Tancred came to our attention with the track “Queen of New York”
The video and the lyrics drew us in like a bee to honey. Nightstand is Tancred’s sophomore album and it has a musical maturity that stands out. Produced by Lewis Pesacov, the album had ups and downs before production. Jess Abbott, formerly of Now, Now, is the voice of Tancred. FEMMUSIC was honored to speak with her about the album. For info visit https://tancredmusic.com/
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Nightstand?
JA: Picking which songs to release as singles was so tricky because the album contains a few different themes, and I was concerned releasing certain singles might give the wrong impression of the album overall. Honestly sometimes I still lie awake at night wondering if we picked the right ones.
FEMMUSIC: I understand you had the songs chosen before going to the studio. How did you go about your song choice? What else did you do for pre-production?
JA: I spent about a year writing songs for this album and I went through so many revisions within in each song, and ultimately scrapped half the album and started over. I guess what ultimately decided the songs was the theme of vulnerability. It cut a lot of more aggressive songs I had written before settling on that theme. We had a few days of preproduction before we started tracking where in the studio we played through the songs and discussed them all.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Lewis Pesacov. How did you meet? Why did you choose him to be producer for the album? How was he to work with?
JA: Lewis and I were set up to cowrite together but we hit it off so well that we decided to have him produce the whole thing. He felt so open to my creative direction and aesthetic ideas it made working together so easy. But he also challenged me where I needed to be challenged in the studio. It was a great balance.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about some of your backing musicians. I noticed the names Samira Winter & Jenny Owen Youngs. You’re doing more instrumentation with the album. How did you choose these artists? How was the studio experience?
JA: Kevin Medina and Terrence Vitali recorded bass and drums on Nightstand and on my previous album, Out Of the Garden. Samira is a mutual friend of Lewis and I (I was also subletting her apartment while I was tracking Nightstand) and we thought it would be fun to have her do some vocals on the album. Her band Winter is incredible. Jenny and I had been friends for awhile and we’d collaborated around that time on some of her work, so while I was in LA in her neck of the woods I asked her to come sing on something of mine. I carried around a disposable camera the whole trip and I have some great photos of them singing in the studio. Working with friends is so fun.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
JA: I basically just pick up a guitar and lie around humming things until I find things I like. Or if I’m out in the world and an idea pops into my head I’ll write it out in a note on my phone or record a voice memo for later. Once I have the basic outline for a song done I’ll record each track in a demo and layer on programmed drums and bass and strings so I have an image of my vision for the song to take into the studio.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
JA: “Demon Rock” by Letters to Cleo shook my world. I’d already dreamed of playing music professionally almost my whole life but listening to that album (Demon Rock is track one) was the first time it felt like it was something I could make real. I connected to the guitar lines, the vocals, the lyrics. I remember lying down in bed and listening to it on repeat all night. I couldn’t sleep.
FEMMUSIIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
JA: Yeah, of course. But I think communicating calmly about things that make me uncomfortable and having some understanding for the context of the moment are tools that have helped me ensure I’m working in a comfortable environment. It took me awhile to not get so mad about it. It’s fair to be mad, shit sucks. But I think it’s detrimental to not leave room for some understanding in any situation.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
JA: I have been deathly into Chelsea Wolfe’s new album Hiss Spun since it came out. Her live show is so sick, her Audio Tree was sick, her tones are sick, her Instagram is sick. I dream of a CW collab or tour.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
JA: The cost of making records (recording, distribution, PR, management, booking) hasn’t gone down but record sales have, so it becomes incredibly difficult to be an artist making everything yet with little coming back financially to support it all. It’s like inflation isn’t accounted for. Making music isn’t about money, but music, like anything, takes time and work. You still gotta eat and pay rent. And then you have people who think it’s ethically wrong to want to profit off your art.. It becomes a snake eating its own tail. At my career peaks I was still scraping by. The infrastructure of the music industry is broken. Short answer: I wish there was enough left of the pie for artists, the people actually creating the music, to support themselves comfortably.