By Christopher Treacy & Jessie Haines
New Jersey native Jessie Haines is on the move. The hit quality of the trio of singles she’s released since last spring seems destined to help her find a larger audience and, as she readies the release of her debut album, she’s traveling the country in her airstream and writing material for the second record. For a singer-songwriter, having a collection of unrecorded songs ready to go is better than having money in the bank.
Words like ‘trauma’ and ‘toxicity’ get thrown around in our culture too easily, perhaps. But Haines has truly had a time of it getting to where she is today, now fully celebrating the freer spirit she’s become, having untethered herself to full-time ‘day drag’ to pursue her musical career. Writing the album ‘The Phoenix,’ which will materialize over this coming summer, has been a large part of that process. It certainly helps that the stories she’s telling are so easy on the ears, our current Song of The Week included.
We got to ask her a little about what we can expect going forward into 2023.
“I Love You” is the 3rd single from The Phoenix, which is your debut album – will you be releasing it as a series of singles throughout the year? If so, can you explain why?
Yes, I’ll be releasing the album, single by single, in chronological order of how they were written. I had originally intended to drop the whole album at one time, however after diving into it with my team, we decided the best experience for the fans and myself, would be to do it this way so that each track really has a chance to be experienced in full.
Each of the three singles from the album thus far has been accompanied by a drawing as the artwork – are the drawings your own? Can you talk a little about any conceptual significance between the drawings and the record’s theme?
I am happy to introduce artist Mika Cali, who is the creator of all of my album artwork. Historically and spiritually, a phoenix represents a rising up from the ashes. The album chronologically follows a toxic relationship—it’s an album that’s representative of healing and moving forward. The artwork attached to each single release is just a portion of the full piece, an original Mika Cali painting, which will come together to form the album cover when I release it as a full collection this summer.
“I Love You” must be the blissed-out part before darkness descends because it’s so breezy and addictively melodic… just gorgeous. Was there something specific you were aiming for with the production?
When I wrote the song I was in the thick of the relationship. I felt so many emotions all at once, and I didn’t have clarity. My soul was speaking through those lyrics, as I felt I was losing my sanity, but my addiction to the toxic cycle and bond I had with that person clouded my view. You care for them, but you know deep down it’s hurting you. When I brought the acoustic song to my producer and band, we really had no aim in mind but to let the song speak to us and come to life, come through the way it wanted to. I think it has a sweet melancholy to it, and I think it represents how I felt. There can be many sweet, and beautiful moments in a toxic relationship. That’s what makes it so hard to leave, because the abuser can be extremely charismatic and sweet in the upcycle of the trauma bond.
I noticed on your tour page that your first full band show was in October. Could you talk a little about the challenges of performing this way, coming from accompanying yourself?
While there is a lot of freedom you can have as an acoustic performer, in tempo, feel and style, there is nothing like rocking out with the full band. I have plans for many more shows this year with the band and I will be advertising them on my socials and website as they come together in 2023.
What’s been your favorite aspect of making The Phoenix thus far?
The studio alchemy. I’m really not a writer who labors over songs. I never try and force it. Songs happen to me like ideas—it’s an expression of a strong emotion for me. Its a way to transmute the energy. When I bring the songs into the studio they are acoustic and vocals only. My favorite part of the entire creative process is being with my studio band as we bring the songs to life. There is such an ease and flow to how we produce the songs… it goes about as smoothly as the songs get written. It feels almost effortless, and that’s how you know when it’s right. We never fought with or struggled with any of the music, it just happened in a flow state. Emotionally, this album has been more of a journey to write and make than anyone will ever truly know. I’m honored to be getting it out to the world! I hope these songs resonate and can help people find healing and feel understood. They’re not alone.
Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He’s the Managing Editor for CQ and lives in Waitsfield, VT.
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