We caught up with singer/songwriter Jemma Hicken of Jemma & the Good Thing at our first Artist Feature livestream on Instagram this past Tuesday, April, 21. She performed an acoustic version of her song “Lipstick Dreams” and let us know how she’s been keeping up with the online music scene.
We also checked in with Jemma and asked her to share with us what inspires her, her songwriting process, and how she balances gardening and practicing on a daily basis:
How has your schedule changed since isolation being imposed?
Hugely! I’m just completing the third year of my undergrad, so the fact that school is now online has shifted my everyday life pretty drastically. I’m working on curating a routine that keeps me practicing and songwriting often, and my family has started a big veggie garden—so I’m spending a lot of my days planting seeds and weeding and watering.
What music have you been listening to recently?
Fiona Apple’s new album Fetch the Bolt Cutters, lots of John Prine, William Prince, Chicano Batman—an eclectic mix!
What was a favourite part of the recording process with Bent River Records?
I loved all the new ideas that were incorporated into the two tunes we recorded. I sometimes feel a little too “close” to my own songs to come up with fitting ways to alter them, but when somebody else has a great idea, it can feel like magic. I appreciated all of the creative collaboration that happened in the studio.
Which song were you most excited to play at the Spotlight and why?
I wrote a song last year about the car my family had throughout my childhood—it was an old silver hatchback Volvo, and it was constantly breaking down. I’ve incorporated a singalong/clap-along section at the end, and it’s consistently my favourite song to play live. It’s a relatable song, I’m really proud of a few of the lyrics, and I love feel-good community singing and audience participation.
Have you been writing or composing during this time, and how so?
Yes! In the first two weeks of isolation I was on a creative roll! A song every couple of days—which was great. My mum’s been really sick, though, so since arriving back home I’ve put most of my focus into supporting her and my dad.
What themes do you find yourself writing about in your music?
Nature is the main theme I regularly find myself writing about. I moved to Edmonton from the West Coast, and I don’t think I realized how much my identity and view of the world has been shaped by my surroundings—until I was away from home. When I’m feeling disconnected from the Pacific Northwest, it’s metaphors and imagery tend to work their way into my songs.
Is there an artist you’d love to work with in the future?
Countless—but one of my idols has always been Kimya Dawson. Her songwriting is so stream-of-consciousness-y, and I really appreciate how simple, personal, and literal it all is. This amazing sense of eccentric community comes shining out of her music, and she always sounds like she’s having so much fun—even on recordings.
If you missed Jemma on last week’s show, be sure to catch our next two Artist Feature livestreams on April 28 & 30 @ 7:00PM featuring other guests from the record label on Instagram Live!