Arriving on stage with a guitar that appears (endearingly) to be half a size too big for her and looking alarmingly like the character Door from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, it's difficult not to like Jesca Hoop before she has even started singing. Her bandmates have an excitability to their actions (justified, as they are a new addition to her live set) that could mislead you into thinking that you're about to hear a young group in the early stages of honing their act.



This was a guilty presumption on my part, and it was blown away within seconds of the opening song. What you instead get is a well crafted and professional set with rich lyrics and strong individual performances from Jesca and her group. In fact, the only contention possible is in trying to pin down her musical style. You may hear the influence of Kate Bush, the klezmer tempo of Gogol Bordello or something else entirely, but you'll be right to do so regardless. Her music is like a weathervane that points to your own musical tastes while spinning in as many directions as possible.



Jesca Hoop has garnered strong praise from a variety of sources. Tom Waits says "Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night" and the Los Angeles Times presented her as "new and notable in 2007". More recently in the UK Jesca has supported Elbow on tour with Guy Garvey providing backing vocals for 'Murder of Birds' on her latest album Hunting My Dress.



Currently finishing her latest UK tour, Jesca has taken the time to answer some questions for us:



Alltern8: Hunting My Dress is your second album, have there been any radical changes or progress from the first?



Jesca Hoop: I wouldn't say that there are drastic changes... I would say an evolution is apparent. I learned a lot from making Kismet and I applied that knowledge to Hunting My Dress. At this point I am bound to forget everything I ever learned and start anew.



Alltern8: Has the change from a solo performer to a band lineup had an impact on your set or writing style?



JH: I tend to write with survival in mind...the song must be able to survive on it's very own. The words alone should be enough to hold one's attention.



Alltern8: How is the UK tour treating you? Any highlights so far?



JH: The UK tour has been great. Considering we released this record independently I have been very happy to see the audiences show up for the shows in each of the cities, especially the ones we haven't played before. My favourite shows were in Brighton and Manchester. The houses were packed and the audiences were absolutely fantastic!!



Alltern8: Do you find the music scene in Britain to be different from what you experienced in the States?



JH: Hmm its hard to say you know? It makes sense to go where there is an appreciation for what one does so I have surrounded myself with enthusiasts all along. One thing that is different in the UK is that it is much easier to spread the word. The UK is so much smaller and it is densely populated with music lovers. From my experience the coasts and bits of the north and south holds most of the music lovers in the states....and then you have the enormous center that is like a vast expanse that you have to cross in order to reach the cultured centers. It's a huge task to reach your audience.



Alltern8: What are your musical influences? Have these changed at all?



JH: I am influenced by so much. Whatever resonates with me in any area of music. I am conscious of how influences enter my own art. I do my best to render down any influences until the influences are more influenced by me if that makes sense. I am a member of my own club...no one else's. You are welcome to join my club if you like!



It seems that individuality is important to you, do you consider it a challenge to stay unique as a musician while still appealing to your audience?



I find it challenging to write anything of worth. If any piece of my writing is going to be of worth it must be unique to me and genuinely mine.



Alltern8: Outside of music, what has inspired or influenced you?



JH: Conversations, coffee, late nights, a good show, this world's bleeding heart, long drives.



Alltern8: Hypothetical: If one of your songs could make it into the soundtrack of a movie of your choice, which song and movie scene would it be?



JH: I wrote a song called for Love and Love Again for a Johnny Depp Movie.. I don't remember the name of the film. The song was accepted. The film was cancelled. Drat! But it would be Love and Love Again for the Johnny Depp film. Drat!!!



Alltern8: Finally your MySpace page includes a rallying call against 'fast-food music', could you elaborate?



JH: Well instead of slandering many a name..I will just say music that has foundation..no intention...no expression of skill, true talent, perspective. Posers, so much of what they play on power stations and music television. I love pop music when pop is inventive...don't get me wrong but so much of what is popular (with the teenyboppers especially) these days belongs in the trash. Listen to me I sound like my grandad!! But it's true. It is so sad to me to watch kids fall for these posers. Bring back David Bowie, The Beatles, Abba, The Talking Heads, Divo, Blondie etc. Make it pop, make it great... or don't make it at all.



Further information, tour dates and music can be found at http://www.myspace.com/jescahoop