Jessica Pratt Is More Than A “Sad Girl Folk Singer”
When Jessica Pratt sings, everyone listens; even the sweaty masses at Pitchfork Music Festival this weekend. One of the more stripped-down and intimate sets on the lineup, which enlisted the likes of grandstand artists like Run The Jewels and Chance The Rapper, Pratt had us under her spell.
“I am a bit of a sad sack.”
A friend first introduced Pratt’s self-titled record to me because she said it would be the perfect “sad girl folk music”; a classification Pratt doesn’t mind. “I am a bit of a sad sack and sorrow is something that resonates with me,” Pratt said. She understands the human inherent need to classify everything and doesn’t let it ‘bum her out’ that people need to label her music. But if there’s one thing she’s not, it’s basic. She’s not some “basic bitch” of folk but rather an artist that wants to make music that’s interesting and multi-dimensional. “I didn’t want anyone to view me as someone who looks to make something overly-simplistic or traditional, which I guess sounds kind of sassy,” Pratt said.
“You kind of have to be drug through the shit to be humbled and appreciate things.”
Along with the labels that accompany her name in headlines, she finds that her music is constantly being compared to folk predecessors. However, she finds no room to complain about being compared to Marianne Faithfull; a huge compliment as Faithfull is a woman whom Pratt immensely admires. “She’s a really interesting figure who did a lot of suffering but is wildly intelligent and led a really interesting life,” Pratt said. Among her peers, Pratt is also inspired by Drag City labelmate Joanna Newsom. While many girls, troubled by insecurity, try to stand out with an inauthentic weirdness, Pratt said, “Joanna Newsom is just so authentically freakish.” Freakish and genuine.
“Everyone should be less self-conscious and try to focus on the things they love doing the most and not be distracted.”
Genuine is also a word that pairs nicely when describing Jessica Pratt. After being discovered by Tim Presley of White Fence, her self-titled record was an incredibly poignant debut. Pratt was just a teenager then, 19, and has since ‘lived a lifetime’ between her first and second album, On Your Own Love Again. Pratt is now 27 and did a lot of growing up during the eight years in between; shed moved to Hollywood, ended a long-term relationship and experienced the loss of her mother. Besides the traumatic events that occurred, this was a natural age of self-discovery. “I think a lot of the struggling you do at that age formulates who you are later on so you kind of have to be drug through the shit to be humbled and appreciate things,” Pratt said.
If Pratt could give her teenage-self advice and offer words of wisdom for any creative young mind, she would encourage everyone to be less self-conscious and focus on the things you love the most. “In a perfect world, people would be able to do the things they wanted a little more without having to sustain themselves by doing a bunch of other things that they don’t necessarily get off on,” Pratt said.
For Pratt, that’s her music and appreciation for fashion. She’s inspired by cuts and patterns of the ‘60s and ‘70s but loves the freedom of inspirations you can draw from in the fashion world. “I love colors and texture, it’s an endless thing to explore but it also has a lot of meaning,” Pratt said, “I get a lot of pleasure out of wearing things that make me feel good.” In both of Pratt’s worlds, it’s all about confidence; a confidence that was widely apparent during her Pitchfork set this weekend.
Story & Film Photos by: Shannon Kurlander