Q & A with Jessica Walker
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 31, 2012 02:08
While many Rice students anticipate heading to Lovett College’s public party this weekend, McMurtry College senior Jessica Walker plans to return home to Tomball, Texas. The German Studies and Sociology double major has a passion that extends outside of the classroom: music. On weekends, she spends hours in the studio back home, perfecting harmonies and re-writing verses for her upcoming full-length album, tentatively due out in October.
The self-taught singer and guitarist began playing music eight years ago. Though she now considers herself a pop and R&B singer, her musical background is varied, including a stint in a metal band in high school.
While pop may carry the negative connotation of being a market saturated with monolithic, similar-sounding songs, Walker said she hopes to bring different elements from every genre into pop to create a new sound.
Since initiating her solo career last year, Walker has released two singles, “Bones” and “First & Last,” each of which is availableon iTunes. She also released a music video for “Bones” in May, which so far has almost 2,500 viewers on YouTube.
Walker said she appreciates every opportunity to play her music, whether in front of 50 students at Rice University’s Coffeehouse or to a crowd of 1,000 people at a festival in Germany.
“I feel like I already made it,” Walker said. “I always tell myself, if I’m playing a show or if I’m writing a song, if it touches at least one person then I’ve done my job. If I can do that every time I perform then I’ve achieved my goal.”
I sat down with Walker to talk to her about her new singles, upcoming projects and how she balances life as a full-time Rice University student with a budding music career.
Thresher: Since you’ve gone solo, you’ve released two songs on iTunes. Can we talk about “Bones” and then “First & Last?”
Walker: Having done a bunch of music over the years, I’ve gotten the chance to meet a lot of people within the industry. I met Karlo Castillo and we sort of became really good friends. He’s an audio engineer and we started writing stuff together and “Bones” kind of got created out of that. It was the first song I had ever recorded and was planning on releasing, so it took us a good four months to write it and record it and then I finally released it on March 8 this year so it was really exciting.
Thresher: I watched your music video for it as well. When did that come out?
Walker: “Bones” came out in May. I shot it with some students at the Art Institute ofHouston and we actually shot some of it here at McMurtry on the fifth floor. That was really fun to get the Rice community involved.
Thresher: I noticed at the end there was that message [about domestic abuse]. Did you decide to put that in? Walker: Well, I guess we can get personal here. That’s cool. My dad and I don’t really have the best relationship, and the song, along with some other experiences, came from the emotions that I had with that. My dad is like that saying, “You can love someone too much and that’s almost just as bad as not loving someone enough.” The song is kind of about him. I didn’t want to mirror my exact experience, and I thought, domestic violence is emotional but also physical, so I decided to put a little twist on it. Everything I write has some sort of thing to do with my life.
Thresher: What about “First & Last?”
Walker: The process for that was a lot faster, I think because we knew the direction we wanted to go in. I had first written the song as this really slow, acoustic track. I had always wanted to venture into the pop scene, but I never quite trusted myself enough. [With Castillo] I finally had that musical support system so we rearranged it a bit and he mixed it. I took this song to Mark Kidney, a Grammy winner for Destiny’s Child’s Survivor, and he got to listen to the song, and he loved it, so that’s how it came to be.
Thresher: How did (Hanszen College senior) Jarvis Sam become your manager? Did you know him before Rice?Walker: When I came to Rice, we were both originally Hanszen classmates. We knew of each other and he knew I did some music. I don’t want to speak on his behalf, but I think he wanted to get into the music industry and manage musicians so he called me up one day out of the blue and said, “Hey, would you want to work together?” and I said sure. I had never had someone take an interest in me like that, so I was all about it. Get With It Entertainment is his company.