PREMIERE: ‘BABY FACED’ FROM JESSX

The Oahu-bred, Brooklyn-based artist offers a track-by-track breakdown of her debut album, a collection of songs documenting her first year in New York

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While they say everything is bigger in Texas, everything feels bigger in New York. Highs are higher, lows are lower, strangers are stranger, smells are… uh, smellier. The city’s design combined with the unavoidable characters that roam the streets and pack the subway guarantees countless moments of both madness and magic, ensuring there’s seldom a mundane moment and that any equilibrium you might find, however minor, will never, ever last that long.

Not only does this typically make for an interesting, intense and certainly variety-packed living experience—it’s a CHARCUTERIE BOARD OF EMOTIONS OUT HERE—but for artists it also makes for, I imagine, a hell of a lot of material. Whether or not the city is the star of your experience, it’s always always always serving as the backdrop, and while I personally spent my first year in the city furiously journaling about every (un)relationship, out-til-7-.a.m. evening and WTF (seriously! WTF!) moment in my journal over the course of my first 365 days in NYC, Jess Rosa of BK punk project JessX spent her time memorializing her moments in music—the results of which are documented in super sick fashion in her killer debut LP, out everywhere November 11th!

“This whole album is a collection of songs of my first year here in New York,” the artist told me of the release over email. “Each one means so much to me in a different way.”

And just like life in NYC encompasses highs and lows, wins and losses, moments of excitement and elation and sadness and sweetness and maybe a little bit of rage and redemption… well, so does the record. JessX juxtaposes the tough and the tender as she rides the tonal trapeze, swinging between different styles of delivery—singing, shouting, shrieking and what could perhaps best be described as beautifully bitching someone out—over the course of 11 tracks that run the emotional gamut, infusing punchy punk with heart-melting ukulele moments as the artist tackles subjects ranging from sibling bonds to queer love and loathing—plus, in perfect punk fashion (“Cuz it’s my fucking life!”), the requisite middle finger to the man.

I’ve had this album on repeat since it was sent over, and sharing it here honestly feels a little bit like Christmas morning, because I’ve been so so stoked to give you something so truly rad to unwrap. So without further ado, here it is a day early: Baby Faced from JessX!

Along with the personal experiences documented on the record, what are just as noteworthy are the moments that went into making it. New York is a place defined by its people, and along with the record, Jess shared with me info on one particularly fateful encounter that led to the inception of JessX in its current form and and the talented humans she met in the city who helped bring Baby Faced into the world:

“I really started learning how to play instruments such as guitar and ukulele. I would say I’m still a beginner with both. When I first moved here, I had no intention of getting into music seriously. I originally came here for film school. For a part time job I work at a thrift store where I meet a lot of cool people. One day a guy named Nardo came in asking about t- shirts so he could make some for his band. I played his songs in the store and thought he was very talented. We ended up talking and exchanging socials. I told him I’ve always written songs but had nothing recorded except for the cringe voice recordings on my phone. For some reason he wanted to hear them so I sent it. It wasn’t until a month later where he messaged me and ask if I’d be interested in having a session. I had no idea what would happen that day. He invited me over and that’s where I met Matti, who is now my producer and drummer.  I was so nervous to sing in front of people I just met, but I did. We ended up creating a song that I didn’t release yet (but will be on the album). That day changed my life. Matti and Nardo are the most genuine people I have ever met. We worked and vibed really well together. When I presented the song I had, I didn’t know how to explain it musically. I have melodies and riffs in my head so the fact that I can hum those verbally and they can translate into chords is so special to me. Matti and Nardo also introduced me to the rest of my band ,Eva and Avi . We are all so close and I consider them family. If it wasn’t for them, JessX wouldn’t be JessX. I appreciate my bandmates, Nardo, Matti, Eva and Avi very much.”

Along with this background on the project, Jess also sent over a track-by-track breakdown of the record and the feelings, relationships and experiences that inspired it:

BABYFACED —TRACK BY TRACK:

Curtain call

“I wrote ‘Curtain call’ originally all on the ukulele as a demo. Over time I had more stuff to say as the situation I was writing about wasn’t over. I wanted a bridge that completely intensified the energy on the song. I knew I needed to take it to the rest of the band. The way this song escalates is probably why it’s one of my favorites.”

Psychedelic Queen

“This one is definitely one of the more indie-rock ones. I feel like out of the whole album this one definitely has the most groovy chorus. I remember singing it for the first time to Avi (guitarist and producer of song) and he just really knew the vibe I was going for. I didn’t want this one to be too punky at all.”

H3

“This one is about a person that doesn’t realize how sick they actually are. I feel like the pre-chorus ‘I can’t figure you out, can’t figure you out, yet you’re in my head’ is something I would scream on a rooftop at night.”

girlz”

“I always find myself in the same cycle when it comes to women. I never really had a queer anthem that I grew up listening to that was about frustrations with the same sex relationships/encounters. Every song that I listened to referred to the opposite sex. I hope a lot of queer women can find this relatable and be angry in a positive way while singing. I feel like I’ll always relate to this song until the day I die.”

13 18

This one I wrote about my little sister. I met her/found out about her when I was 18 and she was 13 so I missed a lot of her childhood growing up. We got really close really fast but as all siblings do, we fought. This song is about that period of a couple months where we just weren’t speaking to each other. This one is technically the first song I did with my band, but just not the first one released.”

Alika

“My brother Alika is my bestest best friend in the whole universe. He is currently an inmate at a prison on the West Coast. This voice over is from a video/facetime visit my mom and I had with him a year or two ago.”

Refrained

“‘Refrained’ was the first song I ever released. I wrote ‘Refrained’ about moving to New York from Oahu and still having leftover feelings for someone back home. When I first moved to the city in October I was so excited to be in a new environment and meet new people. I met people here in the city that I could have been potentially in a relationship with but it ended up just not working out. I realized that the focus I needed to have should only be towards myself. I didn’t want to be anyone’s new ‘bitch’ or ‘girlfriend’. I just wanted to live in the present here.”

mommy issues

“This one is definitely a storyteller. The intro talks about how I grew up and being able to combine that with not having the balls to make a move on someone was cool to me. Originally the verse and the choruses were supposed to be two different songs before I presented it to my band. I then decided to make it into one.”

crybby

“‘Crybby’ is probably my favorite on the album to be honest. I just feel like the different variations in it really show how I am as a person. I wrote this one not too long ago about a situation I could never see myself getting over. The day we recorded this I was definitely an emotional wreck and hearing back on the song I hope you can hear it in my voice. I probably screamed the bridge of this song in the car with my friends too many times.”

miniskirt

“This one is the only acoustic song on the album. I wrote it with the intention of keeping it that way. I wanted at least 1-2 tracks to show my voice in a different way. I started writing this one a little bit before ‘crybby’ when I was back home in Hawaii.”

“MFL”

“I chose ‘MFL’ to close the record out because of how empowering it makes me feel. There’s always people that tell me what to do with my life because of my age but at the end of the day I really don’t care enough to listen at this point.”

ALRIGHT! Now that you’ve heard the songs here, don’t miss your chance to catch them LIVE! JessX is hitting the TV Eye stage to celebrate the album THIS THURSDAY with a seriously stacked lineup of openers including Aumi Luxe, Hot Blue, Birthday Girl, Bad Static, Sorry Mom and TVOD.

With this album, that group of bands, and NYC as our forever setting, it promises to be an evening you’ll remember—and one that’s def def def worth documenting.

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Follow JessX at @babyfacedfatherx and add the songs to your Spotify playlists!

Feature image provided by the band.

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