Metro, saying we were excited to sit down with Jesca Hoop would be the understatement of the year. Given the tales that the individual songs on “Hunting My Dress” tell, as well as the odyssey that the album as a whole represents, we weren't quite sure what to expect when we met her in the green room shortly after she got off stage.



“Difference, not indifference. Your passion sparks resilience. And you wrestle, and how you wrestle to come to know.” These lyrical excerpts from her song “Whispering Light” perfectly describe the engaging Jesca Hoop. While she had comments about everything, there are certain aspects of her life and parts of her personality that she keeps under lock and key with lips tightly sealed. When considered in relation to the extremely personal nature of her music and performance, her guarded nature seems almost esoteric - without being dissuasive. With her being so exposed - almost vulnerable - in her music, her desire to keep some things out of the public eye is understandable, but just because she's guarded doesn't mean she doesn't like talking… especially about Chicago.



When she's spending time in the city where you're always “under” something, she likes playing the Chicago Theater. Given the choice, the conscious carnivore prefers Chicago pizza over hot dogs. Though she's performing alone on this particular tour (at E's request), she performs with anywhere up to 7 people in the US and 7 in the UK. When we asked her about some of her previous large tours (Polyphonic Spree in 2007, Elbow in 2008, Andrew Bird in 2009) she was quick to comment that Elbow was unquestionably the most fun. If you know anything about Jesca Hoop this shouldn't come as much of a surprise because Guy Garvey of Elbow is just as enchanted by Jesca as her other iconic UK supporter Tom Waits. There's a quote floating around on the Internet from Waits that says Jesca's music is “like swimming in a lake at night.” That's not the whole quote and Jesca had no problem correcting the egregious media castration about one of her “greatest treasures.”



Pen in hand, Moleskin on lap, she set the record straight. The quote in its entirety is, “Jesca Hoop's music is like a four-sided coin. She's an old soul, like a good witch, a black pearl, or a red moon. Her music is like swimming in a lake at night.” Jesca makes no bones about the fact she partakes of a certain “medicinal substance” from time to time (even if it's over the phone with her mother), so the fact she remembers that lengthy quote - word for word - should paint quite a clear picture about how much it means to her. What exactly it means remains a mystery because she's keeping this one to herself. Tom Waits isn't the only musician she's linked to in the media either…



Since people surreptitiously throw around names like Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, and Bjork when talking about Jesca, we thought we'd let her settle this one too. In a battle royale with those three lovely ladies, Bjork would probably win because she has the growl. After doing her best impression of the Bjork growl (see below) Joni Mitchell is coy and she's just not having it. However, she also comments that Kate Bush is one of the most amazing vocalists on the planet.



When Hoop talked about her newest album “Hunting My Dress”, she's on record as saying its got “a shapeshifting, role-play thing going on song to song.” When we think about role-play, we think about escaping reality with dice or dominatrixes (dominatrices?), so we had to know if music was an escape for her. It can be. It's also a pause from the mundane, a respite, and/or a way to put your brain on pause. With themes like death, love, war, and sex being present in “Hunting My Dress” it's easy to draw parallels between those emotions and the real world. That said, is “Hunting My Dress” (as a title) a metaphor? Possibly. Probably. But she's definitely not spoiling it.



As a whole, “Hunting My Dress” flows from beginning to end in a way that escapes most “collection of single” albums released recently. Is there a singular underlying message to the album or is it more like a Shakespearean tale of intertwined characters that just kind of fits together? While she likes the idea of recurring characters or personas (just like Bruno in Ali G) and might try it, there aren't necessarily recurring characters - just recurring themes. As for the subject matter of her songs vacillating between boys and girls, she chuckles as she explains it isn't intentional.



In case you hadn't noticed yet, Jesca hoop is a classically free spirit. Traveling melodically from song to song and city to city, the enigma that is Jesca Hoop isn't just an obscenely talented singer/songwriter/performer - she's the embodiment of everything the music industry was missing before her. Armed with nothing more than a guitar, her voice, and a past even the best fiction writer couldn't invent, she has single-handedly transformed the landscape of the music industry with an emotional clarity and attachment that isn't just “real” - it's refreshing.