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Jesca Hoop

Wednesday
08
Feb

Experimental Indie Folk

Order of Romance Tour

 

Why you should see this show…

With her distinctive voice and a natural gift for inventive song craft, Jesca Hoop has earned a reputation as a unique and beguiling live performer of real substance. And, she has quite the collection of fans in high places: Tom Waits described her music as being “like a four sided coin. She is an old soul, like a black pearl, a good witch or red moon. Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night.” Peter Gabriel took her to South America to sing with him, and in recent years she has been hand picked to play as support on tour for Eels, Andrew Bird, Punch Brothers, Shearwater and Elbow.
 

Jesca Hoop Bio
Jesca Hoop returns with her sixth album, Order of Romance, a record that fortifies her position as one of the most striking and original voices in contemporary music. Order of Romance is Hoop’s most intricate and finely balanced album to date, one that draws on classic song writing, recalling anything from Gershwin to Paul Simon, but creating something that is unmistakably, indelibly Jesca Hoop.

Like a lot of tour ready musicians in 2020, Jesca Hoop suddenly found she had time on her hands, and like a lot of musicians, with stages blacked out, she turned her work inward. As it was for many people, those housebound days were some of the most tumultuous of her life, and she found the discipline and balance of a daily writing routine essential in coping with the unknowns that assailed us all during that time. But Order of Romance is most assuredly not a journaling of the last two years. It is a deep dive into craft. As Jesca says “I set out to mature as a writer, to further clarity my voice and stance, through melodies and phrases only I can construct. Order of Romance feels like every person, character, or artist, I ever was over the many seasons of my life was handed an instrument to play across the songs.”

In the summer of 2021, Hoop once again ventured south from her adopted home of Manchester to Bristol to team up with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding), her collaborator for 2019’s Stonechild. This time additional assistance came from in Jess Vernon (This is the Kit) to arrange for a four-piece horn and woodwind quintet. Legendary drummer Seb Rochford lent his skills, John Thorne plays the bass and Chloe Foy and Rachel Rimmer were enlisted to deliver Hoop’s signature vocal arrangements. The result is a fruitful marriage of song craft and arrangement, brimming with a cinematic charm and lyrical wit that signify a new chapter full of new life for an artist who knows her mind, her heart and voice well enough to trust them in uncharted territory.

Order of Romance then is a complete work that demands close attention, an active listen, a filagree that’s apparent lightness of touch belies a serious intent. Themes of empathy and friendship, intertwine with a clear eyed and moralistic poetry on subjects such as gun control, religious and political cults, and climate change.

There is “Sudden Light,” an exploration of how, and why dividing lines are drawn, of why we gather under flags and fabricate enemies. Jesca explains: “We group together under flags and icons to protect ourselves, to keep ourselves safe in this big risky world. We fabricate enemies and cling to the banner. Perhaps we humans should invite other possibilities on how to create safety on this vast, complex space we call earth.”

“Hatred Has a Mother” was seeded whilst Jesca Hoop toured the US in early 2020 with Ani Di Franco. Watching side of stage, Hoop was struck by the phrase “Revolutionary Love” from Di Franco’s then unreleased song of the same name, a song itself written in response to “See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love” by Valarie Kaur. Kaur describes Revolutionary Love as the choice to enter into labour for Others who do not look like us, for our opponents who hurt us and for ourselves. Revolutionary Love is a force for justice and a freedom from Hate. Hoop picks up the baton with Hatred has A Mother as a devotion to the practice of Revolutionary Love and to pass it on to the listener: “Empathy is contagious. The train is leaving the station. All aboard”.

Harking back to her youth in California, “Firestorm” is a particularly personal examination of the effects of climate change. Jesca explains: “I have sat for hours at the great base of Colonel Armstrong, one of our oldest most esteemed redwoods, standing 308 feet tall and large enough at its base to drive car through. I feel the heart of the flaming redwood burning from inside out when I see my old trees devoured by the California wildfires. Trees that know my name.” There is love here, and also grief.

Also looking back to her childhood and drawing on the distance and insight that leaving the country of your birth behind can reveal, “One Way Mirror” draws parallels between the polarization and radicalization that makes up so much of American, and indeed global politics. Jes explains, with her inimitable turn of phrase “Warmed by the gaslight, I thought back to my childhood, what it was to be indoctrinated into cult mentality and what it took to get out and what it is taking to avoid falling into another…”

Order of Romance is perhaps ultimately an exploration of the endless balance act of being a ‘Human Being,’ an approach and examination of some of the biggest theme and issues of our time through the doorway of the personal, a way finding meaning and some kind of faith in a world where so much is disconnected and discordant. As she states “I seek out reflection and resolve in my songs. I find out who I am in a sense. For a few minutes, I can exist in nature at my full potential, saying just what I mean, in balance, in awe, in wonder and in full force. As a moral agent, a mode I can’t seem to avoid, my writing is time taken to observe and ask questions. I find humour in our predicament. I find danger in the reckoning. I find faith despite our sorry state and I feel connection when I draw it through my voice. I stand my ground and through the music and point inevitably towards compassion”.

 

 
 

Gracie and Rachel Bio
Gracie and Rachel are magnetic fields: Opposites who attracted and never looked back. A decade ago, when pianist-vocalist Gracie and violinist Rachel met as high schoolers in a modern dance class at their public high school in Berkeley—where they grew up among the city’s progressive politics and encouraging spirit of artistic community—they were quickly intrigued by what the other had.

Rachel was a transfer student from a classical music boarding school who had started on violin as a child, spending her Saturdays at the San Francisco Conservatory, playing chamber music. This strict, regimented background was a clear foil to Gracie’s freer-spirited approach to songwriting and self-expression. Gracie, meanwhile, appreciated Rachel’s knack for structure, theory, and form. “We used to joke that Rachel gave me structure and I gave her freedom,” says Gracie. “That was our foundation in a way. And then we just started to dance with the two.”

These tensions—classically-trained and open-ended, dark and light, timeless and contemporary, certainty and the unknown—have become hallmarks of the modern baroque pop Gracie and Rachel have made ever since. And the power of Gracie and Rachel’s particular alchemy—that of a secret language between musical sisters, with a preternatural melodic sensibility—has never been more potent or realized than on their sophomore record, Hello Weakness You Make Me Strong, released through Ani DiFranco’s label Righteous Babe Records. “We wanted to bring a little more color into this record,” Gracie says of its expansive, beat-augmented sound, “to control the landscape sonically before opening it up to other people.”

And the results are tidal. With more focus on billowing electronics and hints of dusky but sharply-defined baroque-pop cadences, Hello Weakness You Make Me Strong bursts open the pristine emotionality of Gracie and Rachel’s self-titled debut from 2017. These 10 bold, oceanic songs chart the crests and crashes of feeling and thinking that one might encounter in the process of perseverance, in working through uncertainty and inner-excavation towards self-possession—towards clarity. “The songs ask us to look directly into the eye of the broken mirror reflection in front of us,” Gracie and Rachel write in a mission statement. “The music is less interested in fixing what’s fragmented than it is in putting value on imperfections for all they’re worth.”

Central to that journey, in Hello Weakness You Make Me Strong’s lyrics and music, Gracie and Rachel offer a profound inquiry into their own complex interpersonal dynamic, and with that, into communication in general: internal, external, how it is often flawed. Their relationship can be nearly telepathic when writing songs, but as with all deeply entwined collaborations—the duo write together, tour together, and live together in the Bushwick loft where they moved in 2013—it can also be a challenge. “We live, work, breathe, everything together—the lines are so blurred in our relationship sometimes,” Gracie says. “Are we friends today? Are we collaborators? Are we strangers? It’s fueled the music, but there can also be a lot of conflict and confusion. You feel empowered, but you also forget your identity. These songs are notes-to-self on how to get through that. They knew more than we did.”

With an awareness of their divergent approaches to communication—Gracie is more extroverted and confronting, while Rachel is more introverted and less vocal—they let that push-and-pull into the music. Gracie calls the questing opener, “Trust,” a thesis for the record, a subtly-anthemic ode to trusting oneself in the face of self-doubt. It sounds like a testament to the wide-reaching impacts of believing in oneself: “Times up, times out, a whisper becomes a shout,” Gracie sings, a possible polemic, “Turn up, tune in, a revolution will begin.” This message of self-empowerment through self-knowing continues like a mantra on “Sidelines”: “Waiting for a sign is a waste of time,” she sings, “When I can find one in my mind.” The confessional “Underneath,” meanwhile, is about seeing hidden layers of meaning in the everyday: “We have these narratives about ourselves—how we have our coffee, the way we do an errand, all these mundane things,” Gracie says of the song, “and what is underneath that is maybe the more interesting narrative to confront.” The music of Hello Weakness You Make Me Strong benefits from Gracie and Rachel’s contrasting but complementary interests: Gracie is influenced by poets and writers like Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Gilbert, and recently Brene Brown’s writings on vulnerability, while Rachel points to the wordless transcendence of 13th and 14th-century choral music.

For Gracie and Rachel, it was crucial, this time around, to equip themselves with the tools to control their sound more fully than before. Following a “dream-shattering” experience with a team of outside male producers, the duo quickly realized they wanted to be more self-sufficient. Rachel dove into online tutorials, learning Ableton herself in order to achieve the subtleties they wanted: The album documents the process of Gracie and Rachel giving themselves permission to trust their own vision.

They channeled lessons from their label-head, DiFranco, too, who has become a champion of Gracie and Rachel’s work and a guiding force — the duo has played her festival Babefest, and toured with her as both an opening act and as onstage collaborators. “In the music industry, you’re met with so many people telling you how you should sound,” Gracie reflects. “Ani is a huge inspiration to us to write that story ourselves.” The duo sees their life’s work as a project of mutual empowerment, which has extended from their teenage years—playing open mics, practicing and giving concerts in Gracie’s living room—to their present career, one that has seen them share the stage with Gloria Steinem and release a viral feminist video piece, 2018’s “HER,” in tribute to Christine Blasey Ford.

As they equip themselves with knowledge, Gracie and Rachel also embrace the unknown. “It’s humbling to unpack what it means to not know and how much wisdom is in that,” Gracie says. “That’s been a driving theme lyrically. How do our perceived ‘misses’ give us strength? How does the unknown teach us?”

While facing such uncertainty, Gracie and Rachel have each other; a sense of camaraderie, of two women working together, “teaming up as a force to do things we couldn’t do on our own,” is built into every note of Hello Weakness You Make Me Strong. Rachel says the song “Speak” was the result of a difficult moment between the pair: her attempt at diffusing the tension of a dispute when words failed her. There’s hope in this bracing honesty. “It’s about trying to confront a difficult conversation and be outspoken about how you’re feeling and it’s my anthem to Gracie telling her that I want to show up, even if that’s not always translating,” she says.

The two artists are seen walking on seemingly never-ending sand dunes in the video for “Underneath,” with their backs to the camera, headed toward the horizon. On their path they begin stripping away articles of clothing until they’re completely bare before running off into the distance. This deeply compelling, stark visual also seems to be a metaphor for Gracie and Rachel as an artistic duo. Entering this partnership with differing perspectives, opinions and behaviors that preceded their meeting, Gracie and Rachel let go of any preconceptions they’ve had of themselves along the way until they are fully peeled down to their core – vulnerable, empowered, and ready for their continued evolution together, headed confidently toward the unknown.

 

Dining Option

Purchase of a ticket to a show in the Supper Club ensures you will have a seat for the concert. However, if you intend to dine before or during the performance, you also need to make a dining reservation. To make a dining reservation, click here or call our Box Office at (216) 242-1250. Click here to see the menu.

If you are attending a concert in the Supper Club with a party of two or more, please have one person make a reservation for the whole group to ensure you are seated together. If you are attending with a party of eight or more, you must call the Box Office to make your reservation at (216) 242-1250.

To better serve all our customers, we require that you arrive on time for your dining reservation. Arriving more than 15 minutes after your reserved time will result in the cancellation of your reservation. You will be seated for the concert, but you may be put on a waiting list for dining.

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