Jellly is a band who combine the elements of glam, punk and a smattering of Brit-pop influences. They also place a very strong emphasis on the visual output of the band, which is helped along by the fact that all the members adopt a multidisciplinary approach to their art. They have recently released their Strawberry EP and been on their Cheese and Toast tour to support it. I got the chance to chat with the bassist Vera. As well as being a musician she works as an illustrator and puts together Jelllyzine. This is a hardcopy publication which looks at the DIY scene and showcases other bands who play Jellly gigs. We covered topics such as artistic influences, the impact of digital technology, a Swiss inclination towards technicality and the importance of conveying an authentic artistic message.
Colin: What was your first experience with music?
Vera: My parents went to a Van Halen gig when my mum was 9 months pregnant with me and about to give birth. There was always music playing in our house. I mostly remember Pink Floyd who is still one of my favourite bands.
Colin: Who or what would you say are your main influences?
Vera: Gosh, so many. I love so many different styles and it depends entirely on my mood at that moment what I’d put on. I fell in love with Bowie when I was 12 when my godfather gave me the
Ziggy Stardust album for my birthday. At the moment I like Courtney Barnett, QOTSA, Pixies, and I’m re-visiting some trip-hop stuff from the ‘90s because it’s nice and chill.
Colin: How do you decide on the subject matter for the work that you do?
Vera: The subject matter is most important to me and above appeal! It can totally ruin a good song for me when the lyrics are shit or generic but I can put up and appreciate a bad song when the message aligns with my values. It’s the same for my design work. I think as artists we are in the unique position to convey important messages and remind people of what really matters in life, so we should not waste or trivialise that opportunity.
Colin: What’s your favourite gig that you’ve played so far?
Vera: Hmmm, I think it would have to be the one in a huge sheep barn in Brittany. A semi-official festival where about 300 people attended and we had the best party ever!
Colin: Do you have a preferred default medium that you like to work your ideas out in or is it completely dependent on the project?
Vera: I compose my own ideas in GarageBand but when we write as a band, it mainly happens in rehearsals.
Colin: How do you decide on the subject matter to include in your visual art?
Vera: Sometimes I get inspired by song lyrics or sometimes it’s something that I personally experienced or think is interesting. For my personal work, apart from the band, I’m interested in the human condition and psyche (going through therapy and counselling myself) the beauty of nature and philosophy.
Colin: Do you approach the process of putting together a piece of music and creating a piece of visual art in the same way, or do you think of them as more discrete activities?
Vera: As English is not my first language I struggle with writing good lyrics myself. They feel too literal and correct for poetry. I’m better at expressing myself visually. But I have a lot of musical ideas, usually when I’m out on a walk or not trying to come up with anything. I always sing the idea onto my phone and when I have time, work it out at home. I love collaborating with others and think we’ve written the best songs when we were lost in a jam and everything just fell into place naturally and without effort. These are my favourite moments of all! I think of myself as a visual artist first which has the benefit that I’m not putting too much pressure on myself when I’m playing music.
Colin: The advent of the internet has changed people’s relationship with print media quite a lot. As someone who puts together hardcopy zines, how do you find this has informed your role as an artist and what effect do you think it has on your audience?
Vera: Yeah I hate that lol. I studied graphic design literally a year before it all changed to digital. I would not have chosen the subject had I known that. I’m not interested at all in creating click-bait or user interfaces and completely moved away from what ‘graphic design’ is mainly these days. With the fanzine, I wanted to create something tangible, something that validates our efforts and creates a memory to keep and cherish. I don’t know if it has an effect on the audience but as an illustrator, I observed a comeback in printed zines and magazines because you look at art differently on paper. I also prefer reading on paper rather than on screen. You can look at everything in your own time and for as long as you want, rather than it passing you by on a newsfeed, never to be found again, interrupted with ads or the screen dying if you don’t constantly tap it. If you love an article you can keep it and go back to it or hang your favourite art on your wall. What you surround yourself with is a reflection of who you are and what you are about. that’s reassuring and necessary.
Colin: To what extent, if any do you think that the ethos and attitudes of Punk culture inform the way that you approach your creative output?
Vera: The phrase ‘if you want something done, do it yourself’ is one I can relate to. Stop moaning about the things you don’t like and take action.
And to not care about what others think of you or what you do. I don’t think punk is Mohicans, leather jackets and pins, that’s just fashion. Punk is daring to be true to yourself and going against the grain even if that means walking alone. To not contrive your art and bend your personality to please the masses. I think that’s the only way we can create something meaningful and in this sense, I’d consider myself a punk.
Colin: Any funny stories from your time spent playing in Jellly?
Vera: No not really, we’re a very serious band (hehe)
Colin: How does the Swiss music scene compare with that in England?
Vera: I can only talk from my own experience and I think the Swiss have gotten better at it but what I always found was that with Swiss musicians, the focus was more on technique and expensive equipment rather than on raw creative expression. This made the music a little too perfect and soulless. I always loved that the Brits just go for it. It gave me the confidence I needed to let go. Perfection doesn’t make for a good song, it’s boring.
Colin: Are there any artists or bands who you think more people should know about?
Vera: Jellly lol
Colin: Looking forward what are your plans for the rest of 2018 and beyond?
Vera: A new album is definitely our priority right now and with that some videos.