Tiny Vipers


These beautiful haunting Folktracks by Tiny Vipers have already accompanied us through the last couple of issues. The Sub Pop artist has recently released her second LP called “Life On Earth” and is currently on a Tour around the world including several stops in Europe and countries like Australia or New Zealand. Here´s a small interview we made with her recently.

Sebastian Jegorow: How did you get your frst guitar and started making music?

Jesy Fortino: When i was 20 I lived in Oakland, CA. One of my roomates had a guitar. She didnt really play. It was always sort of laying around the living room. so i would play it. We didn´t have a TV or anything, so when I wasnt at work I would sit around and play around on that guitar. I really began to like it and I got better at remembering and playing little parts i wrote. I lived in the attic of the house. It was huge. windowless and stuffy but huge. I would fnd stuff up there sometimes. I dug up a tape recorder one day, so i used that to remember more complicated parts. I would make a part and explain into the tape recorder what my hands were doing etc. so this enabled me to be able to develop the parts more and write more complicated stuff. My roomate eventually moved out with her guitar so i went to the pawn shop and bought an acoustic guitar. It wasn’t the best guitar but i played it alot. I had that one for a few years. Eventually i moved back up to Seattle and eventually bought a really nice guitar. I fgured I liked playing it so much i might as well save up and get a nice one.


Sebastian Jegorow: Are you happy being on Sub Pop? They have a lot of great artists like Sera Cahoone or Kinski and always seem to promote their artists perfectly but I also remember Damien Jurado stating that he was happy to leave Sub Pop after his ‘Ghost Of David’ release.

Jesy Fortino: I am happy with Sub Pop. they really do let me do what I want artistically. I feel free to make any kind of record. they are all in Seattle so it is nice to be able to stop by and say hello. They are very friendly people.

Sebastian Jegorow: You have recently worked together with Balmorhea on their beautiful new record, how did the collaboration on the fnal track of this record come about?

Jesy Fortino: Michael of Balmorhea went to see J. Tillman play a show in Seattle. i was sharing the bill with him. Michael liked my set and asked me if i would be interested in doing a small west coast tour with Balmorhea. I liked Balmorhea’s music so i said yes. On that tour we all became good friends. after the tour they went back to Texas and I went back to Seattle. Michael called me up and asked if I would sing on their new record. I said yes although I had never done anything like that before. So I few to Austin and went to the studio. They asked if i would improvise some vocals over a couple of the tracks. Rob already had an idea of what he wanted me to sing on the last track. I was nervous but the studio was so nice and the engineer, Andrew Hernandez, was so easy going I soon became comfortable enough to work out some parts. The reverb the studio had was really beautiful. I asked what he was using and he told me it was real chamber reverb. they had a small room in the back that was mic’ed and the sound was played into that room then recorded. I loved it so much that i decided that I wanted to record my next record there.

Sebastian Jegorow: “Dreamer” has become my favorite song this year. What´s the story behind this song?

Jesy Fortino: it took me a few years to write “Dreamer”. It is funny because it is such a short song. I loved the guitar part so i wanted to make sure i had the perfect vocal melody. then I loved the vocal melody but I wanted to make sure i had the perfect lyrics.. I love that song too. when I fnished it I put it away and didn´t think about it for about 6 months. I dont know why I didnt want to play it or show it to anyone. it was a sort of last minute to record it onto ‘Life On Earth.’ I dont know why I was secretive about it. I have alot of songs i really love to play but I feel like people wouldnt understand so I don´t play them or record them. like I need to fnd a way to perform them just right before I can show them to anyone. Dreamer fell into that catagory for a long time. I am very surprised at the reaction it has gotten from people. I thought ‘Slow Motion’ would hands down be the most popular track. Its funny how that works.

Sebastian Jegorow: You have played a lot of shows in Germany in the last two years. Do you have any certain spots or cities over here which you always like to visit or play?

Jesy Fortino: Leipzig. I really love it there. Something about all the empty buildings makes me feel at ease. Like there is enough room for everyone. I dont like towns like New York where you are competing for space all the time

Sebastian Jegorow: I have been to your recent concert in this small but crowded little bar in cologne and a couple of weeks ago you have also played on a bigger festival in Poland. What kind of venues and crowds do you prefer and do you enjoy being on tour and playing live?

Jesy Fortino: I like to play for any crowd that wants to hear.

Sebastian Jegorow: Listening to your music I often have to think of the nature side around Seattle, Issaquah and Snoqualmie and this Twin Peaks mood. In how far did the area infuence and inspire your music and what do you think of Seattle?

Jesy Fortino: I love Seattle. I grew up in Issaquah/Hobart so that area effects me alot. my boyfriend also grew up there so we still go out there and hang out. It really has a hold over me. When I think back to when I lived there I get a strange sensation. Something about the woods in that area is really mysterious. You feel like those mountains are watching you or something. I want to live there again some day.

Sebastian Jegorow: Do you keep a notebook or a tape recorder or do you just remember the songs you write?

Jesy Fortino: In the process of writing a song i use a tape recorder alot. I cant read music so until it is committed to memory that is all I got. When I finish a song I attempt to archive it in a notebook with drawings of the guitar neck to explain the chords and written explanation of the tuning and how to play the parts, lyrics, and where to emphasize guitar vs vocal.

Sebastian Jegorow: And fnally, what music do you like to listen to currently?

Jesy Fortino: Instrumental and Ambient. Andrew Chalk, Durruti Column.

Sebastian Jegorow: Thanks for your music and answers.

Jesy Fortino: Thank you..

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