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Jessica Pratt On The Purpose Of Music, Her Relationship With The Creative Process, And The Culmination Of Efforts That Led To Her Fourth Studio Album, ‘Here In The Pitch’

Jessica Pratt joined us for an introspective and engaging conversation in celebration of her latest album release, ‘Here in the Pitch”. The discussion was honest, thoughtful, and wide-ranging, covering topics like the turbulent and (sometimes) isolating artist process, her increasing musical confidence and some of the more surprising places her work has been sampled.  
Who is Jessica Pratt when we’re not looking? It’s been five years since the release of the singer-songwriter’s last studio album, 2019’s ‘Quiet Signs’ – marking her longest gap between album releases to date. When not touring or writing, the LA-based Pratt opts for the quiet life – to the best of her abilities, at the very least. 
“I try to read as much as I can, but it can get difficult,” she says. “I’ve been quite busy lately, for obvious reasons, but I do really like to do that in my downtime. I write a lot of poetry. I like spending time with my people. I can be really bad at it; sometimes, I’m just stuck in an isolated state, especially after a tour. Being around people can be very helpful. Also, as cheesy as it sounds, I really love just being in nature. Having that connection, to me, is really important. I want to try and get better at escaping!”
Escape, unfortunately, was not an option during the creative process for ‘Here In The Pitch’, Pratt’s freshly-released fourth studio album. Though not exclusively a COVID-era effort, it was an overarching focus of her life the entire time it was embryonic. 
“Writing for a record tends to consume me,” says Pratt. “Even if I’m not actively working on it, it’s always weighing on me. This record, for instance, took three years to make. That wasn’t a continuous process, but it dominated my life for that entire period. You try to maintain some sort of distance when you can, but you also feel like you’re isolating yourself.” 
Pratt, seemingly in a reflective state, takes this moment to look at how her relationship with the creative process has developed over some 17 years as a musician. 
“I feel as though the weight of an album shifts as you get further into a career and get older,” she muses. “When I was younger, flying by the seat of my pants, the music wasn’t overly examined. It was just something I felt a compulsion to do. Over time, I feel like you tend to lean towards cohesion – it’s less innate, in a sense. You also become very conscious of the studio as an environment – you have this immense tool at your disposal, and obviously you want to use it correctly. It’s a very strange process.”


Despite being only 27 minutes long, ‘Here In The Pitch’ carries a resonance that lasts long after the needle reaches the end of side B. It’s an arresting listen, simultaneously breathy in its intimacy and a distant bleep of a far-off satellite. She describes the album as “the dark side of the Californian dream”, having grown up in San Francisco and been around the Golden State her entire life. The concepts of the album, however, didn’t present themselves as apparent to Pratt until after she was able to look back at what she had created. 
“Even midway through making a record, you’re picking up on themes and ideas,” she says. “If I tried to assign some sort of meaning to a song before I’ve even really begun writing, it usually does not pan out. It’s just not how it works for me. There is sort of this retrospective process, where things jump out after the fact that seem pretty clear to you. I like experiencing it that way. It feels like tapping into like a part of you that existed in some sort of unseen realm that you later get to witness in a tangible form.”
Front and center on the album, as with all of her releases to date, are Pratt’s idiosyncratic vocals. Recalling other distinctive female vocalists from across the decade, ranging from Nico and Karen Carpenter all the way up to Joanna Newsom, Pratt’s voice floats in an almost ethereal sense across the album’s subtle arrangements. 
“I definitely feel more confident,” she says with a smile regarding her singing. “My voice has shifted a little bit over time, and I feel as though I’ve come into my lower register a lot more. The higher register seems to be changing, too. It’s a major transition for how one approaches singing, but I’ve enjoyed that challenge. I think I prefer my voice now to how it was when I started.”
Although ‘Here In The Pitch’ is the first new music listeners have had from Pratt in years, it is not the first time they have heard her voice in the 2020s. On last year’s ‘Something To Give Each Other’, Australian pop star Troye Sivan shared the introspective queer ballad ‘Can’t Go Back, Baby’ – which prominently sampled what has become Pratt’s signature song, 2015’s ‘Back, Baby’. 
“They had the song completely done when they hit me up. Listening back to what they’d done with it was completely surreal. I’m not an avid follower of pop music, so I wasn’t super informed of Troye’s world when he and his team got in touch. I was fascinated by it, though – to me, it’s such a soulful interpretation of the song.”


Even a year before that, another music megastar got in touch regarding the use of ‘Back, Baby’ – this time Donald Glover, who wanted to use the song in his FX series Atlanta for the first episode of its third season. Although similarly taken aback by the request, Pratt was taken by its inclusion in the project – albeit in a very different manner to ‘Can’t Go Back, Baby’. 
“It was the craziest thing,” she recalls. “I’m not sure if you’ve seen that particular episode, but it’s a pretty insane one – it’s basically like a horror movie. Using folk music in a horror setting is always such a curious contrast – I always remembered the scene in [2007 horror film] Zodiac where they use ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ by Donovan. It’s already got a kind of creepiness to it, but that really sent it over the edge. To have my song in that setting was so interesting.”


Back, Baby’ is the front-runner for Pratt’s most-streamed song – it currently sits at 10.5 million on Spotify, a stat no doubt boosted in the last two years thanks to both Glover and Sivan’s visions for it. Pratt is perfectly content with being known for the song. Forget a one-hit wonder – it’s a wonder to have one hit in the first place, she reasons.
“It kind of lives a life of its own now,” says Pratt“That’s the case there more than any other song I’ve written. You’re lucky to have anything that has some kind of staying power, so for people to still connect with that song so much nearly an entire decade after I wrote it… I’m just glad more than anything.”
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With her quaint, beautiful new album in tow – which contains some of her best songs to date – Pratt considers herself to be in a truly fortunate position. At 37, having started writing songs as a teenager, she’s got more eyes and ears on her than ever before. She hopes all who come to ‘Here In The Pitch’, be they long-time fans or curious Troye Sivan stans, find themselves feeling less alone for the 27 minutes it’s on.
“I think if music serves any real purpose, I think it’s to alleviate pain and to keep people company,” says Pratt. “If my music can do that for anyone, I think that would give me a real sense of purpose. There’s not that much in that realm that you can hold on to, as far as materially helping people on the day-to-day basis. So, if my album helps at all? That would be so meaningful.”


Here In The Pitch is out now via Mexican Summer / City Slang. To purchase the album and see Jessica’s upcoming tour dates, visit
Bonus🍦 Check out our exclusive 2016 interview with Jessica Pratt 

Words by David James Young  

Jessica Pratt: 'Here in the Pitch'


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