Things have been very busy for me as of late and as such I haven’t had a new post in quite a while. For the time being, I am going to leave this page pretty much as-is while I focus on my writing, music, and film projects. When the Brian Jonestown Massacre book is ready for release I will be posting information about that here. Until then, the best way to contact me is through my personal Facebook or through the the Gorky Facebook page. You can also keep up with me by following my writing on a new site I’ve been contributing to, The Big Smoke. Updates on the BJM book will also be posted on the BJM book’s official Facebook page.
What I am up to mainly this month is promoting my first film, Durant’s Never Closes, directed by Travis Mills and starring Tom Sizemore, Michelle Stafford, Peter Bogdanovich, Jon Gries, and yours truly. I also composed the film’s theme music, which we are releasing as an instrumental on Gorky’s forthcoming sophomore record, ‘The Deuces.’
Yeah! That’s one of the things. Gorky is releasing two records this winter, ‘High In The Low’ as of January the 14th and ‘The Deuces’ as of February the 1st (available via iTunes/Spotify/Amazon/etc). ‘First Demo/2004’ will likely be available in March, with hopefully many records to quickly follow. We are working on an acoustic record, a space rock record, an ambient noise record, and all kindsa other stuff. Really working our creative muscles over here in Gorkland.
Our music video for ‘Super Drunk’, directed by Mills, was shortlisted by Phoenix New Times last year as being one of the best videos released by an Arizona artist in 2015. Spiffy, right? Dig that here:
Aaaand you can see my scene with Mr. Sizemore below:
Thank you everyone for your continued support and rest assured I appreciate every last bit of it. Onward!
Jesse Valencia Live Reading Of “Straight Up And Down With…The Brian Jonestown Massacre” and “How To Piss Yourself In Style”
I was blessed with the opportunity to kickoff this year’s Northern Arizona Book Festival with a reading of the first two pages of my forthcoming book “Straight Up And Down With…The Brian Jonestown Massacre” as well as my essay “How To Piss Yourself In Style” as part of the Narrow Chimney Reading Series, held every Monday at 7pm at Uptown Pubhouse in Flagstaff, Arizona. Watch the live video below!
As previously reported, “Straight Up And Down With The Brian Jonestown Massacre” will be published by Portland-based independent publisher University of Hell Press.
Here is the link to the OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE FOR STRAIGHT UP AND DOWN WITH…THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE
The official trailer for ‘Durant’s Never Closes’, starring Tom Sizemore has been released! I’m not in the trailer, but I am in the movie! Look for me when it comes out, k? I can tell already though that man oh man is this gonna be good.
“I was told ‘we need healing’ – but I see the healing, the tiny steps when we climb a pole to take own a “rebel flag”, when we forgive, when we donate money to send children of slain community leaders and servants to college. I just listen and pay attention. That’s where the music comes from.” – Jordannah Elizabeth
Singer-songwriter and music journalist Jordannah Elizabeth’s heartfelt new record ‘Borders’ couldn’t have come at a more poignant time.
by Jesse Valencia
Recently I caught up with my friend, fellow musician and journalist Jordannah Elizabeth to discuss her new EP “Borders” and forthcoming essay collection, “Don’t Lose Track Vol 1: 40 Articles, Essays and Q&As,” which will be published by UK-based publisher Zero Books and features her writing on artists ranging from Talib Kweli to Pink Mountaintops.
As a music journalist, Elizabeth has been involved heavily in documenting the contemporary psychedelic music scene, covering it’s rise for the better part of the last decade. While still in her teens Elizabeth was a music reviewer for the Colorado Springs Independent, and in her early twenties started her own promotions firm, The Process Records Media Group. Her writing has appeared in SF Weekly, Vice, and nerve.com and most recently MTV Iggy.
As a musician, she’s got a few records of her own under her belt. Her latest, the 4-song EP Borders, was recently released through Elizabeth’s own Bandcamp page and is a love letter of sorts to the city of Charleston, South Carolina, who’s state legislature recently voted to remove the Confederate Flag from their State Capitol grounds in the wake of the recent massacre of 9 innocent African-Americans at the hands of white supremacist Dylann Roof. The first song on the record, ‘Charleston (Settled in the Lord)’ sets the perfect tone for this troubled time in our country.
“Charleston (Settled in the Lord)” is a minimalist, very spiritual piece, almost like a mantra. The music is calming and soothing. The whole of your new record, ‘Borders’, captures that same vibe, and is described on your Bandcamp page as being dedicated to Charleston, SC and the extensive amount of pain being felt there, which has indeed been felt across the whole of our country right now. Contrary to a lot of media coverage and the opinions of pundits, your message is that “healing is occurring.” In spite of the swirl of negativity we’ve seen coming from all kinds of people, I am interested to hear your thoughts on how positive thinking and love within our communities can lend to that process of healing, and how you’ve seen that manifested in your own experience?
Well, if we look at the whole story, the loss of those nine beings led to the confederate flag being taken down in a “public square of sorts” in South Carolina. I’ve been talking to people about martyrdom and I’ve been seeing the effects of the deaths of certain Black lives – from Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown to Eric Garner to Freddie Gray to the victims of the shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. I’ve paid attention to the societal and legislative changes that have occurred because of the deaths – the firing of the Baltimore Police Commissioner, the taking down of the flag, laws protecting citizens who record police behavior, ect. I was born and raised in Baltimore City. I have three brothers and a father. My father is a preacher. So the fear of my family being murdered by police and white supremacists is very real.\
Yesterday, I talked to a mother whose son was slain in Baltimore and she told me that everyone knows Freddie Gray’s name, but no one knows her son’s name. He was not a criminal, in fact he was a successful gospel music producer. He was jogging to work and was gunned down. I talked to my father who was alive during the Baltimore riots in the 60s after Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and years later he was caught in the middle of this year’s riots – and what I learned from talking a number of people like the woman and my father, is that the “victims” and human beings who are experiencing the pain of murder and racism first hand have incredible hope. They said nothing evil against whites, in fact, the mother I spoke to fell into the arms of her best friend who is a white man and they have been bonded and healed from the loss of her son by making music together. These people believe in God, and the spoke with hope and gratefulness for the times they had with their slain loved ones. They saw the blessing the hell they were thrown into.
You see, I talk to people. I don’t listen to the news. I am the press and I use my credentials to learn and spread the message of the truth – straight from the mouths of victims. They tell a very different story than the news and of people who have never lost a child or family member to a hate crime.
I was told “we need healing” – but I see the healing, the tiny steps when we climb a pole to take own a “rebel flag”, when we forgive, when we donate money to send children of slain community leaders and servants to college. I just listen and pay attention. That’s where the music comes from.
2. While the minimalism of this record echoes folk music of the 60s, you identify often, like I do, with the contemporary Psych community. One social problem I see with the Psych community is that, for a group of people often claiming to revive the spirit of the 60s, there seems to be this very strong current of heteronormativity and general “whiteness.” Not ‘whiteness’ as in “oh look there’s just a bunch of white people here” but Psych in America seems to be more about appropriating far-off cultures than about being all-inclusive. I was wondering what your thoughts are on that?
The international psych rock scene is my family. I don’t think they see me as Black and I see them as my best friends who take care of me, and support me whenever I need something.
I was talking to Steve Kille of Dead Meadow about racism and sexism and he said, “Listen, an asshole is an asshole no matter what color they are.” I know that seems simple, but it snapped me out of small mindedness. There are jerks everywhere, take them one by one, treat people individually. Not all white musicians want to keep rock music white.
I just talked to Gregg Foreman of Cat Power and yes, we do discuss “Why am I the ONLY prominent Black woman in the scene”, but I think it’s because I just grew up with certain experiences that make me fit in. I grew up on 60s music. My parents love rock and roll, my dad saw The Who and Bob Seager live. My mom loved Elton John, The Allman Brothers, ect. A lot of psych musicians LOVE Black music. They breathe it. So, what brings us together is our encyclopedia knowledge of 60s rock and soul music.
Whiteness is of no business of mine. A man is allowed to be white. I have no qualms with a man or woman who happened to be born on this Earth as a white person. It is a circumstance that they deal with. I deal with the circumstances of being Black. It’s not their choice, nor is it mine. The choice we have as adult human beings, is whether we want our circumstances to affect us in a negative manner. When we don’t like ourselves and our situations, we take it out on others.
I think the psych scene would be inclusive if other nationalities wanted to make the music in America. I covered alternative, psych and experimental music in South America for almost 3 years at Remezcla.com. I write about world music at MTV Iggy, so I know all the counter culture music coming out from across every continent…it depends on what you know.
AR Kane and Apollo Heights (The Veldt) are Black shoegaze/psych bands. Also, it’s your interpretation of psych. The Temptations wrote an album called Psychedelic Soul. Arthur Lee of Love is Black, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Afrika Bambaataa can be considered psych musicians. Afro-futurism music is very psychedelic.
There are a lot of Black psych artists, people just only think of Pink Floyd when they think of the term “psychedelic music”, but my “white” friends know better than that and that’s why we get along. They’d listen to the staple sisters over Stone Temple Pilots any day – I’m not hating on any genres or bands, it’s just taste.
You have to know your history. We all run in circles and get very specific about genre and music history when we sit down and talk. I get compared to Nick Drake, and sometimes I sound like Crosby or Erykah Badu, or Mahalia Jackson or Odetta. My friends and producers hear that and understand me. That’s what bonds us…not color, but the borderline obsession with contemporary rock and soul music.
3. The title of your new record is ‘Borders’, yet the cover features you by an ocean, which could be described as a border, but also could be described as being the absence of one. I was wondering what your personal connection to the title might be?
I was thinking more along the lines of the lines on a map. I’m a transient person of sorts. I slowed down on traveling a couple of years ago to concentrate on building relationships with my friends and family because I had been on the road from about age 17-25, nonstop. I didn’t know my family, my friends missed me and I needed to take time.
This album in particular is about boundaries, borders and the affects they can have on the heart and mind. Charleston didn’t come up until the morning of the recording session. The song came to me in a dream. My father was singing the song, and he was in a room full of people when he got to the line “Oh Lord, Oh my Lord” the whole room sang with him…so I drove my producer and friend Breck a little crazy because I said, “It has to sound like a group of people because that’s how it went in the dream.” So, I sang soprano and alto and he sang tenor. We have discussed doing the song again and getting a large group of people to sing it in the future.
Before that morning, Borders was just about imaginary lines on a map, and the question of closeness, and changeable emotions. When you experience borders and boundaries, you tend go through an ebb and flow of thoughts and emotions that are a bit more noticeable than when you have everything at your fingertips. The album, Borders is an exploration of that. I kept the songs simple because when you are alone, life is quiet. I was also inspired by style of old school soul and blues musicians – simple recordings, self-taught guitar playing, simple lyrics from the soul. I’m not a big fan of polished music. I wanted people to feel intimacy.
The beach? I just always wanted to shoot at Sutro Baths. I had a vision of that shoot for general promo. I didn’t know it would be the album cover. We also shot at the botanical gardens. It was kind of supposed to be like Planet of the Apes. A concept I had a year ago. The last shoot was at the beach too, but were high up at Fort Funston, but there were people around and in our shots… it wasn’t exactly what I was trying to do.
Planet of the Apes had a lot to do with isolation…and that scene on the beach with the statue of liberty and that realization that really was the end of the world was going for.
I personally experience a level of solitude that I enjoy. I get lonely, but it’s more like feeling lost on earth…on the edge of a world I can’t fly away from. But I embrace it. I embrace the broken ruins of the past. The Sutro Baths are broken ruins of the past. I walk on them in my glitter stilettos and do what I have to do.
4. You have a book coming out on UK-based publisher Zero Books! The title is ‘Don’t Lose Track, Vol. 1: 40 Articles, Essays and Q&As by Jordannah Elizabeth.’ Tell me a little bit about this collection. How did you choose which of your pieces were going to go in the book, and how did you set about arranging them? Also, do you know when the book will be available?
The choosing of the articles and essays was totally quick and intuitive. I had been thinking about compiling articles for weeks, maybe months before I did it. My publisher had rejected me about 3 times, but the third time I got to the second round of consideration, therefore, I had become an “official author” of the imprint and my submissions became more of a priority because I had a profile and a direct link to the staff. A part of me knew they’d take this book, it was just a feeling. I sat and took a weekend and compiled the articles. I handed them in and within 4 days I had a book deal. Very simple. My whole thing is I don’t give up. Sometimes, people just have to get familiar with you. I had a feeling Zero Books got me. I had an intuition that they saw or felt what I was trying to do, particularly with the submission I had handed in before this collection. It was obscure, but it was all me, all my imagination and literary heart – so I thought, if that got through the first round, a nice neat collection of my essays and articles should be fine. I was right. I feel very blessed.
We don’t have a release date yet. The cover is going to be finished by September. That’s all I know right now.
5. Do you have any plans to tour the book and new record?
Sure. I have a show coming up at Metro Galley in Baltimore, MD on July 25th. I’m going to play the new songs. There will be a book tour and I reckon I’ll play some musical performances this fall/winter. It’s what I do.
6. What’s next for Jordannah Elizabeth?
I’m going to work on writing some books and music and continue to write articles and visit with my friends and family.
Official Website: http://jordannahelizabeth.tumblr.com
Preview the song below.
Here’s a screenshot of Tom Sizemore as mysterious resterateur Jack Durant waving a piece of lettuce at Jesse, playing Durant’s head chef in Travis Mills’ forthcoming film Durants Never Closes. Travis and Jesse previously collaborated on Mills’ adaptation of James Joyce’s Eveline for Running Wild Films’s 52 Films In 52 Weeks project, as well as Gorky’s video for ‘#Datass,’ which recently surpassed 10,000 views on YouTube.
For the latest news on Durant’s Never Closes please visit Running Wild Films’ Facebook page HERE