Snail Mail: On The Brink
office sat down with Jordan when she was in New York to chat with her about her debut album, her current success and growing up.
So, you’re from Baltimore. What’s different about it from all of the other cities you’ve been visiting on tour?
It’s really cheap, and it’s a good breeding ground for intrinsically-motivated artists. No one really goes there to ‘make it.’ There’s not a lot of foundation to be successful. In the past, there was a lot of DIY infrastructure and a lot of places for shows—this whole crazy scene—but now there’s not as much going into it. It’s ever-changing, but I think there are a lot of really incredible musicians there and a lot of people have followed in their footsteps; a lot of legacy, and the art is flowing. It’s cool.
You’re lyrics are beautiful. Tell me, what’s your writing process like?
It’s pretty slow-going. I’ll usually write the entire guitar part and arrange the entire song, write the vocal melody—basically I’ll finish the entire song before I even start writing lyrics. It takes me almost a year to finish one song—it takes me so long.
We respect a process, and yours evident—you speak with intention. What stories are you trying to tell with your songs?
I don’t consider myself to be much of a storyteller. I find myself to be very expressive and emotional—I just try to channel that and it becomes and outlet for me. To just be sad, feel whatever I’m feeling in the most raw way I possibly can, and attempt to give myself context to those feelings by just putting it into a timeline or sequence on a record. It’s like giving myself closure.
Maybe it’s because I’m also queer, but I definitely hear the yearning for clarity.
There’s not enough queer girls in the game, to be honest—or at least they’re not enough getting the credit and recognition they deserve.
Agreed. I don’t find myself being around queer women often, but it’s not intentional. Honestly, I think it’s kind of necessary to have that aspect of your life—a lack of queer presence—and it’s such a unique experience. It’s hard to relate to other people who haven’t experienced it.
It’s an interesting perspective. How has this past year been for you? Did you expect people to have such a positive response to your music?
Yes and no. People had a very personal reaction to the EP that I definitely didn’t expect, and it gave a lot of leverage from not having any help at all in that process. We just put it out on my friend’s label and—I don’t know, Lush felt really big and important and whole, but I didn’t necessarily go into it expecting other people to feel the same way. So, with this one, I’m glad they do. We’ve been able to do a lot of traveling and got to do and see some cool stuff. But it gets hectic.
Of course, because it’s still business.
Exactly. There’s a lot to consider, learn, understand—for me, at least.
What do you do to pass time on tour?
I really like wine, I read a lot, I like to do stuff myself. I’ll buy four drinks or a really large drink at Starbucks in one night just so I can sit there for hours and avoid the green room.
When did you realize you wanted to get involved in music?
Right before I was going to go to college and was trying to decide if I was going sign to a label and make a record—I didn’t want to half-ass anything, so I just picked one.
Are you a goal-oriented person?
I’m secretly a goal-oriented person.
Have you accomplished any of your goals?
Well, I always wanted to go to Asia, so that’s cool that I was able to finally do that. When I was really little, I wanted to play Madison Square Garden, and we’re opening for Interpol there this February.
'Lush' is out now.