When she’s not putting on one hell of a show as (sm)ashjesus, the artist is busy working on her show—a series-in-progress called ‘Threads’
Off the Record is a new interview series exploring the creative endeavors that our favorite artists are pursuing outside of their music, the results of which don’t end up ON a record, so… (get it?!).
Over email, while under quarantine in her apartment in Ridgewood (which she showed us around on the second episode of Quarantours), she answered our questions about her artistic pursuits off the stage and outside the studio—more specifically, her role as creator (+ writer + actor) of the NYC thrift store-set series Threads, which is currently in pre-production.
Where did the idea for Threads come from?
‘Threads’ started as my BFA thesis senior year at The New School for Drama. I knew I wanted to write a pilot and that I had almost zero budget. I was working part time at a thrift store in the East Village. There was a bunch of downtime, so I was imagining quite a bit. The customers were telling me a lot of stories and reliving memories and it was always kind of amazing to watch. Also we had a small staff, which meant big bonding time (so I tried to mimic that in the world of Threads).
Every donation that came in was like a new batch of ideas. So many things and people would come and go from the store through the vehicle of clothing, so my idea started with following the clothes. We would be using the clothes to thread (HA!) characters and story lines together.
The first pilot I wrote and used as my thesis was a very different vibe than this one, so it’s interesting to see how life has changed the tone kind of naturally. I fell in love with the characters so I spent most of that thesis year just obsessing over character storylines (especially the employee characters) and basically escaping into their world. I haven’t stopped and it’s now been three years that I’ve been working towards finishing Season 1.
What has the process of creating this series been like so far? What’s been most surprising?
Wild! I bumped it from top shelf over the past couple of years. I made a short film (‘Hillie Boliday: The Voice of a Jazzeration‘) and then once Ashjesus formed, it sort of stole my heart, but this project means a lot to me and finding the encouraging and wicked talented team I have (Sophie Parens and Taylor Washington), splashed cold water on my face! I think I was scared of creating something that lasts more than 18 minutes. It’s like committing to a relationship! Learning how to multitask when it comes to creative projects right now because I haven’t always been the best at it.
Does this work influence your music? What about vice versa?
Big time. Writing these episodes makes me much more verbally aware! I don’t know if it’s a great thing but it is what it is. In Ashjesus we kind of just spit out songs in the moment and that’s what works, but lately I’m giving more thought to language so I guess we’ll see what that does to our next release! As for Threads, I think revisiting the script post-Ashjesus I score the scenes in my head even more (but that is an ass-habit because music is expensive)! John (drummer/production designer) pointed out that there are more jokes written in the camera directions than the actual dialogue but I strongly feel if all the jokes were in the dialogue, we’d go full-blown Cheers, and I’m not not quite depressed enough to do that yet.
Along with Ashjesus drummer/Threads production designer Johnny Dynamite (mentioned above), are there any other fun ties to local faces and places?
Totally! I intend to pull from all the brilliant minds and artists I know in our music scene. [Johnny and I] already vibe musically so I’m stoked for his visual input and fresh eyes on this. My good buddy Chris Pickering is helping out with music and you’ll be hearing some of the new Future Punx record on there. We’re going to be shooting at some local venues and haunts so it will definitely be an “Eye Spy” situation!
What about this project are you most excited about?
I’m just excited to act. I loved writing this, I loved the preparing, the deciding, and all of the steps, but I look forward to letting go and just being a character with other characters when that time comes.
How can people support and keep up with Threads?
We froze our Indiegogo campaign due to the insane time we’re living in and this virus. It didn’t seem morally responsible to be asking for donations that should go to medical staff and unemployed folks trying to get by! Until we reopen that fund to donations, it would be so helpful for people to share our website and spread the word. We can’t wait to tell these stories!
Feature image provided by the artist.
++ If you’re a musician with other creative passions and pursuits, drop us a line. We’d love to show you love <3