She defines her genre as folk.
Jessica Bundy was born into music. Melodies and musical notes flowed naturally from her fingers onto the keys of the piano. She had the rhythm right from the beginning. Her internal drive was enough to compel her to go on. She picked up the guitar when she was 14-years-old and started teaching herself. Two years ago she took some lessons feeling she wanted to learn some technicalities.
“I feel I was a terrible student, because all I wanted to do was write songs.”
As a teenager, she was reading Virginia Woolf and Silvia Plath. Exposure to such classics and their language has helped her with writing poetry and songs. When she wrote songs as a teenager, she always felt there was something missing.
“They may have been good for that age, but I felt I lacked the language or experience at that age to give my songs emotional depth.”
For a few years, while she was in graduate school, Jessica stopped writing songs. After the death of her sister 3 ½ years ago, Jessica reconnected with her music and started writing songs again.
As we spoke, she anxiously tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and took a sip of her tea before she began telling me why now her music has more emotional depth. Painful as the topic was, the emotions that poured through after her sister’s death were really mature and gave her music and songs a sincerity and intensity that were missing before.
Her music served as therapy for her. By connection, it has also been cathartic and therapeutic for others who have heard it. Jessica also took up poetry once again. She regularly gets published in an online poetry blog called Rebelle Society.
Initially her fear of performing in front of crowds forced her to avoid public performances for a year. When the urge to perform finally became unbearable, she went to her first open mic night two and a half years ago.
Initially, she felt her performances were stunted by her fear. People she spoke to afterwards told her she sounded great, but she felt she could have done better. She decided she had to get over her fear. Even though the stage experience was awful, and she felt as if she was having an out-of-body experience, so she went back again and again and again.
For the next four months, she went to open mic nights at least three times a week. At the end of those four months, she was able to connect to her emotions and play like she would play when she was alone in her bedroom.
Just as much as Jessica enjoys singing, she enjoys listening to other people perform.
“I hosted one of the open mic events as well. It was an amazing experience to be on the other side. I loved hearing what other people have written. It gives a sense of community.”
Jessica has recently finished an EP recording. The EP was going to be a full album, but she and Dusty Chesterfield, her music producer, thought it would do just as well to put together an EP. Dusty met her by accident at one of the open mics.
“Dusty didn't hear me play that night. It was still just a perfect sync, because we both love music. When he got a chance to listen to my music, he loved it, and we decided to work together.”
While recording, Jessica ideally wants to capture the magic that happens in a live performance. But she says that playing live is just infinitely better than recording.
“It is easier for me to perform live and to connect with people immediately. It’s a two-way street and a strong performance creates a back-and-forth of emotions. I’ve made people like literally bawl.”
There would be some people who would avoid Jessica's music, because they want to avoid experiencing profound emotions. Then again some people come out just to delve deep into their emotions.
Jessica explains her creative process as something that happens in a flash.
“I always write songs with the music and they happen together. The rhythm may come before the lyrics do. The process works side by side.”
Usually she has her phone with her, and she records the song immediately. She will write a couple of verses and then play the melody and record it so she doesn’t forget it.
“For me song writing happens in a blur. I hardly change anything. If it’s not perfect immediately, I don’t look at it again.”
If a song gives her a good feeling, she takes it as a sign that others may want to hear it as well.