I have yet to meet featured artist Jessy Ribordy, but his creative talent precedes him. Part of several bands and musical groups (The River Empires, Falling Up, and The Gloomcatcher), he also writes, dabbles in art, and I’m sure many other creative outlets I have yet to hear of. Also part of the recording studio Osiander you can probably guess he is a busy man. So it was great that he took some time out to answer our questionnaire. Read on.
PQ: Describe your approach to your art. Jessy: I’ve never been the type of person who could sit down and write music. Usually I have to be focused on something else entirely. It’s in those moments when I’m not around a piano or guitar or my computer or sometimes even my phone, when I’ll just start humming a melody. I used to panic when that would happen and I wasn’t around a recording device cause I assumed I’d eventually forget it. But certain melodies – for me, the ones that always turn into songs – those just never leave. I know it’s a melody worth composing further if I can remember it without using any device. Then from there I just build it up, layer upon layer, adding more counter melodies or simplifying it. Sometimes it just pours out of me quickly and all the pieces of the song just sort of write themselves, other times it comes out with fear, trepidation and loss of sleep ha! Lyrics are usually the last thing I write. Although I normally will have about 20-30 words in my head at the beginning of writing an album, that I’ll like and want to use for various reasons (phonetically or emotionally).
PQ: Why do you love art/music? Jessy: I love art and music because I believe it transcends space and time, which I realize sounds super geeky and probably borderline cultish, but I really believe it does. Good music makes my heart hurt. But in a good way.
PQ: Where are you most inspired? Jessy: Walking around the woods in Oregon. There’s this trail I always go to that I named Briar House. In all my years hiking it, I’ve never once seen another person. So I like to tell myself that I’m the only human who’s been there (but of course the trail wouldn’t have existed if that was the case).
PQ: What is your artistic good luck charm? Jessy: I have a light blue, Expo 86 baseball cap that I try to wear every time I track or do shows. I’ve never washed it. There were a few times when I was positive it was lost and I flipped out. But I think it’s like Frodo and The One Ring; we belong together!
PQ: What natural gift would you most like to possess that you don’t already? Jessy: I’d really love to fluently know the French language.
PQ: What is your motto? Jessy: In all you do, be sincere.
PQ: What advice would you give to a young person who dreams about doing what you do? Jessy: Just like above, I would say just always be sincere. In your writing, in the way you do business, in the way you involve others, in the way you communicate yourself to your fans. I feel like the industry, wether it be music, film, literature, etc., is in a weird place right now where a person with a lot of Twitter followers or Facebook page likes or Instragram followers or with any social media networking presence, can make people believe they are creative and talented based only on those aspects. It seems like people are demanding quantity over quality these days. It’s hard to stand out with your art when it’s crowded with celebrity narcissism, desperate marketing attempts, and kids in their basements spending all day trolling the internet. But I feel like what’s going to make it out of the rubble that this industry is collapsing into is simply sincerity. Be yourself, be good at what you do, be confident in what you do, don’t be a afraid to be a leader, and most importantly, be honest. Those things will pay off in the end. Spend time getting good at what you do instead of worrying about how many Twitter followers you have or don’t have. Create your own rules and then break them. I hold a belief that in the near future things will become more interesting the less they are on the internet. When you can’t find a band with an online presence, I think that’s going to be something super mysterious and attractive for fans. How that’s going to happen is the big question, ha.
PQ: What is your biggest success? Jessy: I feel like everyday I continue to keep doing what I love and following my heart is where the biggest success lies.
PQ: What is your biggest regret? Jessy: Waiting until last year to finally watch the Back To The Future movies for the first time ever. I know, I know what the hell right? I just kept putting them off.
PQ: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Jessy: Acting in complete selfishness. I think being selfish and knowingly acting upon it is so dark.
PQ: What is your dream of happiness? Jessy: Any situation where love is completely present.
PQ: What is the one physical object you currently desire? Jessy: A farmhouse. And gills on the lower extremities of my neck. Those are two things, I know, but I want them both so bad!!!
PQ: What is one emotional thing you currently desire? Jessy: I’m a bit of a germophobe and I wish I wasn’t.
PQ: Whose work, other than your own, are you most excited about right now? Jessy: Casey Crescenzo’s music (The Dear Hunter). He’s a musical genius and shockingly underrated. What he’s working on right now is mind blowing.
PQ: What are you currently reading? Jessy: Glass Soup by Jonathan Carroll
PQ: What are you currently listening to? Jessy: Doves (Kingdom of Rust), Cliff Martinez (First Snow), Rufus Wainwright (Want One)
PQ: Who is your favorite painter/artist? Jessy: Ollie Johnston. One of Disney’s head animators in the 1940’s. He was responsible for some of the most epic backgrounds in old Disney movies. I also liked when Disney started filming live action movies and they’d paint beautiful sunsets on sheets of glass and then have the actors behind or in front. It was like a canvas painted green screen! I don’t think Ollie Johnston did those, but whoever did, they are amazing too.
PQ: Who is your favorite musician? Jessy: Philip Glass. Everything he’s composed gives me that feeling of falling, you know where your stomach rises into your throat? Or sort of like a feeling where my heart starts hurting. But in a good way, as I mentioned before. Like the composition The Hours by Philip Glass. That song doesn’t sound like it was written by a mere human being.
PQ: Who is your favorite writer? Jessy: Tolkien. But as for a writer who is still alive, Richard Powers.
PQ: Who is your favorite poet? Jessy: If you were to consider a lyricist a type of poet then Thom York. And also Paul Simon. But as far as classic poetry, Virgil.
PQ: Who are your favorite heroes/heroines in fiction? (t.v., movies, or books) Jessy: Vincent Freeman in Gattaca. I love when a writer can create a character who doesn’t have an arc and they are just driven until the very end. I also really like Lisey Landon in Stephen King’s “Lisey’s Story.” She has an arc, but it is so fascinating and different than any character arc I’ve ever read.
PQ: Who are your favorite heroes/heroines in real life? Jessy: Steven Spielberg.
PQ: What do you most value in your friends? Jessy: Support and encouragement.
PQ: What are your greatest strengths? Jessy: Having little and making the best of it. But more with circumstances, not really in the way MacGyver does it. I really wish I could make a computer out of a soda can.
PQ: To what faults do you feel most indulgent? Jessy: I tend to avoid confrontation at all costs but sometimes it ends up becoming a bigger situation than if I would’ve just addressed it in the first place.
PQ: What is your favorite virtue? Jessy: It’s a toss up between patience and humility. I mean to some extent they really go hand in hand.
PQ: What is your favorite vice? Jessy: Sadness. Cause when controlled right, it can be used to make some pretty great songs!
PQ: What, to your mind, would be the greatest of misfortunes? Jessy: Losing all my friends and family.
PQ: What would be the happiest of good fortunes? Jessy: I feel like I can’t think of the word “fortunes” without thinking of Aladdin. And then at that point I’m just figuring out what one thing I’d take from the Cave of Wonders. And it’s a flat out toss up between the magic carpet and Abu. Although Abu really wasn’t a part of the Cave of Wonders, he came with Aladdin. So then I could technically take the magic carpet and still have an awesome, semi-talking monkey who steals bread and encourages me to hit on women who are out of my league.
PQ: What is your favorite color? Jessy: I’m probably being difficult with the question at this point, but I like when sunlight cuts through holes in a woodland canopy. That mixture of gold and emerald.
PQ: What is your favorite hot beverage? Jessy: Straight up black coffee. I like all the great coffees we have up here in the Northwest but I also just love Folgers. I tend to say ‘welp spose’ and ‘see you around the bend’ a lot when I drink Folgers.
PQ: What is your favorite item of clothing? Jessy: Question number 4. My blue Expo 86 hat!
PQ: What is art? Jessy: Art is to deny that life is restricted only to what we see and accept as physical.
Check out the awesome single Five Circles. It’s great. 🙂
And if you need to have more of The River Empires music you can check out their current album on bandcamp.