—interview by Bianca Betancourt @bybiancabee
In this shifting cultural climate, women’s voices are being heard louder than ever—and via the music world, it’s no different. No longer are women having to choose between being outwardly sexual or overtly political when it comes to their music and lyricism—in this day and age, a woman can be just as much one as the other. It’s refreshing, for women artists to present themselves as what women have been all along—multifaceted, multidimensional, and aware.
Chicago based singer-songwriter Jordanna is no exception to this. Her smooth and sultry tunes mesmerize listeners while her raw and honest lyrics hit you when you least expect them to. Her latest project, Sweet Tooth, showcases her mastery of the indie R&B genre that she’s become synonymous with. Detailed in our interview below however, she wants listeners assured that there’s so much more in store.
You started off first as a dancer, then transitioned into singing and songwriting. Tell us about that shift in creating and how it affected your eventual sound.
My transition from dance to music felt as simple as going from walking to running. Being raised in a dance studio meant music was already a major tool in how I moved through the world not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. The first time I played a guitar I really felt like I found the key to the universe. I still feel that way when I'm writing new material.
Tell us more about what you mean by wanting your fans to feel “sexy and liberated” when listening to your music.
Growing up I learned a certain "brand" of feminism that made me believe the "strong, independent woman," and the "sexy, desirable woman," had to be two different people. I had and still have a lot of anger about the way women are treated in our extremely systemic patriarchal world. In many ways I feel that men in power have taken the freedom of beauty and sexuality away from women in an attempt to belittle and degrade us. Men are "players," but women are, "sluts." Women continue to be shamed for loving their sexuality. Through my music I hope to give the power back to the listener--no matter the gender--because your sex appeal, your beauty and your body should liberate you on your own terms. Whether you choose to be public or private about it, I want my listeners to know that they can be strong, powerful, smart, as well as beautiful, sexy, and desirable. These character traits are not exclusive.
What’s your songwriting style like? Do you have a routine for when you need to get down and get to creating?
I wish I had more of a routine! I usually feel a song coming to me the same way hunger or thirst comes to anyone. It's a gut feeling that could happen when I'm conveniently at my practice space, or very inconveniently at 3am when I'm trying to sleep. Poet Ruth Stone said that she would hear a poem charging at her through the wind and she would have to run and catch it by the tail to pull it down to the paper. That was the closest I've ever heard somebody describe how my own writing process feels.
Your lyrics are so intimate and inviting, especially in Eu Quero Voce. How did that song come to life?
That song was a major group effort with my close collaborators BlackFinn and David Blair II. It was the first time I chose not to play an instrument on a song. BlackFinn and David were messing around in our practice space and came up with that beautiful latin vibe you hear on the track. The lyrics are recycled from a song we trashed last year because it sounded embarrassingly similar to Mambo No. 5. Super OG fans sometimes recognize the lyrics from that old track and I have to hide my face because it was really one of the worst songs I've ever written. We still laugh about it in practice all the time. I'm glad we were able to make it so sexy and smooth on the track you hear today.
It’s clearly a boys club in the music scene in Chicago right now. Who are some of your favorite womxn musicians killing it right now?
There's so many! Some current faves are Glitter Moneyyy, Oliv Blu, Christian JaLon, Nexus J, and Yomi. But there are so, so, so many more.
You dropped your Sweet Tooth EP earlier this year — should we be expecting another project soon? If so, what themes do you want to explore for the next one?
Definitely expect a project in 2019. I'm hoping to get a grip on writing more about my anger, sadness, and curiosity while maintaining my R&B/pop vibe. While I adore playing the babymakers, it's important for me to prove my complexities. Nobody is ever just one thing.