Jessica Lee Wilkes solo EP, Lone Wolf dropped in June. For five years, Jessica toured non-stop with JD Wilkes & The Dirt Daubers. She gained the attention of outlets like The Examiner who reported, "…Jessica is (the) sultry female foil, a silky-voiced songbird who can channel the lounge...of the 1930s and ‘40s as easily as the soul divas of the ‘60s. She’s just as comfortable playing vulnerable damsel as vixen vamp…"
Now Jessica Lee Wilkes is out with her own stellar band. Her style of rhythm & blues with a blast of rock & roll style is timeless. Put her band out in front of any crowd and watch them put down their phones and head for the dance floor.
When did you decide you wanted to make music your career? Who were some of your early music influences?
I've been playing in the Dirt Daubers since I was about twenty-three, so that's when this whole thing started. As with most people, I listened to my parent’s record collection growing up. It was mostly classic rock stuff, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, etc. The one that really stood out to me was a John Lee Hooker record my dad had. It stopped me in my tracks and I started seeking out more blues music like Howlin' Wolf, and Muddy Waters. Those were the earliest influences on me.
Is it very different going from being in JD Wilkes & The Dirt Daubers to being center stage solo?
The daily routine of life on the road stays the same, but, yes, being the front woman is a very different thing. I'm looking forward to it though! I've got a solid band behind me and I feel pretty confident, surprisingly!
It has been said that your music is timeless. Tell us about your writing process…
Well, I'm glad to hear "timeless" as opposed to "retro". I like to think it holds up and is relevant in modern times. As far as the writing process goes, most of my ideas come in weird little fragments. I'll get a catchy melody line in my head, and then the lyrics seem to follow. I often wake up in the wee hours of the morning with an idea that I'll record on my phone. Sometimes it's terrible, other times it winds up as a song on the record. I'd say about two thirds of the song writes itself and comes together rather naturally. When it's time to record I'll sit down and start to arrange things, I might add a bridge, etc. It just depends on what the song needs.
Any advice for local musicians just starting out on their own?
I'm not sure I'm qualified to be doling out advice! For me, I just keep writing and practicing and booking shows constantly. I'm pretty driven and I think that's important. No one else will give a damn about your music as much as you do, so you just have to keep plugging away at it until something sticks.
What is next for Jessica Lee Wilkes?
I'm just going to take my own advice from the previous question and keep going! I'm writing songs for a full-length record and I hope to get working on that once I make the rounds with this new EP. I love doing this. I'm in it for the long haul.