Interview With Jasmine Wietzke Of Craving Rain
SBS: Jazzer! So stoked to have ya with us and back on our pages. We go back quite a way at this point – I first met ya in 2013, can you believe that? Man time flies. And of course, we met ya in the band you were in at the time, This Day Burns, who we STILL love to this very day, and got a chance to see live when you came over to the mainland back when we were still in British Columbia, as well as have you over to the studio for an interview on SBS Live This Week…all kinds of fun and great memories eh? So catch us up completely and take us into the era of Craving Rain…This Day Burns disbanded amicably… And then what happened? How did you get from there to where you’re at now in Craving Rain?
Jas: Hey!! So stoked to be involved with Sleeping Bag Studios again! It has been WAY too long. Yes, you have moved away from the wonderful British Columbia and we miss you over here…hopefully you will be back one day!
This Day Burns was really falling apart fast right as we were to release our second EP, if I remember correctly. The motivation of everyone was evaporating due to the lack of knowledge of how to promote ourselves and also not having a supportive scene in our hometown. We weren’t heavy enough to be respected by the metal community and too heavy to be accepted by the lighter rock/folk scene… *sigh* Skye, our drummer, left the band, which left Jon, Chris and I with the very busy task of relearning all of our songs on different instruments to try and fill the gap that Skye left behind. It was convenient that the band was very talented and could play numerous instruments, so it was possible for us to do this, but we just ended up losing motivation to keep going and eventually went our separate ways. As I felt the motivation crumbling for TDB, I set out looking to start my dream band (which is originally what I had set out to find before I met Chris, Jon and Matty – the original line up of what was to become TDB). A simple, small acoustic project, with no percussion that my voice would have to compete with… Something that was a lot more mellow, earthy but still had some edge to it and also had a darker mixed with a little ethereal vibe. I’ve always really loved when metal/rock bands who did acoustic albums. THAT’S the vibe I was going for. Nirvana and Alice in Chains unplugged albums and also Days of the New were pretty big influences on me when I was younger and are engrained in my musical DNA.
In 2017 I had begun a COOP job with the federal government and was working with a guy who I actually had played a show with when I was with This Day Burns (I believe that was in the first couple of years that TDB played shows, maybe 2012ish?). He was in a Pantera cover band and his name was Lucius. We became closer friends as I continued to get work after my COOP ended and graduated from University (with a Bachelor of Science – majored in Microbiology, if you’re curious!) – I’ve been there for over 3 years now. I asked Lucius if he knew of anyone who would be interested in playing in an acoustic band with me and he said that he would love to until I found someone else. We ended up having really compatible writing styles and Craving Rain was born! We continued as a band for about 2.5 years and worked on a 4 song EP for about a year and a half at his friends’ studio in Sooke. This I admit was at a very slow pace, but we both had busy lives. He has a wife and 3 kids and a full-time career. I was busy with work as well, but was also learning hard lessons about myself, was growing exponentially as a person, all while being miserable in a relationship that I was in at the time…I had a hard time focusing. The EP was eventually finished in about September/October 2019, which Lucius did a lot of the mixing and all of the mastering for. Shortly after that, Lucius and I had to part ways, unfortunately.
About a month later, I ended up getting a recommendation by Malcom Owen-Flood for another amazing guitar player, Tyrell Beal, who I could possibly work with. Malcom saw me perform at a local music competition and reached out to me about wanting to record me in the future. Turns out Malcom is the guitar player in a well-known local band called Band of Rascals! Neato. Originally, I only wanted to hire another musician to work with after continuing on without Lucius, but Tyrell fit the bill so much that it made sense to have him as the second member of Craving Rain 2.0. Tyrell has been super awesome to work with over the past couple months and our styles mesh very well. He’s a teeny bit younger than me (no kids yet!) and has an incredible drive and love for music. He’s also the front-man of a rock/metal band called Sonderous, which you should check out! (www.sonderous.com) It’s kind of funny that when I imagined who the hell I was going to find to play in the band with me, I imagined I would need to find someone who was a front-man to another band, who had bad ass guitar skills and could maybe even sing harmonies. Little did I know Tyrell was also putting out into the universe that he was ready to join a band that he would take more of a side seat with. The universe provides!
SBS: I’ve got a copy of the first single “Jealousy” spinning here right now in fact, I’ve had it for a while & listened many times. It came out sparkling homie…awesome sound on the guitars and of course, your vocals are sounding as incredible as ever. Obviously this is all in a lower-key energy than the more aggressive crunch & distortion I knew from your This Day Burns days, but seriously beautiful stuff with an ambitiously artistic design. Like c’mon…around the 2:10 mark? Bloody brilliant friend-o. But I expect ya to crush it in everything you do…always have, always will – that’s just facts. Even in an unbiased state of objectivity though, I can safely say that “Jealousy” is an excellent cut and a captivating debut single. No disrespect to TDB of course, but I’m not so sure the band could have fully steered into a direction of stripped-down, atmospherically-inclined sound like this…so tell us about the creative freedom that now comes with Craving Rain. What’s different about making music now as opposed to your days in TDB?
Jas: Thanks so much!! You are too kind and I really appreciate all of your compliments and support you’ve given to me over the years. I need to give credit to Bring Us Booze Studios and Lucius for recording, mixing and mastering this EP. I wish I could have done a little bit better with my vocals this EP, but at the time of recording them I wasn’t in a good headspace. I definitely could have prepped my voice a bit better for my sessions. I’m glad they came out good enough to get a good review by you though! I definitely am my worst critic, as we all are. To address your question, Craving Rain is really a lot more about my personal writing style, as I only have 1 other person influencing the writing of the songs in the band. In TDB, there was 4 people at one time that were writing and we all wrote everything for the most part. So we had these interesting blends of songs that surprised us, or me at least. It’s like we kind of had all these different sounds that I don’t think one of us individually could have come up with at least with some of the songs. It was really fun to come up with vocals to heavier songs that I would never be able to write myself. It helped push my songwriting abilities and helped me grow on and off stage while working with TDB. However, I always felt like I had to strain my voice to be heard over the drums though so I was really looking forward to getting into a band that would be more heavily focused on vocals and earthy guitars, like with CR.
On the upcoming EP, three of the 4 songs (“Jealousy,” “Family,” and “Fuck The Distance”) were written by me and then Lucius added his magic to help complete the songs, by either adding a bridge, guitar diddy and/or solos. The fourth song, called “Anonymous” was a song in which the guitar chords were written by Lucius, I wrote the melody and I used my best friend, Kristie Graves’, set of lyrics that she wrote when we were in a high school girl band together. I admire her way with words and didn’t want those lyrics that I had once used to be lost. Overall in Craving Rain, I think there’s just more of my personal writing style showing compared to TDB. CR is acoustic based, mellow, but sometimes powerful, sometimes dark, other times pretty, and always emotional.
SBS: Although Craving Rain is still a fairly new project…there’s been all kinds of movement goin’ on. And even though you’re essentially a two-piece band – you recently endured a switch in the lineup. Care to address any of that?
Jas: Sure! After finding the love of my life (my boyfriend, Justin) and getting my head back in a good space, I started learning about music marketing for the independent/unsigned musician, which was in the last six-ish months (late summer/fall 2019). This sparked an intense drive for understanding how to build an online community for Craving Rain. Since the EP was almost finished and I started seeing the band page grow, it made me realize that it might be possible to make it as a musician without a label these days. It’s been a lot of work (and I still have a long road ahead of me), but my drive for success in this band skyrocketed. This kind of left Lucius and I on different pages and led to us having more and more opposing opinions with large decisions that needed to be made. It pulled us apart unfortunately, but I believe everything happens for a reason. We had a good run and had a lot of fun writing together. There will be some songs that will never see the light of day that were amazing but that’s just how things turn out. Being in a band with someone is like being in a marriage. It’s amazing when it’s working (for the most part!) but when it dissolves, it can be very painful and stressful. I try to see the lesson in everything and I definitely learned a lot.
SBS: Lineup switches are bound to happen in almost any band or project out there…it’s nearly a given ain’t it? But aside from personnel changes – you also had another recent announcement that sounded really rad for the future of Craving Rain…something about signing with a PR firm I believe. Anything you can tell us about that? How do you envision this partnership opening doors for Craving Rain and ultimately, what do you hope to achieve in this collaboration between your music and their knowhow?
Jas: Ya! I’ve decided to try out using a PR company to help promote the release of the EP. It’s an experiment. I have no idea what to expect, so I’ll see if it’ll be worth doing again after the contract is complete shortly after the EP is released March 19, 2020. I’m hoping to get some EP reviews in the very least. I’m really trying to keep my mind open because this is my first time hiring a PR company. Fingers crossed! The name of the company is Effective Immediately and they are based out of New York and they’ve been super great so far.
SBS: So what’s the plan from here Jazzer? Word on the street is that there’s an EP coming out soon. Is “Jealousy” a part of the official lineup – or is that in the past now already? How about the content overall – would you say a song like “Jealousy” is a solid indication of the direction & sound you want to create in Craving Rain/what we might expect when it comes time to hear the new record? You know me, I’ll take any & all details you want to share…what’s this EP all about from your perspective Jas?
Jas: Yes, “Jealousy,” is the first single off of the upcoming debut 4 song EP. The release date will be the spring equinox, March 19, 2020. We will be having pre-sales though starting March 2, 2020 with some nifty limited time offers to help build the excitement for this initial release! I’m hoping to have an EP release show that week as well but am just figuring out details with a venue.
I think Jealousy is a good representation of the style I’m going for with the band, for sure. I love drop D tuning! And that’s what key “Jealousy” and a lot of other songs I write are in. I’m really trying to get more of my “haunting” ethereal type melodies into this band…I love how pretty reverb sounds on a voice…so prepare for lots of that! Afterwards, I’m hoping to do a kick starter in the late spring/early summer next year to raise funds for a second EP.
SBS: Talk about “Jealousy” – I experienced that not too long ago myself! You know…once I found out that you went out on stage and played Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” live that is. Jealous indeed, I certainly was/am still – that’s completely rad and I could tell from the mere mention of the title that you’d be perfectly suited to kick ass on that trippin’ tune. Thankfully there are clips out there for us to see, otherwise the event would be mythologized forever and we’d never really know for sure that it even happened. SO COOL Jazzer – well done my friend. You played with the band…St Cecilia I believe – tell us everything! How did this collaboration come about, how do ya know St Cecilia, and ultimately – how awesome was it to take on such an iconic song? Feel the pressure? Feel the moment? How did you feel when you were up there rocking “White Rabbit?” Seemed like you were kicking ass to me!
Jas: St Cecilia is awesome! An all-girl band that does a lot of shows with guest vocalists. They invited me to play a show one night and wanted me to play a couple covers with them of a band that had a female singer. White Rabbit is one of the songs I picked (and Zombie by the Cranberries was the other – one I’ve played a gazillion times in my life!). I actually didn’t think I could ever pull that song off but somehow managed to do it. It’s hard not to get into the vibe of the song when I’m singing it. That song is so sexy! It did push the boundaries of my voice though. It makes me want to get back to taking singing lessons to continue to build my craft.
I’m so delighted that you enjoyed the cover. Thanks so much! 😀 I’m super excited someone in the audience filmed it because I didn’t think to film the show myself that night for whatever reason.
SBS: Tell us about evolution Jas. You can take it from the slice of pie that I’ve known ya for, or you can go bigger than that and further into your timeline if you like…I’ll leave that up to you…but as a performer, as a writer, and as a singer – how do you feel like you’ve evolved as an artist over the course of your career? When you look back to when you first started singing & playing, to what you’ve achieved in This Day Burns, and all the way to what you’re doing now in Craving Rain – when it comes to what you personally bring to your art…what kind of things are you capable of now that you never would have thought of being able to do when you first started out, or would have been scared to attempt? Is anything ever lost in the process of growing as an artist? Do you ever look back on the past and wish you could still do this or that – or is a skillset built a skillset retained, and you just keep on building on what you’re capable of? Is evolution in art & music all about constantly looking forward – or is there just as much value in looking back that somehow contributes to the next phase in an artist’s career?
Jas: That’s a beautiful question! I feel that all skills learned have been retained for the most part and I just keep building and adding onto them 1 step at a time. Right now I am learning about online music marketing and also how to expand on my stage presence. I have grown soooooo much since my first performance, which was when I was 14 years old and had to perform in front of some elderly people at a care facility. I was so scared that I had to wait till all the old folks left after the other students had finished performing, which just me left me, my parents and my singing teacher left in the room. I cried through my whole performance! From then on, for at least a week before each of my performances I dreaded the thought of getting in front of a crowd…But for some reason, I felt like I needed to keep getting back on stage and perform. My default stage position was to be as still as a statue due to intense stage fright…and I didn’t learn how to get comfortable and move around on stage until I was in This Day Burns. I grew as a performer being in TDB big time! I feel like I’m pretty confident in my own abilities at this point, which is awesome and I get excited for shows now, even though I still get a little bit nervous. I developed a ritual of drinking tulsi tea before a show because I realized it prevented me from getting the shakey type of nervous – which I learned when I went skydiving weirdly enough! To get back to your questions…when I first started playing guitar, my mom told me that I said I’d never be able to play guitar and sing at the same time…hahaha. Well look how far I’ve come! Also, one thing I could never do when I started writing around age 14 was to simply (or not so simply…) write a complete song. I’d often come up with little ideas or start to learn a cover, but would often never take it to completion. This left me without the ability to really put on a lot of shows because I couldn’t play many full songs. I also thought that I’d never be able to write good lyrics. I have surprised myself with a bunch of stuff that I’ve written while in This Day Burns and am super proud of my word vomit for “Mistakes Don’t Lie” & “Soft Losses.” I find I go into some sort of trance when good lyrics start flowing…gifts from the universe maybe…? Haha.
I would say there is benefit to looking back at one’s artistic life, because it’s nice to see where you’ve come from and how far you’ve grown…thankfully I’ve recorded a lot of rough versions of old songs I’ve started to write and sometimes I can pick something up again that I half wrote 15 years ago, so it’s cool to have that backlog of work on a hard drive somewhere.
SBS: Social-media wise…you post a lot lady-friend. Make more music and get off the damn internet will ya? Lol! Nah…I’m kidding of course…as a fan, like many others I’m sure, we appreciate how connected you are and how interactive you’ve been with your postings & videos & whatnot…and obviously it’s important when it comes to getting music out there these days. I’m not gonna say it’s a burden on ya – because I don’t think it is at all – in fact, you seem to enjoy the social aspect that your music creates and how it connects people together…and I can’t say I blame ya in the slightest for that. I think from the fan’s side of the screen, very little is known about just how much of an impact a thumbs-up or a comment can make on an artist’s day or what it truly means to them to receive feedback of any kind. Try to fill in some of the gaps in that understanding for us Jazzer…why is it important to you to have that kind of high-level interaction with your fan-base – how does it help you as an artist, or what exactly do you get out of that relationship between you & your fans that you would say contributes to the music?
Jas: Hahaha. Thank god for scheduled posts, otherwise I would be on the internet 24/7! It is a lot of work trying to find entertaining/beautiful/interesting videos/photos to share, but I enjoy it because I want to build a community of like-minded people. It’s always really cool to see which posts take off and that’s how I know I’m getting the right material on the page. With this new music industry, it comes down to being a lot more direct with your fans and being a lot more transparent than how it used to be. I’m still figuring out who exactly I am in this band and where I’d like to take it, but am trying things out to see how they fit in the meantime. I think it’s super neat to have such an accessibility to people who love Craving Rain, and to see peoples responses to my music and/or my posts. It’s not to feed my ego or anything… but obviously it’s always super flattering to get comments – I won’t lie!
I want to figure out who exactly my fans are, where they live, what their hobbies are and what they like/dislike. I think it can help with knowing what other topics I can post about that would actually be meaningful to them. So far, it seems like a lot of them have very similar interests to me, which makes sense! A lot of 90’s inspired content, nature, beautifully dark imagery, enlightenment, but also funny shit, cause we all need a laugh in this crazy world we live in. Also, we need cats. And dogs. Cute animals! Something to warm the heart and make ya smile. Also, I like to throw in a titch of my music, which is originally why everyone has joined the page. In the end, I’m building a community and audience of people that I can release music to and if they happen to really like it, then hey, maybe they’ll feel like supporting an independent artist like me! (And maybe I could actually afford to record a full album instead of just an EP. I don’t think people really realize how expensive it to do everything you need to do to get an album out. It’s thousands of dollars, which makes it hard for an average joe working a regular job and doing music on the side.). I guess I’m creating an artistic safe space on FaceBook…? A supportive body of humans that think alike, can suggest cover songs they can imagine me performing and can cheer me on occasionally! I’ve been told that I have inspired people to pick their guitar back up again and with TDB we even had a guy who reached out to us and said that he was going to commit suicide but listened to one of our songs and it gave him enough hope to stay safe and alive… It’s just nice to find my tribe. It’s nice to know there’s people out there who love my music and it gives me motivation to keep singing and writing more. I feel like my voice and style of writing don’t appeal to the average bear, so it’s nice to not have any geographic restriction on who is able to hear me sing, which is really fucking cool. Technology is pretty amazing, and as much as a lot of us hate Facebook, it has really allowed like-minded people to gather.
SBS: Live shows coming up Jazzer? You’re always on stage aren’t ya? Surely there’s something coming in 2020 live from Craving Rain and a world-domination tour to support the new record, yes? Sweet! What time can we expect you in Ottawa then?
Jas: I’m trying to get a live show together for the EP release. So far it’s been a little difficult finding an appropriate venue on a specific date, but I’ll figure it out! It looks promising to maybe have the show April 2, 2020 at Darcy’s Pub in the Westshore (Greater Victoria, BC). I would love to do a tour, but I’m not sure how feasible that would be for us realistically at the moment. Online shows might be the new touring! Ha. I’d really need to build my Ottawa following to break even if I did a tour across the country. I absolutely love road trips though, and I’m sure Tyrell would be up for it! I’ll have to keep ya posted.
SBS: I know you’ve got great taste in music…and considering I’ve got ya here to talk tunes with me for a moment and your undivided attention, I’d be a fool not to ask what was at the top of your playlists last year. Let’s get some names from ya Jas…mainstream, independent, whatever ya like – who made an impression on you last year that you’ll never forget, and what about the music made an impact on ya?
Jas: My boyfriend introduced me to an artist called Eden, who is from Ireland. He’s a one man show, who uses his laptop, beats he’s written, his guitar and his voice to create these incredibly emotionally beautiful songs. There is one song called “drugs” and my boyfriend and I have danced around the house together like idiots countless times to it. The chorus is epic (“cause I’m a fucking mess sometimes”), and I guess we love it so much because we can relate to it! I really have a thing for Halsey as well… I come from a pop background when I was a little rug rat. I’ve been listening to a lot of random tracks suggested by Spotify as well so I have a random list of songs for you, rather than just artists: “Anarchist” by Yungblud, “Stranger” by Can’t Swim, “Ghost” by Badflower, “Stop it (Cb)” by Balancing The Different, and I’m always playing “Fully Alive” by Flyleaf, because Lacey’s voice is amaaazing and she is my biggest influence.
SBS: My friend – it is ALWAYS a pleasure to talk to ya, and thanks so much for your time Jasmine. You’ve been a true hero throughout my years here at SBS and I look forward to many, many more to come. I still do that ‘open floor’ thing in my interviews…you remember…that space where you can say anything else that comes to mind that you want the people to know, or anything else ya wanna say. Looking forward to hearing the new Craving Rain record – and definitely looking forward to the next time our paths cross again Jas, always have, always will. All the best to you and to Craving Rain in 2020!
Jas: I am always honoured when you take time out of your day to meet with me/my band and/or write out interview questions like this! I’m also super grateful to have a positive, bright and shiny human to talk to like you! I absolutely can’t wait to give you a hug next time we meet. Hopefully sooner than later! As for anything left to say…If anyone wants to keep up with my tribe, signing up for the mailing list (which also gets you a free song download!). We are also really active on Facebook and love to keep in touch with our supporters, so that is a good place to find us and stay updated as well. Thanks again Jeremy! Much love! Over and out.
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