A love letter to music: Jessie Gordon

8 January 2018

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Local songstress Jessie Gordon has been performing at Fringe World since its inception in 2012, and has picked up an impressive eight Fringe World awards in that time. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch this award-winning, cheese-loving jazz singer at Fringe in 2018 because she is performing six different shows! SIX!

Jessie Gordon. Photo: Catty Rogalski from CatBerry Studios.

And yet she found time for Seesaw’s Fringe Q&A.

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
Jessie Gordon: I don’t think I’ve ever known. Music is just something I’ve always loved and performing is something I’ve learned to love. Now that I do both I can’t imagine doing anything else (other than dancing), but I never had dreams of being a singer or performer.

S: Tell us about your training
JG: I had some singing lessons when I was a teen, but I never studied formally, I actually studied anthropology and linguistics. My folks were very keen on university as education rather than vocation focused, so I did an arts degree and it was an eye-opening, mind-broadening experience. But I’ve learned from being on stage for over 17 years in front of wonderful, terrifying, occasionally indifferent but mostly appreciative audiences.

S: Describe your artistic practice
JG: I spend a fair amount of time thinking about what kind of music I like, and how to present it thoughtfully to an audience. I love the idea of storytelling and communicating through music, and I really enjoy turning a thought over in my mind until it becomes something I can improvise talking about and around on stage. I also just love improvising, and I love words, so my practice of my craft (rather than my art) can be verbal jousting at family dinner, contemplative moments reading brilliant authors or frantically scribbling down thoughts on my phone, as well as listening to lots of music and doing boring things like scales and my tax (a surprisingly large element of keeping the whole ‘art’ thing going).

S: Career highlight?
JG: I constantly get to travel and perform with my best friends for audiences who are overwhelmingly beautiful and kind. My job demands applause every five minutes or so – that’s a pretty sweet deal.

S: Career lowlight?
JG: Look, let’s be honest, in life you encounter a lot of folks who really think they know better than you about a lot of things. When you’re a performer you tend to create intimacy with the people watching you, so often people think they have permission to be quite demanding or rude once you’ve come off stage. I’ve had a lot of men grab me or touch me inappropriately. That’s an ongoing issue.

S: Tell us about your 2018 Fringe shows!
JG: There are six of them, so I’ll just tell you about Jessie Gordon is Ruining Your Night. It’s a quite personal show, very different to the playful and irreverent shows I do like Dirty Jazz, So Fresh, Live Electric Loops or Anatomically Incorrect Gentlemen, and much more intimate than An Evening in Paris. It’s a little musical journey through my life, looking at the moments where songs have been crucial in either getting me into or out of trouble. It’s a love letter to music, basically, a little gesture of thanks for the moments of ruination and salvation.

You can catch Jessie this Fringe in Jessie Gordon is Ruining Your Night (21-25 Feb @ The Ellington Jazz Club), Dirty Jazz Cocktail Hour (21-25 Feb @ The Ellington Jazz Club)Jessie Gordon: Live Electric Loops (13-18 Feb @ The Palace Society at Flour Palace), Anatomically Incorrect Gentlemen: Dirty Gents (30 Jan-3 Feb @The Ellington Jazz Club)Sassafras: An Evening in Paris (27 Jan-1 Feb @ The Ellington Jazz Club) and So Fresh: The Fairly Average Dance Party (31 Jan-4 Feb @ The Ellington Jazz Club.

Top: Jessie Gordon. Photo: CatBerry Studios.

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