"Some people can be fucking crazy prolific and smash it out, but I can't"
“I feel like it’s one of these things where you acclimate the feeling out of body and then you cool with it a while,” says LA-based folk singer Jessica Pratt. “Jetlag comes in waves. Right now I feel gooo-o-o-d. I just had my first meal of the day before I saw you. It’s kicking in now.
“I’ve never really spent any time in this neighbourhood. It feels sleepy and relaxed, maybe that’s just me. I’ve never chosen a venue in my life… I kind of skipped the intermediary phase of booking my own shows. The one tomorrow is at St. Matthias Church. I didn’t know about this venue but I love playing in churches, the sound is always really nice. I think there’s an acknowledged solemnity to the whole thing, that even if you aren’t of faith or anything – which I’m not in any particular way – being in a sacred place changes how people behave. They’re more respectful. There won’t be any bar staff there either. That in and of itself counts for a lot.”
I wonder how a Mark Kozelek show would be received in a church. Maybe ok if you could guarantee there wouldn’t be a Starbucks next door, and that the War on Drugs wouldn’t be playing a Coffee Shop Sessions in it. Jessica has just supported him, having completed her third album of typically beautiful and delicate music. ‘Quiet Signs’ will be out 8 February, via a new deal with City Slang.
“Yeah, he is a character,” she says. “He’s very sweet, he said some very nice things. That show was such an unexpected offer. I love San Francisco but I’d never played there, and we did The Fillmore which has so much history surrounding it. My set was worlds apart from what he’s currently doing with Sun Kil Moon – it’s hardcore, he’s yelling a lot – but sometimes that difference can be really cool.”
As for here, we’re sitting in a middle-class pub in a Jewish Orthodox part of Stoke Newington. It’s the early evening, rain is climbing up the windows and the stereo’s playing Stax Records. Jessica Pratt is blanketed in a winter jacket, having just arrived in London this day for a press trip and a show here and there. She’s fiddling nervously with a flyer on the table for Stoke Newington’s biggest free party. Her show is tomorrow in a church around the corner. You’d hope it wouldn’t impact on ticket sales.