Interview with Montreal artist Jess Abran

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Jess Abran is a multi-talented artist based here in Montreal, dividing her time between making music, presenting, working in the film industry and more. Yet she’s extremely humble about her talents.

“I’m kind of like a Jack of all trades, master of none,” she tells me during our Zoom chat. “Like my eggs are in almost every basket when it comes to the entertainment world. But it’s just the only thing I know how to do well, I mean, the traditional educational system was not for me put it that way. So I’ve just kinda been like a show monkey my whole life. I knew from a very young age, if I wasn’t going to be on stage hiding behind my giant acoustic guitar, belting my heart out, I would be in the entertainment industry either in front of the camera or learning the tricks of the trade behind the camera. And I feel like that’s what I’ve managed to do with just like a lot of grit and hard work and sleepless nights.”

Abran seems to enjoy the variety that her chosen pursuits afford here, however and admits that there can be some crossover.

“It started very much with the music industry, but that industry in and of itself kind of led me to get into the hosting thing. And I got hired by different brands and companies as like an entertainment personality. It went from me being interviewed to then being the interviewer, and that was weird to learn too. Oh my God, if you were to see me even like 15 years ago, being the interviewee and just the amount of anxiety I had and stage fright I had, despite that being my career, it’s just insane to like how I am now in front of the camera. It was just a huge turnover, but yeah, there was a lot of similarities and it kind of like marries together in a lot of different ways.”

Jess’s musical journey began early on when she was just 5 years old and her Dad introduced her to classic rock.

“I remember my dad would have me and my sister on the weekends growing up. I just have a distinct memory of my dad, not really knowing how to take care of two little daughters kind of just winging it, making us Kraft Dinner or Hamburger Helper. And he’d just be blasting Aerosmith. Queen was a huge one in the house. I just remember munching down on KD, listening to classic rock, essentially a lot of Aerosmith. And then in my early teens, I kind of developed into my own thing. I was very much that alternative punk rock chick. And so I remember really getting into indie, alternative folky and punky stuff. The Sex Pistols was the first band I listened to and I was like, wow, you know, my hormones were coursing through my veins, listening to the Sex Pistols for the first time being like, fuck the government!”

The music Jess makes today leans far more towards a mix of indie-folk with bedroom pop vibes, but does she feel any of that punk influence plays a part in her songwriting now?

“The way I play guitar is still reminiscent of the old punk stuff I used to listen to just because everything I play is just so raw,” she says. “It’s not technically beautiful sounding. It really is just all from the heart. And I think that comes through in whatever music I write. It always stems from that nostalgic teen angst I had.”

Jess Abran’s latest release is Henri, a song she describes as “an acoustic kind of ballad lullaby.” But who exactly is Henri?

“It’s just a name that you can stick on various people. It’s about a time, a place, a person, maybe several persons. It is what you make of it. I feel like people can have a listen to it and just relate maybe to a Henri they have in their lives.”

Watch the full interview below where we also chat about releasing music in the modern age, collaborating with “the older brother I never had”, Stephen Voyce and her forthcoming single, due for release this month.

“It’s a very bizarre song in terms of how it’s put together, but it works.”

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