"CREATE THE SPACE AND DEDICATE THE TIME," A Conversation with Jess Williamson

How do you deal with writer's block or creative slumps?

The thing that helps me the most is to set up a space to work and put myself on a schedule. So I will have all of my music gear set up in my house, my notebook, my pens, whatever I need, and I will dedicate a period of time to writing and working on music. Maybe it's a few weeks, where every day I sit with my instruments and get to work. I treat writing like a job, and I find that the inspiration will come if I create the space and dedicate the time for it.

Who are you listening to currently that inspires you?

I am super late to the party here, but I very recently have been getting into Miranda Lambert. My entryway into her music was this absolutely gorgeous acoustic album called The Marfa Tapes that she released in 2021, and from there I’ve been getting into her newest record Palomino. I think she’s brilliant.

What fun rituals do you have before you sit down to create?

I do Morning Pages pretty much every morning. It’s a practice I learned from the book “The Artist’s Way”, and all you do is free write and fill up three pages in a notebook without thinking about it, first thing in the morning. So I have a whole ritual around this that involves making coffee, listening to my Morning Pages playlist, lighting incense, and journaling. And usually good things will happen if I go from that zone directly into working on writing music.

Photo by Jackie Lee Young

What does “home” mean to you as someone who frequently is traveling?

I feel like I have three homes. I split my time between LA and Marfa, and then I have this third home which is being on the road. If I think of touring itself as a home, it helps it make sense to me as thing I’m supposed to be doing, rather than an aberration from the norm.

What’s the weirdest place you have slept on tour?

Years ago, my band and I played at a skatepark in Astoria, OR and then we stayed overnight at the skatepark and slept in our sleeping bags inside the halfpipe.

Celebrity moments- any celebs come to a show? Give us the hot goss.

One celebrity moment that was pretty cool was when Ethan Hawke came to see one of the shows I played with Kevin Morby and Hamilton Leithauser on the Fall Mixer Tour in 2021. He’s good friends with Hamilton so he was hanging out backstage after the show and telling all of us these amazing stories. It was the first tour any of us had done since Covid lockdown times, so that was this moment of like, 'life is back baby'! We are hanging with celebs backstage!

Photo by Jackie Lee Young

What are the things you do to maintain your mental and physical well being while on the road?

Drop into a yoga class, do my morning pages, go on long solo walks, make phone calls, try to limit screen time and read books instead of doom scrolling on my phone, spend the money to have comfortable accommodations, eat super healthy, limit alcohol.

How do you cope with “post tour blues” as we like to call it, is it even a thing you experience?

Yes I experience it! I let myself do literally nothing for an entire day when I get home from tour, sometimes two or three days if I can get away with it. I usually need to deeply hermit out and hide from the world after I get home from a tour, and I’ve learned that it's okay to let myself do that because it helps me decompress and assimilate back to normal life.

Is it hard for you to find community within the music community that isn’t centered around drinking or other sometimes destructive behaviors?

Not at all. The people who have made careers out of music are usually not partiers. That lifestyle really takes a toll, and once you’re past a certain age you can’t put on a good show every night if you’re not taking care of yourself.

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