More about: Jessica Winter
Cramped in her small, pastel-painted room in Brixton, its surrounds spewing with books, is Jessica Winter. The singer-songwriter introduces one of the tomes to us over Zoom: its Hallucinations by neurologist Oliver Sacks. How we wish this year was fictitiously conjured as a nefarious hallucination! Still, our grey-drenched Monday morning is brightened by an amiable and upbeat chat with the goth-meets-indie pop newcomer.
“Most of us are inbred - it’s where people either go to die or leave”, is the illustrious picture Winter paints of her hometown of Hayling Island near Portsmouth, which she eagerly left at the age of 16. Enveloped in a state of “small mindedness” of such towns, Winter learnt from a young age the key to unlocking the door of her own imagination - transcending the myriad influences and music scenes that would eventually come her way.
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There's an air of pride when Winter notes that her uncle is the “local punk hero” in Wayling - and an indelible influence during her formative years. He could be the person who first inspired her to embrace a world of “misfits and weirdos”, she muses. Retrospectively speaking, Winter recognises the sheer magnitude of it all on her career in music: “if it’s in you, just do it and don’t let anyone else stop you" she concludes.
Transitioning from the “small mindedness” of Hayling Island to the “melting pot” of Brixton’s multiculturalism played surprisingly well into Winter’s self-admitted “chameleon” tendencies. Naming heavy metal, pure pop and trap as a few choice favourite genres, and Britney Spears and Marilyn Manson as some artists she particularly loves, Winter inevitably became infatuated with the eclectic Brixton venue Windmill. “Some of the weirdest people I know are allowed to put on nights [there] - which are great!” she says, including her own ‘Hate the Haus’ club night in the equation.
Having recently met her fellow collaborator from HateZine - a publication directed toward social justice in the arts - at this very venue, the two joined forces to raise money for various causes and offer a substantial platform to overlooked performers. From spoken word to dancers and performance art, the pair of organisers excelled in their ability to coalesce their “small world and community of misfits and weirdos.” Such an arts project highlights the truly multi-faceted artistry of Winter: as well as working on her own music, she's a foce of support for her fellow performers.
Yet Winter has also fulfilled a supporting role for one particularly noteworthy artist - as support act for revered, U.S. hip-hop trio Death Grips. Atop a hill in Stockholm overlooking the tranquil city as the sunset cascaded warmly upon its inhabitants, carnage ultimately ensued. Whilst Winter fretted whether these fans would welcome her as the opening act, the subsequent whooping and applause alleviated her fears and allowed her to revel in the bizarre experience. When asked what the incandescent trio were like in person, only two words could be fathomed by Winter to describe them: “serious” and “intense”.
The heights and strides reached within Winter’s newly-found career have since continued to exceed expectations, particularly through the recent release of her debut EP Sad Music.
Winter seems visibly gratified and overwhelmed with the reaction to the release - which has found a fan in The Cure's Robert Smith. She has received long messages and touching sentiments from people confiding in her a sense of relatability and necessity during such trying times.
Winter won’t stop here though. She has a multitude of musical “babies” to work on, from a collaboration with Clipping’s Jonathan Snipes and producer S-Type producing Jazmin Bean’s record, to releasing some new songs of her own. Whatever the future may hold for this eclectic musician, Jessica Winter will forever look to champion our community of misfits and weirdos we so desperately need right now.
Jessica Winter’s debut EP Sad Music is out now.
More about: Jessica Winter